A “free” drink from Starbucks will cost extra in the new year. Starbucks announced it will change its rewards program in 2023, so customers will need to spend more to get popular rewards items.
Starbucks Rewards are based on a points system, where points are called stars. The more a rewards member spends at Starbucks, the more stars they accumulate to be redeemed for “free” items.
Starting on Feb. 13, Starbucks members will need 100 points to get one cup of hot or iced coffee, tea, a baked good, or a prepackaged snack, 200 stars for a latte, frappuccino, or hot breakfast item and 300 stars for prepackaged salads, lunch sandwiches or coffee beans.
Under the current star system, members need 50 stars to get a cup of hot or iced coffee, tea or bakery item, 100 to get a hot breakfast item or a latte, and 200 stars for a protein box, salad, or lunch sandwich.
Members obtain stars through their purchases. When using a Starbucks card, members get back two stars for every dollar they spend in the store. Members who use a credit card get back one star per dollar spent. Starbucks informed customers of the change through email on Wednesday and through the Starbucks app, CNN reports. The changes to the tier system have already been outlined on the rewards program website.
Rising inflation and resource costs have been causing price hikes across the food industry. In October, Chipotle announced it would increase prices and adjust its rewards program to meet the demands of growing inflation. Like Starbucks, Chipotle increased the amount of points reward members need to earn to redeem them for free food items.
Starbucks Rewards membership in the U.S. grew in the fourth quarter of this year by 16% to 27.8 million members according to the company’s quarterly report released on Nov. 3. The company ended the fiscal year with net revenue up by 3%.
“Reinvention will touch, and elevate, every aspect of our Starbucks partner, customer, and store experiences,” said Starbucks interim chief executive officer Howard Schultz in the company’s Q4 business report. Schultz said the changes will “ideally position Starbucks to deliver accelerated, sustainable, long-term, profitable growth and value creation beginning in 2023,”
Starbucks has been experimenting with its rewards program over the last several months. In September, Starbucks unveiled Starbucks Odyssey, an extension of their rewards program where members participate in activities to earn “stamps” (limited-edition NFTs) that can be redeemed for benefits and interactive experiences. There is a waiting list for Starbucks Odyssey., which will be available in 2023.
Starbucks and Delta Air Lines launched a loyalty partnership program where Starbucks Rewards members can link their accounts with Delta Sky Miles. Members can earn one mile per $1 spent with Starbucks and earn stars on days they are traveling with Delta, according to an Oct. 12 press release.