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Starbucks – Go straight to free instant Gold status this January!

I remember the early days of the Starbucks card.  (Yes, we are wandering a little off-topic on Shopper Points today!)

Having to pre charge the card with money to pay for your coffee seemed a little bit odd back then. However, as this meant I could use the free wifi (you needed your card number to create a password in order to use it), get my filter coffee for £1 instead of £1.50 plus extra shots and syrup for free (I didn’t put syrup in my filter coffee but some days screamed for an extra shot of espresso), I was happy to top up a tenner a week.

Then things changed. Wifi was free for everyone, there was no deal on the filter coffee anymore and in order to get free extra shots and syrup you needed to be Gold level.  That meant I had to buy 50 cups of Starbucks coffee in a year.

starbucks card

Now, when you first register your Starbucks card, you start on the Green Level which means you collect 1 star for every transaction and receive a free drink voucher every 15 stars.

If you collect 50 stars within 12 months, you are being upgraded to Gold level – and that’s when the card starts getting interesting again. Not only will Gold level give you extra shots, syrup and whipped cream for free, you can also upgrade your drink to Espresso Origin beans for free.

This January you can skip the Green level and start straight with Starbucks Gold.  That’s basically saving you the equivalent of 50 Starbucks purchases! All you need to do is pick up a Starbucks card, top up some money (the minimum is just £5) and register your card before the end of January.  Your Gold status will last for the whole of 2016.

This could save you real money if you tend to order extra shots, syrup or whipped cream in your Starbucks coffee.

Once registered, you can also use the Starbucks card app for easy payment without the hassle of carrying another card around, and to check your Stars and rewards.  For every 15 purchases you make which include a drink, you will get a free one.

(Quick tip – you can have any drink as your free drink.  Ordering a small size is a waste!)

If you have already have a Starbucks account, you don’t qualify for this offer.  In theory.  In reality, as long as you have a 2nd email address to use then no-one will know if you open a 2nd account.

Another cool thing about the Starbucks card is that you can use it on holiday which Rob covered on Head for Points. Countries currently included are Australia, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America.  If there is one at the airport on your way home, you can top up your Starbucks card with your unused currency and get some value for all those coins which the bank won’t change back!

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  1. Apparently the UK airport branches don’t accept the Rewards card. Not sure if they do overseas. You can see if they do by entering the location at this link and ticking ‘rewards’.

    • Quite a few don’t – the one inside Curry’s PC World near us doesn’t either. Took the kids there last Sunday (life of luxury in our house 🙂 )

    • A lot of the instore franchises, including service stations and Cineworld locations, don’t take the cards, which is annoying. What is even more annoying is that the drive through SB near the Chesterfield junction of the M1 can’t use the card system – they say it just doesn’t work for them. But I did get a free coffee there because I couldn’t redeem my free drink and they gave it me anyway.

      • That branch (Heath) is run by Eurogarages, and definitely does accept Starbucks card (I have used mine there several times). There has been 1 occasion I’ve been where they claimed it wasn’t working but when I asked them to actually try it, it did work.

  2. The_Real_A says

    The only problem is that Starbuck’s is the most foul tasting coffee known to man. You need a syrup to mask the burnt “wood bark” taste.

    Good offer though 🙂

  3. One free coffee for every 15 is not the most generous offer. Also if you buy more than one drink at a time you only get 1 star no matter how many you bought. The chap at my local Starbucks told me to ask to swipe the card for each drink.

    • Yes, annoyingly you need to pay for each drink separately to maximise stars which just annoys the people queuing behind you!

  4. I assume you can use it just as a loyalty card and not have to keep topping it up with money to pay for drinks?

    • No, you have to pay with it to get the stars.

      • I meant, when you show your card, do you get the benefits of free shots etc and then you can pay with cash or whatever?

        • Good question. They seem to scan your card once in order to deduct the extra shot cost and then again for payment so it may work. I have certainly used my card when it had only a few pence on it and paid the rest in cash so that is not an issue.

          Once you try paying via the card, though, you quickly find it very convenient. If Pret did the same I’d be a very happy man.

        • No. The payment has to made using the Starbucks card in order for you to get free shots, syrups etc.
          The price of these items automatically come off when the system acknowledges your Gold Member status.

        • No. The payment has to made using the Starbucks card in order for you to get free shots, syrups etc.
          The price of these items automatically come off when the system acknowledges your Gold Member status, so simply showing you have a card isn’t sufficient.

  5. Will Squires says

    I’d never top up in store – the vouchers are available in £10 values at Morrisons and Tesco. 1p off per litre of fuel each or buy 5 and get 150 clubcard points! Or, I suppose, buy 100 and get a free tank.

    If you have the app, you can add more cards to your account and transfer the balance to your main one/delete them.

    You cant have more than £150 credit on any one card at any time.

    A word of warning – I had a generous cashback offer on my Halifax debit card last Spring. I used it to top my card up to £150, and all the cashback went through. Suddenly though, I noticed my balance starting to drain and a load of transactions registering in London (I’d not been South of Nottingham in this time). I got in touch with Starbucks who blocked it (although by this point the balance was all but gone), and then tried to fob me off with 2 vouchers. When I said I wanted my money back, they referred me to the terms of the card which said something about treating it as cash (which I had done!!). It was only when I threatened to instruct Halifax to chargeback the loading fee and never shop there again that a fresh card was delivered to me with the full balance on.

    tl;dr – the security at Starbucks is flimsy so don’t put more than £50 on a card at any one time.

    • I buy the £10 gift cards and use those to top up my main card. All you need to do is register the card you buy, then transfer the balance to the ongoing card. It saves having to add your CC details to your account. Tesco points on SB coffee 🙂

  6. At one time, you got a star for each drink. Now, as stated above, it’s one per transaction. But the ability to use it abroad is handy. I just wish it included European locations, as I couldn’t use mine in Munich last year.

    The tip about using leftover coins to top up before leaving is handy. I tend to keep notes, and a bunch of US quarters, but all the other shrapnel is just a waste of space. I usually just hurl all the leftover coppers in tip jars, or the “Take a penny, leave a penny” trays that some US shops have at the checkout for those odd amounts you prefer not to break another bill for.

  7. Stopped using Starbucks since they haven’t bothered upgrading to organic milk – I am happy taking my business to pret with organic milk and better coffee, oh and did I mention prices ! 99p for a milky filter

  8. Hi, can I use my UK Starbucks card in the USA and will I be able to get free syrup with it and collect 1 star per drink?

  9. OK, I purchased a £10 SB giftcard from morrisons, and opened a new account with it via the SB website (with the logo that says gold in january), but my account shows as green. Do I need to wait or have I done something wrong?


    • Just spotted this on the SB customer services page>

      If you have created an account and registered your Starbucks Card online from 4th of January 2016 until the 31st of January inclusive, please allow up to 7 days for your account to upgrade to Gold.

  10. My SB Gold is already renewed to May 2017 so I can’t benefit from this offer. Like other commenters here, I buy the gift cards at Tesco, usually to round off a giftcard purchase to the magical £50. I do the office drinks runs and buy each drink individually to get maximum stars, that way everyone benefits from the free upgrades and I keep my gold status. I’ve never used it abroad yet but will definitely try to load my leftover change on my next trip – that’s pure genius!!

  11. To take advantage of this, can I just pick up an empty Starbucks card in store and load money on it using a Starbucks gift card bought in tescos? This would give me club card points on top, wouldn’t it?

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