Posted by Chuck on April 15, 2016
Loyalty Programs

Published on April 15th, 2016 | by Chuck


Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts: Which Has a Better Rewards Program?

In the wake of the promotions by Starbucks and by Dunkin’ Donuts over their loyalty programs, let’s take a look at how they compare.

Which rewards program is better – Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? Let’s chart it out.

 StarbucksDunkin’ Donuts
Spend for Reward$62.50$40.00
Reward ValueFree itemFree drink
Signup FreebieNoneFree drink
Other PerksFree refill, Double-DayNone
Immediate EarnEarn after $150 spendImmediate earn
BirthdayFree itemFree drink
Referrals1/2 drink?
Online EarnEarns onlineDoesn’t earn online

Spend per Reward

Starbucks needs $62.50 in spend (125 stars) to get a free item. DD needs just $40 in spend (200 stars).

Winner: DD

Value of Reward

DD gives you a certificate for a free beverage of any size. Starbucks allows you to get a free drink or free item.

Winner: Starbucks

Signup Bonus

The standard bonus when signup up with DD is a free beverage (we’ll discount temporary bonuses). Starbucks doesn’t give out any freebie for signing up.

Winner: DD

Other Perks

Starbucks gives free refills on coffee or tea for Star members. Starbucks also gives Gold members one double-day per month on which all purchases earn double points.

Winner: Starbucks

Immediate Earn

DD begins earning points toward a free drink immediately. Starbucks only starts getting points toward free rewards after spending $150 (300 stars).

Winner: DD

Birthday Present

Both DD and Starbucks offer a free birthday reward. For DD, it’s a free drink of any size. For Starbucks, it’s “a free beverage or treat” so it sounds like you can get a food item as well. Starbucks also gives 15% off at as a birthday present.

Winner: Starbucks

Referral Bonus

Starbucks currently gives 60 Stars for referring a friend, or about a half of a reward. Bear in mind that there is a limit of 2 referrals you can do per day and 8 per month. (HT: VFTW)

In the past, DD has had an offer to refer a friend and get a free drink; not sure if that offer is currently available.

Online Earn

Starbucks also gives points for online purchases while DD does not.

Winner: Starbucks

Final Thoughts

In the end, most people will choose a coffee shop based on preference and location, but it’s fun to see how they compare side-by-side.

Disclosure: I’m not a coffee drinker. No doubt there are lots of things missing in the above comparison and probably some errors too, please add/correct in the comments below.

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DD sometimes give 2X points for certain items and/or certain time. For example, 2X points for iced coffee drinks after 2pm, and 2X points on all hot and iced lattes are on my card right now, which means 4X points after 2pm if I get an iced latte (which I usually do).


Starbucks usually has one or two promotions like this each week, targeted.


you get free drinks after local sports team wins or criteria being met, as well, with dunkin.

in Mid TN, you get free coffee after a Preds win.

in East TN, you get free coffee after Vols win or ‘x’ amount of yards or points.

plus dunkin just tastes better

JO Homan
JO Homan



The Starbucks reward program is way better than it seems at a glance. There is always a “star dash” offer in the app. I can choose to accept and complete it, or I don’t have to. My most recent one, for example, was make any 4 purchases and earn 150 stars. I spent ~$7 to complete this. I end up getting a free drink after about $12 in spend, on average, nowhere near the $62.50 it seems to be at first glance. You can also enter codes from packaged coffee, if you buy that, to get more stars.

It’s also easy to get free stars here and there. The Starbucks prepaid card for 150 stars and the 300 star offer for using Chase Pay, for example. Starbucks also runs their “Starbucks for Life” sweepstakes in December to get stars and other prices. You can make purchases to complete the “challenges”, but they make it very easy to enter online with no purchase necessary.

Getting Gold status can be easier than spending $150. Last December, I think they gave it out all month with any purchase. You also get Gold status with the prepaid card.

Finally, I always recommend that people bring their own cup. Starbucks gives you $.10 off every time you do, and it helps create less waste.

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