How do the coffee reward programs in Toronto stack up
Toronto’s most popular chain cafes and coffee joints are making the city a more lucrative place to get caffeinated. Tim Hortons launched its Tims Rewards program in March while Starbucks’ long-standing Starbucks Rewards program is being revamped on Tuesday to increase flexibility on when and what can be redeemed. Here is a rundown of the top coffee (and tea) rewards programs in the city.
Established: March 2019.
How to earn: One “visit” is awarded when spending at least $0.50.
How to redeem: Seven visits earns the reward of a brewed coffee or tea (any size) or baked good (except bagels and Timbits).
Spend to reward return: Spend a minimum of $3.50 to redeem a baked good or beverage up to $2.14 (61% return, prices vary by region)
How to collect: A physical reusable card, mobile app or mobile wallet.
What else to know: Visits must be at least 30 minutes apart.
Expiration: Up to five rewards can be banked at a time when using the mobile app or kiosk ordering. Banked rewards will expire after 120 days.
Bonuses: Register for Tim’s Rewards online and receive a free reward after making a purchase greater than $1.50 until July 31, 2019.
Who is it for?: Daily double-doublers. The visit-based system benefits regular customers making small purchases. Those making large, infrequent purchases (dozens of doughnuts, boxes of Timbits) will see a smaller return for their spend.
Established: October 2011, updated April 2019.
How to earn: Earn two “stars” for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.
How to redeem: Five tiers of rewards, ranging from 25 stars (extra espresso shot or dairy substitute) to 400 stars (packaged coffee, select merchandise).
Spend to reward return: Spend $12.50 to redeem customization up to $1 (8 per cent return). Spend $200 to redeem whole bean coffee or merchandise up to $20 (10 per cent return). Additional reward tiers in between.
How to collect: Preloaded Starbucks Card or mobile app.
What else to know: Stars can be earned in fractional amounts, so a $3.50 purchase earns 7 stars.
Expiration: Stars expire six months after the calendar month earned. For example, stars earned on April 5, 2019, expire on November 1, 2019.
Bonuses: Birthday reward of one handcrafted beverage, food item or ready-to-drink bottled beverage. One double-star day per calendar month. Free regular coffee and tea refills for members. Bonus star promotions.
Who is it for?: Eager espresso drinkers. Prior to the April update, members had to earn 300 stars in 12 months to achieve gold status before redeeming food or beverage rewards. The update means members can redeem rewards sooner and for a wider variety of items.
DAVIDsTEA Frequent Steeper
Established: April 2014, updated January 2019.
How to earn: Earn one point for every $1 spent in-store or online. Buy 10 beverages in-store, get one free.
How to redeem: For 100 points, redeem 50g of loose leaf tea excluding Ceremonial Matcha and Organic Ceremonial Matcha.
Spend to reward return: Spend $100 to redeem a bag of tea up to $24.98 (up to 25% return); Spend a minimum of $20 on beverages to redeem a beverage up to $4 (20% return).
How to collect: Physical card and key fob. A mobile app is in the works.
What else to know: Super Steeper status is achieved when $400 is spent within a 12-month period. Status includes free tea samples, swag, event invites and early access to sales.
Expiration: After one year of inactivity. Once reward threshold is earned, it must be redeemed in-store or online within 60 days.
Bonuses: Free cup of tea on your birthday.
Who is it for: Loose leaf lovers. It’s one of the only tea chain reward programs in the city.
Second Cup Coffee Co. Rewards
Established: April 2015.
How to earn: Earn 10 points for every $1 spent.
How to redeem: For 500 points, redeem a beverage. For 1,000 points, redeem a bag of coffee beans or Keurig compatible pods.
Spent to reward return: Spent to reward return: Spend $50 to redeem any beverage up to $6.45 (13 per cent return). Spend $100 to redeem a bag of coffee beans up to $14.95 (15 per cent return).
How to collect: Physical card or mobile app.
What else to know: Tap-and-pay option offered on mobile app.
Bonuses: Double rewards days and bonus points promotions.
Who is it for?: Those who want it sweet and simple. With just two reward tiers and a 10-to-1 point-to-dollar ratio, Second Cup Rewards is a simpler premium coffee rewards program.
Established: November 2013, mobile rewards launched January 2019.
How to earn: Earn one sticker for each hot beverage purchase.
How to redeem: For seven beverages, redeem one hot medium beverage.
How to collect: Physical stickers or mobile app.
What else to know: Physical stickers and mobile reward stickers can’t be combined to reach reward threshold.
Spend to reward return. Spend a minimum of $10.43 to redeem a hot beverage up to $4.29 (41 per cent return, prices vary by region).
Expiration: Online rewards have expiry dates as listed. Physical stickers do not expire.
Who is it for?: Crafty caffeinators. With the launch of the new digital rewards and continuation of the on-cup physical sticker collection, you can earn free beverages faster by redeeming both physical stickers and mobile reward stickers separately, increasing your return to 82 per cent.
Andrea Yu is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Reach her via email: