Starbucks Launches Widely Criticized Rewards Program

Bad news for you Starbucks customers who regularly buy tall brewed coffee and live for your free Trenta Frappuccino every 12 drinks: Starbucks has finally launched its almost universally-hated new rewards program, in which you have to spend at least $62.50 for your free drink.

After announcing the changes in February, the coffee chain has invoked the wrath of many who complain that it will now be a lot of harder for many customers to earn their free drink.

The coffee chain will keep their two-tiered Green and Gold rewards program, although members will now need to earn at least 300 stars per year to attain and keep their Gold status.

Previously, Starbucks reward holders could earn a "star" for every purchase at the store regardless of price and would earn a free drink after every 12 stars. But on April 12, all that changed. Now, customers will earn two stars per dollar spent and will need 125 stars to get their free drink. That means that customers who spend less than $6 per visit will need to spend a lot more money at the store in order to get that big free fancy drink. Those who go on a shopping spree at every visit are in luck though.

We don’t know if this will affect the coffee chain’s earnings. At least 75 million customers visit Starbucks every month, while 11 million people in the U.S. take advantage of the store’s 7-year-old rewards program. But we do know that those who spend as little money as possible per visit will have to wait a lot longer to see any perks.

If there is a silver lining for the cheapskates out there, it is that Starbucks is considering adding partners to the rewards program, so that you can get bonus stars if you use any of those services. Company reps threw around names like Lyft, Spotify and the New York Times, although the coffee mogul isn’t ready to commit to anything just yet.