Starbucks Is Updating Its Loyalty Program With More Ways to Pay & Earn Stars

You can finally get in on the rewards action without having to use a Starbucks gift card.

Courtesy of Starbucks
Courtesy of Starbucks

One of the reasons I love Starbucks -- beyond the simple fact that I need a daily minimum of three coffees to keep me alive and breathing -- is the rewards program. You get freebies for doing what you're already doing: buying 12 cold brews a week. And now, the Seattle-based coffee giant is upgrading its loyalty system even more.

On Tuesday, Starbucks announced major changes that'll make it easier to pay and earn those coveted rewards stars beginning this fall. All company-operated stores across the United States and Canada will be able to scan the Starbucks app on your phone, so you'll be able to earn points when you ending up paying by cash, credit/debit cards, or mobile wallet insed of with the balance on your Starbucks gift card. You can also save those payment methods directly in the app. Of course, you can still pay with a Starbucks card. This just gives you more options. 

Here's how the point system will work going forward: If you pay via the balance on a Starbucks Card (the OG way), you'll continue to score two stars per $1 spent. If you use one of the new payment options -- credit/debit card, cash, or mobile wallet -- you'll get one star for every $1 spent. In other words, if for some reason you don't want to keep a Starbucks card loaded up with cash all the time, you'll be able to get in on the rewards with these new options instead of getting nothing. 

"Having a connection with our customers, whether in our stores or digitally, allows us to anticipate their needs and deliver the products and experiences they are looking for. Our customers have shared with us that they would like more options to pay and earn Stars in the app as a Starbucks Rewards member, in addition to the Starbucks Card," chief marketing officer Brady Brewer said in a statement. "We expect the expansion of payment options will appeal to an even wider customer audience and deepen engagement with our members." 

If you've somehow not joined already, it's easy to get started. And in addition to those purchase points, you'll get free coffee and tea refills, birthday treats, an order ahead feature through the app, and double star days. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.