2 - 1- Front of new White Starbucks Card 12 Feb 2014 copyOn February 15, 2014, Starbucks will offer a new Starbucks card, designed to be exclusive and collectible, and show off the fun of MyStarbucksRewards with a fun MSR star pattern on it. It’s white with a gold pattern design on it. Each Starbucks store will only receive 25 cards and will not be able to re-order more of them.

The language on the card invites the person to register it and start earning rewards. “Just register it online to unlock its earning power.” There is something about this card that is confusing. It sort of looks like if you register it, you’ll immediately about at Gold Level card status. It does mention that you’ll get a birthday reward, and indicates you’ll be earning stars towards rewards.

About a week ago, I was visiting with an “official Starbucks spokesperson” at the SSC (Starbucks calls their headquarters the “SSC” or the “Starbucks Support Center”) and this card came up in discussion. The Starbucks spokesperson clarified that the card doesn’t unlock rewards at the Gold Level, rather a person has to start at the Welcome Level. I think that could cause a little confusion. When I first heard about this card, I too thought it unlocked rewards at the Gold Level. And I’ve heard many store partners mention that this is a “White Gold Card.” This is not an “Instant Gold” card.

Of course, once your Starbucks.com profile is gold, you can use this card as your gold card. Any card registered to your Starbucks.com card profile is automatically the level that your profile is at. I might start using this as my Gold Card because it is very pretty! All of this is a good reminder that you can never look at a person’s Starbucks card and have any idea what level of rewards the customer is at. You can earn Gold rewards with any card. You could have a Gold card and failed to go 30 times in a year to maintain gold – in that case you’d have a Gold Card only earning Welcome or Green Level rewards. You cannot look at a card and tell a person’s rewards level. You can register any card (including an Evolution Fresh card or Teavana card), and start earning perks.

I think the intent of the new white MyStarbucksRewards card is this: Store partners are supposed to offer the cards to frequent customers who pay with cash (or a non-Starbucks Card form of payment) to encourage customers to switch to MyStarbucksRewards, as the barista explains the many perks and offers a card that is bound to become quite collectible. That’s my guess at the thinking behind this card. If it were possible, I think it would have been a better promo if the card came pre-loaded with 10 stars, and the promo was something like, “We’re going to give you a running start on Gold with a collectible card since you’ve been a great customer …

Conceptually, it seems like a nice idea to entice people to join MyStarbucksRewards with a card that looks very special and limited. My main concern simply is that this is the kind of thing that creates a frenzy with Starbucks card collectors and many of these cards will end up (and already are) on eBay.

If you register the card, and then pay by the Starbucks mobile phone app, this cards image will appear in your card library on your phone.

What do you think? It’s pretty and I think I’ll try to get one to start using as my Gold Card!

Edit: I ran into a store partner today who gave me a different perspective on this card. I suggested (as I mentioned above) that the card is designed to entice the top cash-paying customers to switch to MyStarbucksRewards, and this is one reason each store got so few. A store partner suggested that the purpose of the card is to “make it look like a club card” so that people who don’t understand that any Starbucks gift card works for rewards will feel as if they have a “Starbucks Club Card.” I like that theory too! Probably it’s a little bit of both idea. Under either theory, I think each store should have gotten more than just 25 cards.