We recommend this card if you already spend a lot of money at Starbucks every month and can benefit from the strong rewards earning potential. Otherwise, it’s not worth it—the rewards system is too awkward and the card itself is too expensive.
With that in mind, we’d encourage you to consider your other credit card options as well. There are many dining rewards cards available that are easier to deal with, don’t pigeonhole you into one coffee chain, and don’t come with an annual fee.
Good sign-up bonus
Good rewards earning rate for Starbucks purchases
Free “Barista Picks” items
Clunky rewards program
- Good new cardholder bonus: You’ll get 4,500 Bonus Stars if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of getting the card. That’s enough Stars to buy 30 lattes.
- Good rewards earning rate for Starbucks purchases: Coffee prices vary regionally, even at Starbucks, but depending on what you redeem your Stars for, they can be worth as much as 5 cents each. Because you earn 3 Stars per $1 spent, that’s as much as 15% back on your purchases. Plus, Stars never expire as long as your account is open.
- Free “Barista Picks”: Your rewards account will be loaded with a coupon every six weeks for a Barista Pick, a free, pre-chosen food or drink item.
- Annual fee: The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card doesn’t charge a super high annual fee (and it's waived the first year), but it is unusual to see an annual fee at all for this kind of card. By comparison, many dining rewards cards and most retailer-specific cards don’t charge an annual fee.
- Clunky rewards program: You’ll need to digitally load money from your Starbucks Rewards Visa Card into your Starbucks rewards account and use this for payment in order to earn the most Stars. And once you earn Stars you can only use them for Starbucks purchases.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Card’s Bonus for New Cardholders
You can earn 4,500 Bonus Stars if you spend at least $500 within the first three months after getting this card. Despite the name of this card, you don’t have to use it just at Starbucks, so this spending threshold should be attainable for most cardholders.
You can also earn another 300 bonus Stars the first time you use your Starbucks Rewards Visa Card to add money into your Starbucks account for making purchases. There isn’t an expiration date for earning this bonus, but you’ll want to do it before you start spending at Starbucks again because you earn a Star for every $1 you add to your account, bringing your earnings up to 3 Stars per $1 spent at Starbucks.
This is a decent new cardholder bonus especially if you’re a true Starbucks fan. That’s enough Stars to purchase up to 30 lattes, 90 cups of brewed coffee, or 11 bags of whole-bean coffee. Prices vary for this stuff, but 4,500 stars works out to about $125 of value.
Still, you might be able to earn a better new cardholder bonus with another dining rewards card, or at the very least you can earn a bonus that you can use anywhere rather than at one brand of coffee shop.
Earning Points & Rewards
Earning the maximum number of Stars possible with the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card is … complicated. Unlike with most store credit cards, you can’t earn the maximum number of Stars simply by swiping your Starbucks credit card when you make Starbucks purchases.
Nope—instead, you first have to load funds from your Starbucks Rewards Visa Card onto your Starbucks account. You’ll get 1 Star per each dollar you load into your Starbucks account, and then you’ll earn another 2 Stars for each dollar you spend at Starbucks using the funds in your Starbucks account.
In other words, the best way to earn Stars with this card is to use it to load funds into your Starbucks rewards account.
Make sure you load money into your Starbucks account online or by using the app, rather than asking a barista at the counter to do it. Otherwise, you’ll only earn 1 Star for every $4 you load onto your card—a much lower rewards earning rate.
You can also earn Stars by using your card to make purchases at other stores. You’ll earn 1 Star for every $2 you spend at supermarkets, for local transportation, and on internet, cable, or phone bills. All other purchases you make will earn 1 Star per every $4 you spend.
On the bright side, your Stars won’t expire while your credit card is open. If you close it, all the Stars you’ve accumulated will expire within six months.
Although earning Starbucks rewards is tricky, actually using them is blessedly simple. Once you’ve accumulated enough Stars for a reward, you can simply ask the barista to apply them as payment for your purchase.
Each reward costs a different number of Star points:
- 25 Stars for a drink modification, like an extra shot or sauce
- 50 Stars for hot brewed coffee or tea, or a bakery item
- 150 Stars for a handcrafted drink such as a latte or mocha, a pre-packaged snack, or a hot breakfast item
- 200 Stars for a pre-packaged salad or lunch item
- 400 Stars for a bag of coffee beans or an item up to $20 in value
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
You can get the most value from this card by using it to load a balance into your Starbucks account, rather than using the credit card itself to pay for Starbucks purchases.
You’ll get the best value for your Stars, as much as 5 cents each, if you spend them on bigger ticket items up to $20 in value, such as bags of coffee, per the list of redemption options above. With rewards cards, you want to aim for a redemption value of at least 1 cent per point, so this is a superior value.
It’s also possible to earn Star points by using your card to make purchases elsewhere, but honestly the earnings rate is meager and you’d be better off using another type of rewards card instead. For example, consider this: You’d need to spend as much as $600 in order to earn enough Star points to purchase one latte. If you used a rewards card that earns 2% cash back on every purchase you make, you’d only have to spend about $150 to earn enough cash back to buy that same latte.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Card’s Excellent Perks
Although this card is meant to help you get your caffeine fix, it does come with one particularly good travel perk the editors at The Balance consider “excellent”:
- Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: If you get sick or your trip is otherwise cancelled for reasons outside of your control, you could be reimbursed for up to $1,500 per person (up to $6,000 per trip) if you paid for the trip with this card.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Card’s Other Features
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Roadside assistance hotline
Chase is about average when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to a 2019 J.D. Power study, scoring 807 out of 1,000 possible points (industry average was 806), and ranking fourth out of 11 major credit card issuers. You can call Chase’s 24/7 customer service line if you need help, and as with other big banks, there’s an app and online access to your account. Chase also offers a free VantageScore credit score and credit monitoring alerts through its Chase Credit Journey service.
Chase offers industry standard security features including account monitoring and alerts, and zero liability for fraudulent purchases.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Card’s Fees
The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card doesn’t charge any fees that we think are out of line compared with its competitors. Still, there’s an annual fee to be aware of and be careful if you use this card overseas because there’s also a 3% foreign transaction fee.