holding up a Starbucks cup of coffee to a Delta airplane

Delta is Changing the Way You Earn SkyMiles at Starbucks

Look, I didn’t intend to write about Starbucks two weeks in a row — so let’s call this a Delta story instead. Earlier this week, Delta sent out an email to Skymiles members who had linked their Starbucks Rewards accounts to let them know of an upcoming change. Now, rather than earning bonus miles based on individual purchases, members will earn based on how much they load onto their Starbucks cards.

Previously, after linking your Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks Rewards accounts, you could earn 1 SkyMile per dollar spent at Starbucks. So, if you used your Starbucks card to purchase a $6 latte and $5 sandwich, you’d earn 11 SkyMiles. Meanwhile, reloading your Starbucks card didn’t trigger any miles earned — that would happen once those funds were spent at the store.

Now, that’s getting turned on its head a bit as mileage earnings will be based on reload amounts. What’s more, those who add larger totals to their Starbucks cards in one fell swoop will earn more SkyMiles for their money. Here’s how it breaks down:

Reload amount$25 to $49.99$50 to $74.99$75 to $99.99$100+
SkyMiles earned2575125200

There are a few things you might notice about this chart. First, you’ll need to reload at least $25 onto your Starbucks card in order to earn any SkyMiles under this new structure. Second, rather than being a “SkyMile per dollar” model, members will instead earn a set number of miles depending on what tier of reload they fall into. Lastly, adding $100 to your Starbucks card will result in 8 times as many SkyMiles versus a $25 reload despite being only 4 times the amount of money. In other words, Starbucks and Delta really would like you to add as much money as possible to your Starbucks card.

So what do I think about this switch-up? Personally, I think it’s actually better in some ways — but only when maximized. One factor I think is notable is that, under the previous system, taxes and tips were excluded from mileage accrual. For example, a recent transaction saw me spending $22 at Starbucks, but the subtotal of $18 (before tax or tip) meant I only earned 18 miles. However, if the mileage amount is based on the reload, this effectively won’t apply.

The other reason this could be better is because of the increased SkyMiles earning opportunity. At the same time, this is where some awareness comes into play. As you can see, reloading your card for $49 is pretty foolish under this system as, for just $1 more, you could earn 3 times as many miles. Granted, I don’t know who’s reloading for $49 — but someone doing $30-45 does seem likely. In these cases, going up to $50 may make sense.

Of course, all of this only makes sense if you are going to Starbucks often enough to utilize the reload amount in a timely manner. After all, the coffee chain would love nothing better than for you to put a bunch of money on your card and never use it. Thus, while the promise of bonus SkyMiles may be tempting, I think it’s important to be realistic about your coffee consumption — and to also not spend more than you otherwise would in the pursuit of earning miles.

It’s no secret that Starbucks’ rewards program and the stored value cards component are a core piece of their success — to the point where they’ve been described as being more of a bank than a coffee shop. Yet, while being beneficial to the company, there have also been perks for customers… even if there have been devaluations along the way. Speaking of devaluations, just as other recent Rewards changes brought some sweet spots amid mostly negative updates, these adjustments to the Delta-Starbucks partnership have pros and cons. But, if you’re a hardcore Starbucks fan and know how to get the most out of this program, you might just be able to build up your Delta SkyMiles account in the process.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Founder ~ Moneyat30
Kyle is a freelance writer - including being the head writer for Fioney.com. He also serves as editorial director for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com. In 2015, Kyle and his wife Bekah moved from Los Angeles to Springfield MO in pursuit of greater financial freedom. Together, the pair enjoy travel, coffee, and spending time with their dog Rigby. Additionally, as of 2023, they become first-time homeowners.

Other Articles by Kyle Burbank

Lemonade Pet logo

Lemonade Pet Insurance Review (2024): Policy Options & What's Covered

Pets have always been an important part of many American families. Yet, I don’t think I’d ever really considered the idea of purchasing insurance for a dog or cat until I learned that Lemonade was adding such an option. Cut to a mere month after when my wife and I...
Tiger sign at Voco hotel

Travel Tuesday: Voco The Tiger Hotel Review (Columbia, Missouri)

This past weekend, my wife and I found ourselves in Columbia, Missouri. Located about three hours away from our home in Springfield, COMO is home to the University of Missouri (better known as Mizzou), which rivals our own Missouri State University. As our Saturday drew to a close, we realized...
items ready to be packed for a trip

Halfday Garment Duffle Review: Travel Hero or Dud?

Have you ever been served ads for a product on Instagram so often that you eventually break down and buy it? As a personal finance blogger, this is not a practice I can endorse. However, as someone who reviews products, I have much more tolerance for allowing myself to give...
The "Email" field is empty, you must enter some text to proceed.The text you entered in the "Email" field appears to be invalid, please edit it and try again
Get Posts in Your Inbox
Featured Articles
Lemonade Pet logo

Lemonade Pet Insurance Review (2024): Policy Options & What's Covered

Pets have always been an important part of many American families. Yet, I don’t think I’d ever really considered the idea of purchasing insurance for a dog or cat until I learned that Lemonade was adding such an option. Cut to a mere month after when my wife and I...
holding up a Starbucks cup of coffee to a Delta airplane

Delta is Changing the Way You Earn SkyMiles at Starbucks

Look, I didn't intend to write about Starbucks two weeks in a row — so let's call this a Delta story instead. Earlier this week, Delta sent out an email to Skymiles members who had linked their Starbucks Rewards accounts to let them know of an upcoming change. Now, rather...
Tiger sign at Voco hotel

Travel Tuesday: Voco The Tiger Hotel Review (Columbia, Missouri)

This past weekend, my wife and I found ourselves in Columbia, Missouri. Located about three hours away from our home in Springfield, COMO is home to the University of Missouri (better known as Mizzou), which rivals our own Missouri State University. As our Saturday drew to a close, we realized...
items ready to be packed for a trip

Halfday Garment Duffle Review: Travel Hero or Dud?

Have you ever been served ads for a product on Instagram so often that you eventually break down and buy it? As a personal finance blogger, this is not a practice I can endorse. However, as someone who reviews products, I have much more tolerance for allowing myself to give...