Starbucks Rewards Devaluing February 2023

Starbucks Rewards Devaluing February 2023

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It’s not just airline frequent flyer programs that are devaluing, but also Starbucks’ loyalty program…

Starbucks rewards changing “stars” requirements

With the Starbucks Rewards program, you earn two “stars” per dollar spent with the coffee retailer. You can then redeem these stars toward drinks, food, and other merchandise. Starbucks Rewards has announced major changes that will go live as of February 13, 2023.

These are the first major changes we’re seeing to the program since April 2019, when the Starbucks Rewards program was totally overhauled.

So, how are redemption costs changing as of February 2023? As before, rewards will range in cost from 25 stars to 400 stars. Here’s what pricing is like with the new program (and then I’ll note whether that represents a change or not):

  • 25 stars will get you a drink customization, like an extra espresso shot, dairy substitute, or a dash of your favorite syrup; this is remaining unchanged
  • 100 stars will get you a brewed coffee, bakery item, or tea; currently this costs 50 stars, so pricing is increasing by 100%
  • 200 stars will get you a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast item, or parfait; currently this costs 150 stars, so pricing is increasing by 33%
  • 300 stars will get you lunch sandwiches, protein boxes, or salads; currently this costs 200 stars, so pricing is increasing by 50%
  • 400 stars will get you select merchandise or at-home coffee; this is remaining unchanged

Fortunately there’s a little bit of good news. Some items will be changing “tiers” for the better:

  • Iced coffee (not cold brew) and iced tea will now be available for 100 stars (the same as hot coffee or hot tea), while previously this cost 150 stars
  • Packaged coffee will decrease in cost from 400 stars to 300 stars
  • Select merchandise (including plastic to-go cups) will decrease in cost from 200 stars to 100 stars

My take on the Starbucks Rewards changes

Usually I cover loyalty program devaluations in the travel space. Admittedly programs like Starbucks Rewards have even wider everyday appeal and use than an airline or hotel loyalty program, though I also fundamentally view these programs to be a bit different.

Why? Well, people regularly open credit cards to earn travel rewards, and can spend years saving up their rewards with a specific aspirational redemption in mind. It’s frustrating when those redemption costs are changed overnight, before people have a chance to redeem.

Meanwhile I view the Starbucks Rewards program more as a “coffee shop punch card program” of sorts. People aren’t generally spending years and putting considerable long-term effort into racking up rewards with Starbucks Rewards. Sure, some redemption values are better than others, but I think most members take an “earn and burn” approach to the program.

With that out of the way, a few thoughts specific to this devaluation:

  • On the plus side, Starbucks is giving several weeks notice of these changes, so most members should have the ability to redeem all of their points before the devaluation kicks in
  • In absolute terms, some of the devaluations here are brutal; increasing costs by 33-10% is a massive price increase
  • This is good news for those who like to redeem for iced coffee, iced tea, or packaged coffee
  • Keep in mind that in 2019 the Starbucks Rewards program was completely overhauled, so I’m guessing the relative valuations here reflect member redemption patterns, and the costs Starbucks incurs
  • It seems that Starbucks Rewards is focused on keeping the redemption values here pretty “round,” or else we might not see such drastic increases

So yeah, this is pretty brutal, especially for coffee and tea redemptions, as well as for hot sandwiches.

Bottom line

Starbucks Rewards changes are coming as of February 13, 2023. With this, we’ll see the number of stars required for most redemptions go up significantly. While some redemption costs aren’t changing, the most popular redemptions are increasing in price by 33-100%. The only good news is that a few items are moving to lower “tiers,” and will therefore be cheaper.

On balance this is a brutal change, if you ask me…

What do you make of these Starbucks Rewards changes?

(Tip of the hat to @NDH330)

Conversations (42)
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  1. Stryker Guest

    Starbucks has devalued their program FOUR or FIVE times over the years (anybody remember free soymilk and syrups for Gold members??) so I am not surprised. With drink prices continually rising, what really ticked me off was ordering two Paradise drinks the other night and we asked for them to be blended. It turned out to be a great tasting drink, but we were charged 50 cent each for blending the drink!!! My wife literally said to me "we need to STOP coming here!"

  2. Bob Guest

    I have 4000 rewards now and as soon as the new rules go into effect, I'll loose 7 drinks that I have worked very hard and spent quite a lot of money to earn them. Starbucks should somehow let their customers who have the rewards now keep them and not steal them. I went to Safeway the other day and they raised their price of a frappuccino .40. I shop at Safeway and usually buy...

    I have 4000 rewards now and as soon as the new rules go into effect, I'll loose 7 drinks that I have worked very hard and spent quite a lot of money to earn them. Starbucks should somehow let their customers who have the rewards now keep them and not steal them. I went to Safeway the other day and they raised their price of a frappuccino .40. I shop at Safeway and usually buy my Starbucks inside the store.
    Needless to say I am closing out my Starbucks account and visit some local coffee places.

  3. Steve Guest

    The smart Star collectors will use points only in Jan-Feb 13.
    Starbucks will not get the revenue for Jan they expect.
    This will no longer be a loyalty program, but a joke. After Feb you can earn more buy using your Wells Fargo or Discover card CASH discount to pay SB v the Stars you will be getting and then SB will pay more $$ to the CC companies.

    Who thought this was a good idea?

  4. Joe Garcia Guest

    Are you being paid by Starbucks? This is not a loyalty program. Now people would need to spend $100 for a free cup of coffee? Starbucks will lose customers. My response is going to focus on getting more people to visit local coffee shops!

  5. Eric Guest

    January 1, 2023

    Happy New Year:

    As a Starbucks customer for 20 years and a shareholder of Starbucks common stock, I am very disappointed about the updated reward terms for freebees.

    Starbucks has drastically increased their prices since the pandemic and now they are requiring a 100% increase to utilize a reward for a pastry???

    JFYI. Panera Bread offers an unlimited sip club program and Einstein’s provides free coffee if you order on their app....

    January 1, 2023

    Happy New Year:

    As a Starbucks customer for 20 years and a shareholder of Starbucks common stock, I am very disappointed about the updated reward terms for freebees.

    Starbucks has drastically increased their prices since the pandemic and now they are requiring a 100% increase to utilize a reward for a pastry???

    JFYI. Panera Bread offers an unlimited sip club program and Einstein’s provides free coffee if you order on their app. Panera, Dunkin, or Einstein’s have not had major price increases as for pastries as Starbucks has.

    Before making a drastic change, especially during a period when we are in a recession, why don’t you survey your loyal customers?

  6. Eric R Gilbert Guest

    January 1, 2023

    Happy New Year:

    As a Starbucks customer for 20 years and a shareholder of Starbucks common stock, I am very disappointed about the updated reward terms for freebees.

    Starbucks has drastically increased their prices since the pandemic and now they are requiring a 100% increase to utilize a reward for a pastry???

    JFYI. Panera Bread offers an unlimited sip club program and Einstein’s provides free coffee if you order on their app....

    January 1, 2023

    Happy New Year:

    As a Starbucks customer for 20 years and a shareholder of Starbucks common stock, I am very disappointed about the updated reward terms for freebees.

    Starbucks has drastically increased their prices since the pandemic and now they are requiring a 100% increase to utilize a reward for a pastry???

    JFYI. Panera Bread offers an unlimited sip club program and Einstein’s provides free coffee if you order on their app. Panera, Dunkin, or Einstein’s have not had major price increases as for pastries as Starbucks has.

    Before making a drastic change, especially during a period when we are in a recession, why don’t you survey your loyal customers?

  7. JJ Guest

    Ridiculous! This being a gold card member for 20 years is sad to see.

  8. Brad Guest

    This may me more of an inflationary move. Since points are earned per dollar spent, and with prices going up, over time you're able to earn a reward by buying fewer drinks.

  9. Viviane Guest

    I think ee forget that this is a business!
    It's main goal is to bring in revenue.
    Starbucks has been dealing with many challenges during the pandemic and aftermath
    I have to give them credit for guving paid leave to the partners who were unable to work

    1. Maria Guest

      And don’t forget their employees or partners as you call them would not be there without the customers.

  10. Maria Guest

    Starbucks might as well ditch their rewards program with this change. Having to spend $50 at Starbucks to rack up enough points for a free cup of coffee is ridiculous. Every time they modify their rewards program, their loyal customers lose out. Shame on Starbucks. As for me, effective 2-14-23, I am shredding my gold rewards card & never buying Starbucks again. With this change, I’m out after being a gold card customer since the program was initiated.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Same. Gonna spend down my gift card and bail on them.

  11. Ariana Guest

    I’m just kind of annoyed that the value keeps going down, but it’s at a slow enough pace so that people either don’t notice or get used to it. I remember when a free handcrafted beverage only cost 125 stars. When they bumped it to 150, sure it was a bit annoying, but it’s not that much more. Now they’re bumping it to 200, which isn’t too far from 150, but it is pretty far...

    I’m just kind of annoyed that the value keeps going down, but it’s at a slow enough pace so that people either don’t notice or get used to it. I remember when a free handcrafted beverage only cost 125 stars. When they bumped it to 150, sure it was a bit annoying, but it’s not that much more. Now they’re bumping it to 200, which isn’t too far from 150, but it is pretty far from 125. They do the same thing with their prices. Most people know this, and we all know that we could just not go to Starbucks. The problem is, we’re already addicted to their products and continue going back. They really are good at running a business lol.

  12. polarbear Member

    What am I missing about packaged coffee? The email I got does not mention 400 star rewards at all - so I thought it was eliminated.
    But even if not, your quote says "400 starts for at-home coffee - so where does 300 come from?

  13. Tortuga Diamond

    Cheaper iced coffee redemptions? This is the best news for The Gays since legalized marriage!

  14. cds Guest

    I agree they change the value of the points, which in my opinion they should allow you to utilize your balance at the original rate, then anything earned after that....go to the new cost. I with the other guy, I'll enjoy my Nespresso at home! I'm tired of "waiting in line, sorry were out of the product (of course it's usually a promotional points product". I'm done with Starbucks! Let's look for a local Coffee spot to support!

    1. Bob Guest

      I have 4000 rewards now and as soon as the new rules go into effect, I'll loose 7 drinks that I have worked very hard and spent quite a lot of money to earn them. Starbucks should somehow let their customers who have the rewards now keep them and not steal them. I went to Safeway the other day and they raised their price of a frappuccino .40. I shop at Safeway and usually buy...

      I have 4000 rewards now and as soon as the new rules go into effect, I'll loose 7 drinks that I have worked very hard and spent quite a lot of money to earn them. Starbucks should somehow let their customers who have the rewards now keep them and not steal them. I went to Safeway the other day and they raised their price of a frappuccino .40. I shop at Safeway and usually buy my Starbucks inside the store.
      Needless to say I am closing out my Starbucks account and visit some local coffee places.

  15. come on man Guest

    More of a general comment:
    Starbucks prices have gotten really out of hand in the last 2-3 years (and even more so with the continued devaluations). I had a $15 delta voucher and was able to use it at Starbucks. BARELY bought 2 grande cappuccinos (no fancy add-ins), where after tax the drink worked out to ~$6.50.

    At this point I'll stick to my Nespresso at home, which in itself is a luxury...

    More of a general comment:
    Starbucks prices have gotten really out of hand in the last 2-3 years (and even more so with the continued devaluations). I had a $15 delta voucher and was able to use it at Starbucks. BARELY bought 2 grande cappuccinos (no fancy add-ins), where after tax the drink worked out to ~$6.50.

    At this point I'll stick to my Nespresso at home, which in itself is a luxury but at a fraction of the price.

    If I WERE to go to a coffee shop, I'd at least go to one with better coffee than Sbux, the difference now between them and SBUX is negligible

    1. Andrew Diamond

      I buy a Peets 2 pound bag from Costco for $18 and do pourover coffee for 1.5 months. It's astonishingly cheap.

  16. henare Diamond

    Two of the three local SBUX that I have patronized in the past have been closed for good. Understandably, I will spend less money there and should look at my star balance to see if I should cash in now or later.

  17. iamhere Guest

    Just like hotel and airline loyalty programs. Loyalty program now represents real money for starbucks and they have enough of a following they can downgrade and still keep a following. Also interesting to see how much they make on gift cards in people waiting to use or do not redeem at all.

  18. Starbucks Man Guest

    As Starbucks Man I am required to respond to this post:
    My go-to 50 star drink has been short dark coffee with a single blonde espresso shot, hazelnut syrup, mocha drizzle and extra cold foam in a venti cup. At airports this rings up as $7+ baby! At twice the stars I'm gone - bye!

    During the pandemic, the Starbucks Chase card was highly valuable at 7000 stars for only $500 spend - come at me bros!

  19. JCareyB Guest

    I gave up on the Starbucks program at the previous devaluation. I ONLY count on it to deliver a free Venti decaf Mocha on my birthday these days. I present my card when I order just so they'll know I'm participating, NOT because I expect I'll get anything other than my birthday present. There are several programs like this that I used to pursue, but don't use any more. I agree with Chris Elliott, that most loyalty programs aren't worth it anymore.

  20. Alex77W Guest

    I have a Rancilio Sylvia (manual) at home and then I got A BROKEN Saeco Intuita (fully automatic) from my son. Just for fun, I have fixed Intuita and now my wife enjoys one button drink from Intuita instead of dealing with Sylvia. At office we do french press twice a day and when traveling there is a decent coffee at AA Clubs or Hyatt. So I did not even visited Starbucks for 1.5+ ?...

    I have a Rancilio Sylvia (manual) at home and then I got A BROKEN Saeco Intuita (fully automatic) from my son. Just for fun, I have fixed Intuita and now my wife enjoys one button drink from Intuita instead of dealing with Sylvia. At office we do french press twice a day and when traveling there is a decent coffee at AA Clubs or Hyatt. So I did not even visited Starbucks for 1.5+ ? years. We stopped in Starbucks in Toledo (Spain) past October and brewed venti was 3.50 Euro or so. With DL promo, we stopped at Starbucks in Kailula-Kona (HI) and rather disgusting brewed coffee was also >$3. When did that change from ca. $2? Either way I have no intention to stop at Starbucks after redeeming 150 points before Feb.13.

  21. Tacokid Guest

    Thanks Lucky. FYI - 50 stars, you can currently get a cup of brewed coffee, and then you can add for free extra “add ins” like three shots of espresso and/or flavors and/or milk alternatives. Bummer it’s going up to 100, but that is still going to be my back door soy latte.

    1. Tina Guest

      I can’t believe I’ve been a Starbucks reward member since 2009 and I did NOT know about this hack - THANK YOU

  22. Cindy Guest

    I wish Starbucks would make sugar free drinks and coffee for diabetes.

    1. Steve Diamond

      A black Cold brew has zero sugar. I get that everyday not sure what more you can want, best drink they have and zero sugar!

    2. hartd8 Member

      I get the no calorie passion tea with a stevia or nothing

    3. reddargon Diamond

      This has to be a joke right? You can get brewed coffee or cold brew without sugar. Or a cappuccino, or a latte, or anything other than the horrific bastardized "coffee" drinks they make (although I do get a PSL once a year just for the hell of it).

    4. Josh H Guest

      Cindy, there is a whole sugar free, keto friendly, diabetic friendly menu available. What is it you’re looking for?

  23. Brian Guest

    Inflation
    Stagflation
    Shrinkflation
    You choose

  24. Josh Harris Guest

    I would think that since you do cover travel you’d talk more about the wins Ben. The travel perk of 1 delta sky mile per dollar is part of what isn’t changing and I think that’s almost better than the stars.

    1. come on man Guest

      One sky peso per dollar spent on overpriced drink is really a rounding error... or less.
      What's he going to do, spend about $10,000 on coffee per year so he can MAYBE use it to redeem a 1-way econ ticket to a Midwest secondary airport?

  25. Tracy S Guest

    A lot of people aren't fond of Starbucks, for various reasons. But if Starbucks is convenient for you (it is for me, there's one on my daily commute route), you're willing to patronize them, and you mostly drink tea or brewed coffee, you can get excellent value from the program as it currently is. Last Earth Day they introduced "bring in a personal cup, get 25 bonus Stars as well as the $0.10 discount." If...

    A lot of people aren't fond of Starbucks, for various reasons. But if Starbucks is convenient for you (it is for me, there's one on my daily commute route), you're willing to patronize them, and you mostly drink tea or brewed coffee, you can get excellent value from the program as it currently is. Last Earth Day they introduced "bring in a personal cup, get 25 bonus Stars as well as the $0.10 discount." If you pay with Stars you still get the bonus for a personal cup. The sweet spot is a drink costing $3.25 before tax in a personal cup ($3.15 after tax), a venti brewed coffee for me. You don't earn Stars on taxes, but then you don't pay tax on free drinks so it's a wash.

    Bring in your cup and earn 6.3 Stars for the drink itself plus 25 bonus. Four of them earn you 125.2 Stars. You can then get four more using Stars and your personal cup; you need to have at least 50 Stars for the drink but get 25 of them back immediately. After the 4th one you still have 25.2 Stars. Basically BOGO.

    The devaluation will undercut this...four basic drinks at the old sweet spot will only generate one free drink. Six basic drinks will get two freebies, eight will get three. I'll still go there daily (it IS convenient for me), but I won't be getting as many free drinks as before.

  26. JB Guest

    I wasn't really a big Statbucks customer, but I signed up for an account recently since I occasionally get their refresher drinks (and took advantage of the buy $20 gift card, get $5 free promo you recently posted about). I have about 70 stars right now and I looked a couple of days ago what you could use them for. That page stated that the redemption prices were changing as of Feburary 13th and by...

    I wasn't really a big Statbucks customer, but I signed up for an account recently since I occasionally get their refresher drinks (and took advantage of the buy $20 gift card, get $5 free promo you recently posted about). I have about 70 stars right now and I looked a couple of days ago what you could use them for. That page stated that the redemption prices were changing as of Feburary 13th and by what prices, so they have publicly displayed this for a little while now, which is nice.

  27. Dn10 Guest

    Pretty heavy increases for the normal 150 point purchases. Their Starbucks for Life game is also incredibly hard to win anything on, bring back the old McDonalds monopoly without the rigging.

  28. Steve Diamond

    I sure dont like seeing the change on a custom drink going from 150 to 200 but i like how customizations stay at 25, thats where i use most of my points because you can usually get a full $1 knocked off so unless your custom drink is over $8 looks like the 25 point option might be best use of stars.

    Cant wait for all the too cool for Starbucks crowd to post a...

    I sure dont like seeing the change on a custom drink going from 150 to 200 but i like how customizations stay at 25, thats where i use most of my points because you can usually get a full $1 knocked off so unless your custom drink is over $8 looks like the 25 point option might be best use of stars.

    Cant wait for all the too cool for Starbucks crowd to post a comment here saying how they dont like starbucks instead of just not clicking on this story and not posting a comment.

    We dont care if you dont like starbucks, for the millions that do id like to hear from other readers their star strategy.

    1. Alejandro Guest

      I don’t like Starbucks

    2. jenny Guest

      I normally swap whipped for cold foam. But I also reduce the mocha on my cafe mocha and they won't give me a refund for it. When I ask for the two pumps in a paper cup, sometimes they scoff, sometimes I get it.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Never In Doubt Guest

Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

3
Joe Guest

That game is rigged!

1
Maria Guest

Starbucks might as well ditch their rewards program with this change. Having to spend $50 at Starbucks to rack up enough points for a free cup of coffee is ridiculous. Every time they modify their rewards program, their loyal customers lose out. Shame on Starbucks. As for me, effective 2-14-23, I am shredding my gold rewards card & never buying Starbucks again. With this change, I’m out after being a gold card customer since the program was initiated.

1
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