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How To Maximize Starbucks Rewards

How to maximize Starbucks rewards

Starbucks seems like the last place you’d want to go to save money and I definitely wouldn’t suggest people take up a daily latte habit if they don’t want to drink all their money away!

However, the fact remains that Starbucks is an immensely popular spot and people flock there in droves – maybe not quite as much as Tim Hortons here in Canada, but Starbucks sure isn’t suffering either. Profit margins on coffee and beverages are INSANE, so it’s definitely a good business to be in.

It only gets really expensive once you start ordering the specialty drinks, which I do a few times a year as a nice treat... 

Sure, you can make them yourself if you want, but I like the convenience and experience of picking one up on the go.

How the rewards program works

The Starbucks Rewards program is primarily based around gift cards. You need to have a gift card to join the program and, once you use that to sign up, the best thing to do is to load that gift card and any future gift cards into the Starbucks app. You can then use your phone to both pay for your purchases as well as earn and track your rewards. It’s pretty convenient in that sense.

There is another way to join and that is by purchasing a qualifying Starbucks item in a grocery store that has a star code located inside the packaging. Once you have purchased the item, go online and register the stars found in the packaging to create a Starbucks Rewards account.

A third, but less common way to activate a Starbucks Reward membership is through a special promotion. In the past, Starbucks has run a promotion where new members can join through one of the two methods above, but are then automatically made Gold members once they make a purchase. This is pretty significant since it generally takes 300 stars before hitting gold.

Related: Aeroplan Miles: Earn Rewards Fast

Earning stars

The program is based on stars. You earn two stars for every dollar you spend at Starbucks before taxes – Starbucks employees earn three stars for every dollar spent. Then once you’ve accumulated enough stars, you start reaping the rewards.

Green reward level

Once you join, you immediately gain access to the green reward level which comes with a few perks:

  • A free birthday drink or treat. To qualify for the birthday reward, you’ll need to have joined Starbucks Rewards at least seven days before your birthday and made at least one Star-earning purchase with your Starbucks card or app.
  • Promotional offers by email (if you’re opted in). This includes special bonus stars on qualifying purchases.
  • Free refills on hot or iced brewed coffee or tea during the same visit.

For people that like to lounge a little in Starbucks, that last perk is pretty significant. You pay for the one drink and can refill as much as you like while you relax and take it easy reading a book. I can dig it – no free refills at Tims!

Order the smallest possible size and keep refilling to save a little more.

Related: The New Chapters-Indigo Plum Rewards

Gold level (300 or more stars)

Now we’re getting serious. You have to work a little harder to get gold because it requires earning 300 stars within twelve months and, if you want to maintain gold status, you need to get at least 300 stars once every 12 months.

You get all the green level perks plus:

  • A free food or drink item after each 125 stars earned. No, you don’t actually get a free item at 300 stars, it’s technically 425 stars (which is kind of a ripoff).
  • Monthly double star days. Each month there is a day where your entire Starbucks purchase can count for double the amount of stars. If you typically buy coffee beans from Starbucks, purchase them on this day.
  • A personalized gold card. You can use this in place of the mobile app if you want. You can keep topping up your card and earning stars that way. Unfortunately, it isn’t made of real gold – bummer, I know!

Getting to gold can be a real pain, but once you get there it isn’t so bad. A free drink every 125 stars isn’t going to win any accolades for the best rewards program ever, but combined with the other perks, it isn’t bad either. And if you take advantage of the special bonuses for members, only then can you get free drinks quickly.

Get a top flexible travel credit card.
Plus a travel bonus worth another $150.
Only 200 gift cards left.

Maximize your earning potential

Now, the good stuff! Getting a few stars per visit to Starbucks is nice, but you’ll definitely want to amp up those earnings to reach your next reward quicker. Here’s how:

Get more stars per purchase

There are many bonuses that Starbucks Reward members can qualify for. I was awarded 200 stars for making seven different purchases.

On one of those days, I purchased two items, a drink for myself and my wife. Instead of doing it all under one transaction, I ordered them separately which counted as two purchases in my total of seven. If you can maximize your rewards, the barista won’t mind doing separate transactions for you.

Related: 31 Money Apps, Products, and Tools You Should Be Using

Get the app

Getting the app makes earning and tracking your rewards much easier. 

When you’re visiting another country, you can also use your app to pay. However, don’t expect to earn stars for cross-country visits, as not all Starbucks Rewards programs are the same.

The order-in-advance function is a nice feature of the app. This let's you order your to-go beverage or food item from home and pick it up from your closest Starbucks minutes later. Once you arrive, your order is waiting for you to grab and go in their mobile pick-up section in-store.

The only complaint I have is that I wish I could set the time I would like my order to be ready since my drink and sandwich are sometimes ready several minutes before I arrive. If you like your food and drinks piping hot or freezing cold, then this function is probably not one you will use often.

Overall, the app offers a lot of useful benefits:

  • Track your account balance, reward level and current number of stars
  • Top up your account balance if you’re running low
  • Configure your account to auto-reload so your balance never runs dry
  • Add the value of an existing gift card to your account balance
  • See your transaction history to find out exactly when and how many stars you’ve earned, your purchase amounts and your top up history
  • Order through the app

Buy cheap stuff to earn stars

You can get creative when earning stars because you always get two stars no matter what the item costs. For instance, those little instant brew VIA packs cost about $1 each. Some people go so far as to buy single flavour shots over ice, which is much cheaper than an iced latte, and then add the milk themselves at the milk bar.

Drinks are apparently much cheaper this way, although I’ve never tried it myself (and is frowned upon by some).

Bonus star offers

Starbucks has regular promotions that are often targeted to individuals who are subscribed to their promotional emails. Just remember that you need to opt in to these promotions each time in order to get the bonus stars. You can opt in via e-mail or with the app. Also, pay attention to the dates as there is a limited time period the bonuses are valid for.

Credit card discounts for topping up

It can be tempting to choose to have your account automatically topped up when your account balance is running low. However, there is a better option: buy your Starbucks gift cards at a store with a gift card mall that also gives a bonus on your credit card for shopping there.

For instance, if you get bonus cash back on your credit card at the gas station, buy your Starbucks card at that gas station and that bonus will now apply to all your coffee purchases as well.

The Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite is particularly good for this.

Related: Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada 2018

Buy discounted gift cards

Even better than using your credit card for a gift card discount, you can sometimes buy discounted gift cards directly.

Specially marked products

Some products, like specially marked bags of coffee beans, will sometimes come with a bonus code that can be redeemed online for a free star. If you buy Starbucks products anyway, keep your eye out for these bonus codes to pad your star balance.

Choose the perfect reward

Creativity is key when finding ways to maximize the value of your free reward. You get to choose any drink or food reward with very few restrictions (restrictions include alcoholic beverages and multi-serve food and beverage items). So that means any standard Starbucks size (the biggest of course), any type, any add-ins or extras. You name it, you can get it!

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

Can I get any drink or food item I want when I redeem my free reward? What’s included?

With a few exceptions, yes! Your free reward can be redeemed for any handcrafted beverage – any size, any flavour and with whatever add-ons you’d like. Or you can redeem the coupon for any food item, with the exception of whole bakery loaves, trays, multipacks and alcohol.

Free shot of espresso

Many people like to add a shot of espresso to their free drink to pump up the caffeine content and give it some punch.

Why one though? Why not 173? That’s what these people did after all!

While Starbucks encourages patrons to get creative with their free drinks, they discouraged most of these people from actually consuming these overly caffeinated beverages.

Free flavour shot

Yep! You can get flavour shots added for free as well, further increasing the value of your reward. 

Other options

Just ask your local barista what they have available for add-ons in your favourite drink and pick as many as you think would actually taste good and go to town! 173 espresso shots is excessive, but adding a couple makes sense along with some interesting topping and flavour combinations.

Ask your barista what their favorite drink is that isn’t on the menu. You might be pleasantly surprised to have discovered this "secret" drink.

6 months to redeem

Don’t forget, once you get enough stars for a free reward you have six months to redeem before your stars expire. This is a pretty short time frame if you rarely drink at Starbucks, but considering the frequency with which most people drink coffee, it shouldn’t be a problem for most!

Ultra cheap office space

Starbucks used be a great place (it's still good) to get work done for the home office worker.

With free WiFi and power, an inviting environment and unlimited caffeine at your disposal, it makes an attractive alternative to the home office on days when you just need a change.

Once you’re a Starbucks Rewards member, refills are free so you can actually just sit there all day long, drink as much as you want and only ever pay for one cup of joe. $2 for an entire day has got to be the best deal on office space around. If you did this every day, it would only cost $60 a month. Now that’s a cheap lease!

I wouldn’t recommend everyone flock to Starbucks and bum around there all day, everyday or else they’ll have to start kicking people out and change the rules...but it’s certainly nice for the odd change of scenery.

What’s your favourite drink at Starbucks?

Share your favourite drink in the comments to inspire us all for our next visit!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.


Nicolthepickle's picture

I didn't know I had thirty days to redeem. Thanks.

December 03, 2014 @ 10:23 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
No problem, definitely a shorter time period and I bet quite a few people have been frustrated by losing a reward they thought they had earned for good and could use when they wanted to.
December 04, 2014 @ 1:27 pm
 Val's picture

We've been maxing out this program for years, beginning when they had a Starbucks RBC credit card. Groupon periodically has $10 gift ecards for $5, but they get snapped up quickly. The Share the Merry promotion right now is fantastic, especially if you can get coffee on sale; our Save On Foods had small bags of ground coffee for a little over $4 recently; purchasing three of those got me a $10 gift card, which I was able to do twice. You can also redeem 6000 Save On More points for a $10 Starbucks gift card. If you get a Save On More credit card (MBNA) it comes with 24,000 points, which can be redeemed for $40 in Starbucks gift cards. One way or another, we haven't paid anything approaching full price for Starbucks in probably over a decade.

December 07, 2014 @ 1:02 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Very nice tips Val. I was looking at the Share the Merry promo, but we don't really buy or use Starbucks products at home. I might see if I can redeem some Shoppers Optimum points for free Starbucks coffee and get the free gift cards that way.

December 10, 2014 @ 2:51 pm
 Val's picture

Oh, and when I lost a reward for not knowing the 30 day policy; I sent them an email, and they reissued it.

December 07, 2014 @ 1:03 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

At least they're willing to do that. Good for them.

December 10, 2014 @ 2:51 pm
Harley's picture

What is considered a food item. I have a promo offer that if I buy four food items this week I get bonus stars. Is a cookie considered a "food item" or are just the sandwiches?

April 30, 2015 @ 7:05 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a good question. I received the same promo but I'm not planning to use it because I don't think I'll be visiting Starbucks enough to buy 4 food items.

I'm pretty sure any kind of food qualifies including cookies because otherwise they'd have to list that in the fine print. I'd ask your barista when you go to place your order to be sure but I think you'll be safe with anything in the food display case.

May 01, 2015 @ 2:52 pm
G's picture

Right now they have a bonus star promo where you can get 2 bonus stars when you buy iced tea. If get 2 iced teas in one order....will i get bonus stars for each of them (4 bonus stars) or just 2 bonus stars for the entire order?

June 09, 2015 @ 10:22 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You would probably have to read the fine print in the email they sent you to be sure. However, I would definitely consider splitting it across two orders because best case scenario you will get 5 stars if you put them both on one order. If you put them on two separate orders, then you will get 6 stars.

June 12, 2015 @ 2:48 pm
Tex's picture

How I maximize the value of my free drink (after 12 stars) is I'll order 35 ristretto shots in a venti cup. That's a $30 drink (35 ristrettos - note it HAS to be ristretto not just espresso - almost fills the cup to the top). I take it home and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container. Use that highly concentrated coffee to make drinks at home - iced coffees, iced lattes (both cases pour over ice), americanos (mix half and half with boiling water), red eye (add an ounce of ristretto to a cup of regular brewed coffee), affogatos (pour over ice cream), etc. I've never tried but I'm sure it would be perfect for making tiramisu!

The baristas at my local Starbucks beg me not to place that order when they have a lineup because it ties up the espresso machine for 15-20 minutes. (if they're reading this: greetings to Brent, Vella, Steph, Cat, Kelly, Rebecca, et al!)

June 25, 2015 @ 2:07 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Well played Tex, well played!

June 26, 2015 @ 11:15 pm
Tex's picture

Thanks Stephen! I like to tell my Tim Hortons addict friends to give Starbucks a second look. A tall medium roast (or any roast) coffee is $2, about what you'd pay at nasty Tim's. Assuming no bonus star promos, 12 of those cost you $24, earning you 12 stars, which earns a Gold member a free drink. Then turn around and redeem for that $30 drink I explained above.

I challenge anybody to find a loyalty program that generous. You certainly wouldn't earn enough frequent flier miles to fly free to Europe by taking one trip to Florida. You could buy $1000 of stuff and wouldn't be able to redeem it for $1000 worth of rewards on the Air Miles ripoff program. But at Starbucks you could spend $20 (sometimes even less if there are bonus stars) and redeem for a $30 reward. Probably has a lot to do with the profit margin on coffee drinks...

June 27, 2015 @ 2:44 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes it is hard to top that in terms of rewards programs. I think Shoppers Optimum could maybe give them a run for their money, especially if you consider that rewards there are for everyday useful products instead of heavily marked up beverages as you pointed out.

If there is a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons nearby, now I choose Starbucks whereas before I would always go with Tims.

July 02, 2015 @ 3:40 pm
Bern's picture

Hmm..Any way to get more stars when buying the bags of coffee? I usually get two bags of ground espresso per month for home. To get a max of two stars (if I split the bags) for an over $30 purchase seems trivial.

July 08, 2015 @ 12:47 pm
Tex's picture

Watch your emails from them, they often have bonus stars for that (they'll usually be labelled as a "Brew-At-Home" promo), or a coupon code that's tied to your MSR account.

I haven't bought those in awhile as I was able to stock up at the Target liquidation sale (they had most of the Starbucks whole beans and I held out till they were 50% off). That was a better deal than bonus stars IMHO.

July 10, 2015 @ 12:28 am
Tex's picture

Another loophole you can use with the free refills. Buy a tall brewed coffee (request pour-over if it's available!), that'll cost you $2. Once you've finished drinking it, bring the empty cup back to the counter and ask for a venti cold brew iced coffee for your free refill. That's normally $3.75!! Gotta love My Starbucks Rewards, where it's better than buy 1 get 1 free! You can milk this promo further if you carry another container with you to pour the cold brew in, then go back for another. (unlimited refills on the same visit).

July 12, 2015 @ 11:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Wow, I'm very surprised they'll allow you to get an upgrade of any kind on your free refill drink. That seems like a big oversight on their part.

July 13, 2015 @ 2:51 pm
Tex's picture

Starbucks knows exactly what they're doing, there's no oversight. Like the OP said, the profit margin is HUGE on Starbucks products. They can more than cover all the free MSR rewards given out. What it is doing is putting Second Cup and weaker chains (Coffee Culture, independent places) out of business, places that don't have the sales volume to absorb rewards losses. It's taken SBUX 20 years in Canada but the job's almost done. Where I live, Starbucks has 2-10 deep lineups from opening to closing. The Second Cup a block away is dead everytime I see it. Second Cup just recently started getting into the loyalty rewards game, and their program is the "6 stamps to get 1 free coffee" card which is a joke compared to MSR. Too little too late.

Now, I have been to some Starbucks where the refill must be the same size. No problem, they give me a free tall, I drink that down (or pour it into another container), get another tall, and so on.... It's unlimited refills as long as you don't leave the premises.

July 20, 2015 @ 12:58 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, I sit there all day and drink my unlimited free refills sometimes, which is great. Almost free office space like I said.

So what kind of upgrades can you do with this? It sounds like you switched from a regular coffee to an iced coffee, which sounds like a different drink to me. Can I switch from a tall tea to a venti peppermint hot chocolate? What are the rules on this?

July 20, 2015 @ 1:25 pm
Tex's picture

Refills can only be brewed coffee or tea, hot or iced. So that includes iced coffees, or my latest favorite to get as my refill which is the cold brew. So, I don't think hot choc or fraps would qualify, nor can you get a free refill on "reserve" coffees (the kind they brew with the Clover machine).

July 29, 2015 @ 7:15 pm
football's picture

It's great that you are getting thoughts from this post as
well as from our dialogue made at this place.

September 27, 2016 @ 4:27 am
Shane's picture

This is great stuff!

Question. Do you know if you can carry over rewards? I have earned one and am at 11 stars. Can I carry two?

Thanks for all the tips!


July 28, 2015 @ 7:14 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, you can have multiple rewards on your account at a time, but you still do have to keep the 30 day expiry for each of them in mind. The app will remind you when they expire on the payment screen.

July 29, 2015 @ 1:20 pm
elwood's picture

heres one that for me personally works more times than not:i have purchased a sbux 24 oz cold cup and that's what I use to buy ALL my drinks in even if its just a TALL. the reasoning behind this is that if there is more room to fill you will get more of whatever you purchase,
if I buy a venti coffee frappucino with no whip I get a 20 oz cup full but that leaves about 2 oz in the blender where it was mixed... theres nothing wrong its just the mix recipe so that the customer gets a full cup every time. if your cup has extra room in it most Baristas will pour all of whats in the blender into your cup, they do it more often than not if you are NICE and they know you as a regular customer that tips....I don't tip on all my purchases, but I ALLWAYS tip on my rewards free drinks, and on regular purchases where the Barista is nice and overfills my cup!
and on my trips when I'm getting free refills after drinking a frapp, I still use my 24 oz cup and almost without fail it comes back to me filled to the brim with whatever I order. this works without fail once again if the baristas KNOW that you give tips...Allways tip the baristas that fill your cup!
and Allways take a cup with more room than what you are ordering...and don't forget that you get a ten cent cup discount for bringing your own!

September 10, 2015 @ 2:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Really great tip Elwood, thanks!

September 11, 2015 @ 11:24 am
Tex's picture

Another hint, watch those bonus star promo emails carefully, especially the dates they're valid on. Sometimes you'll see several promos that overlap on the same days; I seem to see that a lot with those breakfast sandwiches or the Oprah Chai products (obviously items that they must make the most markup on).

You might get one email saying 2 bonus stars for a sandwich on Monday and Tuesday, and another saying 3 bonus stars for a certain time period (usually a week or two). So get that item on a day that meets both requirements. Helll, get it in the morning and again in the evening.

September 13, 2015 @ 9:22 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Absolutely, stacking promos like that makes perfect sense and is my favourite tactic for saving money. I think I might have gotten overlapping star dash promos even. I haven't had the opportunity to visit Starbucks lately and I wouldn't go out of my way just to take advantage of the promo - but I wish I was drinking Starbucks the last few weeks because I've gotten some good deals in my inbox. Looks like they miss me :)

September 17, 2015 @ 12:22 am
Tex's picture

Stephen et al,
Looks like Starbucks will be changing the program effective April 12 where many of the above tricks will no longer apply (or you have to repeat them a lot more to get a free reward). Anybody have any ideas how to beat the new system? I feel the new plan is a huge downgrade and I've already served notice at my local store that they won't be seeing me much after April 11... They're probably glad to be rid of me and will be counting down the days!

February 29, 2016 @ 2:33 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've heard about the changes Tex, but I haven't spent much time trying to figure out how to maximize the new system. Any advice you guys can give here in the comments would be helpful.

Obviously, this change was done in part because of people who like to get 1 star per item instead of 1 star per transaction. It is a more fair system to be sure, but it sucks for those of us who were maximizing the program.

March 04, 2016 @ 11:44 pm
Perry's picture

Tex & others
Still don't think it's gonna be that hard to get the 300 stars. That's only $150 in a year or less than 3 $5 drinks in a month. A daily $2 tall 5days/week is over 80 stars in a month!!!
With the bonuses still coming (DOUBLE STAR DAYS), should be easy. The expiry date on rewards is actually 38 days now. I just earned one yesterday (28th) and it doesn't expire until Apr 6!!
I don't drink that much coffee but I enjoy the flavoured iced coffee in the summer.

February 29, 2016 @ 7:05 pm
Tex's picture


The problem is, under the current plan you got a free drink every 12 purchases. Assuming $2 talls, now it's a free drink every 63 purchases. You haven't read that yet right? [others have calculated it and that's the major source of complaints]. Someone calculated that to get the same frequency of rewards you have to spend at least $5.30 per day (in other words, overpriced latte/frap drink or add a sandwich). It's the $2 tall drinkers that got the shaft here. Kind of like how the airlines regularly pull the rug out from under infrequent travellers -- just when you thought you finally earned a free trip or a free upgrade for all your troubles they change the rules and you fall short of the requirement. Starbucks is playing that same game -- screw the low-profit customers and attract the big money (business travellers or Frappuccino addicts). The rich get richer...

The analysts and stock pickers all are predicting this was a smart move and will be a huge windfall for the company. I don't care if they're right about it, but not with my money....

February 29, 2016 @ 9:54 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You're absolutely right Tex - a big hit on the frugal folks - and not hurting their more profitable customers and in some cases helping them.

March 04, 2016 @ 11:46 pm
Perry's picture

Sorry, Tex
You're combining/confusing stars and purchases....2 stars per dollar. $2 tall is 4 stars meaning/assuming 32 purchases. Not as good as 12 but not as bad as 63. As I mentioned above, 80 stars/month based on 5/week purchases. The old format would give you a reward and 2/3 to the next. The new format is only 2/3 to the reward. Tim's doesn't do rewards, 2nd cup is after 6 and Mikey D's is after 7. Does this mean we're all leaving the free office space??
Besides, there are all the bonus-type of purchases (macchiato, sandwich, etc) which certainly end up being factored in to speed up your earning.

New Star Dash announced today....make 9 purchases earn 10 BONUS stars (total 19 stars) or make 13 purchases earn 15 BONUS stars (total 25 stars). Lasts until the 14th.

Similar to Stephen Weyman, I get unlimited refills, so on my wait in line for my refill I select a cookie or some other $2 treat and that becomes another purchase. 1 trip, 2 purchases, 5 days, 10 purchases. 10 BONUS stars.

March 01, 2016 @ 2:36 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I saw that Second Cup now had a rewards program. Didn't realize it was after only 6 purchases. That's pretty good. Might have to consider going there more often. Starbucks kind of has me hooked though :(

March 04, 2016 @ 11:48 pm
Tex's picture

How I plan to fight the new rewards program is go all-in with home brewing and no longer buy beverages at Starbucks. I have several French presses, an ibrik, a moka pot, and a Krups espresso machine...

Under the new program, once a month you will have a double star day. (and you'll be emailed to tell you when it is, not the same day for everybody). On that day I will go to the nearest Starbucks Reserve location (none near me have it) and buy 2-3 bags of Reserve beans. If that costs me $40, that'll be $40 x 2 stars per dollar x 2 (double day) = 160 stars. And I'll have enough beans to use at home till the next double star day. I'll only buy drinks when redeeming a free one - in which case it'll be the 36-ristretto-shot venti.

I'm wondering if I can go to the reserve shop and, for my free "drink" , have them fill a Venti frap cup with Panama Geisha beans... that would be value!

March 10, 2016 @ 1:09 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Your mind takes us to amazing places Tex - interesting plan for sure!

March 10, 2016 @ 9:51 am
Tex's picture

My thinking is, you want to spend as much as you can (within reason) on your double star day. It makes no sense for me to go in and buy eight $5 frappuccinos or eight $5 Clover reserve ventis to spend $40 and get my 160 stars, since I couldn't drink all that anyway nor would I just treat my coworkers to all that free expensive coffee in order to earn 1 free drink later. And if I spent $40 on their regular 1 pound bags of beans rather the half-pound Reserve beans, I wouldn't use them up before the next double day (as I'm the only coffee drinker in this house).

March 10, 2016 @ 12:25 pm
Tex's picture

Just a heads-up, today (April 11) is the final day of the old Starbucks Rewards rules. The new, less favorable rules kick in tomorrow. If you've been putting off a visit and are a few stars short of 11, might want to go today. Each old star becomes 11 of the new ones so you optimally want 11 stars on your account by midnight tonight to give you 121 to start (if you hit 12 your balance goes back to 0 as it gets converted to a reward)

April 11, 2016 @ 3:33 pm
Bettie's picture

TEX, is a total smuck!!! Can you imagine how he must try all the different ways to take advantage of any and all companies AND PEOPLE! God, I hope he is not from TEXAS..... I am totally ashamed of him and his total lack of etics. Can you imagine him as an employee or God Forbid, an employer! His tiny brain is constanly trying to find a way to be MOOCHER....UGH....

May 02, 2016 @ 3:10 pm
Tex's picture


I'm a weak amateur compared to people who really know how to milk credit card points, airline frequent flier programs, coupons (ever watched Extreme Couponing?), etc.

I'm only concerned with Starbucks since I am a frequent customer and enjoy their product, but do feel it's overpriced for what you get so if I can maximize value via their rewards scheme then why shouldn't it? Nothing I am doing is illegal or against their rules. If they change their policies then I'll have to plot another strategy or take my business elsewhere. Such is life.

Now if you really want to read about people who take advantage of companies, let me introduce to you a website called Red Flag Deals. These guys make what I do look like child's play.

May 21, 2016 @ 1:06 am
Tex's picture

Old thread but thought I should update everybody on this.

The new rewards program on its own is a lot less generous than the old one. However, what they did to minimize the potential loss of customers (there was a lot of social media backlash especially when people figured out you'd have to spend at least $62.50 to get a free drink rather than $24) was really ramp up the promotions. Seems every week there's some bonus star deal -- buy these 3 items and get 150 (which is more than the 125 to get a freebie), or get 50 stars for every (item of the week) you get this weekend, or buy 7 items get 200 stars, etc. You get 1 (sometimes 2) double star days a month, and a few times they've even had triple star days!

So the strategy for me is, I never go to Starbucks unless there's one of these bonus star promos running (and only if they involve items I want to have, obviously). Sometimes promos run concurrently - you might have, say, a Star Dash or Menu Challenge that goes for 7 days, but also a weekend bonus promo. If you can make your purchases qualify for more than one promo your stars will multiply fast.

The best thing about the new program is stars expire in 6 months. Under the old plan you had I believe 1 month to redeem a freebie, now you can hoard your freebies and use them all at once as long as the stars hadn't expired. Note that the birthday freebie still has the old 48 hour rule (you can redeem on your birthday or the day after, that's it).

March 02, 2017 @ 3:47 am
Molly's picture

Just want to ask the knowledgeable folks here. Few months ago I noticed the stars expiry date on my app and online disappeared, I asked SB and they simply told me for Canadian residents the stars don't expire anymore.

I was happy and kept my stars unused until yesterday, they sent me an email saying theres 1625 stars expiring in Nov, which is 20 days away, I asked them again, they then explained only Ontario residents are protected.. Well I'm don't live in Ontario, and if thats the case, why did they take away stars exp. function on both the apps and online?

Any one has the same issue?


October 12, 2017 @ 2:33 am
Terry's picture

The best possible way to max my savings at Starbucks is to avoid buying Starbucks!

I have purchased coffee beans for years (mostly fair trade) and grid fresh each day and perk a pot and yet to taste a Starbucks coffee that can touch the flavour and aroma.

Besides I too stingy to pay such prices for a coffee.
Good work on the site - thanks for the great posts too.

September 11, 2018 @ 1:34 pm
Marni Andrews
Marni Andrews's picture

Hi Molly, this is an old thread but hopefully you get this. The site wouldn't accept this as a direct reply to you so starting a new thread.

I'm in Ontario and a month or so ago Starbucks deleted about 400 stars from my account saying they'd expired! I called to complain after I'd gone to a store expecting to redeem for 2 free drinks only to be told I didn't have enough stars to cover it. They reinstated the stars because I squawked but believe me they do expire!

September 11, 2018 @ 5:32 pm
myfreedom59's picture

Here are two tips I use to get more value from purchases at Starbucks.

I don't drink coffee so order tea, hot chocolate or tea lattes occasionally. I find that the tall size is not enough water and the tea is too strong for me but resent paying a higher price for grande when it is just more hot water and still one tea bag. I ask for a tall tea in a grande (or venti, if I am thirsty) cup. I am charged the price of a tall tea but they fill the grande cup full of hot water. This gives me a grande cup of tea for a tall cup price.

Ask for your receipt. Most folks don't bother taking their receipts these days. Besides being a poor habit for money management, they are missing out on savings. Frequently, Starbucks will run promos whereby you bring bring the receipt to any Starbucks after a specified time and get a discount on a product. Usually the receipts will offer a specified type of drink for 50% off after 2 pm. Sometimes the offer will be a buy one, get one free drink offer after a certain time. Once the promo was get a two-for-one deal on breakfast sandwiches if you brought the receipt to any Starbucks before 10 am the next day.

September 12, 2018 @ 12:43 am
myfreedom59's picture

Forgot to mention -- these offers are on the bottom of the receipt. Ask for the receipt and read the print at the bottom.

(Stephen, just a note, you may want to update this article and others where Shoppers Optimum is mentioned. Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus merged to become the PC Optimum rewards program. Referring to the old program name may be confusing for folks new to rewards programs.)

September 12, 2018 @ 12:49 am
Danielle Boudreau
Danielle Boudreau's picture

myfreedom59, Thank you for your input and thank you for pointing that out. It's important to us to have accurate information – we will be updating accordingly.

September 12, 2018 @ 10:53 am

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