The Starbucks Rewards program is a loyalty program that rewards members for purchasing drink and food items at Starbucks and select coffee items at grocery stores. The program as features an elite status tier called “Starbucks Gold,” which comes with several great benefits.
How Do I Earn Starbucks Gold Card Status?
You qualify for Starbucks Gold status after earning 30 stars in one year from registering your card. The day you join the program is your anniversary date, so you will need to earn the 30 stars before your anniversary date next year. Stars earned from both regular purchases and bonus stars count toward Gold status.
Once you register your Starbucks card on their website, you are eligible to earn “Stars” for food or beverage purchases at their stores. Read below for tips and tricks for maximizing the Starbucks Rewards program benefits.
Starbucks Gold Card Benefits
You get several great benefits by being a Gold Card member.
- Personalized gold card (sent by mail after you earn the status, usually takes a few weeks)
- Free beverage after earning 12 stars (valid for any drink even a gigantic venti latte with 8 shots, three syrups, soy milk, and extra whip cream, not that anyone would want this of course). The free drink is also valid for bottled drinks such as fresh juices, smoothies, iced tea, skinny cow milk and bottled Frappucinnos.
- Free brewed coffee refills (applies to both hot and iced coffee)
- Exclusive offers (make sure you opt in by logging into your account at Starbucks.com
As you can see there are quite a number of benefits with Starbucks Gold Card status. It makes going out of your way to register your card and keeping track of your star earnings worth it.
Tips and Tricks To Accelerate Earning Starbucks Gold Card Status
1. Coffee refills
One of my favorite, lesser known tricks to earn Gold Card status faster is by buying a tall drip coffee and then getting a refill. Starbucks will charge you 50 cents for the refill, but the refill counts as a purchase and qualifies for a Star. You are effectively buying a star for only 50 cents. Aside from earning bonus stars, this is quite possibly the cheapest way to earn a star.
2. Grocery store coffee purchases
Grocery store coffee purchases are another good way to earn stars quickly. Most grocery stores sell 12 oz Starbucks coffee bags, which have a sticker on the front that earns a star. If you want to earn some stars quickly you could buy a few bags at the grocer store, and then enter the stars on Starbucks website before you consume the coffee.
3. Bonuses on the website
Occasionally Starbucks will put a video or bulletin on their website talking about how they are environmentally friendly and try to pay a fair price to coffee farmers. To reward you for watching the video or reading the bulletin, they will give you a free star. Just log into the website and click on “My Starbucks Rewards” to see if there are any offers available to you. Of course earning a star this way is free, so it’s obviously better than the refill strategy explained above.
Starbucks Rewards Membership Levels
- Basic Level (Must register your card online or on the mobile app)
- Green Level (Requires earning 5 stars in one year)
- Gold Level (Requires earning 30 stars in one year)
How Do I Earn Stars from Starbucks Rewards?
- Purchase a hot or cold beverage at Starbucks = 1 Star
- Purchase any food item = 1 Star
If you are a Starbucks Gold member you will receive coupons via the app and email offering opportunities to earn bonus stars. Some of the offers I have received in the past include:
- Starbucks Star Dash – Earn 25 bonus stars if you earn 25 stars in a 30-day period
- Bonus for food items – Earn a 2 bonus stars for buying a pastry item
- Bonus for drinks after 2:00 pm – Earn a bonus star for buying a drink after 2:00 pm
- Bonus for auto-reloading your card – Earn 6 bonus stars for setting auto-reload on your card
- Bonus for buying coffee beans – Earn 5 bonus starts for buying coffee in the grocery store
- Bonus for gifting a Starbucks card – Earn a bonus star for sending a friend a gift card
As you can tell there are many different ways to earn drinks even faster by participating in bonus star offers.
While the concept is simple, there are some nuances to their program that should be understood. First, you can only earn one “star” per transaction. This means that if you buy two drinks in one order, you can only earn one star, not two. While this policy seems contrary to common sense, it serves multiple purposes for Starbucks. First, most customers do not even know about this policy, so this saves Starbucks money on handing out additional stars unnecessarily. Second, Starbucks has stated that the policy is intended to reward customers for visiting their store, not for how many items they buy, so they are attempting to get customers into the habit of visiting their stores more often rather than buying more and visiting less often.
How Do I Register For Starbucks Rewards?
To register for the Starbucks Rewards program you must follow these steps:
- Visit a store and load funds onto a Starbucks Card (this will activate the card so that you can register it)
- Go online to their website, or download their mobile app and register your card using the number and pin on the back.
- Buy a coffee, latte, cappuccino, or food item at a Starbucks store and begin earning rewards!
The Starbucks Rewards program is a great way to earn free drinks and benefits for visiting their stores. I actually think that Starbucks has done a good job building up this program and their marketing department does a very good job providing Gold customers with valuable offers that reward their loyalty.