Home Food & Beverage Redemption Level Sweet Spots Of Starbucks Rewards

Redemption Level Sweet Spots Of Starbucks Rewards

by joeheg

Starbucks has divided items into tiers, with a different number of Stars needed to get a free item in each category. Here’s a breakdown of the current rewards structure:

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So if awards are divided by categories, where’s the sweet spot for redemptions?

25 Point Rewards

If you like to customize your drinks, this category is for you. From what I can find, getting almond milk in your drink instead of regular milk costs an extra 60 cents. Adding an extra shot to your latte will set you back 90 cents.

Redeeming 25 stars for these add-ons will get you anywhere from 2.4 to 3.6 CPS (Cents Per Star). Since redemptions for the lowest level awards are hardly ever a great value, what about the new 50 point level…?

50 Point Rewards

This level lets you redeem points for brewed coffee, hot tea or limited bakery items.

The least expensive item might be a cookie pop, which costs $2.25. My usual cold-weather drink, for the month it gets cold enough in Florida to drink blazing hot coffee from Starbucks, is a Venti Blonde Roast with Half & Half and 2 Splenda.

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If you want to get fancy, a Venti Caffe Misto will run you $3.65 for the same 50 stars.

That puts the redemption value for rewards at this level between 4.5 and 7.3 CPS

150 Point Rewards

This is point level I’d bet it the most popular with everyday members. Besides most handcrafted drinks, this level also includes breakfast sandwiches and parfaits, “cause everyone loves parfait” (if anyone gets this reference, please reply and let me know).

Before looking at coffee drinks, let’s view what might be the worst redemption ever. You should never use 150 stars to get a $2.25 KIND bar.

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Maybe calories have no meaning to you and you order a Venti Triple Mocha Frappuccino. That’s a $6.25 drink for 150 stars.

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While that may seem good, you caffeine fiends who like to add extra shots are in luck. You can add extra shots and still only pay 150 stars, like this Grande Caffe Latte with two extra shots for $6.45.

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I’m sure there are ways to make more expensive drinks but the idea is also for them to be drinkable. Since breakfast sandwiches and parfaits fall in the middle of the price range, figure that you’ll get anywhere from 1.5 to 4.3 CPS for redemptions in this category.

200 Point Rewards

This category includes the lunch items I used to get with my rewards back in the day. Since these items’ redemptions went up 60% from their previous level, are they still worth it?

A PB&J Protein box costs $5.95 and a Chipotle Chicken Wrap Protein Box goes for $8.45. Get anywhere from 2.975 to 4.22 CPS value for redemptions in the category.

400 Point Rewards

This new Mega level reward includes at-home coffee and select merchandise. Our coffee of choice at home, Veranda Blonde Roast, goes for $12.95.

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Like Sumatra or some of the Passport series blends, other bagged coffee can go for up to $14.95 per bag. Don’t forget that it’s possible to find items at Starbucks that are close to the $20 max for the category over the holidays. That will give you a value of 3.23 to 5 CPS.

So Where’s the Sweet Spot?

The best category to redeem rewards is the 50 point level. Even the worst redemption at that level, a $2.25 cake pop, will be a better value than an expensive coffee drink at the 150 point level.

My Venti Blonde Roast or a Banana Nut Loaf for 50 Stars get a value of over 6 cents per star, by far the best redemption value of any category. It’s a pity that Starbucks removed the Ham & Cheese croissant from the 50 Star category, as it was one of the best values to be had.

If you know of any hack to get a better value from any of the categories, I’d love to find out what you’ve discovered.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

25 comments

Ben Churchill April 24, 2019 - 3:00 pm

Thanks for the breakdown! I was wondering the value of each tier. I also used to save my stars for “big ticket” items because there was no real cap before. Although I did just redeem 150 stars for a venti macchiato drink, but I’ll have to start using the 50 star level to maximize my rewards, I think.

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HHC April 24, 2019 - 6:46 pm

The ham and cheese croissant for 50 stars is my new go to.

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joeheg April 24, 2019 - 6:59 pm

Wow, That’s even a better redemption. I think I need to try one these on my next visit.

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Stockholm H May 28, 2019 - 2:10 pm

@HHC Nice! On the website it’s listed under Hot Breakfast, but in the app it’s under Bakery. So for the exact same cost ($3.75) as the sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich (150 stars), you’re getting triple the redemption value (50 stars).

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mary w June 18, 2019 - 4:39 pm

Yep, mine too. Enough to be a light lunch

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TnM July 26, 2019 - 1:31 pm

Thanks for this post! Very helpful and I enjoyed the extra laugh “everybody love parfait” that ain’t no brimstone either!

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bcf April 25, 2019 - 12:02 am

shrek/donkey

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joeheg April 25, 2019 - 12:39 am

Congratulations. Sorry, there’s no prize (besides making me smile).

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Ben April 25, 2019 - 7:47 am

@HHC Agreed. A ham and cheese croissant and a venti Caffe Misto (aka Cafe au Lait) for 100 stars total – around 7 cps and way better than the previous 125 for a latte. This “devaluation” has got me going back to Starbucks!!

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Hannah May 31, 2019 - 12:28 pm

Cafe Misto for 50 stars, and you can add extra shots, flavors, toppings for free – is close enough to a latte for me!

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Otila June 5, 2019 - 1:39 pm

You are a genius. I just tried that in my app and I was amazed. Thank You! They’ll probably catch on soon though….boooo!

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Marcella Aparicio March 5, 2020 - 2:57 pm

Nope they won’t 🙂 1 year later and still going strong. Just ordered a venti misto with espresso shots, vanilla, whipped cream ($7.55CAD value) for 50 stars! Genius !!!

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Teresa September 12, 2020 - 12:28 pm

This is brilliant! I used to get lattes, but I’m switching to your order from now on. Thanks for the tip!

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Erika M Larsen June 1, 2019 - 1:29 pm

Donkey from shrek loves parfaits

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joeheg June 1, 2019 - 8:14 pm

Everyone loves parfaits. Not everyone loves onions.

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The Starbucks Hacker June 24, 2019 - 2:50 pm

I created a Reward Value Calculator to help me decide what’s redemption worthy at Starbucks! All you need to do is plug in the price of the item and the number of Stars to redeem, and it will rate your reward from Terrible to Excellent! Check it out!! https://starbuckshacker.com/reward-value-calculator/

For example, in my home state of Massachusetts, BBQ Chips will cost you $1.75. Using 150 Stars to redeem only gives you a 2.33% return, the Reward Value Calculator classifies this reward as Terrible.
A slice of Banana Nut Bread cost me $2.95, using 50 Stars to redeem give me an 11.8% return, the Reward Value Calculator classifies this reward as Excellent! 🙂

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Starbucks Black Card RIP August 28, 2019 - 8:22 am

Thank you. This is very helpful. I’ve become less thrilled over the 10 years I’ve been a member.

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scott October 3, 2019 - 11:09 am

Found this out today directly from Starbucks, so beware:

stores located inside of other Stores, (i.e. Safeway, Kroger’s, Vons, Target, Tom, Thumb, Airports) charged 150 Stars for all the products, including brewed coffee or bakery items.

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Danielle Mullon October 3, 2019 - 1:18 pm

Hi, appreciated your article and just wanted to say, yes, I got your Shrek reference!

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Mercy December 5, 2019 - 7:33 am

I don’t think you accounted for the fact that the 400 level point redemption is good for items up to $19.95. It’s really hard finding them at that price point but not impossible. Especially during the holidays

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hikanteki January 22, 2020 - 6:35 pm

Wow, good call about the value for brewed coffee for 50 stars. Unfortunately I don’t ever order hot coffee (cold brew is my drink of choice) so at 150 starts, that isn’t a great deal. But it’s a good idea if I’m ever ordering coffee for someone.

Currently, my top redemption items are a beverage with a bunch of extra shots & almond or coconut milk for 150 stars — you can get a beverage that tops out around $8 without it sounding too obnoxious, or a nearly $20 item for 400.

I live in an area that has a Starbucks with a Reserve Bar (this is not the same as a Roastery, stars cannot be redeemed at Roasteries, but they can be redeemed at Reserve Bars) and these offer some unique beverages/merchandise that are hard to find outside of Roasteries.

My drink of choice is the Iced Dark Chocolate Mocha. It’s $6 for a venti, but I sub Almond Milk (0.70), and add 2x reserve espresso shots (2 x 1.00). That makes it 8.80 — not too shabby at 5.9 spr.

A nice tidbit about the 400 star redemption is that the $20 limit doesn’t include tax. Here tax is 9%, so if you find a 19.95 item, that’s 21.75 / 400 = 5.4 spr. A couple bucks less still makes a pretty decent value, but I wouldn’t go below $16-17 pretax. The plastic city tumblers at 18.95 make a great 400-point redemption.

This still isn’t quite as good of a deal as my best 150 point beverages, but I just find it so satisfying using my stars for merch because it lets me cash them in for things I normally wouldn’t pay that much for. Today I found an item I’ve had my eye on that was 24.95 — but it just got marked down 30% off, so it was 17.46 + tax. Of course I snagged that!

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Niels February 25, 2020 - 9:47 am

Thanks! This is very helpful. Because my wife and I tend to lose travel mugs more often than not (kids, man….) I have opted for the travel mugs. Tbh, they are actually much cheaper at Amazon, etc. to replace so I’ve been thinking more about the tea option(s) at 50 points.

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T T August 28, 2020 - 5:51 am

When posting 8/2020 the ham and cheese croissant is 150 stars. The almond is still 50 stars and one of the better redemption deals.

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Bort December 6, 2020 - 1:39 pm

At Starbucks Reserve you can get a cold brew malt for 150 points. This is around $8-$9. If you’re sharing you can get double ice cream which makes it a $13 drink.

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MunHuz December 6, 2020 - 1:46 pm

“Cake! Everybody Loves cake! Cakes have layers!”

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