Starbucks: How to Protect Gift Card Balances from $5 Register Deal

Starbucks has taken a drastic step by closing accounts and purging balances from gift cards that were obtained during the promotion.  Here’s a few ways you can protect any funds that you might have leftover.

Starbucks

Note: These are suggestions and there is no absolute guarantee that they won’t zero your gift card even if you follow the steps below.

If you’re already in low denomination gift cards $5 or $10 and you haven’t done anything with them, then those are likely safe for the time being.

One speculation is that gift cards purchased paid for with gift card balances may now (since Sunday) being flagged for review, but this has not been substantiated.

HERE’S HOW TO SECURE YOUR PHYSICAL GIFT CARD:

Buy a physical gift card at the store (with ANY payment type) and do not continue to transfer funds into this physical gift card.

All balance merges can be tracked.  Purchase of physical cards are billed as “In-Store purchase,” which break the chain of tracking (acquired during previous balance transfers). Hence, you’re asked to register the card again so that it can somehow be tracked in case you lost it or it gets stolen.

So-called “mothership cards” used to purchase an in-store physical gift card will see “In-Store Purchase” under “View Transactions.”  The same line item will be seen for the transaction history of the purchased physical gift card.  Unlike “Balance Merge,” additional tracking information is not appended to “In-Store Purchase.”

HERE’S HOW TO ENSURE THAT YOUR PHYSICAL GIFT CARD WILL EVENTUALLY BE WIPED CLEAN:

Balance transfer into a physical gift card from suspect gift cards.

For a single balance transfer transaction, there is the donor card and the acceptor card. Once you’ve purchased a physical gift card (acceptor card), additional balance transfers into this acceptor card will reinstate tracking as a continuation of the donor card.  Obviously, these account closures are manually implemented and accounts with higher balance transfers are more likely to get closed than those with lower balance transfers because of the noticeable activity.

Recently created cards are screened manually, and accounts (and potentially all of their registered cards) are closed when found to be linked (currently or previously) to suspicious cards. Additionally, accounts with small $5 eGC balances are getting closed due to a similarity of information with other accounts (e.g. accounts containing the same last name or email domain name between multiple accounts are likely to have their accounts closed).

Finally, accounts (arbitrarily) deemed to be involved in fraudulent activities will be closed, even if the balance of such accounts are currently comprised fully or partially of legitimately purchased credit.

Thanks christopherlm!

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