IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Starbucks announces changes to rewards program, cost of a ‘free’ drink is increasing

Beginning Feb. 13, Starbucks will start implementing changes to its rewards program.

Now that Starbucks is making changes to its popular rewards program, customers will have to spend a little bit more if they want to get something free off the menu.

Earlier this week, Starbucks sent an email to its rewards patrons that said beginning Feb. 13, the coffee chain will require more points, aka stars, from customers who want to redeem them for free merchandise.

If a customer wishes to get a free hot coffee, tea, packaged snack or bakery item, then they'll need 100 stars, which is double the amount that it used to be.

A girl is drinking ice coffee in a Starbucks coffee shop.
Beginning in February, a free iced coffee can be redeemed for 100 stars.Zhang Peng / Getty Images

Customers can cash in 200 stars to get a free handcrafted beverage, such as a latte or Frappuccino or any hot breakfast item — and 300 stars can be redeemed for packaged salads, packaged protein boxes, a lunch sandwich or a packaged coffee item, such as whole bean coffee.

Currently, customers only need 50 stars to get a brewed hot coffee, bakery item or tea, 150 for a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or parfait, 200 for a salad, sandwich or protein box and 400 for select merchandise, such as a signature cup or coffee accessories or a full bag of coffee to take home.

One positive change is that customers will no longer need 150 stars to get a free iced coffee or iced tea. Beginning in February, those two items can be redeemed for 100 stars.

Customers can still use 25 stars to customize their drink however they like, whether it be a dash of their favorite syrup, espresso shot or dairy substitute.

In order to acquire stars, a customer has to use the Starbucks rewards program. The program allows customers to earn two stars for every $1 spent at the establishment when they pay with a Starbucks card or a digital one in the app.

However, if a customer chooses to pay with a linked payment method, such as a credit card, debit card or mobile wallet, on their account then they will earn 1 star for every $1 spent at participating stores.