The Starbucks Credit Card could be worth your weight in free coffee and pastries if you spend enough time there. A respectable sign-up bonus and automatic Gold Status make this Starbucks credit card popular among the chain’s frequent customers, but if you don’t stop in regularly, you’ll probably get greater value from a more versatile cash-back rewards card.
Starbucks Credit Card Review
If you’re considering applying for the Starbucks Credit Card, you should know some of its main components first. Here’s a quick overview:
- Annual Fee: $49
- Sign-Up Bonus:
- 2,500 Starbucks Star Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months after account opening
- 250 Stars the first time you use your Starbucks Credit Card to load a registered Starbucks Card in the Starbucks Rewards app
- Ongoing Rewards:
- 1 Star for every $1 you load from your Starbucks Credit Card onto your registered Starbucks Card via the Starbucks Rewards app
- 2 Stars for every $1 spent using your registered Starbucks card
- 1 Star for every $4 spent on all other purchases
- Automatic Gold Status in the Starbucks Rewards program, which gives you perks like free in-store refills, a free birthday reward and the ability to order ahead
- 8 annual Barista Picks — coupons for free food and drink items
What’s a Star Worth?
As a Gold Starbucks Rewards member, you get a free drink or food item for every 125 Stars you earn. The average Starbucks item costs about $4, which puts the value of each Star at around $0.03 when redeemed at Starbucks. That said, the value may be higher or lower depending on the item you choose.
Why to Apply for the Starbucks Credit Card
If you’re not yourself without your daily Starbucks fix, this card may be a smart choice.
The sign-up bonus alone entitles you to 20 free food and drink items, and with a potential 3 Stars for every $1 spent on Starbucks purchases, you’ll be eligible for additional free items every 10 visits or so, assuming a $4 purchase every time. Plus, you get a free Barista Pick item about every six weeks. Those rewards should be more than enough to cover the $49 annual fee.
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You’re also automatically enrolled in the Starbucks Rewards program when you’re approved for the Starbucks Credit Card and you get instant Gold Status, which entitles you to even more free stuff, like free refills and birthday treats, as well as added convenience features like the ability to order ahead and pay by phone. Without the Starbucks credit card, you must earn 300 Stars each year in order to qualify for and maintain Gold Status.
Starbucks Credit Card: Drawbacks and Downsides
This card was designed for the Starbucks regular, so it stands to reason that if you’re not one of them, this isn’t the right choice for you. Stars expire if not used within six months, and unless you’re spending more than $500 a year at Starbucks, you’re not going to recoup the $49 you’re losing in annual fees.
Plus, the rewards earned on purchases made elsewhere don’t hold a candle to most cash-back credit cards. You’d have to spend over $6,000 at other stores in order to earn enough rewards to cover the Starbucks Credit Card’s annual fee.
Rewards redemption for Stars is also fairly narrow — they can only be redeemed for food and drink purchase at Starbucks. Most other credit cards offer a number of redemption options, including statement credit. Limited redemptions for the Starbucks Credit Card’s points makes this card virtually useless for people who don’t frequent the coffee chain.
Starbucks Credit Card: Alternatives
If you’re looking for a more flexible credit card that will still enable you to earn rewards for Starbucks purchases, try one of the following:
If you want a card that rewards all your dining purchases, try the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It has a $95 annual fee, but you shouldn’t have trouble recouping it. You earn 1 point for every dollar spent and 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and this includes Starbucks. Points can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, travel and more.
If you’re looking for a flexible rewards card with no annual fee, try the Chase Freedom card. You won’t earn as much for your Starbucks purchases, but you’ll still earn $1 for every dollar spent, and there are rotating 5% cash-back categories, including one for restaurants and Starbucks.
Bottom Line: Should You Apply for the Starbucks Credit Card?
The Starbucks Credit Card is for regular Starbucks customers who are looking to earn a little something extra for their loyalty. But it probably won’t become your go-to card for everyday purchases. If you’re looking for something more flexible, you’re better off with a traditional cash-back rewards card.