My Starbucks Rewards: Perpetual Star Machine

starbucks gift card

My Starbucks Rewards: Perpetual Star Machine


CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED POST after Program Change! (4/24/16)

In our last post we discussed the basics of the My Starbucks Rewards program.  Now that we know generally how this program works it is time to talk about a little trick to pile up stars for FREE.  Now, anytime you go to Starbucks with this program it is best to buy each item individually because you will get a star for each swipe or scan.  Buy 4 coffees in one purchase = 1 star.  Buy 4 coffees, one at a time = 4 stars.  But what happens when you buy a Starbucks gift card?


ATTENTION:  What we are about to discuss is something I think should NOT be abused. My personal justifications for using it sparingly is that there have been many many many many times when I could have split items up and didn’t…so I am just getting my stars back 😉

Now that I have that out of the way lets talk about the Perpetual Star Machine.  I first heard a snippet about the potential of this a year ago in the comment of a post on great blog I usually read.  Once the seed of the idea was in my head I had to try it out and see if free stars were possible.

The key? Starbucks Gift Cards

What I confirmed a year ago was that like all other items purchased at Starbucks with your registered card, gift cards will also give you a star!  I was just a few stars away from a free drink so I went to Starbucks on 4 separate occasions and bought a $5 gift cards with my Gold Card and every single time I had a star post to my account in 24hrs.  Since that time I had not obtained any stars this way and it has now been about 8-9 months.  So 2 days ago, I went back to the coffee shop to buy a $5 gift card.  To my delight, there was a star posted to my account the next morning!

starbucks gift card

App image of loaded gift card

So now what do I do with these gift cards?

And here is the very important 2nd step.  Go onto your online account, or app and load this new gift card to your account!  After that you can even consolidate and delete the new gift card.  Once it is loaded you simply click the “Transfer Balance” button and you can move the $5 right back to the card you bought this one with.  I just transfer the funds right back to my Gold Card.  I also like to buy these by scanning my app or using my Gold Card because it doesn’t look as weird as buying a gift card with a gift card.

gold card starbucks app

Gold Card App Image


CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED POST after Program Change! (4/24/16)

So there you have it.  You can use your registered card to buy gift cards and then load them right back to that same card. Free Star.  Now as I said before, I don’t think it is right to abuse this and you might draw the ire of Starbucks if you do, but if you need a couple stars to make gold for the year or 1 star away for a free drink then go ahead!  The reason this actually popped back in my mind? Katie is only a few stars away from keeping her Gold another year and I remembered she could use this.  She isn’t going to, not her thing.

The trick is yours now, enjoy your coffee 🙂


♦Yes, that is a 2014 Limited edition Santorini, Greece gift card (a trip we will be taking in the future)

HT (ChasingThePoints)

33 Comments on “My Starbucks Rewards: Perpetual Star Machine

  1. You’re giving up earning 5 Chase points per dollar on the gift cards that you’d receive purchasing those at an office supply store and loading them onto your card/app. The extra star per $5 gift card seems like a lesser reward to me. So you probably only want to do this on a first Friday with Sapphire Preferred to minimize the rewards loss.

    • Gary – completely agree. If I actually buy a gift card to make real purchases with then I usually go to Staples and use my Ink. This was more for people who aren’t as much into the points game yet. If your goal is to gain points with Starbucks purchases, then this article is not the way to do it. This is more about gaining stars without spending any money.
      For instance, I would go to Starbucks to do work and use my gold card to buy my drink when I arrived. Upon leaving I would buy a gift card with my gold card and load it to my account. I paid only for the price of my coffee and got 2 stars instead of 1. Free star as I walk out the door.

      Buy the initial card with the Ink at Staples or as you mentioned with CSP on 1st Friday, but after that there is no money that actually needs to be spent. Just an extra trip to the counter or purchase during your Starbucks visit.

      Thank you so much for checking us out!

      • Thanks so much for this information i am not into the points game but i am into getting extra stars at Starbucks.I am basically a cash only person and rarely use cards.I do spend less money when i use cash.

        • You’re very welcome! We hope you’ve been able to get a couple extra stars in your endeavors!

      • I buy my Starbucks cards at Safeway because they double the value of the card and add that to your Safeway reward program. I then load the card I bought at Safeway into my Starbuck Gold Card account and transfer the balance to my gold card. This is how I reload my Starbucks card every time. The second thing I do is everyone I give a Starbuck card as a gift I load that card onto my Starbuck account. I keep track of the usage. It gives me a star each time they make a purchase and if after a year the card has not been used, I transfer the gift card balance back to my gold card. And there you go.

        • Nice Ken! Another good way to rack up stars. I didn’t know about that double dip at Safeway. We don’t have any around where I live but I will have to look into it.

    • Gary, you’re going to blog crap over like…. 21 cents?
      5 UR x $5= 25 UR= 60 cents-ish
      2% card X$5 = 10 cents
      free star = 1/12 of a drink (which for me is around $3.50) = 29 cents

      poor form from a supposedly “respected blogger”.

      kinda a*hole move if you ask me. Way to show support for your brethren.
      I might as well call you dumb for not getting a Citi Forward card back when you could’ve so you’d be getting 5x TY points purchasing the card as Starbucks.

      • 1) I think the idea is to scale this. x 100 = $21, x 1000 = $210
        2) That’s just illustrative in any case, it’s pushing the envelope and extra work to go to Starbucks in person to do this and in small quantities, my point was you can get better return at an office supply store.
        3) Of course the equation changes a bit if you extract the cash back out of the Starbucks cards at low cost…
        4) I think it was respectful to draw attention to this blog but if I’ve offended the author I definitely apologize!

        • Gary, we appreciate you drawing attention to our blog! Obviously we’re not offended at all!

    • Gary: No points or cashback (or discounts for those who buy from resellers) is being foregone because you can still do your initial purchase through the same method. Buying GCs with GCs just generates more stars. I don’t expect this to last much longer now that the proverbial cat has been so publicly ejected from the bag.

      • also buy $5.02 from $5.00 your 2 cents short gets rounded up as you need not pay 2 cents

    • You can also register each card as a birthday 30 days in advance. You then get 1 star and 1 birthday.

  2. Personally, I find I get much more use out of buying a resold Starbucks card at a discount…

    Just bought a 15% off one at

    Never had a problem with any of their cards and I’ve sold a few to them

    • Yep, that site is great for getting discounted gift cards! We are just showing you how to get stars with zero out of pocket after you have that initial gift card. So you could use that first card and continue to use it forever to get stars without spending any more money if you want.

  3. You are also throwing away a plastic card every time you get a star. Yes you get a free coffee after doing this 12 times, but at what cost to the environment, and at what expense of your time?

  4. The best use may be for star dashes. If you are not in a coffee mood after work load up the card and keep the dash going. Often there are 5 consecutive days 5 stars or similar targeted promotions to gold card holders.

  5. Will buying an eCard with your Starbucks gold card get you a star without trip to the store?

    • That is an excellent question! I have not personally tried that avenue but according to the FAQ section on the Starbucks Rewards site you are able to earn stars for purchases at which sells the egift cards . If you are able to try this we would love to hear your results! I will also try this myself in the next few days.

  6. @you should never have posted about this.
    DAMN. Back to my Nespresso Machine.
    I do get odd looks asking to plug it in at Starbucks

  7. Hi, I have been gold for months and haven’t received a Gold Card. Are you saying I can buy gift cards with this Gold Card? or are you referring to an Amex Gold Card? Is the Starbucks gold card a credit card? I don’t get how you can purchase with it and then transfer it back, how do you get the money off of this gold card then.


    • I am referring to the Starbucks personalized Gold card you receive when reaching Gold Level. People have had some problems receiving the physical card in the past and if you have not got it in the mail by now I would certainly contact Starbucks. Once you become Gold Level a digital gold card should appear in your Starbucks app pay section (there is a picture above). Once any gift card has been purchased with your gold card, original registered card, credit card, or any other method, it can then be registered and added to your account. Once it has been added the funds from this new card can be transferred to your digital gold card or any other card registered to your account. You can see the transfer button on some to the images above. If you have further questions please email us at and I can walk you through it.

  8. Definitely worked for me, but what didn’t work was trying to buy an eCard with my Starbucks Gold card. It didn’t work (at least, not for me), because when you check out, there only methods of payment offered are PayPal or Visa/Debit cards, so paying for the $5 eCard isn’t possible with the Gold card, which is the whole point if you’re trying to get a star per purchase. So you have to do this in-store. If anyone found a better method to do this online, please share.

    • Glad it worked for you as well! I too checked out the eGift cards last weekend and found the same thing. Without being able to use your Gold or registered gift card this method of free stars doesn’t really work. So in-store gift cards it is!

  9. I always go and re-up my Gold Card at Starbucks in 5 dollar increments…I never knew a 5 dollar gift card would give u a star…Wow this is a really great thing to know.What a great way to earn some additional stars..Love it!

  10. Great tip.

    I have just used it in the US.

    I did notice that I appeared not to get a star if I used the newly acquired card registered on my account rather than transferring the balance to my existing main card on the same account,and buying from that. Not sure if that is always the case?

    • It doesn’t seem to always be the case but that has happened to me before as well. Now I always transfer to avoid the chance of that.

  11. Hello I was doing the gift card and transfer back to gold card racked up a ton of free drinks. Since the update this is not working anymore =(

    • You’re right Clinton, it doesn’t seem to be working at most places but I placed an updated clink at the top of the page for the places where it might still be working.

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