Starbucks junkies may blow the equivalent of a MacBook Pro a year on those pricey morning cappuccinos, but if they're travelers, there may be one tiny benefit to the transaction.?
Travelers may use Starbucks cards as payment in other countries — and they can do it without service fees and at the day's exchange rate as determined by the banks. Even credit cards and ATMs usually sock you with penalties. So even though that cup of coffee costs way too much, at least it costs way too much at the best possible exchange rate.
If you doubt it, read Starbucks' own terms and conditions page, which states "No fees or other charges are made to your Starbucks Card for the conversion. … Currency conversions are based on currency exchange rates applicable on the date of the transaction."
Not every store in every country accepts the card, but many do. According to the company's FAQ, customers may debit their accounts interchangeably at most locations in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom, all of which happen to see heavy visitation from American coffee junkies. You can also reload money onto the card by Web if you tap out, ensuring that at least for your coffee, the good rate will last.
If your card was issued in Greece, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, or Turkey, you're not in such luck. Those are only good there.
I gave it a go on a recent trip to London, and sure enough, I was able to swipe my pre-paid Starbucks card without a hitch, so unlike everything else I purchased on my trip, at least my caffeine didn't sock me for any more than the sticker price.