Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Looks for good quality at a fair price while buying for the household See more cards
Loves being the first to try something new See more cards
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
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. Essentially, the credit card’s benefits are limited to the bonus, eight pre-selected food or drinks items per year, the ability to hoard points for higher-point redemptions, and one extra point per dollar spent. While there isn’t a fee for the first year, a $49 annual fee kicks after that—which becomes hard to justify.
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 bonus for new cardholders
Savvy reward redemptions possible
Free “Barista Picks” items
Points are valuable
Clunky, confusing rewards program
Stingy earnings on non-Starbucks spending
- Good bonus for new cardholders: You’ll get 4,500 Bonus Stars (worth about $97.20, according to our calculations) if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of getting the card. And, 4,500 Stars are enough to buy 30 lattes.
- Savvy reward redemptions possible: Starbucks’ Stars within the program expire quickly (only six months after they were earned) which can be frustrating, particularly as recent Star inflation has increased the Stars required for items. However, cardholders’ Stars never expire, which means you could possibly accumulate Stars over a longer period of time, then redeem them for higher-priced items. By doing so, your Stars can be worth as much as 5 cents each. However, the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card offers the same Star preservation feature.
- 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, for a total of eight coupons per year
- Points are valuable: Each point (“Star”) from Starbuck is worth an average of 2.16 cents when redeemed for Starbucks merchandise and food, according to our analysis. That’s more than twice as much as the benchmark average 1 cent for standard rewards credit cards and more than other retail cards. Of course, the points can only be used at Starbucks.
- Annual fee: The Starbucks Rewards Visa Card doesn’t charge a fee at all the first year, and only $49 a year afterwards but it is unusual to see an annual fee at all for a retail card. By comparison, many dining rewards cards and most retailer-specific cards don’t charge an annual fee. You could buy about 11 small lattes for the card’s annual fee, so make sure you’ll earn and use the card’s rewards.
- Indirect rewards program: Instead of using your Starbucks Visa to earn rewards on Starbucks purchases, you have to load your Starbucks Rewards account or Starbucks Card with your Starbucks Visa. The typical store card lets you earn rewards directly through the credit card, rather than using an intermediary account.
- Stingy earnings on non-Starbucks spending: You earn 1 star for every $2 of grocery-store purchases, streaming, and a few other options—and only 1 star per $4 spent elsewhere. Even if you’re a Starbucks fan, use a different card that earns at least 1 point (or more) per dollar spent on everyday purchases, and that you can redeem at a value of at least 1 cent per point or more.
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. The spending threshold should be attainable for most cardholders since you can use the card anywhere. Stars have a value of around 2 cents per Star, which means the bonus is worth about $97.20 when used for Starbucks redemptions, based on The Balance’s point valuations.
This is a decent bonus for new cardholders, 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.
You can also earn another 300 bonus Stars the first time you use your card to load your Starbucks Stars Rewards account, enough (at 150 Stars per latte) to get two lattes.
Still, you might be able to earn a better sign-up bonus with another dining rewards card, or at the very least you can earn a bonus for new cardholders that can be used anywhere, rather than at one brand of coffee shop.
There are two offers available for the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card: One on the issuer Chase’s site, and another on the Starbucks site. The Starbucks site offer gives 6,500 Bonus Stars to new cardholders after spending $500 in the first three months, but the $49 annual fee begins immediately.
Earning Points & Rewards
Earning the maximum number of Stars possible with the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card is a little more complicated than other store credit cards. Instead of earning points by using your Starbucks credit card when you make Starbucks purchases, you have to use your credit card to deposit money via the Starbucks website or app to your Starbucks Rewards account or a physical Starbucks card.
When you do this, you earn one Star for every dollar you deposit. Then, you’ll earn two Stars for every dollar you spend with your Rewards account or Starbucks Card. However, you don’t have to be a Starbucks Rewards Visa Card customer to get those 2 Stars per dollar; all participants in the Starbucks Rewards program get it.
You only earn 1 star per $4 when you use your Starbucks Rewards Visa Card to deposit money at the register.
You can use the Starbucks Rewards Visa card to make purchases at other stores, too. 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—even purchases made at Starbucks. One exception: Like other Rewards members, you can earn up to 5 stars per purchase for select Starbucks products at the grocery store, although you’ll need to upload a receipt to get your Stars.
Although earning the 1 point extra in Starbucks rewards is tricky, using Stars is blessedly simple. Once you have enough Stars in your Starbucks account for a reward, simply ask the barista to apply them as payment for your purchase, or use the Starbucks app to pay for your purchase (partially or in full) with stars. You don’t even need to have the credit card on you. You can use them at many Starbucks locations, including those within Target.
Each reward costs a different number of Star points:
- 25 Stars for a drink modification of up to $1, like an extra shot or sauce
- 50 Stars for hot brewed coffee, tea, or a bakery item
- 150 Stars for a handcrafted drink such as a latte or mocha, a parfait, or a hot breakfast item
- 200 Stars for a pre-packaged salad, protein box or lunch sandwich
- 400 Stars for a bag of coffee beans or an item up to $20 in value
Your Stars won’t expire while your credit card is open, but they fade quickly after you close the card. All Stars you’ve accumulated will expire six months after the account is closed. This is faster than for Starbucks rewards program members (non-cardholders), stars typically expire on a rolling basis, six months after you’ve earned them.
Not all Starbucks locations accept the Rewards program and Stars. Also, you can’t use your Stars for alcoholic beverages, which are available in some locations.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
There are a number of steps to getting the most out of this card:
- Get the app: The app is an easy way to pay at the till or ahead of time, and also provides notifications for your food and drink items called “Barista Picks,” which are only available 30 days after being added to your account.
- Always use your rewards account when at a store: Use the credit card to load funds into your Starbucks rewards account via the app or the Starbucks website. If you ask a barista to do it, you’ll only earn 1 Star for every $4 you load onto your card—a much lower rewards earning rate.
- Set up reload: Use your Starbucks Reward Visa Card as your default “easy reload” card in the Starbucks app, which allows you to reload on the go, or even while waiting in line. That way you can leave it at home versus adding it to your wallet.
- Save your stars: You’ll get a value of up to 5 cents each for your Stars if you spend them on bigger ticket items of up to $20 in value. For example, spending 400 stars on a bag of coffee. With rewards cards, you want to aim for a redemption value of at least 1 cent per point, so this is a superior value.
- Use your stars in a timely fashion: If you plan to close your Starbucks Reward Visa Card account, use up your Stars first, or as soon as possible.
It’s possible to earn Stars by using your card for purchases elsewhere, but 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 on non-Starbucks purchases, 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 latte.
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.
- 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 ranked “about average” when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to a 2020 J.D. Power study, ranking fourth out of 11 national 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, other than the annual fee after the first year. As well, be careful if you use this card overseas because there’s also a 3% foreign transaction fee.