Trending: The definitive account of Amazon’s perilous ambition: Key scenes from PBS’s epic investigation

Starbucks is tweaking its program aimed at loyal customers as the My Starbucks Rewards program simply becomes Starbucks Rewards and will pay off for customers based on money they spend rather than how often they visit.

The new strategy will become effective in April — based on what the company says is the “No. 1 request” from customers — and changes the number of stars that can be awarded as well as the manner in which they’re earned. For instance, a customer today would earn one star for a visit, need 30 stars to reach gold level and 12 stars for a free reward (at gold level). In April, customers will earn two stars for every $1 spent, need 300 stars to achieve gold level and 125 stars for a free reward (at gold level).

Over at, they’re crunching numbers and saying the “typical coffee drinker will hate Starbucks’ new reward system.” Because the new system requires members to spend $150 to reach gold status, a person who only spends $2.75 per visit on a medium coffee will need 54 visits to reach gold level, Time reports. Once that status is achieved, gold customers will need to spend $62.50 to earn a free drink. That medium coffee drinker, at gold level, is in for 22 visits before the freebie comes.

The company says customers can collect stars in a variety of ways beyond visiting a Starbucks or Teavanna store. It also reassures gold members that under the new program they will earn rewards just as fast or faster than they do today. But, Starbucks does point out that “if you buy only one beverage or pastry when you visit, it might mean taking a little longer to get a free reward than you do today.”

Starbucks is also removing the welcome level so that all new members are green level right away. The new program will have just green and gold reward levels.

GeekWire has previously reported on Starbucks’ efforts involving perks for Rewards program members. Last May the company partnered with Spotify to allow Rewards participants to use stars toward a subscription for the streaming music service.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.