X

Starbucks Just Made It a Lot Harder to Redeem Stars for Free Coffee

There are 30 million Starbucks Rewards members in the US.

dan-avery-6315-1
dan-avery-6315-1
Dan Avery Former Writer
Dan was a writer on CNET's How-To and Thought Leadership teams. His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, NBC News, Architectural Digest and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Expertise Personal finance, government and policy, consumer affairs
Dan Avery
2 min read
Starbucks cup sitting on mountain of coins

It now takes 200 stars to get a free latte, up from 150.

Holy Hikaru/Getty Images

Starbucks has totally revamped its rewards program, and some coffee hounds are bitter about it. On Feb. 13, the ubiquitous coffee chain increased the number of stars required to get many menu items for free.

Instead of 50 stars for a hot coffee or tea, it now takes 100. And you'll have to rack up 200 stars to get a complimentary latte or Frappuccino, up from 150.
A Starbucks spokesperson told CNET the company occasionally recalibrates its tiers "to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Starbucks Rewards program and to meet the changing needs of our members." 

Some of the 30 million Starbucks Rewards members in the US have expressed their dissatisfaction.

"Can we all just *stop drinking* @Starbucks? The changes to #StarbucksRewards ARE TERRIBLE," one person tweeted. "How much more do they want? #Starbucks doesn't deserve its customers. Spare me the #Inflationsrate tears. Their shareholders are taking the same or more amount of money. #GoodByeStarbucks."

For more on coffee, see what a Starbucks drink costs versus the equivalent beverage at Dunkin'

How has the Starbucks Reward program changed?

The Seattle-based chain has adjusted its reward tiers. Many items now require more stars to attain, while a handful require fewer.

Increased

  • Hot coffee or tea, baked goods and packaged snacks will be 100 stars, up from 50.
  • Lattes, frappuccinos, parfaits and hot breakfast items will be 200 stars, up from 150.
  • Sandwiches, salads and protein boxes are 300 stars, up from 200.

Decreased

  • Iced coffee (not including cold brew) and iced tea will be 100 stars, down from 150 stars.
  • Packaged coffee will be 300 stars, down from 400 stars.
  • Select merchandise will be 100 stars, down from 200 stars.

What are the new Starbucks Rewards tiers?

Here's a rundown of the new Starbucks Rewards levels.

Starbucks Rewards Tiers

Level Reward
25 stars Customize your drink with an extra shot of espresso, dairy substitute or syrup
100 stars Brewed hot or iced coffee or tea, a bakery item, packaged snacks and core reusable plastic to-go cups
200 stars Handcrafted beverages (latte, macchiato, Frappuccino, etc.), cold brew beverages and hot breakfast items
300 stars Lunch sandwich, protein box, salad and packaged coffee
400 stars Signature mug, tumbler and coffee merchandise up to $20

How do you earn Starbucks stars?

Customers who are registered in the Starbucks Rewards program earn a point for every dollar they spend. If you use a registered Starbucks card for your purchase, you get two stars for each dollar spent.

If you pay with cash or your credit card, you'll have to spend $100 to get an iced coffee or $200 to get a free latte.

How can I earn bonus Starbucks stars?

Members can earn bonus stars through personalized offers on designated Double Star Days and by bringing in a reusable cup for their beverage. 

Bonus star challenges are also posted frequently on the Starbucks app.

In October, Starbucks launched a program that allows reward members to earn double stars on days they travel with Delta airlines. In addition, they receive a Delta SkyMile for each dollar spent at Starbucks.

Read on: Here's How Much Starbucks Costs Versus Making Coffee at Home