Starbucks Rewards Will See Major Changes In 2023

UPDATE 2/9/23: Starbucks has announced the rewards program changes will go into effect Monday, February 13, 2023.

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has a customer loyalty program dating back to April 2008, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Although it took around a decade for the Starbucks Rewards program (as it's known today) to really find its footing, it was one of the most heavily subscribed customer loyalty programs in the quick service industry in August 2021, according to Restaurant Dive, and boasted more than 27.4 million members in August 2022 (via Restaurant Business). Today, Starbucks Rewards has more than just gotten its footing; It's become a veritable cash cow, with more than half of the chain's sales being attributable to purchases by Starbucks rewards members, according to Restaurant Business.

Seemingly in recognition of the value of the program to its customers, Starbucks brought rewards to its metaverse in September when it launched its Odyssey program. Not long after that, Starbucks partnered with Delta Air Lines, allowing Starbucks rewards customers to earn Delta miles in return for the equivalent number of dollars spent at Starbucks. So, when Business Insider leaked news of an internal Starbucks memo outlining changes to the program that stood to make it more difficult to earn certain rewards, we couldn't help but wonder what the modifications would be.

We didn't have to wonder for long. Starbucks shared a statement with Tasting Table outlining the changes set to arrive in early 2023.

It will cost more to redeem certain items, less to redeem others

"Today we let our Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. and Canada know about some changes coming to the Starbucks Rewards program," Starbucks told Tasting Table in a statement. And some may not go down easy with customers counting on redeeming their Stars (i.e., Rewards points) at their leisure throughout 2023. Starting on February 13, customers will need to amass more Stars before earning some Rewards (via Starbucks).

The most significant change will be for Rewards items currently redeemable at 50 Stars (like hot coffee and tea, per Business Insider), which will become redeemable at 100 Stars after the change. Items currently redeemable for 150 Stars (e.g., handcrafted beverages and Starbucks breakfast items) will require 200, and those currently redeemable for 200 Stars (like Starbucks salads and sandwiches) will cost customers 300.

But the news isn't all bad, as some items will be redeemable for fewer stars than the previous version of the rewards system. For example, both iced coffee and iced tea will become available for 100 Stars, down from 150. And while some baked goods currently costing 50 Stars will, come February, carry a 100-star ticket, other items previously valued at 150 (including ham and cheese croissants and some packaged snacks) will become available at 100. Further, packaged coffee, previously redeemable at 400 stars, will shift down to 300, and Starbucks merch, previously redeemable at 200, will be redeemable at 100.

No changes are anticipated for the 25 Star and 400 Star tiers, nor to how members earn Stars.