Take the Starbucks Rewards math quiz

Starbucks changes the rules again.

The new Starbucks reward program oddly mixes even and odd numbers to complicate the rewards system.

The original program (that is, the first program I participated in), gave one star per drink purchase. Since I often arrive with my kids and get them soy milk, that worked well for me. Three drinks => three stars.

The next program, the one that is going away in April, changed that rule to 1 star per purchase, meaning I got 1/3 the stars on those occasions, and even fewer when they got a snack. (My thin as a rail older son likes the double chocolate chunk brownies, and he can use the calories.) So one drink or three drinks or three drinks and two snacks => 1 star.

Here’s one view on the math (via http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/significant-digits-for-tuesday-feb-23-2016/):

But here’s my scenario:

  • New plan on its face: $62.50 = 125 stars = 1 reward.
  • Old – $2.62/venti tea * 12 = $31.44 for reward (I get a refill on my tea when I’m at the store; usually just one refill and then new bags. That $0.50 is actually free, so in some ways I’m getting ~18–24 teas for that $31.44 plus the reward, which I tend to use for a higher-priced item my kids get.)
  • New – $2.62/venti tea *  2 stars/$1 = 5 stars divided into 125 stars = 25 teas = $65.50 per reward.

In February, I see these other purchases, mostly with my kids (I might have picked up some beef jerky on my own):
= 79.72
Old: 11 stars = 11/12 of a reward
New: 79 *2 = 158 stars, or 158/125 or 1.25 rewards.

It remains to be seen where this will shake out, but the Starbucks app does have a history function that tracks both my $25 reloads and my earned rewards. It should be easy for me to see how this shakes out, provided I capture some numbers now. I suppose that tells me what my next post should be!

(It remains to be seen whether my $2.50 purchase will be 4 stars, 5 stars, or 6 stars. I’m supposing it’s in the fine print somewhere. Let’s take a look…. My 2.62 purchase will evidently earn 5.24 stars – change counts. That’s not trivial: thanks, Starbucks!)