I LOVE Starbucks! I love everything about it – I like the coffee. I like the baristas. I like the environment. I like the food. I like the feel of being there. Most of all, I like the secrets to the Starbucks loyalty rewards program (use my link to sign up for Starbucks and get a free drink)!
Note: As of April 2016, Starbucks has changed their rewards system.
Once I update this article to reflect the changes, I’ll post the article here.
And No matter how much I love Starbucks, let’s face it – they are expensive! In this post I will show you:
- how you can afford to drink Starbucks on a regular basis,
- get free Starbucks gift cards,
- the secrets to the Starbucks loyalty rewards program to get free rewards quickly,
- how to become a member, and
- how to become a frugal Starbucks aficionado!
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Starbucks; however, it does contain affiliate links, but all opinions are my own and are at no extra costs to you. Read my full disclosure policy.
The Starbucks mug featured above is the Starbucks Shared Moments Holiday Collection Mug 2013
I was so excited to receive my personalized Starbucks cup from TK Designs yesterday! Isn’t it gorgeous?? Check out my Facebook page to see how you can get your cup and also how to get FREE Starbucks! www.Facebook.com/beingfibromom #Starbucks #coffee #free #frugalliving #frugal A photo posted by Brandi Clevinger (@beingfibromom) on
The Starbucks loyalty rewards program is what enticed me to become a loyal Starbucks coffee drinker. Like I said in my posts How I Earn Extra Income Part 1 and How I Earn Extra Income Part 2, if I’m going to purchase a product why not get the most out of it?
How the Starbucks program works
Each time you make a purchase at a Starbucks location, use your registered Starbucks card to earn a star. After so many stars, receive reward level benefits!
How to become a Starbucks card holder in two easy steps:
- Get a Starbucks gift card either online or in a store. Pssst..ask for one for your next birthday, anniversary or holiday to be really frugal or use Swagbucks!
- Register the gift card online with Starbucks or through the Starbucks app. Done! You can now start using it to earn rewards!
**NOTE: Please be sure to opt-in to receive all texts and/or emails. They will notify you of free earned rewards, upcoming promotions, sales, coupons, etc. Please make sure to sign up! Step by step instructions (with screenshots) are further down in this post.
**Update** Starbucks confirmed that emails to members are exclusive to each member and are generated based on the members activity at Starbucks (in store and online).
There are three levels in the rewards program. Each level is determined by how many stars you earn in a twelve month period. In other words, the more Starbucks you enjoy, the higher the level!
Here are the three reward levels and benefits:
- Welcome: Start at this level when you register your Starbucks gift card. Get a free drink or treat on your birthday. Enjoy 15% off your purchase at StarbucksStore.com.
- Green: After you earn your first five stars, you advance to the Green level. At this level enjoy the Welcome level benefits plus free brewed and ice coffee and tea refills during your visit at a participating store* when paying with your registered rewards card.
- Gold (and my favorite level):Collecting 30 stars in twelve months puts you at the Gold level! I love this level and here’s why – you get all the Welcome and Green level benefits plus a free drink or food for every 12 stars earned. By the way – that free drink is any size!! How awesome is that?? You also receive a personalized gold card!
*I want to quickly point out the stress of participating stores. Where I use to live, Starbucks stores are located in the Target and Harris Teeter food store. They are not the stand alone stores. At these types of stores, Starbucks will give stars for each purchase when paying with a registered card, but do not honor coupon codes sent to your email and do not redeem free drinks/food for earned stars. Please do not let this discourage you! The earned free stars can be saved for a few months, so save them for later when you are near a participating Starbucks store.
**Update** A reader informed me that if your local Target’s Starbucks does not redeem the lucky dozen and birthday rewards, contact Starbucks and they will give you the freebie treat in your cash balance.
**Update** The Starbucks in Target near my hometown now redeems stars; however, they cannot use coupon codes.
Come on already! Tell us the secrets! Okay, here they are… Seven secrets to the Starbucks program (in no particular order):
- When making purchases, ask the cashier to ring up each purchase individually. Each purchase gives you one star which means faster way to higher reward levels and free treats! For example, if I’m getting a café mocha with a slice of their amazingly delicious pumpkin bread, I ask for him/her to ring up the bread first and pay for it (one star!) and then ring up the coffee and pay for it (another star!). I just got two stars from my one stop! Pretty cool, huh? And I’ve never met a disgruntled Starbucks barista, so this has never been a problem for me. Thank you to all you Starbucks baristas!
- Purchase specially marked bags of Starbucks coffee that contain a star code. These can be found at your local grocery store and have a gold sticker affixed to the front. Once purchased, peel off the sticker, find the code on the back, and enter online (instructions to enter the codes, with screen shots, are further down in this post).
- Earn bonus stars during appointed dates or times. These notices will be sent via text or email. For example, from January 7 to January 10 earn a bonus star for coffees bought after 2 pm (this is an example only and does not apply to the current year).
- Participate in the Star Dash! The Star Dash is when so many stars are earned during a specified time frame and rewarded with more gift cards. Emails and texts will be sent to registered card holders for specific dates and rewards. For example, during the month of December if I earned 10 stars in two weeks, I got a $5 Starbucks gift card or earn 20 stars in four weeks, I get a $10 Starbucks gift card. (These numbers are just examples. I do not know the exact number of required stars.) Learn how to earn bonus stars during the star dash.
- Participate in exclusive email and text messaging offers such as buy a $5 gift card for a friend and receive a $5 gift card for yourself. Or, reload your Starbucks gift card through your account and receive a $5 gift card. These email and text offers will only be sent to registered card holders.
- BOGO! Often Starbucks will have promotional periods where they will give you a free drink for buying a drink. The most popular is the buy one Frappuccino and get a free Frappuccino for a friend! I love those deals and usually participate with my sister. Again, this offer alerts registered card holders via email and/or text.
- Target’s free Starbucks gift card with purchase deals! Target will often times have deals where you buy four bags of Starbucks coffee and receive a $5 Starbucks gift card. This is usually when I stock up on my bags of coffee to brew at home. Update: Target has not had this deal in over a year, so I’m not sure if they still do this. Please contact me if you know any information regarding this deal.
How to enter star codes After you sign into your Starbucks account, scroll down to ‘My Rewards’ under the ‘My Account’ section. There you will see the ‘Enter Star Code’. Note: you can only enter two star codes per day. Also notice you can see your rewards in this section. The bar across the top of the photo is how many stars before gold status, how many stars before your next earned reward, and how many earned rewards you have not used. To get a more detailed account of your Gold level benefits and earned stars, click on ‘See more details’ next to the ‘My Rewards’. This will be the next page you will see: Five things to notice on this detailed view:
- Gold level status expiration
- Rewards level status
- Gold level rewards
- Stars earned and how many stars to next free drink/treat
- Number of free rewards earned
From here you can click on ‘Rewards History’ and ‘Enter a Star Code’ in the left side bar. The rewards history will show you the current month (past months can also be seen when clicked) and the days you earned stars as well as how many stars you earned on those days. How to sign up for email and text messages From the landing page after logging into your Starbucks account, click on ‘Edit’ by the ‘My Profile’ heading: On the next page click on (1) ‘Contact Info’ in the left side bar and then (2) add/update email and mobile number. Using your Starbucks account you can reload your card, unregister a card, transfer balances between cards, report lost/stolen cards, and purchase new gift cards for your family and friends! I really enjoy Starbucks coffee and they get pretty pricey (for my budget anyway), but this is one luxury I do not cut out of my budget! Actually, I don’t think it should be counted as a budget item because I can’t remember the last time I purchased any Starbucks item with my own money (other than the bags of coffee, of course). How I get free Starbucks gift cards: