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TravelThe best credit cards to use at Starbucks

The best credit cards to use at Starbucks


With over 30,000 locations and millions of rewards members, Starbucks is, without question, a worldwide phenomenon. So what’s the best credit card for your next cup of joe, tea, Refresher (or even pup cup)?

Whether you want a cold brew or a morning snack, here’s how to get the most bang for your next Starbucks purchase by using one of these credit cards and maximizing the Starbucks Stars program.

How to earn and use Starbucks Stars

No matter what credit card (or gift card) you use to pay for Starbucks, if you load that money into your Starbucks app or pay from within the app, you earn 2 Starbucks Stars per dollar when you pay for most Starbucks menu items.

Since that is a constant at participating Starbucks, we’re going to largely ignore those earnings here, but be sure and earn those Stars, as they are worth about 4-5 cents each, depending on how you use them.

We’ll value them at 4 cents per point for our purposes to stay on the conservative side, but know that you can sometimes get a bit more value than that.

STARBUCKS

Here are the redemption offers within the Starbucks Rewards program:

  • 25 Stars: Drink modifications (such as an extra shot)
  • 100 Stars: Brewed hot or iced coffee or tea, bakery item, packaged snack and more
  • 200 Stars: Handcrafted drink or hot breakfast
  • 300 Stars: Lunch sandwiches, protein box or a brew-at-home coffee
  • 400 Stars: Select Starbucks merchandise item (up to $20)

Keep in mind that Starbucks Stars expire six months after they are earned, on the first day of that month. Make sure you use them or you’ll lose them.

How to earn credit card rewards at Starbucks

Your first thought when deciding which credit card to use at Starbucks might have been the one that gives you the best bonus on dining, and that’s not a bad approach. However, it is not the only path to maximizing value at Starbucks.

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Since you can reload your Starbucks balance from the mobile app (or even use a mobile wallet payment option like Apple Pay or Chase Pay to pay in the store), credit cards that give a mobile wallet bonus can work out well, too.

For example, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card awards 3 points per dollar for mobile wallet purchases.

The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

RICHARD LEVINE/CORBIS VIA GETTY

Starbucks gift cards are also sold everywhere from office supply stores, to grocery stores, gas stations, warehouse stores, drugstores, home improvement stores and more. This means that the options to earn a credit card category bonus on a Starbucks gift card are almost endless if you are willing to take that one extra step.

For example, you could earn 5% cash back (or 5 points per dollar spent) by picking up a Starbucks gift card at an office supply store with your Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. It may take a little extra effort, but you’ll earn rewards that you can put toward statement credits and other purchases.

The Starbucks Visa card is no longer available

If you’re thinking, “Wait, isn’t there a Starbucks Visa and shouldn’t it be the best card for Starbucks?” Well, yes, there was a Starbucks Visa but it’s no longer available — and it actually wasn’t the most rewarding credit card for Starbucks purchases anyway.

Related: It’s getting easier to earn free cups of coffee at Starbucks

The best credit cards to use at Starbucks

Accurately narrowing down the best way to pay for your Starbucks order is complicated since there are so many options, but we’ll highlight the best of the best to get you on the right track.

Category bonus Value of rewards Total earned per dollar  Annual fee Welcome bonus Notes
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card 5 points at office supply stores (you can purchase Starbucks gift cards there) 2.05 cents (this assumes you also have a premium Ultimate Rewards product) 10.25 cents $0 $750 bonus cash back (75,000 points) after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening 5 points per dollar spent on first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores, cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account year
Citi Prestige® Card 5 points on dining 1.8 cents 9 cents $495 No longer available to new applicants
American Express® Gold Card 4 points at restaurants 2 cents 8 cents $250 (see rates and fees) Earn 60,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 3 points on dining 2.05 cents (this assumes you also have a premium Ultimate Rewards product). 6.15 cents $0 Earn an additional 1.5% on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year)
Chase Sapphire Reserve® 3 points on dining 2.05 cents 6.15 cents $550 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 3 points on dining 2.05 cents. 6.15 cents $95 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 6% back at U.S. supermarkets; up to $6,000; then 1% (you can purchase Starbucks gift cards there). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits 2 cents 12 cents $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then,$95 (see rates and fees, ) Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year; then 1%. Terms apply
Bilt Mastercard® Earn 3 points per dollar on dining 2.05 cents 6.15 cents. $0 (see rates and fees) No welcome bonus Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card 3 points on mobile wallet purchases 1.5 cents 4.5 cents $400 50,000 after you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 90 days Must pay using mobile wallet option such as Apple Pay
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 7 points at U.S. restaurants 0.6 cents. 4.2 cents $550 (see rates and fees) 150,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months At U.S. restaurants only
Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card 4% cash back on dining 1 cent 4 cents $95 $300 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months
Any Bank of America credit or debit card 2% cash back on qualifying Starbucks in-app purchases 1 cent 2 cents Varies Varies

Value of rewards based on TPG valuations, not the card issuers.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card, Starbucks Visa, Citi Prestige and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

STARBUCKS

As you can see, the American Express Gold Card is great if you want to directly load up your Starbucks account in the app or pay in a Starbucks store. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards are also solid options thanks to their earning power of 3 points per dollar on dining purchases.

You may also want to factor in any relevant Amex Offers or Chase Offers and a whole host of other stacking opportunities that can lead to savings if you’re a Starbucks regular.

The best card for Starbucks can change over time

The best card in your wallet for Starbucks purchases will probably change as offers and special promos from various sources come into play. For example, TPG staffers have previously seen a Chase promotion that awarded up to 10 points per dollar at Starbucks across a variety of credit cards.

Additionally, if you have a card such as the Chase Freedom (no longer open to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Flex℠ where the bonus categories rotate, that card may sometimes take the top slot as it rotates in a mobile wallet depending on the current cash back promotional offer.

Bottom line

Are you on your second cup of coffee yet? We know this was a long answer to a simple question.

There isn’t a straightforward answer to which credit card is the best to use at Starbucks because there are several cards that can earn you solid rewards — in the form of Stars and/or cash back. The good news is that this gives you plenty of opportunities to maximize your earning power with every Starbucks purchase you make.

Unless you receive a promo offer that earns more than 4 points per dollar, we recommend using the Amex Gold Card for your Starbucks fix. You can also buy Starbucks gift cards to enjoy bonus rewards. Otherwise, the 3 points per dollar you can earn using the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Bilt Mastercard provides a good alternative option.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.

For rewards and benefits of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.

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