Starbucks Birthday Reward Redemption Time Shrinks to 4 Days. Don’t Miss Out on Your Free Drink.

002BirthdayStarbucksCardMyStarbucksRewards customers now have four days to redeem their free birthday reward. Starbucks gives you 4 days to use your free birthday MyStarbucksRewards Reward: You have the two days before you birthday, your birthday, and the one day after your birthday. (It used to be 7 days.)

It’s worth pointing this change out for one huge reason: If you are reading this, I don’t want you to miss out on using your free birthday reward at Starbucks! You might have it stuck in your head that you have longer than that: I don’t want you to miss out on your free My Starbucks Rewards birthday drink!

The last time I wrote about the Starbucks free birthday reward was on my birthday, May 17th. Other aspects of the birthday reward remain unchanged: Make sure you register a Starbucks card (that is you must join My Starbucks Rewards) at least 30 days before your birthday. You must maintain an active MyStarbucksRewards profile – if your card has not been used for a full 12 months as a form of payment, you might not get a MyStarbucksRewards birthday reward.

Once in a blue moon I still hear (or see on the Internet) confusion around this perk:

Are there still postcards for your free birthday reward? No. Starbucks does NOT mail out any postcards for their rewards. All of your rewards are digital. The very easiest way to track your rewards is with the Starbucks mobile phone app!

Can I walk in and ask for a birthday reward, just showing the Starbucks barista my identification? No! Please do not do this! It is possible that there will be partners who will give you a free drink to surprise and delight your day, but they are never required to do this, and you should never expect it. This is not how you’re supposed to get a free birthday drink. You are supposed to use the MyStarbucksRewards program!

I was able to confirm with Ms. Laurel Harper of Starbucks Media Relations department that the birthday reward did change to 4 days to use it. She said, “Yes, our birthday reward redemption time is 4 days now.  Customers with a registered Starbucks card will receive their complimentary birthday reward email two days prior to their birthday and it expires the day after their birthday.” She explained to me the reasoning for the change: “The reason for the change is that these rewards are meant to be a true celebration of our customers’ birthdays.  We absolutely want our customers to be aware of this and are updating our FAQs and Terms of Use.

This change went into effect September 30, 2015.

Please comment and share! :)

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85 Comments

  • Gina

    I was out of the country during my birthday week and just came back to find out it expired the day after my bday. Boo. Finishing my money I have invested on my phone and deleting the app. Rude of you Starbucks.

  • Laura

    Not cool; i only got my reward for 3 days receiving it the day before my birthday

  • Frank

    This is not cool. Starbucks is trying to save some money but they just lost a customer. I tried to use my b-day reward 2 days after my b-day and it was already expired.

  • nlkflint

    My reward was loaded 1/25 and expires 1/27. I count TWO days

  • Kerri Sprague

    Starbucks definitely made this change under the radar. Sneaky Sneaky and disappointed.
    I’ve been a Starbucks Program customer for longer than I can remember and have come to expect a certain perk (down to 2 days). If they cared, they would have made the change more obvious in the email. What’s next? Only earn 1 star per day, I bet (watch your stars, they won’t make an announcement!)

  • Steve

    2 days is completely ridiculous. what is the point? even someone who visits almost daily might miss it. And it’s not clearly called out in the email – for the first year at least after the change they should have put it in big, bold type. It’s buried in the footnotes.

  • Amanda Conrad

    Starbucks is so cheap. All other establishments give you at least 7 days to redeem. I live in the country and do not go in town every day. This come from a company who is considered employee friendly but certainly does not seem to be customer friendly. They might as well take this perk away. They do not want to make it convenient for you.

  • Greg Champlin

    I received my birthday reward email on March 1st sent at 5:30 in the morning.
    I thought “how nice – I’ll treat myself on the weekend”. Well it’s now Saturday morning on March 5th, (3 Days after my actual birthday) and my reward is gone! I looked at my history and see it had expired on Thursday March 3rd.
    That’s when I read the “fine print” that it would expire on the 3rd. That, along with the recently announced changes to the reward program where I have to buy $62 worth of drip coffee to get one free have inspired me to stop being a “loyal” Starbucks customer. Sure, I’ll still buy a cup once in awhile but They definitely lost a one or two cup a day customer.

  • Melody H

    This new birthday reward plan feels more like an insult than a treat. Mine was only good for three days, and just so happened I could not leave the house for those three days because of illness. Starbucks, you made a bad day worse. I am finding more and more reasons to go elsewhere.

  • Lee

    Just found out that my birthday reward expired the day after my birthday–I had only 3 days to use it! Used to have at least a week! If Starbucks does not want to give away free drinks, discontinuing birthday drinks would be better that offering them and then taking them away!

  • John M

    My birthday reward email notification hit my inbox 36 hours before expiration and it was not valid the day following my birthday. Tacky birthday reward insult! The Starbucks FAQ states, “As our most loyal customers we want you to enjoy your birthday reward and earned rewards because you deserve that free hand-crafted beverage, bottled beverage or food item. We hope you will visit us often enough that your rewards won’t ever come close to their expiration date.” I am very disappointed in the new policy change and find it to be a “non-reward” and in very poor taste due to the very limited window of time for use. Evidently, the higher ups in marketing felt it would be more important to manipulate the precedent that had been set on birthday rewards being valid for a week rather than make their loyal consumers feel a little extra special for their birthdays. Thanks for showing me what “loyalty” truly means to Starbucks. I’ll gladly support my locally owned and operated coffee shop in place of Starbucks in the future.

  • Melanie

    I see a lot of people have had issues with their birthday rewards. I agree that I think it’s extremely tacky for Starbucks to allow the birthday reward to expire after only 4 days. Many places actually will allow you to use your free birthday gift anytime within your birthday month. Take Ulta and Sephora for example, you can pick up your free birthday gift anytime during the month of your birthday. Starbucks sure knows how to alienate customers.

  • John T

    I was just caught with the 4 day window expiration. Two of the days were weekends! Also, the web site initially showed an expiration of 5/11, before expiring on 4/3. It would have been better not to have seen the offer at all. Goodbye Starbucks. Unlike your birthday reward, you may read this comment anytime.

  • yi chang

    I got my email one day after the birthday, so technically, the so-called “present” is already expired. Wha an Insult! The last thing I need around my birthday is this type of crap. I will not add any new money on my Starbucks card, after I use it up, then bye bye starbucks.

  • Jesse Hollington

    “We absolutely want our customers to be aware of this and are updating our FAQs and Terms of Use.””

    Doesn’t seem to be the case…. Despite this new policy obviously having gone into effect electronically (my girlfriend just got bitten by it), it’s been over six months since it went into effect and the FAQ — at least the one for Starbucks Canada — still says “Your free birthday reward is good for 30 days after your birthday.” (http://www.starbucks.ca/rewardsfaster/faqs)

  • Jesse Hollington

    In all fairness, after a bit more digging, it turns out that the FAQ above isn’t the one directly referenced from Starbucks’ home page, but it is the one that comes up as the first relevant hit in a Google Search for “starbucks rewards” or “starbucks birthday rewards” — Starbucks either needs to remove this outdated page or at least add a heading that notes that it’s no longer in effect and link to the most current FAQ.

    Combined with the lack of any clear notification in the birthday reward emails, Starbucks has _not_ done enough, IMHO, to ensure that it’s most loyal customers are properly advised of these changes.

  • Maggie O

    It seems that others, like my husband, got their birthday reward notification 1 day (not 2) before their BD, giving them only 3 days to use it. Tom was notified at 2 AM March 31 for his April 1 BD. And since he didn’t check his email until 4 pm on March 31, he really had 2 days. He missed it because he didn’t read the small print, but he emailed SB and they gave him a “one time courtesy award” good for 30 days.

  • christine k

    really really really sucks! i was waiting for the birthday free drink postcard, then found the email and then found the small shitty footnote! thought I had my birthday month available for the free drink…wow~booz~blues!!!

  • Melody

    @Christine k – There haven’t been any kind of post cards in years. All rewards are digital. Do you only go to Starbucks for the birthday drink and not participate in any other rewards or promotions?

  • Susan

    I didn’t receive notice of my birthday reward until 7:40 pm ON my birthday! It did not give me time to use it.

  • Candice

    Birthday on Friday and Sunday is already expired! Why can’t I get a free reward drink on a lazy Sunday?
    Buying coffee else where from now on.

  • True

    Going from seven days to four to get a free drink is certainly not, “that these rewards are meant to be a true celebration of our customers’ birthdays.” Haven’t they heard of people lately, talking about celebrating their “birthday week”s? It’s obviously meant to cut down on the time people have to redeem the drinks. Maybe they think it will make people come in more often, but I don’t think they are correct. I realize it’s a perk of the Rewards program, but cutting back on a fun once-a-year freebie really isn’t a way to win over customers.

  • Lilly

    Sucks… birthday on 23rd, 26th already expired. So disappointed

  • Tor

    If they change the expiry the notice shouldn’t be in such small print no one can be expected to see it. what a terrible experience showing up and finding out your birthday drink expired.

  • Tammy

    I used my birthday reward on my birthday and it showed in my rewards as used for a birthday reward, but then after my birthday, it was applied to my credit balance, so it WASN’T a free birthday drink. I paid for it myself. Not Nice.

  • Tex

    Tammy – fill out the customer service email form on their website. They’ll fix the problem in a day or two at most. I found lately they don’t even email you a personalized reply anymore, the problem just gets fixed (you’ll get the money credited back, or another 125 stars added so you have an extra free drink).

  • Shawn Marie Hardy

    I am leaving Starbucks for good just as soon as I get my birthday drink later this week. I made a complaint to Starbucks once the point conversion took affect and spent 45 minutes/3 phone calls trying to fix the problem of not getting updates for my double point days. A customer service rep said she was “fixing” it on her end so I would never miss a text or email again. Since then (early June) I haven’t received an email or a text from Starbucks about any promotions, rewards, or double point days. Nothing. Since I have been a registered cardholder in 2009 my birthday drinks have not appeared on my card and I have relied on my emails to get a free drink. This year it looks like I will have to rely on my drivers license. Once I get my freebie I am cutting up my gold card and mailing it to the CEO. If I can’t get the perks then I don’t want to be a customer.

  • HotMessSundae

    No business *has to* give freebies, but if they do, it should not be done this way. It is like dangling a carrot in front of us for a year, then yanking it away if you move 1 second too slowly at the end.

    To get this reward, we have to allow SB to essentially keep our $ in their bank (keep a balance on their card). I have never gotten a single reward from the stars, other than this one birthday drink.
    Last year, I tried to use it 1 week after my birthday, and was shocked to find out it had expired already. This year, I was ready to use it on Day 3 after my birthday, and now they have moved back the expiration date even further, so it’s already expired!
    Issuing this sort of non-reward is more frustrating to customers than just not offering it at all.
    Incidentally, I received 5 birthday rewards from other restaurants, all of which allow between a week and a month to redeem it.
    Birthdays happen to be busy days, and full of food/sugar for most people. That is why people can’t feasibly run into Starbucks on their birthdays.
    I log those stupid stars all year from buying bagged coffee, and keep my SB card loaded with $. My card has been hacked repeatedly, causing hours of time for me to fix it. All to get a nonexistent reward. I am closing my card today.

  • Andrea Gomez

    I just had a big let down too because of this new policy. My birthday was on Friday but I was busy with my family and friends and yesterday (Saturday) I went to one with my mom but she offered to buy me a drink so I thought, “okay nice, I can use my birthday one on Sunday or Monday…” Nope. Big let down, today is Sunday and it’s already expired. It’s sad that Starbucks who already keeps raising prices can’t give their loyal customers their birthday drink two days after.

  • Johnny

    WOW that’s so shitty, I’m really trying to like Starbucks, but this company really is going downhill with customer service, especially due to their cheapness. Very upset that they do this kind of sneaky stuff. My birthday was on a Saturday and I tried to use it to get morning coffee on Monday Morning and the thing was already expired… >:(

  • Barry

    I didn’t realize the expiration date has shorten so much. I was only given 2 days to redeem my free birthday reward and I missed it.

  • Joanne liu

    So so cheap of Starbucks!

  • W. C.

    Thanks Starbucks for notifying me of this change (not). On the website it still states that your birthday drink or food is valid for 30 days after your birthday. I will not go to Starbucks anymore.

  • K.H.

    I have had the problem the last 2 years where a starbucks employee has used a star reward that I happened to have instead of the birthday reward . It is hard enough making it there with the drastic shrinking in days (only 3 days for mine, not this mystical 4 they “promised”), but it really feels that they are trying to deprive you of it when they “unintentionally” ring up another reward that has a much longer expiration date.

    Coffee bean and tea leaf has a rewards program now! and they give you 30 days for a birthday reward.

  • Tex

    K.H. – that has happened to me two years in a row on my birthday! Both years, as soon as I sat down to drink my birthday reward I opened the app to see if it was processed correctly. When I saw it was not (125 stars were deducted instead), I immediately went back to the cash register and in both instances, was given two $4 gift cards as compensation for the error. Then I returned the next day to redeem the birthday reward (and made sure to specify it firmly and have the partner double check before processing). This only works if you go on the day before or the day of your birthday otherwise you can’t return the next day as I did.

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