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Starbucks Rewards: Major Loyalty Program Changes

April 30, 2019, BY

Starbucks has recently made some major changes to their Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. We break down the changes and new rewards available.

canadian loyalty programs starbucks rewards

It’s our mission at to review and rank all loyalty programs so that Canadians know which ones save them the most money.

Keep reading to find the answers to questions like:

What Is Starbucks Rewards Canada?

Starbucks Rewards is the Starbucks loyalty program that gives customers extra incentive to keep buying pumpkin spice lattes and cinnamon roll frappuccinos, among other tasty drinks and snacks.

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With this program, customers can earn points on purchases made and then redeem them for free food and drinks, access to exclusive promotions, birthday freebies, and other discounts.

The program has many features and benefits, but don’t worry, we break it down and explain how it all works below!

What Do I Get With Starbucks Rewards?

To put it simply, when you join Starbucks Rewards you get points for every dollar you spend that you can exchange for free drinks and food.

You’ll also get:

Looking for more freebies from your favourite coffee shops and restaurants? Check out our free samples from top Canadian brands right here, we update them every day!

What Are “Stars”?

Starbucks refers to the points members earn as “stars”.

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  • All members start at Green Level earning 2 stars for every $1 spent
  • Once you reach Gold Level, you’ll unlock bonus rewards and special events that will earn you more stars. Learn more about the program levels here.
  • It’s important to note that even if you are a rewards member, you must load money onto your Starbucks account and make your purchase through your app and/or rewards card to earn stars.
  • If you make your purchase with cash, debit, or credit, you will not get any stars on that purchase.

New Rewards Changes

Starbucks has announced some new changes! They are now offering rewards starting at only 25 stars!

The new rewards levels and freebies are:

  • 25 Stars — extra espresso shot, dairy substitute or additional flavour
  • 50 Stars — brewed hot coffee, hot tea or select bakery items
  • 150 Stars — handcrafted drinks, hot breakfast or yoghurt parfaits
  • 250 Stars — lunch sandwiches, protein box or salad
  • 400 Stars — select merchandise or at-home packaged coffee

What Are Members Only Offers?

Once you join the Starbucks loyalty program, you’ll get access to exclusive members only offers and promotions.

For example, they’ve reintroduced their “happy hours” in January 2019:

On Thursday, January 24, Starbucks will bring back its popular “Happy Hour” with a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) offer on espresso drinks and Frappuccinos, size grande or larger. The deal is good from 3pm to close at participating locations all across the country. When you stop in, you can use the deal for hot or cold espresso drinks or any Frappuccino (except for those liquid-y pre-packaged ones). 

Dustin Nelson,

They also host double star days once a month where members can get 4 stars for every $1 spent on certain items (similar to the double points event days with the popular PC Optimum program.)

You’ll also receive special chances to earn more stars through email, like the popular menu challenge where you must sample certain items for bonus stars.

Bonus Tip: Brewing at home? Starbucks will also give you stars for buying their products at grocery stores and participating Starbucks Stores, so keep your eyes open for these items:

  • Starbucks® Ready-to-Drink beverages, including:
  • Starbucks® Doubleshot® Energy Coffee 405 ml,
  • Frappuccino® chilled coffee drink, 444 ml
  • Starbucks® Roast and Ground Coffee (10–12 oz)
  • Starbucks® Roast and Ground Coffee (18–20 oz)
  • Starbucks® Roast and Ground Coffee (32–40 oz)
  • Starbucks® K-Cup® Packs (10 count)
  • Starbucks® K-Cup® Packs (24 count)
  • Starbucks® K-Cup® Packs (54 count)

Just upload your receipt here to earn your more stars!

How Do I Sign Up?

You can register for Starbucks Rewards online here or by downloading the Starbucks Rewards app for Canada from Google or Apple.

If you’re not into the app and want to use the card, you can either use an existing Starbucks gift card you have or you can sign up online and they’ll give you a free digital card. The card you use or get after signing up will become your Starbucks Rewards card.

If you get a card and the app, both accounts will be linked together so you can use them both.

How I Do Load Money Onto My Account?

As we mentioned earlier, you must pay with your Starbucks app or card to earn stars, so once you’ve signed up please follow these steps:

  • Load money onto your card at a Starbucks store with either cash, debit or credit
  • You can also load your card online with a credit card.
  • No card? You can load money onto your app using a credit card too.
  • Remember if you’re using the app to check out your personalized offers based on your past purchases!

Bonus Tip: If you don’t want to have extra money sitting on your account, ask for your total after you’ve ordered at a Starbucks location. You can then ask the barista to load that specific amount onto your account to pay. This way, you’re still earning stars but staying within your coffee budget!

What Does Starbucks Gold Level Mean?

You may have heard people talking about being a Starbucks Gold Level members. Basically, Starbucks divides their program into 2 categories: Green Level and Gold Level.

When you first join, you’ll be a Green Level rewards member. If you earn 300 stars within the first 12 months of joining (that works out to about $150 per year or $12.50 per month), you’ll be upgraded to Gold Level.  For most Starbucks fans, this is very doable.

Bring on the free frapps!

Once you reach Gold Level, you’ll get to enjoy:

  • Monthly double star days where you earn 4 stars for every $1 spent
  • A free personalized Gold rewards card
  • A free food or drink reward for every 125 stars you earn

Do Starbucks Rewards Expire?

The main complaint people have about this loyalty program is that your stars can expire. The expiration rules change depending on whether you are aGreen Level or Gold Level member:

Green Level

If you do not earn at least 1 new star during each 12-month period, your star balance will reset to 0 and you may no longer be eligible to receive Starbucks Rewards benefits.

Gold Level

You must earn at least 300 new stars during each 12-month period after you have reached the Gold Level to maintain your status. If not, you will no longer be a Gold Level member and your stars will reset.

How Do I Get My Birthday Reward?

One of the most popular perks of the Starbucks Rewards program is the free birthday reward. We know many people who join the loyalty program just for this!

You will receive an email 1-3 days before your birthday with the details of your birthday freebie. If you use the rewards app, you’ll get the notification on the app.

There are 2 conditions for getting this reward:

  • You must join the program at least 7 days prior to your birthday.
  • You must have made at least one purchase on your account prior to your birthday.

Love free stuff on your birthday?
Get more birthday freebies here

Our Starbucks Rewards Rating: 3 / 5

starbucks rewards

Why this rating?

The Good

We think this an awesome loyalty program if you love Starbucks and go there frequently. You can easily earn stars and leverage the extra offers to earn freebies that will offset your usual coffee budget. Plus, who doesn’t love a birthday freebie?

The Bad

If you do not go to Starbucks often, then this loyalty program isn’t going to be that valuable to you.

You have to spend about $150 per year (on certain products) to upgrade your status to Gold Level and maintain that every year afterwards to avoid a star reset. The bottom line is, if you’re not already buying from Starbucks then you’re not really saving anything on your current spending.

The program also loses some points from us because you have to load money onto your account card or app and use that to make your purchases. Some people aren’t aware of this rule and lose out on their first stars by unknowingly using their regular debit or credit card.

So please, remember to load money onto your account!

How did we get this rating? We always ask ourselves these 5 questions:

  1. Is it easy to sign up?
  2. Is it easy to earn points and rewards?
  3. Are there different ways to earn points and rewards?
  4. Do rewards or points expire or have other limitations?
  5. Is it worthwhile to redeem points or rewards?

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