There is not doubt that coffee is one of the best things on Earthâ€¦ at least in my mind there is no doubt about it.
Iâ€™ve been drinking coffee since I was just 6-years old, thanks to my Great Gram, who would fix me a cup to share with her every morning.
Over the years, my taste in coffee choice matured with my age.
I graduated from Folgers Instant to fresh brewed coffee beans.
Then I moved into the world of â€œcafÃ© coffee,â€ a world that has become a part of my daily routine.
Starbucks, a giant in the coffee business, has become on of my favorites.
Many of you, I am sure, can relate to the sensational aroma and taste of not only the beverages, but also the atmosphere that has become popular in todayâ€™s society of coffee enthusiasts.
Image via WeHeartIt
Through my years of sipping on my Grande Vanilla Soy Lattes and non-fat Cappuccinos, I have become quite resourceful with my Starbucks drinking habits; especially since the launch of the Starbucks Rewards Program.
It was by accident that I became aware of the benefits to registering Starbucks gift cards after losing one with a $50 balance.
You can only imagine my frustration trying to retrieve my beloved Starbucks funds.
Had my card been registered, I would have been refunded right away.
My advise to anyone who drinks Starbucks, even if itâ€™s not on a regular basisâ€¦ maybe you treat yourself to a handcrafted beverage every so often, but any Starbucks enthusiast should get themselves a gift card and register it online, pronto!
This membership is free!
After youâ€™re all registered, use the following tips Iâ€™ve come up with to get the most out of the Rewards Program, and enjoy all of the perks!
Image via WeHeartIt
First, let me explain how the program is set up and how the rewards work.
There are three tier levels within the program.
I’ve outlined the benefits for each tier below.
When you first register your card, you will be in the Welcome Level.
â€¢ Start earning Stars (accumulating points)
â€¢ Enjoy a FREE handcrafted beverage on your birthday
After you collect 5 Stars, and by the way, you receive ONE Star for each transaction, so basically after 5 purchases, youâ€™ve progressed into the GREEN Levelâ€¦ this is where the benefits really start to begin! Youâ€™re entitled to all the benefits of the Welcome Level (the free birthday beverage) and then someâ€¦
â€¢ Free flavor syrups (one of my favorite benefits; I always get vanilla in my drinks. Be aware, there are restrictions on this.)
â€¢ Free soymilk (also another one of my favorites)
â€¢ Free tall beverage with each pound of coffee beans purchased
â€¢ Free refills on iced/brewed coffee and tea (you MUST sit in the store for this, once you leave, there will sadly be no free refill)
â€¢ Free trial offers
Once you are in the Green Level and you earn yourself 30 Stars, you will officially be coronated as a Gold Card Holder.
It really is a beautiful thing.
â€¢ All benefits mentioned above in both the Welcome and Green Levels
â€¢ Free drink every 15 Stars (a coupon card is mailed out for a free beverageâ€¦ any kind, any size, any customizations)
â€¢ A personalized Gold Card that is reloaded and reused (ITâ€™S SHINY!)
â€¢ Personalized offers and coupons (I often receive a free oatmeal with anything I want in it, etc.)
When you reach the Gold Level, you’ll receive a nice little package in the mail, containing your super shiny Gold Card and your first free beverage coupon.
I should note that once you reach the Gold Level, you must receive 30 Stars each year to maintain your VIP Status as a Gold Member.
Now that you have a better understanding of the Starbucks Rewards, letâ€™s be smart about how we use them!
- Separate items into individual transactions.
If youâ€™re buying more than one item, ask the cashier to separate them into different transactions.
Remember, you receive one Star for EACH transaction.
And no, this is not cheating!
I actually stumbled upon this idea through a Starbucks Customer Service Representative shortly after receiving my Gold Card a few years ago.
- Make it last.
I understand the deliciousness of the Lattes, Cappuccinos, and other espresso beverages, but supplementing these with freshly brewed coffee isnâ€™t horrible either.
Instead of my Grande Iced Vanilla Soy Latte, I now order a Grande Iced Coffee with Vanilla and Soy. (The vanilla and soy are both free with your Green/Gold Card and the $2.51 for iced coffee is much, much, much less than the $5 or so for that iced latteâ€¦ think about itâ€¦ at least give it a try.)
This way you can accumulate more Stars while spending less money, and when that free beverage coupon comes in, you can go all out for the big yummy, adding in extra espresso and anything else your little coffee loving heart may desire.
- Try to avoid licensed stores.
Make sure you are going to a REAL Starbucks store, not a licensed store.
I learned this the hard way.
Licensed stores are not â€œset upâ€ to honor Starbucks Rewards (you can use your free coupons there, but you cannot receive free customizations). Stores inside Targets or other company buildings are most likely a licensed store.
Real Starbucks are generally free standing.
If you happen to buy something from a licensed store and your free customizations were neglected, give the Starbucks Gold Card Customer Service number a call and complain; theyâ€™ll send you out some free beverage coupons.
Image via WeHeartIt
- Put it on your wish list.
Instead of reloading your Starbucks Card from your bank account, ask friends and family for Gift Cards as gifts for Birthdays and Holidays.
You can transfer the funds over to your Gold Card.
- Cash in rewards from other programs to reload.
If you have a credit card that gives you reward points, cash them in for a Starbucks Card!
Another interesting and fun way to reload your card without draining your bank account is through a mobile app called ShopKick.
Unfortunately, this is only an option for those of you with Android and iPhone devices. Basically, you download the app, set up your account and while youâ€™re out and about (points can also be rewarded from home) you collect points through â€œchecking inâ€ to placesâ€¦ itâ€™s not really a check in, just a click.
Some stores give you bonuses for walking through their doors and you also receive a nice amount of what is called Kick bucks for scanning products while in stores.
The app is similar to Foursquare, but when you get rewarded points. I cash in my Kick bucks for a $25 Target gift card where I then use to reload my Starbucks Gold Card.
If the Target has a Starbucks shop inside, you can ask them if theyâ€™re able to reload it for you.
If not, you can just buy a gift card and transfer the balance to your Gold Card via the Starbucks website.
If you actively use this app on a daily basis and utilize some of the other tips mentioned above, youâ€™ll be Gold when it comes to your Starbucks Card.
Image via Tumblr
How many of you are already using a registered Starbucks Card?
Share some of your experiences and thoughts below!
Feel free to tweet me any questions about the program or anything Iâ€™ve mentioned!
Joe Leck holds an Associate in Science for Business Administration and is currently working towards his B.S. in Marketing at the Rutgers Business School. Before relocating to attend Rutgers, he lived in the Jersey Shore where he worked as an EMT and Realtor. He loves coffee, iProducts, and the beach. Come tweet with him (@joeleck).
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