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Starbucks US is changing its rewards program to revenue based – is the UK next?

As I mentioned in January when Starbucks had their ‘Go Straight to Gold’ promotion, I am not the biggest fan of Starbucks and their loyalty program.

For various reasons (and probably NOT because of my post!), Starbucks USA is trying to make their My Starbucks Rewards card more appealing to their customers by introducing huge changes in April.  Unfortunately, not everyone will be a winner.

Currently you receive one star per transaction and a free coffee every 12 stars (15 stars here in the UK).

This is not as great as the old school stamp card from my local independent coffee store but still OK when you look at the other advantages that the card offers (use your phone to pay, receive special deals and – if a gold member – add extras to your coffee free of charge).

However, it seems that many customers have complained about the points being rewarded per transaction, meaning if you buy more than one product you basically miss out on potential stars.  This also lead to people splitting their orders into multiple transactions at the till, creating a longer waiting time for other customers.

Starbucks US has therefore decided to change the My Starbucks Rewards program to be revenue based.

changes my starbucks rewards USA UK

As of mid April My Starbucks Rewards customers in the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico will receive 2 points for every $1 spent and will have to collect 125 points to receive a free drink.  This is good news for everyone who loves those expensive coffees with extremely long names and lots of added everything, but for the black filter coffee drinkers it seems a bit silly spending more than $60 in order to get a free coffee. (This would cover the cost of a coffee machine and a to go cup, just saying …..)

Why am I writing about this on a UK website? Well, if you have got a Starbucks card in the UK you can use it in America and vice versa. Rob has covered this over on Head For Points. You can make purchases and collect stars with your card in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, and the Republic of Ireland.

Once Starbucks USA has changed their program, customers will receive 2 points for every $1 spent. I wonder if UK customers can use their card in the US, spent $8 to receive 16 points and go back to the UK to claim a free drink which would be fantastic ….. but unlikely.

The serious point is that, when they change the loyalty program in the US, it is probably just a matter of time until the UK market follows.  It makes no sense, given that you can use the same card in different countries, to have a totally different earning system in North America.  Your free coffee may soon be harder (or easier, if you’re a big spender) to earn.

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  1. Costa is revenue based, so no big issue I guess.

    Although I have only been in one starbucks in my life (In Boston USA)! So guess I am not their target audience 😉

  2. As I tend to buy a round of coffees for the family (4 drinks, 4 cakes… and the occasional sandwich) I’m sure this new method will be beneficial to me. I almost never buy a single drink, as it is usually cheaper to buy elsewhere when on my own.

  3. I must confess I’ve bought the drink on the app and then paid for the cake etc with the plastic cards which are both linked to the one account as the one star per transaction is annoying.

    Now I order my drink on the app whilst queuing to pay for the snack with the app and get my two points that way.

    I use Starbucks a lot at Welcome Break motorway sites and my drink is £3.99 there so a switch to revenue would probably be beneficial to me.

  4. There’s a new promo out. Join My Starbucks Rewards and get 13 bonus stars. You’ll be just 2 stars away from a free drink.

    • Thanks for that. It was never a plan to cover Starbucks on here but the articles have proved popular!

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