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Whether you’re a 12-year-old girl or a 40-year-old businessman, we all know that Starbucks is bae. It doesn’t matter if your order is a vanilla bean frappuccino with caramel drizzle or a flat white with nonfat milk, Starbucks is always there for you.Except for when it’s not. In recent years the coffee empire has developed a rewards program to give back to customers, while generating more revenue for themselves (no hate Sbux, do what you gotta do as long as we get free stuff.)

The Lowdown

The original program wasn’t all that great to begin with, but it had decent rewards including free refills on brewed coffee and tea, a free drink or pastry item on your birthday and the convenience of paying on your phone. It worked like this: You would receive one star per purchase, and once you had racked up 30 stars you had reached the ~gold level~. Once achieving gold level status you would get a free reward for every 12 purchases (or stars) you made. Plus you got a physical, shiny gold card, which was kind of fun.

It was pretty expensive to reach gold level, and the rewards weren’t all that great. But if you’re a Starbucks regular, it was pretty economical. With the revamped rewards program it is arguably more expensive not only to reach gold level, but to earn rewards once you get there. You now earn 2 stars for each $1 spent, which sounds like a great deal, but it’s really not. It now takes 300 stars to reach gold level, costing you $150 in drinks (or muffins) and that’s a lot. Once spending a small fortune to get your gold card you must fork out another $62.50 (125 stars) for each free reward.

Some may argue that with the old program it would end up being just as expensive. That could be true if you’re spending nearly $6 every visit, but most of us spend about $3-$4 on a drink. If you’re like a normal person, then it would have cost you roughly $90 to reach gold level and about $36 for each free reward with the old rewards system. Still a lot of money to spend on coffee, but as college students that’s just the price you have to pay to feed the caffeine habit.

It’s All About The Money, Money, Money

To try and counteract the spike in cost of being a member, Starbucks is trying to add more ways you can get stars. Eventually you’ll be able to earn stars from grocery store Starbucks products and from Teavana, but who knows when that will actually be implemented. The only other new benefit is “Double Star Days”, which means you’ll get an email once a month allowing you to earn 4 stars per $1 instead of 2. Big whoop.

The new program goes into effect on April 12th, so members of the old rewards program will still have a few days to reach gold level or earn their last free reward with the OG program. If you do reach gold level between now and the release date or if you’re already a gold member, your status won’t change. At least Starbucks didn’t screw you there.

The new rewards program isn’t worth joining unless you already spend your whole paycheck on coffee. It is designed to trick customers into thinking they’re getting a good deal and encourage them to spend way more money than they normally would. Not cool Sbux, not cool.

Photo by: Michael Shuey

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About The Author

Savannah Hubbard is a sophomore photojournalism major and editor for WaveLenth Weekly. Her favorites include Chinese shar-peis, chai tea lattes, and parentheses (in that order). She is a big fan of happy crying and cheesy Christmas movies.

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