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How about a feisty pro-con SBUX debate? When I first read the short article linked below, my first reaction was "Outrageous!" My next thought was "No, this is one heckuva slick marketing ploy!" The secret? Exclusivity.

SBUX is only making 5000 cards. There's not only the "limited edition" idea, but also you can't buy them at any of their retail stores. They'll only be sold via the luxury goods website, It comes with gold-level Starbucks card membership benefits, such as gifts and freebie refills on brewed coffee and tea. It isn't made of plastic, but stainless steel. Each specially-etched card, loaded with $400, costs $50 to make, which Starbucks says explains the $450 price tag. "Some stores will never even see this card," boasts Ryan Records, VP of card and payments.

But not everyone is impressed. "This is a card for the 1%," says cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff. "It's all about status, and to tell you the truth, I don't know if I'd want to be seen with one of these."

If you're already a rewards program member, you're eligible for a pre-sale tomorrow at The official start date is Friday at 9A. I predict there won't be any left. A dab of recent anecdotal success seems to foretell sales of the $450 card.

Last month, Starbucks offered two rare, expensive sets of beans. The Costa Rica Tarrazu Geisha sold out online in 24 hours. The Costa Rica Finca Palmilera is the chain’s most expensive cup of coffee ever at $7 for a grande size. It disappeared rapidly, too.
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