Coffee Wars – Starbucks vs McDonald’s Loyalty Program + Free Grand Hyatt NYC Coffee Certificates Giveaway


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A shadow war is raging in the coffee world. There is a lot of propaganda out there and I’m not quite sure who to trust with my morning cup of Joe. I’m among the primary benefactors, the metropolitan business traveler and the corporate 9 to 5 stop-and-go-traffic jam commuter. But it is hard to determine which coffee loyalty program is the best. I need your help to decide.

Should I side with the Starbucks My Rewards Program or the McDonald’s Sip Saver program to enjoy my morning perks?

Starbucks My Rewards

Starbucks has been planning covert action to expand their My Rewards program earning options. In addition to earning rewards they are not so quietly signaling that members will now be allowed to earn points by purchasing coffee in grocery stores and Teavana stores. This is a game changer and is a sure way to boost the moral of the most energetic Doubleshot Energy + Coffee Starbucks drinkers.

The program also took a chance and changed tactics late last year. They started offering the ability to redeem rewards on drinks and food. Gold level members who reach 12 stars will earn a free drink with this program. Starbucks-Rewards-Changes

McDonald’s Sip Saver

Meanwhile, McDonald’s intentions have been clear. They desire to become a global player in the premium coffee drink world. Just check out the McCafe drink options. Still, I prefer mine with no frills. McDonald’s has two benefits that many of you have already known about. But there are a few grey areas and this is where I need your help. Do the following two benefits make McDonald’s Sip Saver program better than Starbucks My Rewards program?

1. Lower Prices

McDonald’s may price their sugary drinks lower, but what about the average cup of coffee? I think McDonald’s has the edge here.

2. Better Rewards – Free Drink After 4 Coffees

McDonald’s also appears to have an edge over Starbucks My Rewards in the benefits they provide to their people. They offer a point for each drink you order. Once you earn 4 points, you get a free drink.

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Known Unknowns

3. Location & Convenience

Some say there is a Starbucks on every corner, but I disagree. In major cities I would agree with this statement, but on the suburban commute or commute to the corporate park from a remote hotel I find more McDonald’s than Starbucks. So this factor, in my opinion, is really dependent on where you reside.

4. Taste & Temperature

Since I drink my coffee black, I can generally taste when a coffee is burnt. The problem I have with Starbucks is I can’t even taste their coffee because they serve it so hot. They practically serve their coffee the same temperature of the sun, extremely hot. I often can’t drink a cup of Starbucks coffee for 10 minutes after I order it. On the other hand, I’ve had a McDonald’s coffee that tasted burnt, but I’ve also had really good coffee from McDonald’s. My regular airport driver knows my preference and usually has a hot (enough) cup of Joe waiting for me upon my return.

Free Grand Hyatt NYC Coffee Giveaway

Points, Miles & Martinis will giveaway 4 certificates valid for one complimentary 12 oz. coffee, hot tea or small bottle of Aquifina water at the Grand Hyatt in NYC. We will select 4 random winners on Sunday, March 23, 2013. One entry per contestant. Each winner will receive one certificate.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment in this post answering the following question:

    • Which coffee loyalty program and perk do you prefer?
    • Example: “I prefer McDonald’s Sip Saver program because I earn a free drink after 4 coffees” or “I like Starbucks My Rewards because of the flexibility to redeem for food or drink”

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Bottom Line

One thing is for sure, McDonald’s Sip Saver and Starbucks My Rewards are competing for the coffee drinkers hearts and minds.

The battle isn’t over yet, but one thing is for sure it all comes down to taste. So who’s side are you taking?

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way. Feel free to reach me at theweeklyflyer@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Why not do both? I like lattes (no flavoring, no sugar) and both Starbucks and McDonald’s do them pretty well.

    It takes longer to earn a free drink at Starbucks but if you drink their brewed coffee, brewed ice coffee, or brewed tea you get free refills with your registered card after you reach gold. If you are going to be hanging out for a while buy the smaller size and do refills instead of the grande.

  2. I prefer the Starbucks loyalty program because there are three of their cafes within a block of my office in Midtown, so it’s convenient to grab a cup of joe.

  3. I prefer the Starbucks program, as I can track progress and redeem through my smart phone, and not worry about a card with stickers, also the Starbucks product has much greater consistency from location to location.

  4. Starbucks tend to be more convenient for the places I am near in NYC but I think I will check out the McDonalds program. Not a huge fan of starbucks coffee but the convenience and wifi is nice.

  5. I must have had very bad luck, but most of the McD coffees I’ve had recently (in different stores) tasted old and burnt. I have never seen the McD loyalty program either.. For me, it is hands down Starbucks.. Better quality coffee, better quality service, free refills, and a rewards program that I know about..

  6. Starbucks.I love the community nature of their stores. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the same person twice at a McDonald’s. Then again I can’t remember ever going to the same McDonalds twice.

  7. I like Starbucks My Rewards because of the flexibility to redeem for food or drink, and you get free refills on coffee or tea if you are a green or gold member. You can get extra “”stars” using the SBux app by asking for a coffee plus flavor shot ($0.55) so you could get a refill for .55 and then after your 12th purchAse, use your free item on a sandwich.

  8. I prefer McDonald’s. I actually think their coffee is better than Starbuck’s. AND, they offer senior’s a cheap regular coffee. Most places in Albuquerque are $.50. But it’s regular price for McCafe coffees.

  9. Being in a city, I prefer Starbucks as it is everywhere but Mcdonalds with the price point and value of getting a free drink seems more rewarding.

  10. Starbucks. There’s one around the corner from my house & their black coffee is better in my opinion.

  11. I’m with @Heavenlyjane – Starbucks all the way because of their mad mocha making skills! Tried McD’s and couldn’t manage more than 2 sips before pouring it down the sewer grate at the side of the road. Besides, living in NYC, there are 5 Starbucks between my apartment and the nearest McDonalds.

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