Small spenders lose under changes to Starbucks rewards program

Starbucks is changing the terms of its rewards program so that people who spend around $5 or less per visit won’t get as many freebies.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says its loyalty program will award stars based on the dollars spent starting in April. Currently, people earn a star for each transaction, regardless of how much they spend, and get a free food or drink item of their choice after earning 12 stars.

People will now have to earn 125 stars for a free item, with each dollar spent being worth two stars — meaning they have to spend $62.50 to get their free item. That means people who stick with options like plain coffee are losing out.

For instance, someone who regularly pays $2 for a regular drip coffee would currently earn a free item after spending around $24 over 12 visits. Under the new system, they would have to visit more than 31 times to earn the perk.

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