Any time an airline switches from a loyalty program based on miles flown, to a program based on dollars spent, there is a collective groan among budget travelers. I recently whined about how American Airlines will be the latest airline to make that change starting in August.
When Starbucks made a similar move to a revenue-based program in April, I thought it’d be the end of getting free drinks for me. (Free drinks– may sound petty, but they can be quite lucrative for your taste buds and your wallet.)
A few months in, and I’ve come to the realization: Free drinks are flowing faster than ever. And I don’t even go to Starbucks that often.
Here is how it happened:
- Before April of this year, Starbucks Gold members would earn a free drink for every 12 drinks purchased, no matter the amount spent on those drinks. You could easily earn a free drink after spending only around $25 on 12 small cups of coffee.
- Now, Gold members have to earn 125 stars to get a free drink, and 2 stars are earned for every dollar spent.
- This means in theory, that you have to spend a little over $62 to earn a free drink. $25 before, $62 now. If you kept the same drink habits, you’d earn fewer than half the free drinks you did previously, right? Maybe not.
- Starbucks is making it really easy to earn stars. In addition to the monthly double-star day, when each dollar spent earns 4 stars, Starbucks sends challenges of different sorts about once a week that can get the stars flying in. Like this one:My drink of choice is the Starbucks Double-Shot On Ice, which is the hidden gem of Starbucks espresso drinks and the best espresso bang for your buck. I earned 75 bonus stars just for purchasing what I normally purchase.
- Here are a few other star promotions Starbucks has sent:
While previously I would get a free drink a few times per year, I now seem to have more free drinks than I’m able to drink. Am I a free drink hoarder?
Here is more info on the rewards program benefits:
Quick tip: Did you notice the free refill benefit above? Anybody with a registered account gets that benefit. Spend a morning reading and sipping endless iced coffee… Pack a lunch and stay all day. Order a Tall (small) iced coffee, with Breve (half&half) for a couple bucks and get all the free refills you like. If you like it sweet, ask for a pump or two of white mocha.
For tips on how to drink Starbucks on a budget and get the best value out of your free drinks, check out my earlier post here.
Maybe I’ve been brainwashed into visiting more often and spending more money, just like they planned, but it doesn’t feel like it. I still only visit a handful of times per month. A couple handfuls at most.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions. Am I a victim of their evil plan to get more money out of me? Please let me know.