Ten Years Of Starbucks Cards

starbucks gold card
Ten Years Proof

Ten years ago, I purchased my first Starbucks card.

Like it’s own debit card, Starbucks started something that made coffee drinking more accessible than people could have imagined.

The idea was to load money onto this card and you could use it to pay for coffee at any Starbucks store. Pretty much a reloadable gift card. Then in 2008, they added a loyalty program to the card, with a Gold level that you paid $25/yr for extras like flavored syrup and milk options, unlimited use of the wifi in all stores and free refills of regular coffee or tea.

Then Gold membership changed from a paid to an earned membership. Collect 30 stars in a calendar year and your Gold card benefits were enabled for 12 more months. A star is earned for each purchase [not each item in a purchase]. For each time you reach 15 stars, you got a free blended drink [latte, espresso]. This was the best of both worlds, having a card with a balance on it and getting rewards for using it.

In addition to the above, you also got a free drink on your birthday and at least 8 post cards mailed to your home that included free food and other discounts.

In 2011, the free syrups and milk upgrades went away. You still needed 30 stars to keep Gold status each year, but now it only takes 12 stars to earn a free drink, or free food like a sandwich or pastry. The benefits are not as great as in previous years, but I still get discounts and other free items via the Starbucks Mobile app, which loads all of these extras onto my account without waiting for a postcard in the mail.

I know the Starbucks Card will change more over the years, but overall, even with the small downgrades, I still like being a Gold card holder. I just hope Starbucks continues to value me as a long time member.


  1. kapgar says:

    Yeah, but despite the small downgrades, I feel we are given more coupons and discounts to try stuff. I don’t always take advantage of them but they’re there.

    1. chillywilly says:

      Same here. I like the perks I still get. I try to use most of them, including any 50% off discounts on drinks.

  2. kilax says:

    I love that you have been a member for so long! I was bummed when they dropped free soy for gold members, but it’s still nice to have any sort of program (and free!) that gets me free drinks 🙂

    1. chillywilly says:

      Thank you. Yes, even though I don’t use soy milk, I was bummed with the removal of the milk upgrade (i always did breve, which is half & half). The free drinks are still a nice remaining perk.

  3. Melody says:

    I have to admit, I really liked the black gold card, and I had one too. You’ve been a card holder much longer than me! I signed up because of the launch of the first round of perks – figured maybe I could use the free refills, free tall drink when buying coffee, and so on…

    I know the program has been through many changes, but I think it’s mostly for the best. I really like the free food! I was never much into soy milk and syrups so all the free food rewards seem like a better deal. And, I agree with the person above who said that it seems like they’re sending more and more coupons!

    Congrats on being probably one of the very earliest Starbucks card members! That’s impressive.

    1. chillywilly says:

      That Black Gold card was pretty cool. I still have mine (I have many cards on my account, including many city specific ones like Los Angeles and New York). Thanks for the congrats.

      I am seeing more coupons and more bonus stars on my account, so the lack of the free syrups and milk upgrades isn’t that big of a deal anymore.

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