Would you pay £280 for a £250 gift card?

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Gift card

Starbucks has sold what can only be described as the weirdest gift card on the high street this year. With the Starbucks Gilt Card, the company took the unusual step of charging more for the card than you got in credit, so to charge it up with £250 cost £280.

Surely you'd be crazy to get one... so why did they sell out seconds after going on sale?


According to the Daily Telegraph, the cards actually went on sale in the US, through a website called Gilt.com. They cost $450 - which is roughly £280 - and they were charged with $400 credit (£250).

Far from being a laughing stock, the website said they sold out in 6 seconds. Some buyers even went to Twitter to complain that they hadn't managed to get hold of a card

So what's the attraction?

NBC News reported that the reason for the extra $50 cost of the card is that the card itself costs $50 to produce. So in that sense you're not overpaying for the credit - you're buying very expensive metal card.

It also comes with 'gold level' status (which you're normally entitled to free in the US when you buy 15 coffees a year). It means you get a free treat on your birthday, special offers and a free drink every 15 purchases. However, this alone is clearly not worth $50.

The real attraction is that in a country where one in ten people get a coffee card for Christmas, these are considered desirable and collectible. There are a host of special edition Starbucks cards available at different times of year and from different locations, and there are avid collectors.

These cards were 'rose-coloured' gold and just 1,000 were made, so they are a show-stopper in any collection.

It may sound fanciful, but with one hour to go, today a card was up for sale on eBay and reached $900. Another had three hours to go and reached $820, and a third reached $800 with six hours left to bid.

Worse value

Although this looks like an odd choice, and the worst-value card on the high street, it could prove an interesting investment for those who got their hands on a card.

In fact, oddly, they could turn out to be one of the best value gift cards to give. Traditional gift cards remain inexplicably popular. We are not being put off by the fact that so many high street names went under last year. We're not worried that when a firm is in administration they are not obliged to accept the cards - so they could ultimately prove worthless. So a survey by the UKGCVA found that 50% of people intend to give a gift card this Christmas - spending an estimated £2 billion.

Not only is there the risk they could prove worthless, there's also the very real risk that they end up languishing in our wallets and they never get spent. Gocompare research found that 44% of us have gift cards and vouchers gathering dust, and one in four of us have £80 or more worth of cards lying around. Meanwhile 16% of us have left them so long that they have expired - and ended up worth nothing.

It begs the question as to whether you should give the cards a miss altogether and hand over cash instead. A survey by Azimo found that 53% of people named cash as their favourite gift of all. It seems that it's not the thought that counts after-all.

But what do you think? Would you invest in a 'collectors' card, would you value a gift card, or would you rather have the cash?

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