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