What You Should Know Before Redeeming Starbucks Rewards At Different Locations

Starbucks rewards cards
Starbucks rewards cards - Photo_J/Shutterstock

Although frequent stops at Starbucks in between meetings and the impromptu drive-thru pick-me-ups chip away at our checking accounts, they also rack up points most of the time. In some ways, the company keeps all its locations on the same page — like with drink construction and specific rules employees must follow. In other ways, though, the guidelines differ based on location, and unfortunately this pertains to rewards. For example, you can't use Starbucks Reward Stars at Disney locations. Like a number of other stores, the ones at Disney aren't participating locations in the rewards program. While the Disney locations choose to forego the program, others may choose to only have one reward tier that caps at 150 stars, which permits you to receive a free food or drink item.

To determine whether your local Starbucks is a participating location, you'll have to look at the ownership. In Disney's case, the Starbucks are licensed franchises rather than company-owned storefronts, meaning the franchises cover the costs of rewards given to customers. This loophole allows some locations to bend the rules of the reward program. Licensed franchises are owned and operated by individuals, so, in order to avoid any legal proceedings by roping franchisees into corporate rulings, companies like Starbucks say "at participating locations" only.

Read more: 26 Coffee Hacks You Need To Know For A Better Cup

What About Those Free Starbucks Birthday Drinks?

Starbucks rewards app
Starbucks rewards app - Emil Kazaryan/Shutterstock

Aside from theme parks, the places you'll usually find non-participating locations are within other entities, such as kiosks in hospitals or schools. Like other licensed franchise locations, not only do these stores not redeem items from the reward program, but you can't earn stars from them, either. Thankfully, you can turn on the "Redeem Rewards" filter when searching for nearby cafes on Starbucks' store locator to find a location to earn stars towards your account.

Even if you're not the biggest enthusiast of earning reward stars, every customer is undoubtedly a fan of the free drink Starbucks offers on your birthday. With a rewards account and at least one star, you'll be able to redeem a drink once your birthday rolls around ... at participating locations only. The perk isn't a requirement for all locations, just like with the free refills that reward members get. On the same visit, you can get a free refill on coffee or tea by showing the cashier your in-app barcode, however, licensed franchises have the right to deny this perk.

Although not every Starbucks within another store is a non-participating location (some Starbucks within Targets participate), it's these locations that tend to be the ones that don't take part in the rewards program. The next time you want to rack up some stars or cash in on your birthday gift, make sure it's at a standalone Starbucks.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.