It’s no surprise that Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Seriously, it’s pretty much everywhere. As such a popular brand, a rewards system seems almost excessive: would a free drink every now and then really add to its popularity? The rewards program is based in a mobile app, concentrating largely on frequent use of gift cards. It turns out the company churned out $1 billion in mobile payment revenue in 2013. So yeah, I guess you could say it made a difference.

How It Works

By registering your email with Starbucks, you can combine all your Starbucks gift cards onto one central account on the Starbucks iPhone App. From there, you can find nearby Starbucks locations, add new gift cards and check your payment history, among other features.

Once registered, you can already redeem your free birthday treat and opt for email offers and deals. After that, two levels deem you eligible for extra perks: Green and Gold. Each individual purchase (not item) linked to your account earns you a star. After five stars within a year, you achieve the Green level which enables you to receive basic deals rewards. After 30 stars within a year, you achieve the Gold level which unlocks all rewards and perks in-store, through email and on your mobile phone. You just have to buy 30 stars within the next year to maintain your Gold status.

The Perks

Rewards and deals from having a registered Starbucks account and using the mobile application can range from downloading the Pick of the Week (usually a song or app) and Bonus Stars promotions.

At the Green level, you get free refills on iced coffee and tea in-store.

At the Gold level, you get a free drink or food item every twelve stars and a nifty Gold Card to swipe at your transactions.

Students Weigh In

Starbucks may be on the expensive side, but a perk is that you always know what you’ll get. It’s convenient. And I go to Starbucks a lot primarily to work; I’ll grab an iced coffee and sit. Their app makes it easy to pay and gives you an incentive to buy there as opposed to other coffee shops. And free drinks? The best.” – Nancy Chen, Northeastern University

“I think reward systems will reward people who drink from there regularly. It’s super accessible and promotes a feeling of culturedness, but unfortunately it’s a net negative in quality coffee culture.” – David Pearson, Arizona State University

“There are other coffee places that I prefer, but Starbucks is always there. My mom loves it because she knows exactly what she’s gonna get even when on business trips whereas at local places, the translations may or may not be correct and she’s wound up with some strange coffees.” – Jocelyn Hsu, UC Berkeley

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