Review: Starbucks Rewards Visa Card (2021)

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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Starbucks is a brand with an incredibly loyal following. A few years ago Chase and Starbucks launched a co-branded credit card, and in this post I wanted to take an in-depth look at the card. While my focus is usually on travel rewards cards, in this era a trip to Starbucks might be considered exotic travel for some. 😉

In order to understand the value proposition of the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card, it’s also important to understand how the Starbucks Rewards program works, and in particular, the best ways to redeem Starbucks Stars. While I’ll talk about that a bit below, I’d recommend checking out my guide to the Starbucks Rewards program.

Is The Starbucks Visa Card Worth It?

The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card offers rewards in the form of Starbucks Stars, which I find intriguing because there’s an element of gamification to it — not all redemptions are created equal.

Let’s take a look at the Starbucks Visa Card’s sign-up bonus, annual fee, return on spending, and perks.

Starbucks Visa Card Sign-Up Bonus

The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card offers a sign-up bonus of 4,500 Starbucks Stars after spending $500 within the first three months. On top of that, you can earn an additional 300 Starbucks Stars the first time you use your card to digitally load your registered Starbucks Card in the app.

I value Starbucks Stars at around 4-5 cents each. Therefore 4,800 Starbucks Stars are potentially worth somewhere in the range of $190-240. That’s not the most exciting sign-up bonus ever, though it does potentially translate to up to nearly 100 free drinks, which is something that frequent Starbucks guests may appreciate.

Note that the bonus on the Starbucks Visa isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months. The standard Chase application rules also apply, including the 5/24 rule.

There are lots of other incredible Chase credit cards I might consider, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review).

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Annual Fee

The Starbucks Visa Card has a $49 annual fee, waived for the first year. This is a great way to try the card before having to pay an annual fee. If you want to add authorized users, there’s no additional cost to doing so.

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Return On Spending

The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card offers three different bonus amounts, depending on the category you’re spending in:

  • Earn one Starbucks Stars per $1 spent digitally loading your Starbucks Card, plus two Stars per dollar spent with that Starbucks Card when paying in store
  • Earn one Starbucks Star for every $2 spent at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and internet, cable, and phone services
  • Earn one Starbucks Star for ever $4 spent outside of Starbucks stores

Based on my valuation of 4-5 cents per Starbucks Star, that isn’t particularly compelling, given the other cards out there:

  • You’re earning a return of 4-5% on Starbucks spending
  • You’re earning a return of 2-2.5% at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and internet, cable, and phone services
  • You’re earning a return of 1-1.25% on all other purchases

In general, I’d say:

Starbucks Rewards Visa Eight Barista Picks Per Year

For having the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card you’ll receive eight complimentary food or beverage items per year, known as Barista Picks. Here’s how this works:

  • Each Barista Pick is available as a coupon automatically loaded onto your Starbucks Rewards account, which may be redeemed for one complimentary item as described in the terms of the coupon
  • You’ll receive these coupons starting 45 days following the opening of your account, and one will be loaded approximately every six weeks
  • Each Barista Pick expires 30 days after it has been loaded onto your account

In general I’d expect each Barista Pick to be worth an average of $5-6. To look at it another way, the Barista Pick perk alone could probably justify the annual fee on this card on an ongoing basis.

Stars Don’t Expire With The Starbucks Rewards Visa

Starbucks Rewards Stars ordinarily expire six months after they’re earned. However, as long as you have the Starbucks Rewards Visa, your Stars don’t expire, so that’s a nice additional perk.

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Purchase Protection

The Starbucks Rewards Visa offers a variety of purchase protection benefits. While you’ll want to check your cardmember agreement for full details, here’s what you can expect:

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver — in the US this is secondary, while outside the US this is primary
  • Extended warranty protection — extend the time of your US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on warranties of three years or less
  • Purchase protection — covers your next purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • Trip cancelation & interruption insurance — be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations

The Basics Of Starbucks Rewards Stars

I’ve written a separate detailed guide about how to maximize Starbucks Rewards Stars, so I’d recommend checking that out. Here are the basic redemption options available through the Starbucks Rewards program:

  • Redeem 25 Starbucks Stars to customize your drink — this includes an espresso shot, dairy substitute, or a syrup
  • Redeem 50 Starbucks Stars to get a brewed hot coffee, bakery item, or hot tea
  • Redeem 150 Starbucks Stars to get a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast sandwich, oatmeal, or your favorite drink
  • Redeem 200 Starbucks Stars to get a salad, sandwich, or protein box
  • Redeem 400 Starbucks Stars to get select merchandise or at-home coffee

In general I value each Starbucks Star at 4-5 cents each, based on average redemption options. However, there are ways to get way more value than that.

Bottom Line

Starbucks is a brand that many gravitate towards, and as a result the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card will likely also interest lots of loyalists.

If you are a frequent Starbucks customer I don’t think you’ll lose anything by getting this card, since the Barista Picks should justify the annual fee on an ongoing basis. However, beyond that there just aren’t many exciting perks to this card, and there are better cards in terms of the rewards for everyday spending.

I’d much rather pick up a straightforward no annual fee card, like the Citi® Double Cash Card, for my everyday spending.

What do you make of the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card?

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  1. Ben, you forgot to mention the best perk (at least when it is a wild adventure to visit a starbucks): it stops the clock on stars expiration.

  2. Best redemption at starbucks is pastries or brewed coffee. Those usually cost around $3 when paying cash, but just 50 stars. Perfect for me since my breakfast is usually a grande black coffee + pastry.

    Lattes and meals won’t give you great redemptions. I prefer to pay in cash when I’m in the mood for a creamier drink. Not a fan of the boxed lunches at starbucks.

  3. I recently got this card. Another benefit of this card is that all your stars become exempt from expiration as long as you are a cardholder.

  4. @Mitch you get that with the $0 fee Prepaid Card too. The value of the prepaid is way more than the credit card since it doesn’t have a fee or count against 5/24. You get many of the same benefits too. Same reason to have the Target RedCard (debit) instead of credit (avoid X/24)

  5. As always the valuations are wildly inflated. A star is worth about 3.5 cents. People don’t order venti drinks on a average and don’t get marginal utility from them.

    While it’s true that bakery items get good redemption rates it’s also true they are wildly overpriced typically vs alternatives most folks would consider.

    This is a ridiculous valuation for stars. Use 3.5 cents to avoid massive disappointment. No points are “worth” their best case valuations.

  6. Why do I always get the feeling that your reviews make some good points but it is more about the ads.

    “There are much better cards for everyday spending, like the Citi® Double Cash Card (review)”
    What about the Chase Reserve card – You’d get 3% back which equals 4.25% if redeemed with chase travel, for example.

    Your reviews seems to be only about credit cards from the big banks BofA, Chase, Citi, etc – there are some other compelling cards out there that I never see on this blog.

  7. Lucky, you don’t have the drink rewards right. 150 points can get ANY drink you can imagine they can make. My favorite is a 12 shot (decaf) venti latte, which would cost you about $13! I heard the record for a drink reward is like $30. You just need to work the rewards correctly. 🙂

  8. “While it’s true that bakery items get good redemption rates it’s also true they are wildly overpriced typically vs alternatives most folks would consider. ”


    Depends on your point of reference. I’m not a big breakfast person and a Starbucks breakfast of a chocolate croissant and a grande cappuccino while on a trip is often a lot more cost effective than the hotel’s option for that kind of small meal.

  9. What does this credit card have to do with travel? Maybe I’m crazy but I don’t see how this is relevant to a travel blog.

  10. In answer to the question above, this certainly is a good topic on a travel blog…I think we all look for and go into Starbucks in strange cities, international also, for free WiFi and to get on reliable latte. Even in Las Vegas, morning coffee back to the room …. from the lobby Starbucks in most hotels.

    Secondly, regarding the 5/24 rules, I hope that is the reason I was REJECTED for the credit card even though I have perfect credit.

    Thanks, Ben, for all the comments. I have the Gold Reloadable Gift Card with my name printed on it from the VIP status I used to have. I’m not sure if the refill works well right now since everything is takeout due to the pandemic. I did use perk frequently when you could sit there.

  11. It is lame that you still need to load your Starbucks gift card to earn another 2 stars You should just get 3 stars/$ spent at Starbucks when using the credit card.

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