Canada gets a beautiful maple leaf Starbucks card; The U.S. now has over 3 million gold card holders.

A reader in Canada recently mailed me this great Starbucks card!  This Starbucks  Canada card is a new release as of July this year.  Thank you so much for the gift!  I like the pretty maple leaves.  As I understand it, it will be a limited production card, so I assume it will quickly become very collectible.  This is another of the many Starbucks cards that are part of the ‘destination’ series.  Here it is:

(Thank you Molly at Seattle Custom Framing for the nice photo.)

While we’re on the topic, I thought it would be interesting to provide some color around the Starbucks card.  I was digging through the Starbucks investor relations page and came upon a link to a June 12, 2012 conference.  This image comes from the William Blair and Co LLC Growth Stock Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, on June 12, 2o12:

About 25% of all transactions at the registers (in the United States) are with a Starbucks card.  I thought it was interesting that there are about 3 million gold card holders in the United States.  With the extremely large numbers shown, it is critically important that Starbucks trains partners on all the ins and outs of card benefits.  At some point in the future, I may do a very close up look at those perks again because they are indeed great for discussion.  The card perks certainly are generous, but have some areas of ambiguities.  But I will leave that for another discussion in the future!

Hope you enjoyed the Canada card!  If you’re collecting Starbucks cards, this one is a must-have for your collection.

I’ve written lots of past articles about Starbucks cards, so here are a few of them:

Feel free to discuss anything related to the Starbucks card!


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  • Amalia

    Has anyone sent you the 25th anniversary Vancouver card yet? We got them to celebrate the 25 years Starbucks has been in Canada

  • Melody

    Amalia, no I don’t have the 25th Anniversary Vancouver Card! Do you want to trade for say an Evolution Fresh card? You can email me at Melody at StarbucksMelody dot com. Thanks!

  • Sandra Trolinger

    The Canada card is pretty!
    $3 million gold card holders…wow. I wish they would change the program just a bit and make it per spending or per drinks ordered. Maybe some day!

  • Hayley

    That is a pretty card! I am hoping to see a new US design soon…I feel like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a new card design. They re-did all the core cards, but nothing seasonal. I haven’t seen a new card design here in months and months, since we don’t have a city/state card. I hope the fall card design is gorgeous to make up for it! 😉

  • CD

    Partner knowledge on card benefits is certainly an area that needs work. I was in a store earlier this week and some customers came in and asked if they sold “gold cards.” The baristas scrambled to find the brochure and between two of them, completely butchered the benefits (said it took 15 purchases to reach gold, etc.).

    I happened to be looking at my Starbucks app at the time and thought the description on the app was pretty good – language like that might be a good start for an “elevator pitch” or “sound bite” on the benefits of card registration.

    On a more positive note, as the customers were leaving, one of the baristas remembered that if a registered card was lost the customer could transfer the balance so they shouted that out to the customers as they were leaving.

    I don’t know if questions about registration and/or benefits come up much, but it does seem like an area where help is needed (of course if they read this site, they’d have all the details down pat!)

  • Melody

    @CD – I tried to get someone from brand loyalty/ card to really sit down with me and talk about the card, and got nowhere. I wonder if Starbucks even cares if partners have right information or can give right info about the card. The website has about a half dozen mistakes on it. I have a series of articles coming all about card perks. The reality is that I too have seen MANY episodes where partners had no clue about card benefits.

  • purple1

    Melody very strange that no one would take the time to sit down with you to go over the card benefits or work with partners to get the info straight. I think the Canada card is really nice. I often wonder why they can’t jazz up the gold card? I know the premise obviously behind the card being gold, but can’t they do something with the design? Have you ever actually counted how many SB cards are out there and how often do they introduce a new card?

  • Melody


    1. As to why no one will sit down with me from brand loyalty/ card – I’d like to sit down with a person in charge who can fix the half dozen errors on the website – I’m still working on reaching out to the Card department. I’ve slowly been working on a series of articles. I can’t just post one 2,500 word blog post, so I’ll have to break it up into three or four articles.

    2. Jazz up the gold card – I would prefer that they get rid of it entirely. It only causes confusion.

    3. How many Starbucks cards, and how often? Good question. I have no idea. An overwhelming number of cards. Seems like there are a couple of new cards each year. And it does seem like we’re due for something new and fun. The most complete listing of what cards are out there (as far as I know) is on this website:

    Whew! Too long of a reply.

  • purple1

    Melody thanks for the great reply. Loved seeing the link to the SB cards. I agree re the confusion of the gold card as I too see it almost every day. Because of this blog, I find myself as others have correcting partners re rewards, etc. I was just looking at my gold card and it has been used so much it looks worn and tired so to speak and it would be nice if they could spruce it up. I would think if they keep it and want more customers to get a gold card, then they should make it more attractive. Probably a minor point in their eyes. BTW you might be one little customer but it is one little customer with a great blog that has an incredible number of readers that as I have said before SB should notice.

  • Barb the French Bean

    Right now, I wish I knew a Canadian who could help me add this card to my collection. That is too pretty!

  • Melody

    Purple1, thanks! I just have to bite my tongue. I hear partners tell customers wrong info about the card. Thankfully, I also hear partners getting it right, and mostly the stores I go to have some pretty knowledgeable partners. Thanks again – I keep plugging away at the blog because I still believe Starbucks is a great third place. and information is best when shared! (Well, there’s more to it than that but I do like the sharing of information that happens here! I learn a lot from the comments too.)
    @BarbTheFrenchBean – Good to see you! Wish I had an extra to send you, but I don’t. This card will be a nice addition to anyone’s card collection!

  • CD

    Getting rid of the gold card would be very dangerous territory…

    I realize a lot of people are mistaken and believe you have to use the actual gold card in order to get the benefits (not true), but there is something else to the card.

    There are quite a few people who view their gold card as a badge of honor – something they’ve “earned” and/or something that gives them “elite status.” Oddly, an NFL player named Chad Ochocinco is one of those

    Sorry for the long URL – the key part of that story in the link is Chad saying:

    “I earned the gold card,” Ochocinco said in a two-minute video posted to his Twitter account discussing his ordeal. “You know how many coffees I’ve had to drink and lemon loafs I’ve had to purchase to get to that gold card? I had $220 left on my Starbucks card. Not just any Starbucks card, but a gold Starbucks card.”

    “I feel like I’m about to tear up,” Ochocinco added.

    That’s a pretty powerful piece of plastic! 😉

  • Melody

    @CD – Everything about the Gold Card causes confusion. It’s a piece of plastic. It doesn’t even tell you what level you’re at. I was thinking about this early this year – In January, (or at some point?) customers have to re-earn their Gold Card level. It is 30 stars per year. So it is really really easy to have the situation where a customer runs around using a gold card with his or her name on it, and in fact he or she is NOT earning stars (but IS receiving all the Green level perks) because that customer has not re-earned 30 stars. Basically, at the Gold level one earns stars. That is all. But just because you have a gold card in your hand, does not mean that you are gold. It probably means, more likely than not, that you’re at the Green level since it is so easy to attain 5 swipes.

    And that Ochocinco article left me speechless. I guess I am terrible at sympathizing with people who think earning a gold card is hard work. I need to make some improvements and work on that. Since I live in a sea of a bazillion Starbucks stores, it seems amazingly easy to get to 30 stars, but I know some people have to travel long distances just to get to a Starbucks.

  • Venee

    I need to get one. That is really nice and pretty!!! Love the card and I’ll soon have it…. YES!!! ………………….. Venee :)

  • LatteRose

    I like that maple leaf design. Thanks for the link to buckscards, interesting site to peruse through.

  • YS

    Great post, Melody, speaking of the Canada card – I’ve got a couple of extras if anyone would like to trade! I am absolutely loving the new designs they’re coming out with, especially the destination ones. Collecting these cards is my new obsession, haha.

  • denise r

    Very interesting comments and thread! I think the Canada card is pretty, but also reminds me alot of the ‘braille’ card from last yr (I think?)…that was all colorful fall leaves.
    I agree with @CD, getting rid of the gold card would be a ??? dangerous move. (maybe that’s too harsh) but I can’t see getting rid of something as helping a company. I guess getting rid of the CARD itself would be not so bad……but removing the rewards, as mixed up as they are, would be not so popular, I would think.
    And as far as partners and their overall knowledge…….I already posted this on MSI but I think it’s a good idea which I don’t follow myself! I was in a Northbrook (old store) Sbux last week. I go there every ~10days or so to meet a friend so a few of the partners know me. I ordered a venti passion tea shaken lemonade, and used (I thought) a sweet15 card for it. Then I ordered my usual iced grande quad doubleshot. There’s more but this is the only part that’s relevant. When I was deciding on the cold tea ? drink with the partner on bar he asked me what sz…..then he asked me if I had a card (a free drink card)…which he knows I always have at least one which I generally use at this place. I said I did, and he proceeded to recommend a venti bla bla bla. Then when he picked up the grande cup for my doubleshot he asked me: don’t you want your usual doubleshot, not a latte? I said yes, doubleshot. That should’ve been my clue right there to go back to the register and ASK FOR MY RECEIPT and see what I was charged. But, we were talking and I didn’t. A few days later I just happened to check my transactions online and it said, for these 2 separate drinks: one was $7.04 and the other $5.50. I showed this to my regular store’s sm who said that’s nuts, call cust. service. (if this store where it happened were closer, I’d just have gone there) I did call cust. service and of course they were “taking my word” for it……said did I have a receipt? (if I’d accepted the receipt none of this would be happening because I would’ve caught it immediately!) They did credit my card, and I will talk to the store where it happened..I know the partner on bar will remember this because we had a very specific conversation.
    So, sorry the rant but I feel IF you care what you’re paying, get the receipt! My free drink card was not used, I was charged $7.04 for the venti tea/lemonade and I was charged for a quad latte as opposed to the doubleshot.
    Most of the partners that I see regularly are great. But there are many out there who just don’t know ‘enough’. Better supervision and/or training is really needed.

  • CD

    @denise – You’re right – it does look very much like the braille card released last September!

  • Melody

    Gosh – I agree too Denise! I see the similarity between this card and the fall braille card.

    CD – Here are my concerns with the current gold card: (Eventually, I will have a whole series of articles on the card.)

    Episode #1:

    Customer says, (and yes, customers are going to always ask questions!) – “Do I get free refills on this Pike Place Roast with my Gold Card?”

    Partner replies (I’ve heard partners say things like this) – “Sure, you get free refills with the gold card.”

    Problem: It makes it sound like the customer MUST use the Gold Card or must be at the Gold Card level. This perk starts at the Green level. And with MILLIONS of customers with active cards, every situation you can imagine, will happen. There will be customers who think, “I forgot my Gold Card and only have the old original gift card that I used – Now I can’t get a free refill.”

    Episode #2 – Very similar to the first one –

    Customer: Can I get a free tall mocha when I’m buying a pound of beans with my gold card?

    Partner – Sure! That’s a gold card benefit!

    I have definitely heard conversations like this and again, it creates this lasting and enduring impression that the perk is part of the gold card itself. It’s not. And this too is a perk that starts at the Green level.

    Episode #3

    Customer: Am I earning stars for every drink I buy at Starbucks?

    Partner: Sure! Use your gold card and you earn a star each time you buy a drink!

    And yes, this kind of conversation happens too.
    Problem #1 – Since each year customers have to re-earn their gold card status, it’s quite possible that a person is using a gold card, but is NOT earning stars! This is especially likely early in the year.
    Problem #2 – Again, it gives some lasting and enduring impression that there is something magical about that physical card. You earn stars (IF you’re earning stars!) with any card registered to the account.
    Problem #3 – That reply gives the impression it is stars per drink or stars only for drinks.
    Problem #4 – There is no way for a partner to swipe a card and see what level it is at.

    At least some of the above areas of confusion could be solved if there was a function where the partner swiped the card at the register, and there was a print out that said, “This person’s account status is GREEN” (or whatever applies). If this hypothetical function existed, you’d find lots of people (like me using my Evolution Fresh or Seattle card) where it was say Gold but they’re not using a Gold Card, and you would indeed find people using a Gold Card but it says, “GREEN” because they have not yet reached 30 stars for that year.

    I may have to copy paste much of the above for a blog post I’m working on!

  • purple1

    Oh Melody you absolutely have to put the last comments into another blog post! What great info and analysis of the card system and I am going to reread it again. This just goes to prove how confusing it all is.

  • denise r

    re: the braille’ card from last fall: actually (and ironically) it is much more colorful and I think, actually prettier. ironically, since it’s the braille card…….

  • MCW

    ohhh, the new Canada card is so pretty!! I have one of the Canada Olympic Village and a London card, and I love them, but I found that I get charged an international transaction fee when I reload them to use in the U.S. :( Wish that weren’t the case, so I could use them at home and show them off, but the extra fee keeps me from doing so

  • Kaori

    The new Canada card is gorgeous! That’s exactly how I imagine Canada to be, lots of maple leaves! Makes me wonder what the old Canada card looked like :)

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