Full Review of Starbucks Rewards Visa Review
Bonus of 6,500 Stars
Stars don’t expire as long as you have the account
Generous rewards on Starbucks purchases
Coupons for special foods and drinks
Rewards can only be redeemed at Starbucks
No introductory APR
$49 annual fee
- Bonus of 6,500 Stars: After you spend $500 anywhere within the first three months, you receive 6,500 Bonus Stars. That’s worth up to $325 in purchases at a Starbucks store, depending on what you redeem your Stars for. By comparison, some other cards, like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday, offer a one-time offer of $200 cash back after spending $1,000. However, that cash back can be used for anything and doesn’t have to be redeemed only in one place.
- Stars Don't Expire as Long as You Have the Account: Normally, in the regular Starbucks rewards program, Stars expire six months after you earn them. However, if you have a Starbucks Rewards Visa, your rewards won’t expire for as long as the account is open. If you do close the account, though, your Stars will expire in six months.
- Generous Rewards on Starbucks Purchases: You can receive up to 3 Stars per dollar on Starbucks purchases. First, you get 1 Star per dollar when you use your Starbucks Rewards Visa to digitally reload your Starbucks card (the chain’s rewards program card). Then you can get another 2 Stars per dollar when you use your Starbucks card to pay at a Starbucks store. This two-step process can help you earn rewards faster.
- Coupons for Special Foods and Drinks: As a Starbucks Rewards Visa cardholder, you’ll receive coupons for eight special food and drink offerings throughout the year. These are called Barista Picks, and they are designed to provide an opportunity to try something new. In addition, you’ll receive a free birthday treat as part of your enrollment in Starbucks Rewards.
- Rewards Can Only Be Redeemed at Starbucks: When you earn rewards with this credit card, they can only be redeemed at Starbucks stores for food, drinks, or merchandise. You can’t get cash or redeem for travel, as with many other cards.
- No Introductory APR: There is no special introductory APR with the Starbucks Rewards Visa. You won’t receive a low interest rate for purchases or balance transfers.
- $49 Annual Fee: You'll pay an annual fee to use this card. The $49 isn’t as expensive as some other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has a $95 annual fee. However, with the more expensive cards, you generally get additional benefits and more generous rewards. The Starbucks Rewards annual fee, though, is easily justified by the bonus if you normally spend a lot at Starbucks.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Affinity creates desire for rewards and perks with particular brand
The Starbucks Rewards Visa is mainly for people who are very loyal to Starbucks and would like to earn free food, drink, and merchandise there. Because rewards can only be redeemed at Starbucks, this card won't work well for anyone who doesn’t frequent the chain.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Bonus
You can receive 6,500 Bonus Stars after you spend $500 in the first 90 days as a cardholder. That’s worth up to $325 in items at a Starbucks store. Some credit cards, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, offer up to $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first 90 days. However, even though the value of the cash back is lower, it’s possible to redeem that cash back for, well, cash, rather than having to spend it in a specific store.
Rewards Earning Details
It’s important to note that you need to have a Starbucks card to use in tandem with your Starbucks Rewards Visa. If you aren't a member, you’ll be enrolled automatically in the Starbucks rewards program and get a Starbucks card. If you’re already a member, you’ll connect your rewards card to your Visa. Here are the ways that cardholders can earn Stars:
- Receive 1 Star for every $2 spent on rideshares, public transit, grocery stores, and internet, cable, and phone services.
- Earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent when using your Starbucks card to pay for purchases in-store.
- Receive 1 Star for each dollar when you digitally load your Starbucks card using your Starbucks Rewards Visa.
- Earn 1 Star for every $4 spent everywhere else.
Rewards Redemption Details
Redeeming rewards is fairly straightforward. Your rewards will accumulate on your Starbucks card, which you can then use to pay for items in a participating Starbucks store. Note that not every store participates. The Starbucks Store Locator has a filter feature you can use to search for stores that honor digital rewards.
The redemption schedule is as follows:
- 25 Stars = One beverage modifier, such as an added espresso shot, syrup, or dairy alternative.
- 50 Stars = One hot brewed coffee or hot steeped tea, or one bakery item (cookie or cake pop).
- 150 Stars = Any handcrafted beverage, like a Frappuccino or a latte. It’s also possible to get a hot breakfast item or a packaged snack item.
- 200 Stars = A packaged lunch sandwich, protein box, or salad.
- 400 Stars = One packaged coffee item or a merchandise worth up to $20.
Bear in mind that the cash value of these rewards can vary, based on the prices charged in individual stores and on the type of item. For example, if a shot of espresso costs $1 in your local store, one Star is worth four cents when you redeem 25 of them for that shot. If you redeem 400 Stars for an item that costs $20, each Star is worth five cents. But if you want a bag of coffee that normally costs $15, you’ll still have to redeem 400 Stars—and each Star will only be worth 3.75 cents.
There is no points transfer program with the Starbucks Rewards Visa. You must redeem your rewards at participating Starbucks locations.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The best way to maximize your rewards is to plan to use your Starbucks Rewards Visa for as many regular purchases as possible and then redeem the accumulated Stars for things you normally get at Starbucks.
For example, the average person spends $4,464 on groceries each year. By using the Starbucks Rewards Visa for those purchases, you could get 2,232 Stars per year. That translates to about 45 hot brewed coffees.
Starbucks Reward Visa's Outstanding Benefits
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
- Extra treats throughout the year in the form of Barista Picks
- $0 fraud liability
- Secondary auto rental collision damage waiver
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty protection
The Starbucks Rewards Visa is issued by JP Morgan Chase Bank, which scored 807 out of 1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. That score is in line with the national average of 806.
Starbucks offers a mobile app for its digital Starbucks card, which can be used to make payments in-store and also to order ahead. The app has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Google Play and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple Store.
Because this card is a Visa, it comes with the security features expected from a Visa. This includes $0 liability for fraudulent purchases, as well as emergency card replacement if your card is lost or stolen.
The Starbucks Rewards Visa is a fine card for loyal Starbucks customers who want to redeem their rewards for free drinks and other items. In general, however, the card is mediocre, with limited redemption options and a $49 annual fee.
For people who would like to earn tiered (and flexible) cash back rewards, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday offers a chance to earn more each year—with no annual fee. And you can always spend that cash at Starbucks if you so desire.