A friend wrote in to point out an interesting feature of the Starbucks loyalty program:
Stars are earned per purchase. So, one could purchase X amount of the cheapest thing in the store (like a small chocolate for 0.50) and earn X stars. I think it’s 10 or 12 stars to get a freebie, etc.
I usually redeem my freebie for the absolute largest size drink possible, usually about a $5+ value, and have them pour it into two smaller cups.
That’s one angle. Another angle is to work promotions: in fact, right now Starbucks is offering double stars on every food item through Dec 18. They’ve also targeted promotions to rewards card members via email. In fact, the Starbucks loyalty marketing team has been very active this year, with the most infamous moment being a poorly executed campaign where anybody who signed up for the program got $5 added to their account.
I say “poorly executed” because Starbucks allowed people to signed up for multiple “new” accounts, and if this 886-page Slickdeals thread is to be believed some people scaled this up to the tune of thousands of dollars.
If you want to extract more value from your drinks, here are some tips from a former barista. If you want to maximize the value of your free drink after you’ve earned enough stars, this guy figured out how to order a $47 drink at Starbucks.