Starbucks Rewards Visa Review: Applications Paused; Cardholders Can Still Fill Up

You get a high effective rewards rate and multiple freebies. And the sign-up bonus could be redeemed for plenty of free drinks and bakery items. But an annual fee kicks in after the first year.

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Our Take

4.1

NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

For loyalists who rarely let a day pass without a run to Starbucks, the card's perks are well worth the annual fee. But casual customers should probably pass.

Jump to: Full Review
Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card
Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card
Annual fee
$0 intro for the first year, then $49
Regular APR
17.49%-24.49% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Bonus categories

  • New cardholder bonus offer

  • High rewards rate

Cons

  • Has annual fee

  • Complicated rewards

  • Complicated redemptions

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Alternate Pick: No-hassle 2% rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 
Citi® Double Cash Card

Forget about complicated rewards programs. This card earns 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy something, 1% when you pay it off. There's no annual fee either.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

17.74%-27.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

14.99%-25.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.99%-26.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Full Review

» This card is closed to new applicants

As of August 2022, the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card has paused new credit card applications. Current cardholders can continue to use their card as normal.

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card features bold, Venti-sized ongoing rewards with an extra shot of loyalty benefits — and an annual fee.

For dedicated fans of the coffee chain who drop in on the daily, it could be well worth the relatively steep price. The card’s rewards, redeemable for free food and drink items at Starbucks, could potentially save you plenty. But for occasional customers, it’s not worth the cost; a card with more versatile rewards — cash back, points or miles — would probably be more valuable.

Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card: Key features

Card type: Rewards.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $49.

Sign-up bonus: N/A

Extra bonus: Get 300 Stars when you use the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card to load a registered Starbucks Card in the Starbucks mobile app for the first time.

Ongoing rewards:

  • Up to 3 Stars per $1 spent at Starbucks. That includes:

    • 1 Star for every $1 digitally loaded to your registered Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card in the Starbucks mobile app using the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card.

    • 2 Stars per $1 spent that you earn when paying with that registered card.

  • 1 Star per $2 spent at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and on internet, cable, and phone services.

  • 1 Star per $4 spent on all other purchases.

Stars do not expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. If your account is closed, they will expire six months from the calendar month in which it was closed.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 17.49%-24.49% Variable APR.

Other benefits:

  • Monthly coupon for a free beverage (up to $10 in value) through 2022.

How much is a Star worth?

You can redeem:

  • 25 Stars for a drink customization, such as an extra shot of espresso or a dairy substitute.

  • 50 Stars for a brewed hot coffee, bakery item or hot tea.

  • 150 Stars for a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or parfait.

  • 200 Stars for a lunch sandwich, protein box or salad.

  • 400 Stars for a bag of coffee, a signature cup or select coffee accessories.

The value of Stars varies widely. If you redeemed 50 Stars for a bakery item that would otherwise cost $4, you'd be getting 8 cents out of each Star. And if you got a Frappuccino for 150 Stars that would otherwise cost $5, you'd be getting about 3 cents out of each Star.

Assuming you can get 4 cents out of each Star, that translates to an effective rewards rate of 12% on Starbucks purchases (if the membership card used is loaded with the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card); 2% at grocery stores, on local transit and commuting, and on internet, cable, and phone services; and 1% everywhere else. That's a solid deal.

Benefits of the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card

Frequent goodies and surprises

This card's rewards program offers virtually instant gratification: After earning just 25 stars, you'll have enough for a drink customization. And after earning 50, you could redeem for a bakery item. Unlike with some cards, there's no need to stockpile rewards for months to access these core benefits.

The card also offers a monthly coupon for a free beverage ($10 maximum value) through 2022. Coupons are added automatically to your Starbucks Rewards account and must be used within 14 days; the first coupon will be added 30 days after account opening. You get one coupon per month per account, regardless of the number of authorized users on the account.

Super-sweet sign-up bonus

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card comes with a rich sign-up bonus: N/A If you go to Starbucks daily, that could feed your caffeine habit for a month, depending on how you use your stars.

Valuable rewards

It's not that hard to get 4 cents out of each Star — especially if you tend to go for more expensive Starbucks items. That's an excellent value, if you can manage it. But if your favorite Starbucks item is drip coffee with room for cream, this card might not be as valuable.

Drawbacks and alternatives

Annual fee

Unlike most store credit cards, the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card charges an annual fee. To be sure, the free food and drinks you can earn with the card can make up for it — but not in all cases.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great alternative for those looking to duck the annual fee. It earns 3% cash back on dining — including Starbucks — and entertainment, streaming services and at grocery stores; 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 5% on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; and 1% on all other purchases. It also comes with a sweet 0% intro APR offer and a sign-up bonus.

Tied to Starbucks program

For those who aren’t hardcore Starbucks fans, this card’s loyalty program has a bit of a "Hotel California" vibe: Once you get in, it’s hard to leave. Here's why:

  • You have to fill up a separate membership card to earn bonus rewards at Starbucks. To earn bonus rewards at Starbucks on this credit card, you need to use it to refill a Starbucks membership card — a separate registered card — through an app. That takes more effort on your part and could wind up being a waste of money if some of the funds go unused. For example, if you loaded $100 onto your membership card, and used only $20, you'd be out $80.

  • Redeeming may come with indirect costs. Say you're a big spender and earn several free food and drink items each billing cycle. Do you have time for all those free Frappuccinos? Will this card make you gain 20 pounds? Will it drive up your dental costs? If these sound like unusual questions to raise in a credit card review, well, it’s because this is an unusual credit card.

  • There’s probably never going to be a perfect time to quit. With other loyalty programs that no longer fit your spending habits, the best time to leave is after redeeming all or most of the rewards earned. With this card’s program, it’s more complicated. Ideally, to leave nothing on the table, you’d exit the program after redeeming all of the Stars you've earned, emptying your separate membership card balance, and redeeming all your free beverage coupons for the year. Will those three things ever happen at the same time? Probably not.

If you’re not ready to commit to that many Starbucks-induced sugar highs, consider going with a simpler credit card — say, a flat-rate cash-back one. The Citi® Double Cash Card might be a good fit. It pays 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you buy something and another 1% when you pay it off — and has an unbeatable annual fee of $0.

Should you get the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card?

The Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card isn't about dollars and cents — it's about coffee, pastries and emotional value. It's not the most lucrative credit card available for everyday spending, but it's a relatively affordable way to treat yourself on a regular basis, save some cash on your coffee runs and taste-test all the priciest items on the Starbucks menu. For enthusiastic Starbucks customers, its frequent freebies and surprises make it a steal, even with the annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $49.

But if you're looking for more options, see a list of the best credit cards NerdWallet has to offer.

Information related to the Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.