Updated March 2023
In mid-February Starbucks changed their Star Reward Program. Basically, they changed around the number of stars you need to earn items. Bakery items now cost 100 stars instead of 50 and drinks cost 200 instead of 150.
It has gotten more expensive to use your stars so let’s see what the best items are to spend those stars on to get the most value!
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As a mom of two coffee is essential to life! I usually grab my designer purse as a mom of toddlers, rally the kids in the car, and stop for a morning treat or as a destination for our afternoon walks a few times a week!
My kids can get a small cup of water so they can feel like they’re getting a special drink too.
Of course I want to get the most bang for those stars since going to Starbucks isn’t cheap.
How the new Starbucks reward program works
With the new Starbucks reward program, there are still 5 different reward levels. The levels are as follows and give you access to certain types of items.
25 – an extra shot
100 – bakery items or brewed coffee
200 – free drink or breakfast sandwich
300 – lunch items – protein boxes, bagged coffee to make at home
400 – Select merchandise
What’s the best way to use your stars with the star level changes?
What’s the best value for your Starbucks rewards
My calculations are based on prices in my location in San Diego, CA. Your prices and therefore your earning power per star may vary. However, the price difference in your area should be similar across the Starbucks menu making the items with the best value the same for you.
I didn’t do any fancy calculations to figure this out. And I didn’t play around to try to find the most expensive drink I could make. This post is created for the everyday Starbucks visitor who just wants to use their points wisely.
I simply used the mobile order feature on my Starbucks app to find the price of various menu items. Plugged them into a spreadsheet. And divided the price by the number of stars it takes to get that item. I was easily able to calculate what items give you the most spending value per star.
Unfortunately, we are definitely getting less spending power per star now 🙁
The biggest winners with this system are those that like alternative milks. They generally charge you for the switch driving up the price of your drink. When you use your 200 points for a free drink you get the drink with the add-ons for free, meaning your points will go further if you usually pay for oatmilk instead of sticking with 2% or nonfat.
For those of us that usually just use regular milk there are two options to get the most from your stars.
The first is to grab an expensive bakery item like a ham & cheese croissant. If you normally grab a breakfast sandwich consider picking up this croissant instead when you have stars to redeem.
If you mostly just get coffee consider trading in your latte for an iced coffee when you have stars to spend. An iced coffee only uses 100 stars. Add some milk and a flavored syrup and you’ll still have a tasty treat.
Is bigger better?
With the new star levels bigger is better for drinks. If you only get a Tall or Grande size then you will be getting less spending power for those stars.
So, if you choose to use 200 stars and get a regular drink make sure to get it in a Venti size!
How about the higher reward levels?
The 300 star level now let’s you get a bag of take home coffee! This is actually a good use of your stars if you regularly make coffee at home…and if you can sit on the stars long enough to hit 300!
If you grab a bag of whole beans simply ask your barista to grind it for you. That’s how I get ground espresso for my at home machine.
What should you spend your stars on?
To recap, here’s the order in which you should spend your stars.
- Drinks with alternative milks. Get a venti sized drink with an alternative milk that would normally cost you extra and you’ll get some great spending power for those star rewards.
- Ham & Cheese Croissant. If you like them they will give you some of the best spending power for your stars.
- Venti-sized drinks. If that’s too much for you order an iced beverage. Take it home and pour half of it into a different cup, without ice, and stick it in your fridge for the next day. You can also split it with a friend as it’s the equivalent of two tall beverages, if you can find someone with the same drink order!
- Don’t waste your stars on breakfast sandwiches, lunch items, or low priced bakery items which will give you the lowest spending value.
More tips for saving money at Starbucks!
- Earn free gift cards through programs like Swagbucks or Fetch.
- Participate in special challenges, often called a dash, on the app to earn bonus stars
- Keep an eye out for double star days to score extra stars.
How do you plan to spend your rewards?!