Starbucks ( regulars are familiar with reload panic. For years, )customers have been required to load money onto a Starbucks card to buy food and drinks through the app and collect rewards. Although the app lets customers reload funds automatically when their balance is too low, they can’t currently opt to pay for the transaction directly from a credit or debit card — or cash.
That’s going to change in a few months, when Starbucks tweaks its Rewards program this fall. But wait — there’s a catch!
Customers in the United States and Canada will be able to pay Starbucks for the amount of their order directly from whatever payment method they choose. They’ll also be able to order from the app and choose to pay by handing a barista a physical credit card or cash.
But they’ll receive only half the number of stars by using these new “alternative” payment methods.
Starbucks customers get two stars per dollar for purchasing items on the app using a Starbucks card or gift card. That will continue in the fall. But paying directly with cash, a credit card or other payment methods will give customers just one star per dollar.
The company said the new options are in response to customer feedback, and it hopes to widen its customer base by expanding payment choices.
“Our customers have shared with us that they would like more options to pay and earn Stars in the app as a Starbucks Rewards member, in addition to the Starbucks Card,” said Brady Brewer, Starbucks chief marketing officer, in a statement.
The Starbucks app was among the first and most successful rewards apps. It drives loyalty by giving customers deals and free food for purchases. Starbucks collects purchase data and determines which beverages are popular where — and when. The company can use this information to drive sales in off hours: For example, Starbucks has begun introducing “happy hours” some afternoons, using the app to push notifications to customers.
During the coronavirus pandemic, some Starbucks stores have gone mobile-only, restricting purchases to customers who purchased their orders in advance on the app.