This past week, I realized that my account wouldn't tell me how many points I had. I contacted customer service so that I could access the card online and sort things out... No help. Then, I tried to call and ended up on hold for over half an hour. I left the phone on speakerphone while doing other things. Then, I hung up. My time is compressed these days and I knew I didn't have the energy or time to figure this out beyond what I'd tried. I'd tried.
I talked with my husband about it and we thought about the pros and cons of the Starbucks rewards system. The question we found ourselves asking was, is it worth it? How does it benefit us? What affect do the cards have on us?
Really, these cards are a genius marketing ploy that get people (including us) to spend more money at Starbucks. You load your card. Then, you spend from your card and it doesn't feel like you're spending as much. It's easier to justify stopping and getting a cup of coffee. There's lots of psychological effects, I'm sure.
When we took a closer look, we realized that the benefits weren't really that much for us. What it did was make us feel like we should choose Starbucks over going somewhere else that we would have enjoyed too--that may have been closer to home (save money on gas) or different (local ice cream for a snack).
Credit cards do that too--when someone has a Kohl's card or JCPenney's card, we're more tempted to shop at that store. See this article HERE. Interestingly, the article focuses very little on that con, but on others instead. I realize that the idea to not have store cards is very counter-cultural right now.
It's also counter cultural not to have a store rewards card/refillable debit card. Although, I found this great post HERE that summarized the conclusions I came to. The gold card is really a gold cage. So, my husband and I've decided to use up what's left on our cards and move on--without regret. We'll still go there when we want to, but that's the key--when we want to. When we want to go to Dunkin Donuts or an ice cream spot, that's what we're going to do instead!
As a side note, the one tip I have for Starbucks users who have kids--- I order a Venti frappuccino for my kids and ask them to split it 3 ways (which they've never minded doing). It saves us a lot! 1 large drink instead of 3 talls saves about $5.50.