During the latter part of 2017, I noticed that I’ve slowly amassed a stack of Philippine issued Starbucks Cards. It was never my intention to collect them–it just happened. But I am getting ahead of myself; for you guys to understand the genesis of this collection, we need to go back to the beginning.
Four years ago, I purchased the first two local card designs released in the country with the intention of maximizing their new My Starbucks Rewards Program. The rewards program offered a number of enticing incentives such as a free drink–of the patron’s choice-when they registered their Starbucks Card over at www.starbuckscard.ph; a free Grande drink for every accumulated twelve (12) Beverage Stars; the option of pooling all of your future Starbucks Cards into a single account; and a free slice of cake during the registered card holder’s birthday[i].
Since then, I’ve hardly made use of my Starbucks Card until I started collecting their limited release reusable tumblers. That’s when I turned the corner and began slowly picking up a Starbucks Card here and a Starbucks Card there. Initially collected for its design, my focus has turned towards putting together all the locally released Starbucks Cards into one album[ii].
As of this writing, there are 99 Starbucks Cards that have been released in the Philippines. Different card designs are usually released to coincide with an upcoming holiday such as New Year, Chinese New Year, Valentines Day, and Christmas. There are also limited edition cards that are surprisingly hard to come by.
Believe me, I’ve tried.
Whenever I have been asked to describe this newfound interest, this particular clip from the movie Swordfish (2001) keeps on popping into my head as I go about explaining my hobby:
Paraphrasing the tone of this movie clip, it seems that the act of collecting Starbucks Cards has been going on for quite some time now. That’s where the phrase, “(It) exists in a world beyond our world” comes to mind. I never realized how big the local collecting community was until I started collecting!
Then again, anything can be a collectible. One simply needs to have interest in it.
Starting your own collection
So, are you ready to start your very own collection and want to hit the ground running? I have a practical way to go about it:
a) Incentivise yourself – You’ll need an additional incentive as dining in Starbucks can be a tad expensive. With that said, go for their 2018 Starbucks Planner! You can do this by purchasing a new Starbucks Card (with a minimum/suggested load of P300/P1000 depending on the type of Starbucks Card you’ll be buying) during your store visits.
You then immediately consume the card’s initial load with the purchase of a watered down drink (Those calories you know.) and a sandwich. The new card is now empty and can stored away in your private collection. Rinse and repeat with each store visit. By the time the smoke clears, you’ll have the aforementioned planner along with a decent number of cards.
b) Two types of collectors – Remember when I said that you can register your Starbucks Card online to avail of the free drink and birthday cake? Well, there is a catch. In order to register your Starbucks Card into your online account[ii], you will have to expose/scratch off it’s Card Security Code at the back of the card.
I’ve come to learn that this is a no-no for some collectors. So, if you are planning on selling your Starbucks Card collection in the future, leave the PIN intact. It’s either that or you end up having to buy two cards: One to keep. One to register [iii].
An expensive proposition don’t you think?
c) Have fun – The hallmark of any collection! It’s not about having all the cards, it’s the journey you had to take in order to acquire them. This early in the game, I already have several cool stories to share.
Well, that’s your crash course–Yoda Style Jedi Training–into the world of Starbucks Card Collecting.
Happy New Year Guys!
[i] If I am not mistaken, once the initial load is encoded in the new Starbucks Card, the card holder has one month to register it online–if not, they’ll forfeit the free drink.
[ii] Starbucks Cards are also available in other countries and I know of some collectors who desire to get everything! Hardcore!
[iii] Each Starbucks account can house a maximum of 50 active cards. So choose wisely.