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What the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card offers

  • A sign-up bonus of 2,500 Starbucks "stars," worth about 20 free food or drink items, when you spend at least $500 within the first three months.
  • An additional 250 stars, worth two free food or drink items, when you load your separate Starbucks Rewards card via the mobile app for the first time and pay for the additional balance using the Starbucks Rewards Visa.
  • Then, one star for every $1 loaded to your rewards card using the Starbucks mobile app and paying with the Starbucks Rewards Visa.
  • One star for every $4 spent using the card outside of Starbucks.
  • Automatic "gold status" within the Starbucks Rewards program, with additional perks.

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Starbucks Rewards Visa Card annual fee

Pouring coffee into a half full clear cup with a saucer.
Dereje / Shutterstock
The rewards from the new Starbucks credit card aren't rich as they might first appear.

If you’re someone who gets a daily Starbucks fix, you may be tempted by this offer. But maybe you shouldn't be.

For starters, the card comes with a $49 annual fee. Yes, the sign-up offer is potentially worth well more than $49 if you redeem those stars for pricier items like sandwiches and complicated drinks. But, you have to spend $500 to earn those stars.

That’s a lot of lattes.

You also get eight “barista picks” throughout the year, which boils down to eight free pre-selected food or drink items. If you’re that rare person who will happily take any kind of drink or food, this could theoretically also make it worth the annual fee.

But it’s more likely you won’t be into all eight of the offerings.

Not for the average Joe

Edinburgh, United Kingdom - 14 February 2017 : Starbucks take away, hot beverage coffee cup with logo, on the table in store. Two cups, Buy one get one free.
Moomusician / Shutterstock
You'd have to drink a lot of lattes to get the most out of the Starbucks Visa card.

Long-term, you’d be better off choosing a rewards credit card that offers more robust rewards on everyday spending and greater flexibility with your earnings.

The rewards earned with the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can be redeemed only at Starbucks, and they expire after six months. So, to maximize this card’s value you have to remember to load your rewards card with your Starbucks Visa through the mobile app and track your rewards to make sure they’re used within half a year.

That sounds about as easy as making cappuccino foam art.

Using the Starbucks Rewards Visa credit card for everyday spending has a far lower yield than, say, a cash-back credit card that offers 2% cash back, or a credit card that provides triple rewards on dining expenses.

Much like a department store card, the Starbucks Visa Card is worth using only within the stores themselves, and you’d have to spend a lot of money to earn back your annual fee after the first year.

In other words, this card may not amount to, ahem, a hill of beans.

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Robin Saks Frankel Freelance Contributor

Robin was formerly a freelance contributor to Moneywise.

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