Celebrating 20 Years of the Starbucks Card

Starbucks Cards

Did you know that the first Starbucks holiday card debuted 20 holiday seasons ago in 2001? That year, the Starbucks Card became one of the most popular holiday gifts of the season, with nearly 200,000 sold in the first week alone.

Beyond its sheer handiness, giving the treat of a visit to Starbucks was something more: a joyful expression of the holiday conveyed by the cards themselves. Over the last 20 years, more than 1,100 Starbucks gift card designs have been released, each one a canvas for the Starbucks in-house creative team.

20 years of Starbucks cards

“The Starbucks Card has become the perfect encapsulation of our brand, something that people hold dear to their hearts,” said Meghan O’Brien, senior designer in the Starbucks Creative Studio. “These cards have become such a meaningful way to tell stories and share those holiday moments with each other.”

A meaningful gift that is easy to share

In a year unlike any other, everyone could use a spark of joy and sharing the familiarity and comfort of Starbucks is just a click away. 

Available in a variety of designs in both physical and digital formats, Starbucks cards can be loaded with $5 to $500 and can be purchased in multiple ways: in Starbucks stores, online, on the Starbucks app and even sent through iPhone text message.

Starbucks gift cards: Physical Starbucks Cards are available year-round in dozens of designs at Starbucks stores in more than 40 countries around the world, and bulk card orders can be made online. They are also available in more than 100,000 locations outside Starbucks stores, including grocery stores and other retailers.

Starbucks Cards

Starbucks eGift:

  • Email and Starbucks app: A Starbucks eGift is an easy way to brighten someone’s day online on Starbucks.ca and the Starbucks app. Choose any dollar value you want to give, add a personal message, enter an email address and hit send. You can select from a variety of eGift designs.
  • iMessage: Apple iPhone users who have the Starbucks app can text their thanks, congratulations or just let a friend know they care by sending a Starbucks eGift using iMessage. Scroll through iMessage’s app ribbon at the bottom of the screen and select the Starbucks logo for “Starbucks Gifts.”

Evolution of gifting

When the first Starbucks Card debuted in stores in November 2001, they actually came with a tiny owner’s manual with instructions and a toll-free phone number. Since then, the technology behind the Starbucks Card has evolved.

First Starbucks Card

The original cards with a specific dollar amount loaded on to them gained the benefits of a loyalty card when the Starbucks Rewards program launched in 2008. Now any Starbucks Card could be used to enroll in the program, where members, earn Stars on purchases that can be redeemed for Rewards like free food, drinks, and more. In 2011, the Starbucks Cards went digital, turning any iPhone into a Starbucks Card via the mobile app. And that same year, Starbucks rolled out eGift, allowing customers to send the gift of Starbucks by email. Today, Starbucks eGifts can now also be sent via text using an iPhone or through the Starbucks app.

“Now in our twentieth season of Starbucks Card, the digital world has become a bigger part of customers’ lives,” said Rachel Heiss, who leads the out-of-store Starbucks Card program. “We want to meet people where they are and where they want to be.”

Click here for more ideas for gift giving at Starbucks.

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A better cup for all