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Credit Cards

Starbucks Rewards Visa Card review: Is it worth it for Starbucks loyalists?

The Starbucks credit card has benefits for avid coffee drinkers. But is it the right card for you?

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Starbucks coffee shop logo seen at one of their stores.
Stephen Zenner | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card is a cobranded credit card from Chase Bank that's designed for avid coffee drinkers of the global chain. And with the Starbucks card you can earn rewards towards free drinks, food and merchandise.

Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Starbucks Visa credit card to help you decide if it's right for your needs.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card review

Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Credit Card

  • Rewards

    Earn up to 3X Stars per $1 spent at Starbucks® stores, earn 1 Star per $2 you spend at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and on internet, cable, and phone services and, earn 1 Star per $4 you spend everywhere else

  • Welcome bonus

    4,500 Stars after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 300 Bonus Stars the first time you use your Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card to load your registered Starbucks card with funds in the smartphone app

  • Annual fee

    $0 intro annual fee, $49 after the first year

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% – 22.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fees

    3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply. Information about the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card has been collected independently by CNBC Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Welcome bonus

The welcome bonus for the Starbucks Visa Card is a bit different than most credit cards. The Starbucks card offers 4,500 Stars after you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership. You will also receive 300 Stars the first time you use your Starbucks credit card to add money to your Starbucks account.

But what are Starbucks stars worth? Well, it varies widely depending on what you're purchasing. Several websites have analyzed the Starbucks rewards program and they estimate each star is worth anywhere between two cents and eight cents. If we conservatively estimate each star is worth four cents, that means 4,800 stars is worth $192 — which isn't a terrible return on a $500 minimum spending requirement.

However, the bonus is quite limiting as you can only use Stars at Starbucks, whereas a cash-back credit card welcome bonus can be used anywhere.

Benefits and perks

The Starbucks Visa card is light in benefits, but as a cardholder, you will have access to the following benefits:

  • a coupon for a complimentary drinks are deposited in your Starbucks app once per month simply for holding the card in 2022. It's good for any handcrafted drink up to $10. You will be alerted via email when it deposits and you have 14 days to use it.
  • One free drink on your birthday
  • Stars you earn from credit card spend will never expire
  • Purchase protection
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption protection
  • Rental car insurance

These perks may be appealing to the avid Starbucks customer, but outside of the complimentary monthly drink in 2022, many of these benefits are available on other cards. And even without the Starbucks credit card, you automatically get one free drink on your birthday each year when you have the Starbucks app.

How to earn and redeem Starbucks Stars

Earning Stars on your spending

When you spend on the Starbucks card, you'll earn: 

  • up to 3X Stars at Starbucks stores (1X Star when you load your Starbucks card with funds, and 2X Stars when you use that Starbucks card to make purchases)

Yes, it's a bit confusing. The idea is that the cardholder will use the Starbucks credit card to load money onto their Starbucks app. This action earns 1X Star. Once the funds on the Starbucks app are used to make purchases in-store, that will earn 2X Stars.

For example, if I top up my Starbucks account with $10 using the Starbucks credit card, I'll earn 10 Stars. Once I spend the $10 at Starbucks I'll earn another 20 Stars, for a grand total of 30 Stars.

On all other non-Starbucks purchases you'll earn:

  • 1 Star per $2 spent at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and on internet, cable and phone services.
  • 1 Star per $4 spent on all other eligible purchases.

This is not straightforward and because the value of stars can vary so much, it's hard to understand how much you're getting "back" for your spend.

Redeeming Stars at Starbucks

Once you earn enough Stars to redeem for free food, drinks or merchandise, you can very quickly redeem those stars in-store.

The redemptions currently are:

  • 25 Stars gets you a customization for a drink (i.e. espresso shot, dairy substitute, syrup)
  • 50 Stars gets you a brewed hot coffee, bakery item or hot tea
  • 150 Stars gets you a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast of parfait
  • 200 Stars gets you a lunch sandwich, protein box or salad
  • 400 stars gets you select in-store merchandise or at-home coffee

When you use the stars, be sure to let the barista know as you're ordering you'd like to redeem your stars.

Pro tip

If you're ordering a drink, all of the sizes cost the same amount of Stars. So a small coffee requires the same amount of Stars as an extra-large. To get the best bang for your buck (Stars), be sure to order the largest size possible.

Rates and fees

The card has a $0 intro annual fee, then $49 after that. It has a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside the U.S..

Late payment fees can be up to $40.

Card comparison

While the Starbucks Visa card is worth considering if you're an avid Starbucks visitor, is it the best card for your coffee order? Here's a comparison of the Starbucks card against two other credit cards that earn sizeable returns on dining purchases.

Starbucks Credit Card vs. American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is a metal card designed for consumers who love dining out and traveling. With the card, you earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Amex Rewards are best redeemed for travel with Amex's travel partners (like Delta, Marriott or Air Canada) or directly through the Amex travel portal. Terms apply.

The card also comes with great features for 'foodies' including: $10 monthly dining credits with participating partners and $10 monthly Uber credit (which can be used with Uber Eats). Enrollment required.

The card is also great for travelers as it comes with travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees. (See rates and fees)

In addition, the card comes with a sizeable welcome offer. You can earn: 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months of card membership. This can potentially be worth over $1,000 if you transfer your points to Amex's travel partners for flights or hotel nights.

However, the card has a $250 annual fee. (See rates and fees)

But if you're deciding between the Amex Gold Card and Starbucks card, it comes down to justifying the annual fee of the Gold card. If you enjoy dining out at more places than just Starbucks, spend a lot on groceries, travel a few times a year and can make use of the dining and Uber credits, the Amex Gold is likely the best choice. You'll rack up a ton of points that can be used for a variety of redemptions, like travel, cash back or gift cards. If you visit the coffee chain very often and just want to save on your Starbucks purchases, the Starbucks card may be the better match.

Starbucks Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another solid travel rewards credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for purchases made on the card.

To start, the card offers a solid sign-up bonus where you can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This bonus is worth $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. However, if you transfer the points to one of Chase travel partners like Southwest Airlines or Hyatt, you can redeem those points for even more value.

As you spend on the card you'll earn:

  • 5X points per dollar spent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 5X points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March 31st, 2025
  • 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart®, Target® and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other travel purchases
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Similar to the Amex Gold Card, the rewards earned on the Sapphire Preferred are best used for travel booked through Chase's travel partners (i.e. United, Southwest, Hyatt and more) or directly through the Chase travel portal. You'll also get decent value (1 cent per point) if you redeem your points for cash back.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a modest $95 annual fee, making it arguably one of the best mid-tier rewards credit cards available.

When comparing the two cards, the Sapphire Preferred is clearly the leader in nearly every category. However, if saving money on travel is not a priority and you only aspire to save on coffee purchases at Starbucks, the Starbucks card may be a better card for you.

Who the Starbucks Credit Card is best for

The Starbucks credit card is a good fit for someone who is a frequent Starbucks customer and is looking for immediate savings on their purchases. You'll need to be comfortable with only being able to redeem your rewards for items within the Starbucks ecosystem.

However, even if you frequent the coffee chain, a cash back card such as the *Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card may reward you even more for your coffee runs. You'll earn cash back which is much more flexible than redeeming Starbuck Stars. So before you select the Starbucks card, you may consider the long term rewards power between the Starbucks card and another cash back card.

Bottom line

The Starbucks credit card is worth considering if you frequently visit Starbucks locations. The flexible value of the Stars you earn can help you save, sometimes even significantly, on your coffee bill.

However, because a Starbucks drink can be anywhere from $3-7, someone who is on a budget would likely be better off focusing on a traditional cash-back card.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

*Information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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