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Starbucks to shake up its rewards system

Starbucks is set to launch a new rewards system where customers are rewarded for how much they spend at the chain rather than how often they visit.

The coffee giant's rewards system sees members awarded 'stars' when they make purchases, eventually earning them a free drink once they've collected enough.

At the moment, if you're a member you earn a star for each transaction you make, getting you a free drink once you've made 15 purchases at Starbucks.

But under the new system, you'll earn three stars for each £1 you spend at Starbucks, netting a free drink after collecting 150 stars – so, essentially, once you've spent £50 with the chain.

Starbucks claims this will make it easier for customers to get free drinks quickly, saying the average rewards scheme member will be able to get their freebie five weeks sooner under the new system. But whether you're a winner or loser from the shake-up will depend on how much you typically spend when you visit Starbucks.

Starbucks says the new rewards system will be "coming soon" to the UK. It hasn't revealed an exact launch date, but has been emailing customers about the changes this week.

Though buying a hot drink from a coffee shop is never the most MoneySaving option, there are ways to save – see our Pay £1, get up to 50p off most Costa, Pret & Starbucks drinks EVERY time blog for more.

Who are the winners and losers from the shake-up?

Once the new rewards system launches, you'll need to spend £50 to get a free drink, rather than making 15 transactions.

So put simply, if you usually spend more than £3.30 when you visit Starbucks, you'll likely earn your free drink quicker.

But if you generally spend less than this – for example, if you usually just buy one small or simple drink – it could take you longer (and cost you more) to get your freebie, as you'll likely need to make more than 15 transactions to reach the £50 spend.

And we've seen several complaints on Twitter from Starbucks customers who say they'll now need to spend more money to get a free drink. Here are a couple we've seen:

Not all feedback was negative though, with one Twitter user saying the switch to earning rewards based on how much you spend was "well overdue".

What will happen to the stars I've already earned?

If you've already built up some stars towards a free drink, Starbucks says these will be automatically converted once the new system kicks in.

Your existing stars will be multiplied by 10 when they're migrated to the new system – so if you've built up 10 stars, you'll have 100 under the new scheme. 

If you're a gold member, you'll maintain this level under the new system – and will get a free drink during your birthday month as well as your usual benefits.

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