Starbird? Will the Starbucks prepaid card be the next big thing?

Starbucks has announced that they will introduce a prepaid card by the end of the year.  Will this be the next big thing?  For years, American Express prepaid products, Bluebird and Serve, made it easy to increase credit card spend to earn rewards.  And, for a while, REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard) was even better.  Then, Target stopped allowing credit or debit reloads, and then Amex began freezing Serve and Bluebird accounts.  And, we were left with… not much.

Starbird Starbucks prepaid card

Above is a design I made up. This is not a design created by or sanctioned by Starbucks

What we know now about the Starbucks prepaid card

Here’s what little we know about the Starbucks prepaid card:

  • Planned release date: “By the end of the year”
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Payment Network: Visa
  • Rewards: The card will let people earn stars in the new Starbucks Rewards program, which goes live on April 12th (details here).  The rewards earning rate will be higher for StarBucks purchases than for non-StarBucks purchases, but the exact earning rate is not yet known.
  • Very few fees:
    • Rush card replacement: $5
    • Foreign transaction fee: 3%
    • Legal processing fee (if bank is required to hold or pay out funds as a result of a legal action): $75
    • Reload fees: $0
    • Monthly service fee: $0

The big things we don’t yet know about Starbucks prepaid card

Whether or not Starbird turns out to be exciting for the miles & points crowd will hinge on the answers to a few of these questions:

  • Reload options?  It’s great to hear that there will be no reload fees, but we don’t yet know what forms of payment will be allowed.  If they allow credit card reloads, that will be fantastic (and probably short-lived due to credit card fraud).  Debit card loads would be less exciting but still potentially very useful.
  • Liquidation options?  Can we use the card to pay bills that can’t normally be paid by credit card?  Can we withdraw money from an ATM?  Can we withdraw money directly to a bank account?

Chances are that the answers to the above questions won’t be good.  But, you never know.  We can hope!

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. Would much rather go to Starbucks than Walmart. But can you imagine people waiting to get coffee while you load two gift cards! I know I am going go get tired of WM Bill Pay really fast.

  2. You can bet it will be rubbish – look what they did to their own “loyalty” card – the Gold Card. Devalued faster than Delta Skymiles.

  3. Well even if was beneficial for miles and points enthusiasts, I’m sure you and everyone else could manage to kill it before it even got started!

  4. I can’t see how this won’t get killed off immediately if it has any of the ‘benefits’ we like. All the ‘deal’ websites will be all over it.

    • True. It’ll be a lot more difficult to fly under radar if loading will be exclusively at SB stores. With a lot in line to load their cards, I don’t see why this ‘bird’ won’t get killed quickly. It may take a while before this bird starts flying, we will see.

  5. Wondering if anybody else with large point balances just saw “Issuing bank – Chase” and utter an expletive? .

    • If it’s like that then it will be no use to us. Also, if they do allow better options for loading, but the monthly limit is under $2000 I won’t be interested. I don’t have time to mess with small methods due to volume. These other methods that have tiny limits, like $250 loads max, are worthless to me.

  6. Hello,

    Can you tell me what why the debit card reload can be positieve? That is the first time I see z debit reload in MS terms.

    I am.from Europe and starting to gain access to American cards.

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