Starbucks logoWhen consumers want to purchase a product, they often choose the most convenient way to do so.  The recent development of mobile payments has introduced yet another method that people can use to pay for goods, instead of with cash or debit/credit cards.  The Starbucks app for the iPhone enables avid coffee drinkers to do this simply by scanning their saved virtual coffee card to pay for their order.  It’s quick and it’s easy, and this page has all you need to know to use this app tactic to pay for your coffee with your iPhone.

First, you need to obtain a Starbucks card.  Most of mine were obtained from birthdays, Christmas and even a wedding gift.  I ended up with quite a few of them gathering up in my wallet, taking up space, but I kept them as they still had small balances.  If you don’t have one, you can purchase one at any Starbucks location, and at a variety of grocery stores (i.e. Safeway).

Starbucks App Home Screen

Second, sign up online for a Starbucks account.  Choose a username and password, which you can store in a great password app – 1Password.  Be sure to fill in all the appropriate personal information, such as credit card information, to be able to reload your card.  Don’t forget to put in your birthday for a free birthday drink!  You can enter your card information by selecting “My Cards” and “add a new card”.  You’ll need your Starbucks card for the card number and eight digit code (both on the back of the card).  Once you’ve done that you have other options to nickname the card, reload your card (using the credit card number you’ve inputted), or set an auto reload function, and track your transactions.  You can also report a lost or stolen registered card, just in case you’ve misplaced it.

Starbucks App Drink BuilderDownload the free Starbucks app from the App Store, and by using your Starbucks account username and password, sign in.  The “home” screen has a variety of icons to choose from.  You can check your settings, adding any new information regarding your account.  Of course, you can link your account to Facebook.  Most of the icons have information about the various Starbucks products available for purchase.  Select “Drinks” and you can make your favourite or a whole new drink with the “Drink Builder”.  For example, you can build a drink by selecting the available options.  I went through by choosing a “hot” beverage, and from that list, I selected “Classic Espresso”.  I’m a fan of lattes, so I naturally selected “Caffe Latte”.  Here I can further customize my drink, selecting “Customize your own”, staring with the size (tall) and touching “next” in the top right corner.  I can then scroll left to right through a variety choices:  shots, milk, syrups, toppings, preparation, add-ins, etc.  You can end up with the most ridiculous sounding drinks, such as “Grande 2-pump Mocha Nonfat Brule Topping Double Cup Extra Hot Extra Foam Caffe Latte”.  Spin your coffee cup to the left to see how what your barista will scribble onto your cup.  If you are a health nut, or just plain curious to know, swipe up on the “nutrition” tab to find out what you will be consuming.  I really like this feature, as most nutrition facts just give you the information for the standard drink.  The information adjusts as you customize your drink.  Add whip to your drink – the nutrition information will adjust to add those extra calories and fat.  You can be amazed by what you are actually consuming.  Select “Save” and nickname your drink.  You can find all your stored favourites on the home page in “myDrinks”.  There is also an option to save your friends’ drinks as well.

Starbucks App Card ScreenNext to the “Home” button is the “Card” button.  Here you will find all of the Starbucks cards that you have already entered when you signed up for an account.  Have a new one?  Just select the plus symbol located at the right hand corner and enter the Starbucks number and eight digit code.  Scroll left to right and find all of the cards and amounts on each one, or “view all” to see your cards in a list view.  All of the small balances on various cards can now be easily transferred to your favourite card.  Select the card that you’d like to move the balance from and select “Manage”.  Your card will giggle in the top left corner.  Simply drag that card to your favourite card that you wish to load.  You will be prompted to confirm or cancel the transaction.  Need more funds?  Select “Reload” and choose the amount you wish to add to your card.  Also under “manage” you have the same options that are on the website; you can choose to see your recent transactions with the card you are currently looking at, as well as set an auto-reload.  After you have ordered your drink, simply tap the “Touch to Pay” icon, which flips your card to display a bar code.  Simply scan your card and you’ve paid for your drink!

Starbucks App RewardsLike most retailers, Starbucks has an incentive program.  You can collect “stars” to achieve levels – welcome, green and gold – and obtain free drinks.  Each level has certain benefits, i.e. free in-store refills once you reach green level.  If you are buying more than one drink, politely ask to do each drink in a separate transaction.  You can use the same card each time, but you’ll get a star for each scan.  Purchase them all in one transaction and you’ll only receive one star.  Unless the store is insanely busy, the staff will oblige.

The stores button will show you all the Starbucks locations closest to where you currently are.  Select one of the green pins and it will tell you the name of the location and if it is open.  For more details, simply select the blue arrow and it will give you all of the store’s information, such as address, hours, phone number, etc.  If you don’t like the map view, select “list” at the top-middle of the page and scroll through all of the stores.  I find this view handy when looking late at night and need to find an open location.  You can even obtain directions on how to get there, which will take you out of the app and into Safari.  Scroll down to “Amenities” to double check if mobile payment is available, or select “filter” on the list page of locations and filter by “mobile payment”.  If you really like a particular location, select the “star” button and choose your favourite store.

One of the most recent features that has been added to the Starbucks app is integration with Apple’s Passbook feature.  This basically puts your Starbucks card info, including its barcode, into the Passbook app.  This simplifies your transaction process because you don’t have to search your iPhone for the Starbucks app, and then navigate through its pages to find your card.  Passbook saves the information right there for you and it is easy to access.  Also, when you have Location Services enabled, Passbook will notify you when you are nearby to your favourite locations, and provide a notification banner right on your phone’s lock screen so that you can directly get to your card.  This saves times and is amazingly convenient.  As more and more stores begin to take advantage of the Passbook feature, it is really going to prove itself very handy.  Starbucks is one of the first stores to add this feature to their app, and they’ve done a fantastic job with it.

Overall, the Starbucks app for the iPhone is an amazing app, and it makes buying your coffee a fast and simple experience.  No more fumbling for change, or waiting for the machines to process your credit card info.  Show up with your iPhone, place your order, wave your saved card’s barcode under the store’s scanner, and then go wait for your order.  It doesn’t get much easier than this.

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