Starbucks Is Getting Rid of Its Gold Tier So You Can Earn Free Coffee Even Quicker

Starbucks regulars know that the coffee chain’s Rewards Program is an easy way to reap benefits. With the current system, Gold members can claim a free drink or food item for every 125 stars earned. But starting April 16, Starbucks is tweaking the system to benefit less frequent customers, too—as in, no Gold status will be needed to earn rewards. Instead, all members can earn rewards, and the rewards themselves are tiered instead. Let’s break down the changes, shall we?

Refresh my memory on the current program…

So, right now, for every $1 spent, customers that are signed up as rewards members earn two stars. If you reach between 0 and 299 stars in a given year, you’re in the green level. Once you surpass 300 stars, you’re a gold member. At that point, you’ll start earning a free reward for every 125 stars you earn. It can be redeemed for any drink or food, including baked goods, packaged foods, and hot items.

Aren’t there other benefits, too?

Yes! Green and gold level members get free in-store refills and a birthday reward.

So, what’s changing?

As of April 16, everyone with an account will be eligible to earn rewards as they go, regardless of status. Per a Starbucks spokesperson, “Starbucks Rewards will move to a single-level program where all members can begin to earn Stars toward free Rewards from the day they join.” Gold card members, don’t get too heartbroken…you can benefit from the change too, even if you’re not quite as ~elite~ anymore.

Instead of waiting to get to 125 stars to cash in a reward, members can redeem smaller amounts of stars for less pricey buys—25 stars gets you an extra espresso shot or dairy substitute, for example, while 50 stars can be used toward brewed hot coffee, hot tea, or select bakery items.

What about more expensive stuff?

Good question. While the new system is nice for people who don’t spend quite as much money at Starbucks (taking out double star days, you’d have to spend $62.50 to earn a reward with the previous system; now, you can earn a free drink after spending $25), it does mean more expensive items require more stars. To get a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast, or yogurt parfait, you now need 150 stars; to redeem a lunch sandwich or protein box, which used to be my go-to when I had a reward to use, you’ll need to have 200 stars.

TL:DR? You can no longer cash in on the most expensive thing in the store when you hit your reward, but you can earn rewards faster.

Got it. Anything else I should know?

If you have a Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card or Starbucks Rewards Visa Credit Card, your stars will never expire. Stockpile those babies and ball out, if you so choose! Oh, and the green level rewards will still apply—as long as you’ve made a purchase after creating an account, you’ll be eligible for a free drink when your birthday rolls around.

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