Starbucks merges loyalty programs, drops fee

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Starbucks has launched its My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. This initiative combines two programs — the Starbucks Card Rewards and Starbucks Gold initiatives — into one unified program.

Users can register their Starbucks cards online to join the program.

My Starbucks Rewards charges no annual fee, unlike the Gold program, which was $25 per year and allowed consumers to receive 10% off most drinks, a free drink with membership and shared discounts with friends and family on certain days.

The Starbucks Card Rewards program was also free and offered users who registered their cards online select complimentary syrup and milk options, free hot and iced brewed coffee refills during in-store visits, a complimentary tall drink with the purchase of one pound of whole bean coffee and free Wi-Fi for two hours per day.

The combined program offers users most of the above incentives, but on a tiered structure. When users register, they qualify for a free drink on their birthday and free Wi-Fi. After using the card — which functions like a gift card — five times, they move up to green level, where they get free refills on coffee and tea, free flavor syrups and soy, a free tall drink with whole bean coffee purchase.

After using the card 30 times, members qualify for a personalized Gold Card, a free drink after every 15 purchases and exclusive offers and promotions.

An e-mail statement sent from Starbucks to DMNews said: “We tested our card approach over the last year and customers told us that we needed to make our card programs simpler to understand. We also gained insight that our members preferred a program without an annual membership fee and one that is more inclusive and accessible for everyone to join with benefits that appeal to a broad range of our customers.”

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