Starbucks’ controversial new rewards program begins today.
Under the new plan, which Starbucks (SBUX) revealed in a blog post in February, customers earn rewards based on the amount of money they spend rather than the number of visits they make to a store. Rather than simply earning one star per visit, customers will earn 2 stars per dollar spent.
The announced changes drew the ire of many loyal Starbucks customers, whose simple order habits won’t pack the same star power. That negative buzz led the company’s brand perception to slump by 50% between the announcement and early March.
Previously, members of the rewards program could redeem 12 stars for a free reward. For frugal customers, that meant getting a free drink after buying just 12 $2 coffees. Starting Tuesday, it takes 125 stars for the treat—about $63.
Starbucks said in an update to its blog post that “the vast majority of you will earn rewards just as fast, if not faster” because customers will have more opportunities to earn extra stars. The company said this change to its reward program was the most-requested idea by Starbucks drinkers, who complained of waiting in line while other customers asked cashiers to ring up each of their purchases as a separate visit.