Fool’s Gold: Starbucks New Reward Program

Earlier this week, Starbucks gave their rewards program a makeover. Unfortunately, many of their loyal customers feel that the new system leaves them worse off than before (HINT: they’re right).

Who ya even foolin’ sbux?

We thought this would be an excellent time to compare Starbucks Gold to CUPS in depth, in hopes of showing those who are still sipping the overpriced caramel-vanilla-bean-frappucinno koolaid a more efficient way to caffeinate.

large coffeemedium lattesmall cold brew


To get this data, we took the prices of a few popular drinks at the Starbucks near our Chinatown office in NYC, and then estimated Gold savings with the assumption that a customer gets the same drink every visit, and also as their free drink.

The previous Gold system gave a star every visit and a free drink after 12 stars, essentially 13 drinks for the price of 12, and the new system gives a free drink every time you spend $62.50.

We compared these prices to CUPS’ 15-cup plans, which are $2/cup for Basics or $3.40/cup for All Drinks, and our Unlimited plans ($90/month for Basics, $120 for All Drinks) under the conservative assumption that a CUPS Unlimited drinker downs 2 cups a day. Here are the full results:


CUPS app is a better deal across the board, and that doesn’t even factor in all of our other benefits – better coffee, cooler locations, shorter lines, supporting local businesses, shall we go on? Clearly, the Starbucks junkies among you are missing out.


The new Starbucks Rewards means fewer savings than before, regardless of drink choice. To be fair, buying food and other items can also boost your star count, but even with that factored in, it’s clear who wins with these changes, and it’s not the customer. They may be giving out gold status Oprah-style this month as a distraction, but we aren’t falling for it.

If you’re an angry Starbucks drinker in one of the current CUPS cities (NYC, Philly, & SF), what are you waiting for? [And if not, let us know where our next expansion should be!]

Give CUPS a shot today, and your first coffee’s on us. Download CUPS on iOS or Android.

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