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Starbucks to debut 'Gold Card' rewards program

SEATTLE Starbucks Corp. said it would introduce early next month a new loyalty program offering discounts to customers who purchase a new Gold Card.

Officials said the new Gold Card membership program is a response to increasing demand from loyal customers for improved benefits and more payment flexibility. A recent analyst survey also found that lower prices, more than any other factor, would be most likely to motivate Starbucks to visit more often.

Currently, the Starbucks Card Rewards program offers benefits such as free beverage customization options, free refills on brewed coffee, a free drink with the purchase of whole-bean coffee, and up to two hours per day of free wireless Internet access in stores.

Users of the Starbucks Card Rewards program, however, must pay for at least part of their purchases with the prepaid card. With Gold Card membership, guests can pay any way they like.

Gold Card membership costs $25 per year. Members receive 10 percent off most purchases in participating Starbucks and a free drink when they buy the card.

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