Details Of The New Starbucks & Lyft Partnership

We haven’t really seen all that many innovative partnerships between ridesharing apps and other logical partners. Uber has partnered with Starwood to give riders bonus Starpoints, and Uber has recently launched a loyalty program for Capital One customers. However, other than that we haven’t seen much more than integration of ride reminders.

Well, Lyft and Starbucks have just announced more details of their innovative new partnership. On the most basic level you can receive Starbucks bonus gift cards when you purchase Lyft gift cards, and you can earn bonus Starbucks Stars for your Lyft rides.


For now this partnership consists of a few different things:

  • Customers using Lyft for the first time will receive 125 Stars after linking their Starbucks Rewards and Lyft accounts
  • Existing Lyft riders with linked Starbucks Rewards accounts will then receive 5 Stars for each ride taken during their morning commute, Monday through Friday from 5AM until 10AM (maximum of once per hour, valid through November 9, 2016)
  • $20 Lyft gift cards can be purchased at Starbucks stores in Lyft’s 20 largest markets, and you’ll receive a complimentary $5 Starbucks card with the purchase (limited supplies)
  • Lyft drivers will receive automatic Starbucks Rewards Gold status
  • Lyft riders with their Starbucks Rewards accounts linked will be able to tip their drivers using Starbucks gift cards through the Lyft app

While the execution doesn’t seem terribly consistent at this point (it’s limited time, bonus Starbucks cards are only available in select markets, etc.), I like the idea they’re getting at:

  • Given how many free credits Lyft gives out, I’m not sure if it’s worth buying $20 Lyft cards at face value in order to get a $5 Starbucks gift card; I guess this could be worth it if you value Lyft credit at more than 75% of face value
  • While getting 125 Starbucks Stars (worth ~$5-7 to most people) for your first Lyft ride might sound compelling, I suspect this would be in place of another referral credit with your first ride, so probably isn’t worth it
  • I like the concept of being able to tip Lyft drivers in a non-cash form; I’ve long said that I feel guilty about some of the prices Uber/Lyft charge (at least in LA), so being able to tip in a non-cash way provides a way to show gratitude without totally changing the essence of how the app works
  • 5 Starbucks Stars per ride isn’t life changing (as a Gold member you need 125 Stars to get a free beverage or snack, meaning 25 rides gets you something for free), but I love the idea of being rewarded in a partner currency for ridesharing, much like we’re seeing between Uber and Starwood

I love how they explain the overall idea behind the partnership, which I think rings true:

“There are two things most of us do every morning: get a cup of coffee and commute to work.  Together with Starbucks, we can make both a friendlier, more enjoyable experience,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft.  “Lyft and Starbucks share a lot of the same customers and importantly we share a commitment to doing right by our customers and our people. In the days, months and years ahead, we will launch exciting programs for loyal community members, and new products that will change the way we move around our cities.”

What do you make of the expanded relationship between Lyft and Starbucks?

(Tip of the hat to Doctor of Credit)


  1. How many Lyft drivers really want to get a tip in the form of a Starbucks gift card instead of cash?

  2. I am not using Lyft because it is infected with the American Tipping Disease. Uber is healthy, for now, but is moving in the direction of getting infected too.

  3. Echino I’m glad you’re not infected. If you were a driver I’m sure you would haaate getting tips. You would love those rides where you drive 4 miles to pick up a passenger and bring them one mile, making you $3 for 20 minutes of your time. I can only wish I were uninfected like you. 🙂

  4. If you are already spending money on Lyft and Starbucks, this is a great deal. Lucky, I’m not sure where you’re getting all these free credits besides referral links from your blog. In my experience, I got free credits after first signing up and then maybe 2 or 3 more for referring friends. Other than that, Lyft offers occasional discounts, but by no means is this service consistently free. I’d love to know where (besides referral credits) you see a way of getting such a good deal on Lyft (provided, of course, that one values Starbucks GCs at close to cash).

    This deal is sweetened if you have the Chase Freedom card and would not otherwise max out the $1500 quarterly 5x UR on restaurants and wholesale clubs. This beats the usual 2x UR points (Sapphire Preferred) or 2x Citi TYP (Thank You Premier) you could get from spend on transportation when you pay for Lyft directly with those cards. If Starbucks allows these Lyft GCs to be purchased with Starbucks GCs, then it’s even better, as you could purchase Starbucks GCs at 5x UR points with Chase Ink and then effectively get a 5x UR return on Lyft rides plus a $5 Starbucks GC bonus without eating into the quarterly $1500 from Chase Freedom. Does anyone know if these Lyft GCs can be purchased with Starbucks GCs?

  5. @Tom, I am not from the USA and the idea of American style tipping is very foreign to me, like to most people outside of the USA. In the rest of the world you know the price in advance and you don’t tip because the service in included in price. Most you do is round up to the next Euro etc. People employed in the service industry earn a living wage and do not rely on tips unlike in the USA.

  6. Freedom has 5% at restaurants…worth the extra points if you’re going to use Lyft anyways! And I’m sure someone would be willing to pay $15 for a $20 Lyft GC

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