Shifting the balance: Starbucks gift cards

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big impression, and I was reminded of one such instance in the aftermath of Groupon’s revived $5 for $10 offer to use at Starbucks, something they’ve done once before.

As part of the process, Starbucks issues you a new card number, which can be scanned on the phone or printed out.  I hate watching people hold up a phone and the equipment fail to scan, so I’m not going to be that jerk.  Printing things out never works for me – I always forget it.  Starbucks, however, has a third option that fit the bill nicely.

It’s not a new feature, but it’s something cool most retailers don’t do, but really should: gift card balance transfers. Simply transfer the balance of one gift card to another, so you can have it all on one card you carry.

It’s happened enough times to me that I end up with a few dollars left on a gift card and then it goes in a drawer, forgotten.  The lack of major funds on the car drops it even lower on the pile than the ones that are full and get ignored anyway.

So, having such a balance transfer thing, a simple idea in concept, is practically genius for a company that specializes in micro-transactions of a few dollars each.  Instead of a couple of dollars lingering on a ton of gift cards, users can consolidate and spend the money. Given it’s probably a popular gift card item, it’s a smart move, and takes a lot of the frustration out of the process.

Kudos to Starbucks for making the process simple.  My physical gift card is now all set for me to get me some iced green tea, something I’m very much looking forward to buying.

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