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Summary:

Coffee lovers with overstuffed wallets rejoice: You can now pay for your Starbucks coffee with your Starbucks Card without actually using a physical card. There’s a catch — you’ll need an iPhone. But if you have one, you can now pay with Starbucks Card Mobile (iTunes […]

starbucksCoffee lovers with overstuffed wallets rejoice: You can now pay for your Starbucks coffee with your Starbucks Card without actually using a physical card. There’s a catch — you’ll need an iPhone. But if you have one, you can now pay with Starbucks Card Mobile (iTunes link), a new app now available as a free download from the App Store.

Before you head out the door with your iPhone in hand to try this out, check a map and make sure you’re currently located in Cupertino, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, or San Jose in California, or Seattle in Washington. If you’re anywhere else, you’re going to be disappointed, since those are the locations of the stores participating in the pilot test program of the new payment method.

In the 16 stores that are accepting payment via iPhone in the cities I just mentioned, it works like this: You add a Starbucks card to the app’s database using the card number and code, after which point the app will display a barcode (QR code, I think?) on the iPhone’s screen that the barista taking your order can scan in order to process payment.

starbuckscard_iphoneIt’s not a unique payment scheme, but for some reason Americans are lagging behind many of their international neighbors in the pay-for-stuff-with-your-mobile department. This Starbucks test pilot should be a good indicator of just how deep the resistance goes, since many people already use a Starbucks card, and I’m willing to bet the test areas include a high density of iPhone users.

Paying isn’t the only thing the new app can do. It can also let you check your Starbucks Card balance, reload your card with any major credit card, and see a transaction history so you can see just how much you actually spend on your overpriced fancy-pants coffee. The card management features are available across the U.S., and don’t require you to be in one of the test markets for the purchasing features. You must be using a U.S. card, though, and Duetto and Starbucks Store Credit cards aren’t supported.

Additionally, each card can only be loaded on one device at one time, in order to provide more tighter security around their usage. It’s a good feature, but it means you and your partner can’t just split one card between you on two separate iPhones. Also, if you want to check out the menu and get your orders straight before heading to Starbucks, there’s another app called myStarbucks (iTunes link) that allows you to do just that, also released today.

Let’s hope this works, because if it does, it’s possible more mobile payment and points programs will follow suit. I’d love to be able to ditch my Best Buy Rewards, Safeway, Staples, etc. cards and get a new, much slimmer wallet.

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  1. SBs lovers, help me out here. What’s the advantage of using a SB card over just using your credit card? I feel like I’m missing something.

    1. Free soy (.40), free syrups (.40), free 2 hours of wifi, and they sometimes send you coupons.

      This is if you have it registered (its free)

    2. Thanks, sounds like an all-around good deal.

    3. If you have a Starbucks Gold card, in addition to the card benefits listed by Cass, you also get a 10% discount on mostly everything (gift cards and some other things like that are excluded). It costs $25/year, but if you really go to Starbucks regularly it pays for itself rather quickly.

  2. Hah! Somehow, an off-handed comment directed towards starbucks prices is hard to take seriously coming from a blog dedicated to mac products.

    Don’t get me wrong, I strongly support mac. But I understand I’m paying for more than just a bunch of circuitry. I’m paying for ease of use, proprietary software, slick and streamlined hardware, and [what most mac users are in it for] an image.

    You can buy coffee from the grocery store that was share-farmed to shade coca plants and bought by a huge conglomerate for about .12 on the pound (which the workers got very little of), or you can pay a little more for your coffee and support a company that builds schools, hospitals, and general infrastructure for the community it buys from.

    So yes, your snide comment was noticed.

    1. I endorse this comment. :)

  3. “I’d love to be able to ditch my Best Buy Rewards, Safeway, Staples, etc. cards and get a new, much slimmer wallet.”

    The CardStar app already allows you to store all your discount cards. Their bar codes can then be scanned right off your iPhone.

  4. Did a comment get deleted, or is Cass completely insane? Where’s the snide comment?

    1. “just how much you actually spend on your overpriced fancy-pants coffee”

  5. That’s weird. I don’t see that anywhere.

  6. Paul beat me to the Cardstar app mention. Between this SB app and the Cardstar app, I’m saying hello to the World of Tomorrow!!

  7. +1 on the CardStar recos — it’s free BTW, definitely worth having.

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