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Steel yourself: the new Starbucks metal card is going for serious coin

Jay MacDonald

In the mood for some heavy metal this holiday season? Forget the new Starbucks Metal Card. The latest must-have gift card for the over-caffeinated became a has-been before it been-was, selling out its entire 5,000-card limited edition run in less time than it takes a crack barista to pull a caramel macchiato.

The Metal Card, which sold exclusively through the members-only luxury shopping site Gilt.com, retailed for $450 and came preloaded with $400. According to USA Today, that translates to 106 grande frappuccinos, 205 cups of brew or 1,518 cups of Pike Place Roast whole beans brewed in the comfort of your own yurt. Starbucks says the additional $50 charge covered its cost to produce the card, which comes in its own snappy pull-out gift sleeve.

Steel yourself: the new Starbucks metal card is going for serious

If you simply must have one, your best bet now is eBay, where the price has perked up a bit. One Metal Card already sold on the popular online auction site for $1,001 and another is available as I type for a starting bid of $5,000.

Or you could buy my car. Just kidding; I’m going to sell it on eBay.

Metal cards have been trending lately. Just last month, Visa unveiled its first solid gold, diamond-studded Sberbank Exclusive Card, to be offered to 100 members of Kazakhstan’s 1 percent. Last year’s Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa added VIP heft to its card by slipping a layer of metal between the plastic laminates, making it feel more impressive to hold.

Starbucks clearly scored the major status points it was seeking when the Metal Cards were snapped up in seconds, many fated to join the nearly 1,800 Starbucks cards currently for sale on eBay. New Metal Card owners who don’t intend to finance their child’s college education by reselling the card will enjoy several gift-card-of-steel benefits, including “gold level” membership perks such as a free birthday jolt and other sweeteners not available to the hoi polloi.

While there’s seemingly no slaking our collective thirst for gift cards, which have supplanted flowers, chocolates and wine as the last-minute gift choice for a whole generation, I’m less than excited by this turn toward metal. In addition to my fork-meets-toaster aversion to sticking conductive materials into payment devices — and yes, the Starbucks Metal Card does have a mag stripe — charging me extra for the thrill seems a little, how you say, déclassé?

Me? I’ll take my coffee black and my card plastic, thanks.

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