Food & Drink
Starbucks Rewards' changes for 2023 make some freebies pricier.

Starbucks Rewards Changes For 2023 Make Some Freebies Pricier

Your iced coffee reward will be easier to come by, though!

Starbucks Rewards loyalists are about to have a major shake-up in their morning routine. The coffee giant announced some tweaks to its Rewards program on Wednesday, Dec. 28, and the changes may affect how you spend your Stars. With higher point thresholds, Starbucks Rewards’ changes for 2023 make some freebies pricier, which means you might have to first earn and then shell out more Stars than you’re used to. Here’s what you need to know before the updates take effect in February 2023.

Say goodbye to Starbucks Rewards as you know it, because things are about to look different. The company announced its updated terms of use for 2023, and the changes include some serious adjustments to its Rewards program, specifically about how members will be able to redeem their Stars for free goodies. Starting Feb. 13, 2023, there will no longer be an option to redeem 50 or 150 Stars, and some of your favorite freebies, like brewed hot coffees or handcrafted beverages, are going to require more Stars than they do now. That being said, some options will actually be worth less Stars than they are now. So depending on you how like to spend your Stars, the updates will either be a nice change for 2023, or you may end up adding “start making coffee at home” to your New Year’s resolutions.

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Starbucks Rewards Changes 2023

The new system will remove two of the Star redemption tiers altogether, and shift prizes around to other tiers as well. Here’s how it works.

What’s New?

With the new system, you’ll no longer be able to exchange 50 or 150 Stars for a freebie. It’s kind of a bummer, but thankfully the options that come with these tiers aren’t going away forever — they’re just going to cost you more. With the soon-to-be-old system, if you earned two Stars for every $1 spent, it would cost you $25 to earn 50 Stars for a free brewed hot coffee, tea, or bakery item. Under the new system, it’ll cost you $50 to earn 100 Stars for the same thing.

There are several freebies that’ll be worth less Stars than they are now, too. Instead of saving up 200 Stars to snag some swag, you’ll be able to exchange your points for select cup styles for only 100 Stars. Plus, iced coffee (not including Cold Brew beverages) and iced tea (not including iced tea lemonades) will be worth 100 Stars, down from 150, and packaged coffee can be redeemed for 300 Stars instead of 400.

On the current system, if you earn two Stars for every $1 spent, you’re required to spend $75 to snag a free iced coffee. Starting mid-February, it’ll cost you $50 to earn 100 Stars (if you earn two Stars for every $1 spent, that is).

Starbucks Rewards Updated Star Redemption Tiers:

According to a Starbucks spokesperson, not all the Star redemption tiers are listed in the new terms. Here’s what your Rewards Stars will get you once the changes take effect:

  • 25 Stars: Customize a drink with an extra shot of espresso, dairy substitute, syrup or sauce. Any customizations over $1 can be redeemed by paying the difference between the price and the $1 Reward credit.
  • 100 Stars: Brewed hot or iced coffee or tea, a bakery item, packaged snacks, one Cold Siren Logo Plastic To-Go Cup (24-ounce only), or one Siren Logo Plastic Hot Cup (16-ounce only).
  • 200 Stars: Any handcrafted beverages (including Cold Brew beverages) or a hot breakfast.
  • 300 Stars: One lunch sandwich, protein box, salad, or a packaged coffee.
  • 400 Stars: A signature mug, drink tumbler, or coffee merchandise up to $20. Any items over $20 can be redeemed by paying the difference between the price and the $20 Reward credit.

According to the terms of use, you’ll only be able to redeem your Stars for one of the items available for your redemption tier.

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When Does Starbucks Rewards’ Updated Terms Of Service Take Effect?

The new Starbucks Rewards system takes effect on Feb. 13, 2023, so if you’ve got enough points for a free brewed hot coffee, tea, or bakery item (50 Stars), you might want to redeem them before it’s too late.

How To Earn Starbucks Rewards Stars 2023

According to a Starbucks spokesperson, there will be no changes to how members can earn Stars. In case you need a refresher, here are some of the ways to earn Rewards:

  • Paying for your purchase with a Starbucks Card will earn you two Stars for every $1 spent at participating locations.
  • Paying in-person with a Starbucks Card at a participating location, or scanning your Starbucks Rewards barcode and paying with a gift card will earn you two Stars for $1 spent.
  • Paying for your purchase with a linked payment method (either a credit or debit card, or a mobile wallet option) in the app will earn you one Star for every $1 spent at participating stores.
  • Scanning your Starbucks Rewards barcode in the app before paying with cash, card, or mobile wallet will earn you 1 Star for every $1 spent at participating locations.
  • Entering Star codes via the Rewards webpage may earn you a varying number of Stars. Star codes may, from time to time, be distributed through promotional materials. You can redeem a maximum of two Star codes per day.
  • Starbucks employees can either register their "partner" Starbucks Card to their account and scanning the barcode in the app, or use a physical “partner” Card prior to their purchase to earn three Stars for every $1 spent.
  • Starbucks employees with their “partner” Starbucks Card registered to their Starbucks Rewards account can earn two Stars for every $1 spent.

You’ll also be able to earn Stars through promotional programs, like Starbucks For Life. Members will still be eligible for other benefits including the free Birthday Reward, the Reusable Cup Benefit (which allows customers to earn 25 bonus Stars when they opt to fill their drink in a reusable cup), and free refill(s) of hot or iced brewed coffee and tea in-store, according to the spokesperson.

Do Starbucks Rewards Stars Expire?

According to the terms, Stars will expire “six months after the calendar month in which such Stars were earned.” That means if you earned some Stars through Starbucks For Life on Dec. 15, 2022, those Stars will expire on July 1, 2023.

Your Stars won’t expire, however, if you earned them by using a Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card or the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card Rewards Program. If your account is closed or expired, your Stars will expire six months after the account was shut down. These terms won’t change after updated Starbucks Rewards terms take effect, but it’s good to keep in mind anyway.

The updated terms also states Starbucks reserves the right to “change or modify these Terms of Use or any policy, FAQ, or guideline pertaining to Starbucks Rewards, in whole or in part, at any time and in its sole discretion,” so make sure to keep any eye out for any modifications throughout the year.