Earlier this year, Starbucks made a move that will be all too familiar to travelers: The company converted its loyalty program to a spend-based scheme, rewarding members according to the amount of their purchases rather than the number of their visits.
As was the case with similar conversions by Delta and United, the change meant that the majority of program members would earn fewer rewards for their patronage.
This week, Starbucks gave Rewards members reason to hope that the new program may be worthwhile after all, with the addition, albeit on a limited-time basis, of its first program partner.
Through November 9, Starbucks Rewards members who link their Starbucks and Lyft accounts can earn 125 points for their first Lyft ride, and five points for each subsequent ride taken between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. local time, Monday through Friday.
Separately, Starbucks customers will receive a $5 Starbucks Card with every purchase of a $20 Lyft gift card, until supplies run out.
The Lyft tie-up is a very modest and tentative one, to be sure. But it shows that Starbucks is willing to invest in its program and understands the value of meaningful partnerships. It’s easy to imagine points-earning for Lyft rides evolving into a permanent program feature, followed by similar earning and redemption opportunities with other companies. And before you know it, Starbucks Rewards could become a genuinely robust program.
One can hope, right?
Reader Reality Check
What would make the Starbucks loyalty program relevant to you?
More from SmarterTravel:
- Hey Big Spender, Redeem Those Travel-Rewards Points Now!
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- What Is the Best Travel Rewards Card? (2016 Edition)
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.