If Starbucks is part of your daily or weekly ritual, you should join its customer loyalty program – My Starbucks Rewards. To get started, you must register a Starbucks card (any gift card you find at a café), so your purchases can be tracked. The program is not based on dollar amount spent, but rather each swipe of the card. One swipe (regardless of purchase amount) = one gold star. After signing up, you’ll receive a FREE drink or food item of your choice on your birthday. After just five purchases, you’ll reach the Green Level, which includes the birthday freebie, as well as FREE brewed or iced coffee/tea refills — while you’re in the store. Once you’ve earned 30 gold stars, you’ll attain the Gold Level status (the highest possible), which includes all of the Green Level benefits plus a FREE drink or food item every 12 purchases, a personalized Gold Card and special offers for members only. You must earn 30 stars annually to maintain Gold status. The key to making this reward program work is to always use your registered Starbucks card for every purchase, which, of course, means you have to keep the card loaded with funds. MHOTC Tip: Remember, for example, if you’re purchasing a coffee and scone in a single transaction, it only counts as one purchase and, therefore, one star. However, if you ask to have them rung up separately, you’ll earn two stars — instead of one. It can be cumbersome, but, by making every single purchase separately, you’ll earn the maximum amount of stars per visit.