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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Do Starbucks registers even have PIN pads? If not, then they can’t do a debit only load. So either it’s credit card load (unlikely) or cash only load.


They have pinpads now that they installed the new chip readers.


Watch this card be amazing, and everything we want BUT be subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.


It’s not a credit card therefore probably won’t be effected by that rule.

Manuel Gonzalez


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.


loading with a DC is what we want because most stores will accept is in lieu of cash. and for MSers, that’s where VGC debit comes in…


*will accept IT, not is



Are all VGC debit cards? Or are theses special ones.


I would expect this to function similar to their Liquid card. All the fees mentioned so far are the same as Liquid.


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.


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


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.


If we can reload it with a credit card and it is processed like a Starbucks purchase then yes. Lol.


I had to remind myself that it’s not april fools yet


Greg, how about calling it gold bird? Gold bird would represent both the Starbucks gold membership and a golden opportunity it may carry for us during depleting times.


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!


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


If I have to reload at Fivebucks* I easily just loss 1%……


Wonder if there will be a CC -> StarbucksGC -> StarbucksPrepaid play.

Michael Pomposello

This would be amazing.


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.