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Costa Coffee makes big change to rewards scheme – and fans are furious

COSTA Coffee is making a big change to its rewards scheme - and caffeine fans are furious.

The cafe giant currently gives punters a free drink after collecting eight beans - one after every drink.

But from August 1, the chiselling chain wants diners to collect ten beans before being awarded a free tipple.

It means customers at the chain’s 2,600 UK outlets will have to buy two extra coffees at a cost of up to £12 before receiving any reward.

Maria Johnson, 32, an IT worker from Doncaster, raged: “This is the last straw for me - I’m going to get my chai lattes elsewhere.

“It already costs a small fortune for a cup of coffee after Costa raised their prices - now they want to cut the rewards as well.

“It seems loyalty counts for nothing in the coffee game.”

Other irate regulars took to social media to make their feelings clear.

One wrote on Twitter: “So while you keep increasing prices, still charge extra for non-dairy alternatives unlike Starbucks, the rewards are being 'personalised' in other words reduced. 

“Definite own goal and I'll be reducing my visits to Costa as a result.”

Another added: “You are basically saying we have to buy two more hot drinks to get a free hot drink. That is a significant disincentive to use Costa.”

While a third fumed: “It really is insulting to our intelligence to say they are 'enhancing' the scheme, they'd be better off not saying anything.

“If you wanted to 'enhance' it, you'd give us a free drink after six drinks instead of eight, not the other way around.

"This is just Costa saving money and giving us less.”

Money expert Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the move "is not a surprise" due to the rising cost of labour and packaging costs for coffee roasters.

She added: “Free coffees multiplied across its customer base add up and it is aiming to dilute the cost over a longer consumption period."

However, Marc Gander of the Consumer Action Group added: "These [reward] schemes are meant to encourage customer loyalty towards Costa coffee.

“Costa, like most other stores, hasn't understood that it is they who should be loyal to their customers and they probably reckon that the Costa loyalty is too costly for them but not for their customers."

Just weeks ago it was revealed Costa had hiked its prices again taking the price of certain souped-up drinks soaring past £6. 

Basic versions of the same drinks still cost £3-£4 in smaller sizes.

And in April The Sun reported the coffee chain had been criticised for slapping a 10p “surcharge” on the price of beverages at NHS outlets.

While in December the company was blasted for selling Christmas drinks that contain almost as much sugar as three Kit Kats.

Last month, rival chain Pret announced it was upping the price of its loyalty scheme by 20% to £30 a month in the face of increased staff and wholesale costs.

Costa has defended the changes to its rewards scheme.

A spokeswoman, said: “We’ve made some changes to Costa Club, including how many Beans customers need to collect before they can redeem a free drink in store.

"They’ll still collect one Bean for every handcrafted drink they buy in a store or from a Costa Express machine but will need to collect 10 Beans to get a free drink."

She added that customers will continue to collect an extra Bean in store when using a reusable cup.

The chain is also launching a new reward feature aimed to give customers more personalised offers.

To find out the top coffee reward schemes, check out our guide.