By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — Starbucks is changing the way it will reward loyal customers, penalizing patrons who spend less under the current program and rewarding the bigger spenders.
The new program will give customers two stars for every $1 they spend. Currently, rewards are based on the number of visits.
Under the current program, 12 visits earns a customer a free drink or food item. The new plan, which takes effect in April, will reward customers who accumulate 125 stars.
In practical terms, a customer who only buys a $2 cup of regular Starbucks coffee in 12 visits is out of luck under the new system.
Doing the math, customers will have to spend $62.50 to get their reward, meaning a regular coffee customer would have to visit about 30 times to get a free treat.
The new system rewards customers who spend more, buying lattes, Frappuccinos or more expensive food items. Also, buying a bunch of drinks and food for your family–or treating your friends–will pay off faster.
According to the Associated Press, Starbucks Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Ryan said the vast majority of customers will earn rewards at an equal or better rate with the change. Without providing details, he said a “small minority” of customers will earn rewards at a slower pace.
Starbucks said that current Green and Gold members will retain their current status.
Mobile phone users will need to be be sure to update their Starbucks app when the program begins in April.
The new program does have some new perks, most notably a double-star day each month for Gold members.
The new system will also award partial stars for purchases. For example, a $5.50 latte would earn 11 stars, the company said on its website.