By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Starbucks offers a prepaid Visa debit card that allows you to earn extra “Stars” in the Starbucks Rewards program. This is one of two cards that Starbucks offers in partnership with Chase, the other being the Starbucks Visa credit card that has an annual fee but greater rewards than this prepaid card. If you don’t know, a prepaid card differs from a credit card in that a prepaid card requires you to load money onto the card and then you’re spending your own money, versus a credit card where you are spending the bank’s money and then having to pay it back.
Virtually No Fees
Unlike many prepaid cards, the Starbucks Prepaid Visa has no monthly fees, no annual fees, no reload fee, almost no fees at all. The only times you would be charged a fee are if you use it outside the United States (3% fee on international purchases), if you need a replacement card (new card costs $5), or if you have legal issues that involve some government entity coming after the money on that card (fee varies).
How are the Rewards?
You earn 1 rewards Star for every $10 you spend with this card. Because it takes 150 Stars to get a free Starbucks drink or food item, you’d have to spend $1500 with this card just to get almost any Starbucks drink for free. (Though, to be fair, you can redeem Stars for some smaller perks like free bakery at smaller redemption amounts. Plus, of course, you could be earning other Starbucks Stars with your other spending at Starbucks that doesn’t involve this card.)
You can earn a 150-Star bonus if you load money on to this card and then transfer at least $10 of it onto your Starbucks Card, which for most people these days means the Starbucks app on their phones. It’s a little cumbersome to have to move money from a Starbucks-branded prepaid card to a different Starbucks rewards account to get the bonus, but that’s the way it is.
Despite No Fees, Card is Inflexible and Not for “Unbanked”
As mentioned, the Starbucks Prepaid Visa has virtually no fees, but it also has very little flexibility in terms of adding and accessing the money on the card, meaning it won’t be attractive to those “unbanked” people that use prepaid debit cards as sort of a bank account in a card.
You can’t access the money on this card from an ATM. You can’t reload it with cash. You can’t have a paycheck or other money direct deposited on to it. For the most part, you will need either a checking or savings account to move money on to the card. So, if you either can’t or won’t get a bank account, you won’t find this card useful.
Prepaid cards always give fewer rewards than standard credit cards, so it’s unfair to compare these rewards to a credit card. Still, you’re not getting a lot here. It’s a way to earn some extra Starbucks points, especially if you are a big Starbucks fan but don’t like the $49 annual fee that the Starbucks credit card charges.
I personally find it hard to make a case for this card — I’m not sure who the potential customer is. Honestly, the card feels like more work than its rewards are worth. If you feel differently after getting this card (or thinking about getting it), I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.