The New Starbucks Gold Card: Hot topic right now

New Starbucks Gold Card

New Starbucks Gold Card

The hot Starbucks topic of the moment is the new Starbucks loyalty/Gold Card program, and so here I am joining in the conversation.  Previously, I’ve already posted about this at Starbucks Gossip, but here’s another round of conversation on the new Gold Card.  And I’d love to hear from others what you-all think about it? In short, the new program rewards customers with beverages after earning a certain base level of stars, and then free beverages every 15 stars. One star is earned with one transaction. This means that a customer purchasing a tall Latte, an oatmeal, and a Naked orange juice will be best served by splitting this into three transactions, thus earning 3 stars.  If that same customer buys the Latte, oatmeal, and juice on one receipt only, he or she has only earned one star.

My take on the new program is that is structured as a beverage rewards program that will benefit the casual to fairly frequent espresso beverage customer who often purchases a latte with a small item. This is a large group of customers: They get a latte and a pastry, and now if they split it into two transactions, they’ve got two stars.  Consequently, many folks will love this new program.

This new program is NOT  a great benefit for the highly frequent customer who purchases a wide variety of items. Personally, I purchase an absurd amount of whole bean coffee each month.  This is because there are two avid coffee drinkers in my home, as well as I use whole bean coffee as “prizes” often when I run twitter contests looking for comments on this blog.  Many of the beans I purchase do NOT come in one-pound sizes, and can only be purchased in one-half size flavor lock bags, thus are not eligible for any standard current registered card reward. For example, if you go back and look at my blog on the Clover coffee experience, you’ll see that Guatemala Antigua Medina, and Aged Sumatra are only available in one half-pound sizes. This means that the customer who spends $12.00 on a half pound of Aged Sumatra is still earning just “one star” exactly the same as the person who is buying one cookie. (Yes, Aged Sumatra retails at $12.00 for a half pound at Starbucks).  Another example of a bean that cannot be purchased in a whole pound size is Pike Place Special Reserve – which makes a great twitter contest reward since it is a coffee unique to Seattle.

I confess that now and then I buy other things at Starbucks too. I bought both Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band remastered Beatles CDs at Starbucks. I buy a new tumbler now and then. Again, I lose the ten percent discount and I’m still earning just one single star.  Furthermore, I’m not totally sure I want to be rewarded with the same reward over and over again: a million beverages. I could soon be swimming in a sea of free beverages.

Having said all that, I still think that lots of people will love this new program, but it’s just not designed for customers like me. Sigh.

What do you readers think?

[And for further conversation on this, has had a number of threads on the topic, such as this one here.]

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  • Steve

    What is that comment supposed to mean

  • Lee

    Two comments:

    1. As Melody has said (and I have repeated), the 80/20 marketing rule is something that they seem to be ignoring (at their peril?). I (we) can’t see how they are ignoring the sales we added to the bottom line.

    2. The average person (the small/medium client) wants something for free without doing anything. Heck, registering the card and having to pay from it seems to be too much to ask! Many complain about having to load the card. Sheesh, auto-reload has been there for a long time. You aren’t giving SBUX much when you auto-reload $20 when the card goes below $10 (or whatever).

  • Riki Yamada

    Just like practically EVERY promo I’ve experienced while working at Starbucks, I’ll wait until it officially begins-only THEN, will I have TRUE opinion.

    However, a pre-opinion LOL! I LIKE the idea of fusing the Gold Card & Reg. Gift Card benefits! Perhaps, the benefits/perks provided now, may not be suitable to EVERYONE. However, I also recall reading somewhere (when the Gold Card 1st appeared @ our store) that aside to its current benefits, Starbucks may/will be adding new benefits/perks as we go along. With THAT said, the Gold Card may have been short-lived, but perhaps, Starbucks will be adding the alleged, tentative, NEW benefits/perks to My Starbucks Rewards… as we go along! =]

    I have a great feeling about the My Starbucks Rewards program. For me personally, I stay concerned with the NOW & MSR is not ‘NOW’ yet; so I tell myself “Let’s see what will happen!” Until then, MSR will be on my back-burner as I patiently, diligently wait for its launch!

  • Steve

    my opinion, this new card is terrible, I drink two Sbucks a day (fraps) and they are not cheap. I don’t like the fact I have to place money on the card to get the benefits. I think they should have used this card as they did the last gold card, swipe both your CC and the gold card.

    A note that was sent to corporate Starbucks, with no response, see below.

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I have been a loyal Starbucks customer for more than 8 years; I have been drinking the same drink (Caramel Mocha Frap) EVERY day sometimes twice a day. I was excited for the Gold card deal that you provided last year to your customers, and for someone like me that drinks one EVERY day it was definitely a good buy. I really saw big savings each month on my bank statements.

    Now to the part that disturbs me, you came out with the new Gold Card, It was nothing what I expected. I don’t get huge savings as before and when I went to the local Starbucks to find that it didn’t work, I have to load cash (basically a interest free loan to Starbucks) on this one if I plan to receive any type of reward. I’m definitely not satisfied with this new program as I found out real quick there are no benefits for someone like me that doesn’t like to put cash on the card. You don’t use ID verification, if I lost my card it is good for any person out there to use.

    So for being a veteran Starbucks customer since 2002, and spending well over $250 a month on your product (I have the bank statements to prove it), I find that I really don’t get any rewards and consider myself not to be viewed as a loyal customer in your eyes. There should be some sort of separation between your real GOLD members and someone that can earn the gold membership with having only 30 drinks or so.

    Why don’t you work on a real program that benefits the serious Starbucks customers, customers like me that spend enough money to pay a part time employees salary. Instead, you bring this new card that does nothing for me; I’m no different in the Starbucks Corporate eyes.

    I will say this, the employees at the

    19 West Bridge Street
    Dublin, OH 43017-1126 and the

    1355 Georgesville Rd
    Columbus, OH 43228

    are really something else. When I walk into those locations, I know that they appreciate my services and my generous tips, and they deserve every penny for the superior work they do.

    Now if only Headquarter can open their eyes to the loyal customers and show us some appreciation for what we have done and continued to do that would be great.

    I have never thought about changing my brand of coffee in the last 8 years, but with this new change, it has been a thought in my mind.

  • Melody

    (Reply to Steve) – Hi Steve! Thanks for commenting on my blog. Though entirely unncessary, I suggesting adding an initial or something distinctive or a gravatar because I think you may be the 3rd Steve on my blog. (Steve, Steve H, and Steve).

    It seems like a number of people are annoyed that under the new My Starbucks Rewards, money must be pre-loaded onto a card. I don’t really see that as much of a big deal when you know that you’ll consistently be spending money there, but I hear ya’ that lots of people don’t like it.

    I also think it is patently unfair that you earn one star regardless of size of transaction. Of course, there has already been a lot of noise about this at MSI too. It almost is not worth repeating.

    But in the end, it won’t make me change my brand of coffee. Where else can I go that will give me such an incredible dark roast? I don’t want a Stumptown Roast that is nearly tea-like. Peet’s is lighter too, though it would be an option.

    Loyalty is not totally won or lost over a few stars to wish on in the sky. There are always too many stars and not enough sky. The reason is that the real stars of the experience are the baristas who make my day and spoil me when they see me. You obviously have that too.

  • Shannon

    I hate the new Gold card. Hate it. I’ve put $50 on it just to see if I could get used to it and feel better about it, but I haven’t been able to.

    I liked the $25/10% deal. For the past three years, I have ordered on average 2 grande mochas per weekday. I knew that under the original Gold card plan, I was going to end up saving money in the end. When prices went up on my drink, I didn’t stress too much, because I knew I had the 10% off.

    Receiving a postcard for a free drink every week and a half seems inefficient and environmentally unfriendly. Plus, I can do the math. I know that this is not as good of a deal as the 10% was.

    There’s also a Pegasus coffee shop about a block away from my office. I like their coffee and am thinking about switching to that shop for my weekday coffees when I am downtown and switching to Dilettante when I am at court in Kent.

    I was loyal to Starbucks in the past because it made sense. Now, it doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. It would have been better to have never had the original Gold card plan to begin with – I would have never gotten used to it and wouldn’t have gotten angry when it was taken away.

    I really like the baristas near my office, but I also know that baristas everywhere tend to treat their regular customers well. While I’ll be sad to leave my baristas, I won’t be quite sad enough to override how annoyed I am about the new Gold card plan.

  • Kelsey

    I’m guessing that people who are complaining about the new reward program are family folks. And I understand that it is unfair for them to earning only 1 star for spending $20 or more. But personally speaking, this new reward system works for me, because I’m not married, don’t have kids. So I’m not one of those people who go to Starbucks in flocks or with toddlers trailing them. However, I do get my morning coffee from Starbucks pretty much every working day. So I’m happy that Starbucks is paying attention to their regular costumers.
    As for the old gold card program, I never cared much for it. It was useless for me because I’m one of those people who get embarrassed showing reward cards just to save a few cents(it’s .50c off a $5 latte for me). And most of the time I forget to bring my reward cards anyways, I go light on cards). Instead of the 50cent discount off my latte everytime, getting a consolidated reward in the form of a free drink is more appealing to me.
    And I don’t know about the states, but here in Canada, we have our own Second Cup, Starbuck’s rival and competition. And here (I can’t speak for all but I think)Second Cup is more of a favorite than Starbucks. In many downtown areas where there is a Starbucks and a Second Cup opposite each other on the same street, you will see that S Cup is almost always more crowded than Sbucks. If Starbucks hadn’t started introducing these reward/discount programs, they’d have lost a lot of their costumers to SCup. And wouldn’t it actually be easier for barristas to just swipe a card each time instead of dealing with cash?
    But may be they should change the reward system to one that lets u earn one star per drink(instead of per purchase/transaction) and still give a 10% discount off all other Starbucks items(like coffee makers, tumblers, cds, whatever else).

  • Melody

    Hi Kelsey! Welcome to the blog. How did you find me? I completely can appreciate that there doesn’t have to be any rewards. Like you, I’m not going to Starbucks with a family in tow. But still … For example yesterday, I bought 6 bags of rare Starbucks beans (only sold in the 1/2 pound size) at $10 each. I have plans to send them to certain participants at this site. I spent $60 on coffee yesterday. Anybody who thinks I should get “one star” for $60 worth of coffee??? So I had the barista ring up each $10 bag of coffee separately (which means there is NO free tall any beverage because each bag is a 1/2 pound) so that I could get 6 stars. The truth is, the $6 off was more valuable to me, and felt more fair than this scenario. But it is what it is, and rewards or no rewards, my Starbucks habits aren’t going to change.

  • Rachel

    When I was at my local Starbucks, they told me that if my new Starbucks card was not loaded with money (the gold thing I got in the mail to replace my black card) points will not accumulate. I asked at another Starbucks in town and they said that they don’t know because the language is vague. What is the truth on this one?

  • Hayley

    any starbucks card, as long as it is regsitered will accumulate stars,…but it must be registered on their website.

  • AmazonV

    Yes @Rachel they are right you must pay with a registered card to get the stars, you can’t use cash or credit. (Unlike the old black card…)

  • chipbee

    I just use 2 cards at every purchase. I always had the starbucks employee my debit card and my rewards card. I just round up the total dollar amount of the purchase and have them load that amount to my rewards card and pay for my purchase using my rewards card. The extra money that accumulates gets me something later (like throwing your change in a jar at home).

    I think most people may do this… no one has ever looked at me funny for using two cards… its a normal procedure.

  • JRedd

    After spending a good amount of time out of curiosity, looking for info on the gold card, I can see why previous black card holders would be upset about the change. Atleast it seems they are the only ones who feel “betrayed” because they once knew of a better deal! I can say that I approach it much differently though, I used to live in kansas and hated the idea of “over priced, corporate, define yourself with your drink Starbucks. Until I moved to California. Admittedly I didn’t start going to Starbucks because of the coffee, in fact it served as a good refuge from a hard time living in a new state and being just down the street. So I bought a coffee, sat and spent hours reading and next thing I knew, I’m riding my longboard down to Starbucks every day that I’m not out of town and getting a drink and reading. This was a few months ago and then I spent 3 months in europe so I’m happy to revisit my starbucks now! All that to say the gold card is great for me because I already go to Starbucks so why not get rewarded for it? I think my biggest money saver comes from The free refills and free syrup combined! I spend hours a day there and refill atleast once or twice on drip or ice coffee so after discounting syrup, sometimes a cup discount, and a couple refills, I’m saving like 1.50 a day! Technically more if you consider I’m getting 3 drinks for the price of one discounted! I just purchase my 30th star the other day so I’m looking forward to a shiny card with my name on it. My baristas already make me feel special, this should only make it better!

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