It Looks Like Starbucks May Be Changing How Customers Earn Loyalty Program Rewards Points

UPDATE #2: And there we have it. Starbucks confirmed the changes Monday morning during a phone call with press and investors, and the new system will be exactly what we thought it would be.

UPDATE: As of Sunday night, Feb. 21, we haven’t heard back from Starbucks. But the company did announce it’s going to announce changes to its rewards program early on Monday morning, so we’ve got a pretty good guess about what that might be.

Starbucks issued a press release on Sunday saying that the company will “discuss loyalty program updates.” We reached out to the company a second time to see if they had anything to say about our recent report, and again, will update this post if we hear back.


If you’re a member of the My Starbucks rewards loyalty program, you’re used to earning one point — or Stars, as they’re called in this case — every time you buy anything from the company, whether it’s a sandwich and coffee in a store or a mug online. It seems that system could be changing as of April, if a photo of an informational pamphlet proves to be the real thing.

The Starbucks Geek Twitter account posted a photo of a person who appears to be in a bathroom or a kitchen holding what looks like a flyer from Starbucks alerting MSR members of the change: starting in April, instead of earning one Star per purchase, members will instead rack up two Stars per $1 spent.

In the notice, Starbucks says this is the “#1 member-requested update,” adding that there will be other changes made to the program to accompany the new points system. For one, Starbucks will remove the Welcome level “so so all new members see Green-level benefits right away,” which, if nothing else changes about the Green level, basically means you don’t have to wait until you earn at least five points in order to get free in-store refills on hot or iced brewed coffee and tea.

The company is also adding more ways to collect Stars, the pamphlet says, including Double-Star Days for Gold members every month.

As one would expect, the threshold to earn rewards has also been raised — otherwise it’d be pretty easy to reach reward levels with a single purchase. For example, in the old system, it would take you 30 purchases to earn 30 stars and reach the highest level of rewards members, whereas under the new regime, you could buy espresso drinks for a few friends and hit 30 stars during one visit, and 300 stars to reach Gold level.

There’s a handy chart included, which we’ve recreated below:

1 Star per visit 2 Stars per $1 spent
30 Stars to Gold level 300 Stars to Gold level
12 Stars for a free reward in Gold level 125 Stars for a free reward in Gold level
Welcome, Green & Gold levels Green & Gold levels, (plus new Gold benefits

Because the value of each Star you’ve currently got in your account won’t matter much when the change hits, the notice says that Stars in user accounts will multiply on launch day to reflect the update.

“Be sure to check your email in the upcoming weeks for more information on what this change means for you, plus ways to make the most of your current Stars [finger covering words] new program launches,” the notice reads.

There’s also a website for questions, which, at the time we checked, resulted in a blank page in Chrome and an error message in Firefox:

Again, we can’t be sure this photo is the real deal at this point. We’ve reached out to Starbucks to confirm the changes indicated in this photo, and will update this post when we hear back.