Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card Review

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Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card

Rewards rate

1X–1X

Annual fee

$49

Intro offer

4,500 Bonus

Regular APR

15.99% to 22.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent  (740 - 850)

Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card Overview

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card is unique among rewards credit cards for a few reasons. First, the earning rate of 1 star per $4 spent on non-bonus purchases is a huge disappointment. Not only that, but the rewards you earn — called “stars” — are intimately linked to the Starbucks brand and not good for much else.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Qualify for various consumer protections and insurance just for being a cardholder
  • Earn rewards good for Starbucks food and drink
  • Generous sign-up bonus with a reasonable spending requirement ($500 within three months of account opening)

Cons

  • The “stars” you earn are only good for Starbucks food, drinks and in-store merchandise, which makes them incredibly inflexible
  • This card has a $49 annual fee
  • Earning rates are paltry—especially for non-bonus purchases

A deeper look at the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Earn up to 3 stars per $1 at Starbucks stores when you digitally load your Starbucks Card with your Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card, 1 star per $2 spent at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting and on internet, cable and phone services and 1 star per $4 you spend on other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 6,500 bonus stars when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $49
  • Regular APR: 15.99% to 22.99% variable APR

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card is unique among rewards credit cards for a few reasons. First, the earning rate of 1 star per $4 spent on non-bonus purchases is a huge disappointment. Not only that, but the rewards you earn — called “stars” — are intimately linked to the Starbucks brand and not good for much else.

When you rack up “stars” based on your spending, Starbucks says you have the option to redeem them for free beverage customization, a free drink, food, merchandise under $20 or a package of coffee. That’s it, so you wouldn’t want to rack up rewards with this credit card if you were an infrequent consumer of Starbucks products. Also, keep in mind that this rewards credit card comes with a $49 annual fee.

On the upside, the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card does come with a few unique perks. First, you can qualify for 300 Bonus Stars the first time you use your Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card to add money to your Starbucks account. You can also qualify for consumer protections like auto rental collision damage waiver protection, extended warranties, purchase protection, roadside dispatch, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services.

Rewards rate

To get the most value from the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card, you should mostly use it when you pay for food and beverages at Starbucks. These purchases will net you up to 3 stars per $1 when you pay digitally using your credit card and the app, which is a considerably higher rate than you’ll earn on other purchases.

Also, make sure to spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening. This will get you 6,500 bonus stars right away, which can make paying the $49 annual fee a lot easier to justify.

Since you only earn 1 star for every $2 you spend on select “everyday purchases” and 1 star for every $4 you spend on non-bonus purchases, however, we don’t recommend using this card for all your regular spending and bills. Instead, you should look for a more flexible rewards credit card or a cash-back credit card that will let you earn 1 percent back at a minimum.

How to redeem your rewards

According to Starbucks, your rewards in this program won’t expire as long as your credit card account remains open. If you decide to close your card, however, your stars will expire six months from the calendar month you closed your account.

In terms of redemption options, Starbucks offers five tiers of rewards:

  • 25 stars: Customize your drink with vanilla syrup, an espresso shot, or another “extra”
  • 50 stars: Brewed hot coffee, a bakery item or hot tea
  • 150 stars: Handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or parfait
  • 200 stars: Lunch sandwich, protein box or salad
  • 400 stars: bag of coffee, a signature cup, or select coffee accessories

How much are the rewards worth?

You don’t earn points with this card per se. Instead, you earn “stars” that are only good for Starbucks purchases. These rewards can vary in value based on how you redeem them, but you can get an idea of how much they might be worth based on the purchase price of various redemption options.

For example, a tall cafe latte might cost you $2.95 depending on where you live. This drink would set you back 150 stars, which means each star is worth around 1.9 cents.

Meanwhile, a lunch sandwich like a PB&J on Wheat Bistro Box would require 200 stars, according to Starbucks. This sandwich may cost you $5.25 depending on where you live, in which case each star would be worth approximately 2.6 cents each.

Just keep in mind that you have to spend considerable sums of money to earn these stars to begin with, due to the poor earning rates this card offers. For that reason, earning Starbucks “stars” isn’t as lucrative as earning cash back or flexible rewards points.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card worth it?

If you want to earn some free Starbucks food and drink in a short period of time, picking up the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card and spending $500 within three months of account opening would do the trick. You would have to pay a $49 annual fee, but you would earn a bonus of 6,500 stars right off the bat. Considering a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or parfait requires 150 stars, this bonus alone is worth more than 43 handcrafted drinks or Impossible breakfast sandwiches.

Still, you should think long and hard before you use this card for too much of your regular spending. A handcrafted drink would set you back 150 stars as we mentioned already, so it would take a lot of spending at the 1 star/$4 rewards rate to earn a cappuccino or a flat white. How much? A latte for 150 stars would require $600 in non-bonus spending on your credit card.

Also consider whether you want all your rewards in a program that only lets you cash in for coffee, food and select in-store Starbucks merchandise. Many rewards credit cards let you use points for gift cards, merchandise or even cash back, so this card’s rewards program is rather limiting.

At the end of the day, the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card is likely best for Starbucks enthusiasts who stop in to buy a cup of coffee or food most days of the month. Anyone else should probably look for a more flexible rewards credit card. After all, you could utilize statement credits from a general cash-back credit card to cover Starbucks purchases if you wanted.