Free Money

Once upon a time, back in the summer of ’08, I was contacted by Starbucks via e-mail and invited to join their pilot gold card program. Gold card? Free drinks every now and then? Personalized card? Sure… why not?

As I recall, it took such a long time for my card and package (an example) to arrive that I forgot all about it. When it did arrive, I was so lazy about activating it that when I finally got around to using it in November, the cashier gave me a blank stare and her co-worker informed me that the pilot program had been cancelled or terminated. Oh, sad. I was invited to use it as a regular moneycard and gladly accepted – it’s a rather pretty card.

I nonchalantly mentioned to friends that I got this useless gimmicky Starbucks card and a little time later, I was informed how people were selling their card for hundreds of dollars (kijiji, craigslist). Holy cow. I am normally the packrat but threw out the envelope – you mean to say that by throwing away that gimmicky gold envelope, I lost over a hundred dollars?!

Wrapping up my story, Li’l’ Sis checked out other sales of this card and put my card up for auction last week and the sucker sold for $180. For the “value” of this card being so questionable, I cannot say that I am disappointed.

On this day..


  1. Ryan says:

    Wow, neat story! It’s fascinating what such ephemera is worth, but it’s not a shock that Starbucks has enough fans to drive a collector’s market…

    Oh, I looked it up! People are mad for collecting Starbucks cards, so your Gold card basically functions as one of the rarest Starbucks cards ever issued.

  2. wyn says:

    I know! There were only 750 cards issued for the pilot programs taking place in Vancouver, BC, and Denver, CO. It twigged me for a moment to nearly induce me to keep my card but ultimately Starbucks does not have that kind of hold over me!

  3. teahouse says:

    Egads!! And you said it really brings you no benefit except as a regular gift card? Why on earth would someone spend so much on it, then? Just because it’s purrrr-dy?

  4. Norma says:

    I have kept my Starbucks cards since 2001 ~ yes, I’m a packrat :) ~ and just became aware of their value as a collectible. I have approximately 50 cards, some of which I have read are rare. Wyn, would your sister be interested in selling my cards for me for a percentage of their selling price?

  5. wyn says:

    Hi Norma,
    We had a difficult time selling the card – largely due to the questionable value – that we don’t want to do it again.

    It won’t happen with every card but we had that case where despite our preference, someone with an unverified address won the auction and there was indeed a mismatch with the shipping address and the paypal address and a complaint that the Starbucks card was not received. I’m not entirely sure how it all worked out but it was a headache and we chalked up the less-than-perfect transaction to people who are “willing” to pay a lot of money for something that has no value.

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