Starbucks’ Summer Game is Back and You Could Score Free Stars
I feel as though I’m kind of going back to my roots with this week’s Quick Tip: discussing a new Starbucks promotion. If you’re newer to my site, pre-pandemic, my wife and I would go to Starbucks every weekend as a means of hanging out with our favorite baristas, enjoying some breakfast, and catching up on a few funner work items. Since I was going to the coffee shop with such frequency, I would also regularly write about the latest Starbucks deals, including breaking down their Bingo promotion to show how you could gain the greatest number of Stars, while buying the fewest number of items. With that history lesson over, even though I’m not as much of a Starbucks fiend as I once was, I did want to highlight the return of their popular Summer Game — and, more importantly, share how you might be able to score some free bonuses from it.
To be honest, I don’t fully understand how this year’s Summer Game works, but I do know how you can benefit without having to buy anything. As with past Starbucks promotions, you’re able to request a free Daily Play each day by locating the “play without making a purchase” link and filling out a form.
One kind of annoying change this year is that, in addition to providing your name, email, and phone number as well as answer a few questions, you’ll be required to watch a 30-second ad before submitting your form. What’s more, if you navigate away from the tab with the video playing, it will pause — so no multi-tasking for you! At least you can mute it, so you can still secretly submit your free play while in a Zoom meeting or whatever. Keep in mind, you can submit for up to two free plays per day (so one Daily Play and then one of the challenge ones).
In order to redeem your play, check your inbox soon after submitting your form. Clicking the link in the email will take you back to the game and should show you that you have “Snapshots available.” FYI, in case you couldn’t figure it out, “Snapshots” are this year’s plays. Also, if you submitted for a play from one of the challenges, you’ll need to scroll down and click the button to load your play.
When you elect to use one of your Snapshots, there are a few prizes you can win. First, you may be “rewarded” with a Boost. These are meant to be used in the puzzle game that’s part of this promotion but that doesn’t seem to actually give you rewards. Thus, this is likely the least desirable win.
The next option is a little better: a sweepstakes entry. This year, sweepstakes prizes include the Starbucks Adventure of a Lifetime, a $250 gift card, and 1,000 Bonus Stars. These all sound great, but the odds of winning are not.
That brings us to my favorite reward: Instant Win Prizes. This includes Bonus Stars, which I feel must be the most common of the prizes in this category. To that point, I’ve managed to score 5 Bonus Stars on a total of four occasions over the past couple of weeks, for a total of 20 Stars. Meanwhile, other instant win options apparently include gift cards, Cranium 25th Anniversary Edition board game, a Starbucks Reserve tumbler, a Starbucks Reserve tote, or Summer Game temporary tattoos (lol).
Of course, this year’s game comes a couple of months after Starbucks revamped its Rewards program and the tiers of items that customers could redeem their Stars for. While this update was largely seen as a devaluation, I did discover a sweet spot where I can now purchase whole-bean coffee for 300 Stars whereas I previously needed to use 400 Stars. In fact, considering I recently cashed in 300 Stars for what was $19, the 20 Stars I’ve already earned during Summer Game 2023 could reasonably be valued at around $1.27. That’s not a huge amount — but, then again, I also barely did anything to earn them, so I’ll count it as a win.
UPDATE: The day after I posted this article, I won a $25 gift card from a free play!
All in all, despite some annoying changes to Summer Game itself and Starbucks Rewards in general, submitting for your free plays could be an easy way to gain some free Stars. So, be sure to check out the site and play each day through June 18th.