How to maximize your Starbucks Rewards stars!

I spend way too much money at Starbucks these days, and so I’ve been wondering the optimal way to spend our Starbucks Rewards stars. The way the program works is you earn stars for, well, spending money at Starbucks. You can spend the stars for free stuff – there are multiple tiers of things, but the ones I care about are 50 stars for bakery items and 150 stars for fancy coffee drinks. My intuition going in was that 50 star items were probably more worth it since I doubt fancy coffee drinks are 3 times as expensive as bakery stuff. But prices are a little hard to find (in the app they’re not directly on the items, you have to add them to the cart to see them) so I wasn’t sure. Well, I’ve done the math – let’s take a look!

For simplicity, I measured these in “how many cents are you getting for spending one star”, so higher is better.

The raw data is below, but here are my conclusions:

  • Yup, almost all of the time you’re better off redeeming stars on 50 star items. (the exception is the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone which is very cheap)
  • Oatmeal and yogurt cost 150 stars, and they’re the worst deal.
  • Not a surprise, but stars cost 50 cents to get (if you use the app to prefund your Starbucks card) and you get at most 6.9 cents per star, so don’t feel bad about trying to maximize them, Starbucks is doing just fine…
  • For 25 stars you can get an extra flavor or shot. Adding an extra flavor is 50 cents, so you get 2.0 cents/star, which is very bad. But adding an extra shot of espresso can be up to 90 cents for 3.6 cents/star, which is pretty good!
  • One thing to note – when you redeem stars you don’t seem to be able to use the purchase towards any bonus star challenges. (I’m not sure if this applies to the whole order or just what you redeemed the stars for)
  • Prices at Starbucks around the country vary, so these numbers won’t be right everywhere. But I expect the ratio of these is around the same…

Fancy coffee drinks

ItemCents/starPrice
Tall latte2.5$3.75
Grande latte3.0$4.45
Venti latte3.3$4.95
Tall caramel brulee latte3.2$4.85
Grande caramel brulee latte3.6$5.45
Venti caramel brulee latte3.8$5.75

Food

ItemCents/starPrice
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone2.5$1.25
Cinnamon raisin bagel3.9$1.95
Blueberry scone or muffin5.9$2.95
Cheese danish6.5$3.25
Pumpkin cream cheese muffin6.5$3.25
Almond croissant6.9$3.45
Blueberry oatmeal (costs 150 stars)2.5$3.75
Strawberry overnight grains (costs 150 stars)2.5$3.75

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