Business Technology

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Is this the world's worst gift card?

Starbucks gift card goes on sale for $450 but only $400 credit on it

Gift cards are an unwise option for Christmas, many believe.

Millions goes unspent, boosting the profits of issuers and recipients run the risk that the retailer may go bust - with vouchers often not honoured when the administrators step in.

That doesn't appear to undermine the enduring popularity of gift cards with sales soaring here and in the United States.

The appeal of one card in particular, is worth noting.

The website was swamped by demand when it issued a metal, "rose-gold" coloured Starbucks gift card.

The cards sold out almost instantly - in around six seconds, according to Gilt.

That may be understandable given that only 1,000 were made - a smaller batch than 5,000 made last year - and Starbucks aficionados may want the prestige of flashing their shiny badge of honour in the queue, but the cards cost $450 (£280) and are charged with only $400 (£250) of credit.

It comes with "Gold Level" perks - free extra shots and syrups - which you would otherwise have to earn by spending money in Starbucks 15 times in year, but the fact remains you are instantly $50 out of pocket.

Starbucks told CBNC it "costs us more than $50 to produce this card. That's what you're paying for - the quality of the card itself."

With gift cards already a bad option, it's a marvel that the retail industry can pull off such a stunt and spark such demand.

And there's another twist. A handful of these cards are now selling on eBay. One seller wants $4,300 for cards from both 2012 and 2013, another wants $1,001 just for last year's and bidding has reached that point with two days to go. Lots others remain sitting without bids - and should remain that way.

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