Ever since I launched this site, my affinity for Starbucks has been fairly well-documented, from my tip about earning extra stars at Teavana (RIP) to my Rewards Bingo strategy guide and beyond. So, when Starbucks recently announced it was introducing a new rewards Visa card, you might have expected me to jump all over that. However, while the card does have some interesting perks, it’s getting a hard pass from me — and here’s why.
First of all, let’s look at what the Starbucks Rewards Visa has to offer. Perhaps the biggest perk is that cardholders will become automatic Gold Card members of Starbucks Rewards, earning two stars for each dollar spent at the coffee chain and enjoying access to promotions like Double Stars Days and the aforementioned Rewards Bingo. On top of that, you can also earn an additional star for every $4 you spend outside of Starbucks as well as earn a bonus star per dollar you spend reloading your Starbucks Card (meaning the gift card, not the credit card —confusing isn’t it?). Plus the card promises eight “Barista Picks,” which will be curated items you’ll receive for free throughout the year.
In terms of sign-up bonuses, you’ll receive 2,500 stars after spending $500 on the card in your first three months. For reference, 125 stars can be redeemed for a free item, making this bonus equivalent to 20 free items. You’ll also get another 250 bonus stars when you reload your Starbucks Card with your Starbucks Rewards Visa (again, confusing) for the first time.
Here’s where the catch comes: the Starbucks Rewards Visa has a $49 annual fee. Granted, 20 free items could amount to as much as $100, but that perk is only good once while the annual fee continues on. Also of note, your stars will expire six months after you first earn them, so you better get drinking.
The other thing that I don’t like about what Starbucks has created is that it will only lead you to spend more money in their store. Compare this arrangement to something like the Uber Visa, which allows you to redeem your rewards for cash back, statement credits, or gift cards — not just Uber rides. Oh, and that card has no annual fee. So while I suppose the Starbucks Rewards Visa might still be a good deal for some hardcore caffeine junkies, the card’s notes are just too bitter for my taste.
All that said, if you are interested in checking out the Starbucks Rewards Visa card for yourself, you can find more info and apply on their website.