Got a Starbucks Gift Card You Don’t Want? 8 Creative Ways to Use It
It happens every year.
You’re roped into a Secret Santa at the office. You receive cards and packages from clients, customers or colleagues. That aunt you only see once a year feels obligated to buy you a Christmas gift.
Whatever it is, you’ve got a Starbucks gift card (or a few) left over when the dust settles from the holiday madness…and you don’t even like their coffee.
In case you’re not the world’s biggest Frappuccino or Macchiato fanatic, here are a few creative ways to put that old standby gift to use:
1. Sell It
The easiest way to get use out of an unwanted gift card is to sell it to someone who wants it.
A gift card exchange site like Raise will help turn the card into money by connecting you with buyers looking for a deal. This is the best option if what you really need is cash. You can see what Starbucks gift cards are going for here.
The downside is you won’t get 100% of the value for the card. Buyers use gift card exchange sites to get cards for less than face value, and you may also have to pay a fee to the company running the site.
Of course, it was a gift; so, whatever cash you receive for that gift card is still free money to you!
2. Regift it
Regifting is one of my personal favorite penny hoarding tactics. It works especially well when you celebrate the holidays with several different groups of people across different dates throughout the season.
But if you’re organized, you can also save this year’s gifts and get a head start on next year’s shopping!
A Starbucks gift card could be just what you need to fulfill your own Secret Santa obligations, surprise the mailman or finish off a gift basket for your boss.
Just make sure whoever you give the card to, you know, actually does like drinking at Starbucks.
3. Use it to Purchase Last-Minute Gifts
Maybe the hard-to-shop-for person on your list doesn’t live near a Starbucks. (There are a few towns that haven’t quite been overrun. Yet.)
In that case, don’t give them the gift card directly. Instead, bring Starbucks to them.
Use the gift card to buy their favorite blend of Starbucks coffee or snacks they can’t get anywhere else.
For the coffee lover who isn’t in love with Starbucks, you can also find coffee-adjacent gifts like a mug, French press, biscotti or other treats. These are good for a small gift exchange, stocking stuffers or to fill out a gift basket.
4. Commit a Random Act of Kindness
If you didn’t meet your kindness quota with charitable giving over the holidays, now you can up your game without spending any money.
The Starbucks drive-thru made headlines in the past couple of years with patrons paying it forward — nearly 1,500 customers in one Connecticut Starbucks paid for the order of the car behind in them in a chain that spanned for days after Christmas.
When you hand over that gift card to buy your next cup of coffee, why not ask the barista to throw the next order on there, too? It will be a delightful surprise for the customer behind you — and, who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to kick off the next newsworthy chain of kindness!
5. Buy Coffee to Donate
If you want to be more deliberate with your charity, buy coffee to donate to a local food bank.
Your one gift card might not buy a ton of coffee — a few bags — but every bit is appreciated.
If you or anyone you know has ever shopped at a food pantry, you’ll know how much of a gem a bag of Starbucks coffee would be. It’s exciting to find a popular product on those shelves, especially one that usually comes with a relatively high price.
6. Take a Potential Client Out for Coffee
Let’s get down to business. You might not want to drink Starbucks coffee, but I’ll bet you know plenty of people who do.
A coffee date is a wonderful networking opportunity, especially if you work from home. It will get you out of the house and away from your computer for real face-time with someone who might be interested in your products or services.
Make an impression by covering the check — and save yourself some money by using your gift card!
7. Buy Coffee for a Mentor for a Brain-Picking Sesh
In my experience, nothing is more valuable to professional development than a candid chat with someone who’s walked the road before you.
A busy professional, however, may not be thrilled if you simply ask to get together to talk. Their time is valuable, and they don’t want to give it to you for free along with all their trade secrets.
If you can offer to buy them coffee or lunch in exchange, though? That might grease the wheel a bit.
Use your gift card to fund it, so you don’t have to stress about the extra shots and soy milk they add to their latte.
8. Provide Coffee for the Office
A Starbucks fan is pretty adamant about their coffee of choice. Even those who only drink the drip coffee will go out of their way or show up late to a meeting in order to stop by the coffee shop on the way to work.
That’s because Starbucks coffee is unique. Diehard fans have an exclusive taste for it, and it can’t be replaced with just any drip coffee.
If you’ve got Starbucks lovers in your office, surprise them this week with a pound or two of their favorite coffee for the break room. Set aside the Folgers for a couple of weeks, and get your morning meetings started on time.
Your Turn: Did you get one too many Starbucks gift cards this year? What will you do with yours?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.