Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the card offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.
Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.
The Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is only valuable for users spend over $50 a week at Starbucks. Consumers who spend less than this amount won't recoup enough value to to make up for its annual fee of $49. One of the biggest negatives with this card is it's confusing rewards structure. The Stars—another name for the rewards points—expire after six months, making it difficult to utilize this card's benefits.
- How Does the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card Compare to Other Credit Cards?
Review: What are You Really Getting for Your $49 Annual Fee?
The Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card offers good reward value to consumers who spend more than $50 a week at Starbucks. The advertised three Stars per dollar spent might sound like an attractive offer, but members of the Starbucks Rewards Program receive two Stars per dollar spent, and the program offers free membership.
|People who spend more than $50 a week at Starbucks||Users who don't want to have to manage their rewards|
|Occasional visitors of Starbucks|
From our estimates the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card only nets the user around 3.6%—assuming you exchange your Stars for a $4.50 item—in additional benefits on Starbucks purchases. This take into account the Stars you earn for free, just by being a Starbucks Rewards member. For spending outside of Starbucks, the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card offers a terrible rewards rate, at only 0.9%. This is far worse than most cash back cards, which offer 1.5%‒2% back without an annual fee.
One of the biggest problems with the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is that earning Stars can be confusing. To earn three points per dollar spent, you have to first load money onto your Starbucks Rewards account, then pay from your account at Starbucks. For other cards, you simply use the card when you make certain purchases to gain rewards. Stars also expire six months after they are earned—some users might also have a hard time using them before they expire.
The value of a Star can vary greatly, which is something to consider when applying for this card. For example, if you only used your Stars to buy small brewed coffees ($1.90) then each star would be worth 1.5 cents, effectively earning you only a 1.5% rewards rate. This is around the same rewards rate you'll get for most cash back cards without an annual fee. To receive maximum value for this card, you would have to use your Stars only on the most expensive items at Starbucks. For customers who don't focus on maximizing their rewards rate, this can be a deterrent.
Bottom Line: The Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is only good for people who are frequent Starbucks shoppers. If you don't spend at least $50 a week at Starbucks, it won't be worth the $49 annual fee when compared to most cash back cards. Instead, consider joining the Starbucks Rewards program, and using a more versatile card—with no annual fee—to load money onto your account. You'll reap most of the benefits of the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, without an annual fee.
Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card Benefits and Features
Applicants for the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card are automatically enrolled in the Starbucks Rewards program, and—upon approval—will have Gold Level status as long as their accounts are open. Without the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, Starbucks Rewards members must earn 300 Stars before reaching Gold Level. Membership in this program grants users access to benefits such as free in-store refills, the option to order ahead, and a free birthday reward. More details on Starbucks Rewards program membership can be found here.
When using their Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, cardholders earn one Star per dollar loaded onto their Starbucks Card using the Starbucks app or online, and one Star for every four dollars spent elsewhere. Here Starbucks Card refers to a physical or digital Starbucks branded card registered to each user's Starbucks Rewards account, and is different from the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card. Every dollar loaded onto your Starbucks Card is regarded as a prepayment that can be applied to Starbucks purchases. When Starbucks Rewards members make purchases using their Starbucks Rewards account, they earn two Stars per dollar spent. Purchases made through the Starbucks Rewards program with money loaded from the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, effectively earns cardmembers three Stars per dollar spent.
Stars earned with Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card expire in 6 months. Every 125 Stars earned by Starbucks Rewards program members can be redeemed for one free drink or food item at participating Starbucks stores. This reward cannot be redeemed for alcoholic beverages or multi-serve items. Each Star is worth 3.6 cents— assuming that the average value of the item redeemed is $4.50.
When cardholders spend $500 or more in the first three months from the account opening, they receive 2,500 bonus Stars. 250 bonus stars are also rewarded after the first time they use the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card to load money onto their Starbucks Rewards account. If the Stars are redeemed before they expire, then this amounts to 22 free items.
The Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card allows access to eight Barista Picks a year. These are credited to your Starbucks Rewards account, and can be redeemed for a specific beverage or food item that you cannot choose. These Barista Picks expire 30 days after they are credited to your account. It's difficult to judge the value of this benefit, since it could be useless if the cardholder does not want the items picked.
How Does the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card Compare to Other Credit Cards?
We compared the Starbucks credit card against some of the top cash back credit cards available.
Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card vs Uber Visa Card
The Uber Visa Card offers a better rewards rate across the board, at 4% for dining—including Starbucks—3% for hotels and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, and 1% on everything else. It also has no annual fee. You can sign up for the Starbucks Rewards program and use the Uber Visa Card to load money onto your Rewards account. You will receive two Stars per dollar spent plus 4% cash back on dining, which makes the Uber Visa Card—at a total reward rate of 11.2%—better for Starbucks spending than the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card.
In terms of usage, the Uber Visa Card is the better card. Cash back earned with this card is applied to your credit card balance with no fuss. Having to deal with pre-loading funds and expiring Stars requires a lot of management. We recommend you consider the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card and sign up for Starbucks Rewards, which rewards you with almost as many benefits as the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card and none of the costs.
Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card vs Chase Freedom Unlimited®
While the Chase Freedom Unlimited® does have a higher rewards rate for most purchases, the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is worth signing up for if you spend more than $50 per week at Starbucks. If your total spending at Starbucks with the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card is less than that, then consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which has a 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases. For the same amount of spending the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a bonus with a value that is $60 dollars greater than the Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card, and does not come with a annual fee. Similarly, to the above comparison, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easier to use and requires no management to obtain its maximum value.