As I woke up Tuesday morning, got ready for work and was set to order my usual Blonde Vanilla Iced Latte, the Starbucks app alerted me to some changes.
You'd think a regular would have known that changes were coming to the Starbucks Rewards program, but it's been a hectic few weeks, and I was out of the loop.
As I navigated through the app, I still had my 1,417 accumulated stars, which I earned through buying A LOT of Starbucks, and previously equaled 11 free food or drink items at a future time of my choosing.
Those 11 freebies disappeared.
Instead I am now forced to use those stars toward their new tiered system.
The new rewards now follow a 25, 50, 150, 200 and 400 star tier of options, and it is not the best news for regulars.
You see it used to be that 125 total stars gave you the ability to receive any food or drink item, for free. If you knew how to work the system, you knew to save those stars for your Venti drinks or lunch sandwiches to really get the bang for your buck.
That free lunch sandwich will now come at the price of 200 earned stars instead of 125. That means the 11 free sandwiches that I was expecting to get with my previous rewards, has dwindled down to no more than seven.
I LOST 4 FREE LUNCH SANDWICHES OVERNIGHT.
We ? all of our Starbucks Rewards Members and wanted to make it easier for everyone to turn Stars into Rewards. While some items may require more Stars, you should still have all of your Stars and now you can use them in more ways.— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 17, 2019
In terms of how much you have to spend in order to get that free lunch sandwich now, you'd have to buy about 25 grande drinks, when it used to be about 16. You still get two stars per whole dollar spent.
Going from 125 earned stars to 200 stars means you'd have to buy about nine more grande drinks than you used to at an average of $4.50 per drink.
At best, to simplify it even more, you have to essentially spend about $100 (12 grande drinks, give or take) for that free sandwich perk instead of roughly $62 (9 grande drinks, give or take).
The positive way Starbucks is framing their rewards changes, is better for the casual drinker, as they can use less stars to get smaller items such as hot coffee, a bakery item or hot tea. That's nice, but it does nothing for the frequent users, who are also their regular, loyal customers.
The 150-star perk is closest to what we're used to, as you can use it for any sized handcrafted drink, but even then, you still have to earn 25 more stars than before. That might not seem like a big difference, but it's still at least two to four more drinks you have to purchase to earn enough stars.
Starbucks regulars immediately noticed how bad the change was for them, and took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
Starbucks is making their rewards cost more stars and I've never been more mad about a company's corporate decision than i am now— عسل? (@huggingpeterpan) April 15, 2019
starbucks rewards just got worse.email intro says, "you now have more choices” but i just see that i need 20% more points than before for a free drink. — Caleb Brandalise (@calebsbrand) April 15, 2019
Aside from the convenience of a Starbucks being right next door to the Foodbeast office, I really only frequented knowing my loyalty would pay off in the form of cool rewards. With this change, I might just walk a couple blocks down to get cheaper and probably better coffee at a mom and pop coffee shop.
I guess in that way, good for you Starbucks; you're helping the little guy take your formerly loyal customers.