By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

Starbucks announced big changes to its Starbucks Rewards program today, with a faster track to earning rewards but maybe a slight lowering of the value of reward “Stars” for the frequent Starbucks customer. The changes go into effect on April 16.

Members of Starbucks Rewards will continue to earn 2 Stars per dollar on their Starbucks purchases, but they will be able to start redeeming their Stars as soon as they have earned 25 Stars. This is a big change from the current program, in which a member has had to earn 300 Stars (a spend of roughly $150) in a 12-month period just to be eligible to actually earn free food or drink. In other words, the program will no longer cater only to the true Starbucks junkie, but also to a more casual Starbucks customer.

Specifically, here are the reward tiers in terms of receiving free Starbucks drinks or food:

  • 25 Stars: Extra espresso shot, dairy substitute or additional flavor
  • 50 Stars: Brewed hot coffee, hot tea or select bakery items
  • 150 Stars: Handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or yogurt parfaits
  • 200 Stars: Lunch sandwich, protein box or salad
  • 400 Stars: Select merchandise or packaged coffee

The current Starbucks Rewards program offers a free drink or food item for every 125 Stars to members who’ve reached Gold status (the 300 Stars mentioned above), so some members may feel this is a devaluation of their rewards, while infrequent Starbucks customers will feel like they have an opportunity to actually earn some freebies.

Other aspects of the program will remain the same, including the Double Star Days and free birthday offer to Starbucks rewards members.