Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Business
Pursuits

Starbucks Attempts to Create a Caffeine-Based Currency

Pedestrians stroll by a Starbucks Coffee shop in Union Square in New York.

Pedestrians stroll by a Starbucks Coffee shop in Union Square in New York.

Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Airlines have long given out miles to customers for credit-card purchases made at other stores. Now Starbucks Corp. is trying a similar feat with its loyalty program.

The coffee chain has forged deals with music service Spotify Ltd., the New York Times and ride-sharing company Lyft Inc. -- all of which will let customers earn points toward free drinks and food at their local Starbucks. The program doles out “Stars” when users make purchases, creating a form of currency that works with Starbucks’ mobile app or loyalty cards. The company credited the effort with helping drive a 4 percent gain in customer traffic last quarter.