Starbucks to let Lyft drivers, riders earn rewards points

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Starbucks says people will soon be able earn rewards points by using the ride-hailing service Lyft, a move intended to further expand the universe of its loyalty program.

The companies said the program will be rolled out later this year. People will essentially be able to earn Starbucks “stars” for using Lyft, and drivers will be given stars for reaching “certain milestones,” said John Zimmer, Lyft’s co-founder and president. The companies did not have further details on how the program would work.

The partnership is the latest evidence of how Starbucks is using its mobile app to cultivate loyalty and drive up sales. The app, which integrates the coffee chain’s loyalty program, incentivizes customers to return to Starbucks cafes by rewarding them with a star for every purchase. After accumulating a certain number of stars, customers get a free drink or food item.

Starbucks says 20 percent of transactions are now made with mobile devices.

The Seattle-based company has also announced tie-ins for its mobile app with the music service Spotify and The New York Times, both of which include ways to earn stars as well.

Financial terms of those deals with Lyft, The New York Times and Spotify weren’t disclosed. But in all three cases, Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz said Wednesday during a call with reporters that the partnering companies purchased stars from Starbucks.

Starbucks and Lyft said riders will be able to give their drivers a Starbucks “e-gift.” Additionally, the companies said Lyft will “explore the possibilities” of providing “cost effective” transportation for Starbucks workers in a test market.

BY CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer

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