Seeing Stars: More ways to pay and 5 fun facts about Starbucks Rewards

When Starbucks first launched its loyalty program in 2008, it was based on the simple idea of an old-fashioned punch card (remember those?), rewarding loyal customers for their in-store purchases and encouraging them to keep coming back. But instead of paper cards, customers could register their Starbucks gift cards online to earn benefits, including a free birthday beverage.

Starbucks customer paying with phone

The next year, the first Stars were awarded as the Starbucks Card Rewards merged with the Starbucks Gold Card membership program to create a single streamlined Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. Millions of customers began collecting Stars and the program soon expanded into the groundbreaking Starbucks app where paying with the app became possible in 2011. Then in 2014, the program began to offer members the ability to order ahead and pay in the app. In an effort to allow members to earn Stars on purchases inside and outside of Starbucks stores, Starbucks and Chase introduced the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Prepaid Card in 2018. The flexibility and choice of Rewards expanded too, with tiered Rewards starting in 2019 to include merchandise and at-home coffee, which members could now start redeeming for as soon as they joined.

Today (Sept. 15) marks the next evolution in the industry-leading loyalty program, with even more ways to pay and earn Stars through the Starbucks app. At company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada, Starbucks Rewards members can scan their app and then pay with cash, credit/debit cards, or select mobile wallets and earn Stars toward free items. Members can also save these payment methods directly in the Starbucks app to earn Stars when paying.

In honor of today’s milestone, here are some fun facts about the Starbucks Rewards program:

175 million free Rewards

Since the April 2019 enhancement of Starbucks Rewards, members in the U.S. have redeemed more than 175 million free Rewards, big and small, using Stars. At participating stores, 25 Stars is all members need to start redeeming free Rewards like an extra espresso shot, dairy substitute or a dash of syrup. 50 Stars gets members a brewed hot coffee, bakery item or hot tea, 150 Stars can be redeemed for a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or parfait, 200 Stars will get members a lunch sandwich, protein box or salad, and 400 Stars can be redeemed for select merchandise or a bag of coffee.

100 million Stars

In 2019 alone, Starbucks awarded more than 100 million Stars in Starbucks for Life and the Summer Game across the US and Canada.

41 million prizes

There have been 41 million prizes awarded to members in the U.S. and Canada since Starbucks Rewards games started in 2014.  This includes 58 members who have won Starbucks for Life.

17,000 Stars

Many members use their Rewards to treat a friend – or even a stranger. In 2016, a Starbucks Rewards member in Washington state who had saved up more than 17,000 Stars over six months gave away more than 100 free drinks to military personnel serving in the area.


Starbucks Rewards purchases represented nearly half of all purchases at U.S. company-operated stores from April through June 2020.

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