For some reason, this short piece of information about Starbucks cards is one that hugely confuses both partners and customers:

Your money is on a Starbucks card. Your reward is not.

As we talked about this in a Facebook group, one former partner said to me, “This was, by far, the most difficult thing to explain to customers and get them to understand when I was a Sbux partner.

The problem sometimes comes when people (both partners and customers) think that somehow the gold card is different than any other card and/or a certain card must be swiped to redeem a reward. I’ve had partners say to me, “There’s no reward on this card…” as if swiping a different card associated with the same account would make a difference. It won’t.

You have a profile at Your profile is at a rewards level. There are 3 rewards levels: Welcome, Green, and Gold. Every card you register on your account is automatically at your digital rewards level, whether Welcome, Green, or Gold.

The only thing that is associated with any one specific card is money. The money is on the card.

If you had an account with Starbucks where a lump of money could be deposited and held for you, and further, in of your cards could access it, do you know what you would have created? A bank. Starbucks is not a bank. You don’t have a bank account with Starbucks. Because the money is held on a specific card (whichever card you choose to use), Starbucks avoids being subject to all the federal banking regulations.

Everything else – promotions, rewards, perks – are all your account an ALL your cards can access it. You can register as many cards as you like to your profile. (I think – I tried to get a response from Starbucks on this with no luck. I have 15 cards registered on my profile. I’m sure you can register at least 15 cards.)

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

Need to swipe a card to get a free refill while inside the store? Use any card on your profile. Just know that you have to be at the Green level of rewards to get that perk.

Did you get an email that you have a promotion code for half off iced tea? Swipe any card and tell the barista the promo code.

Did you get an email that says you have a free breakfast sandwich waiting for you? Swipe any card to access your special offer.

Do you have a birthday reward waiting for you to use? Swipe any card to redeem your birthday reward. (Birthday rewards expire quickly. They show up about 7 days before your birthday and expire very close to on your birthday.)

Do you have a Lucky Dozen reward waiting for you? Swipe any card to redeem your Lucky Dozen reward, which can be used on both food and drink. (Lucky Dozen rewards may not be used to purchase beer and wine or for Evenings food items.)

Are you buying a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Swipe the card that you loaded money onto.

Of course, all the same applies if you’re using the mobile phone app too.

Each time you swipe your card, you earn one star. If your Starbucks card is empty, you’re not earning stars. You earn My Starbucks Rewards stars when you are using a card to pay for your purchase. Also, always keep in mind that the promotions you get might be totally different than what your friends are getting. Starbucks uses one-to-one marketing, which means that promotions are tailored to each person.

Since there is never a requirement to use the shiny gold card, don’t hesitate to use whatever card you like. The rewards are on your profile and all your cards can redeem them! There are tons of card designs. I think there must be a few thousand! All of the cards show here are Starbucks cards and you can use any of them. Don’t bat an eye if you happen to see a card design you have seen before. There are tons and tons of Starbucks card designs.

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