How To Add Gift Card To Starbucks App

Like many this season, I’ve received a Starbucks gift card. Three to be exact. And instead of bothering with the Starbucks website, I figured there must be some way to add the balance to my existing virtual card/account via the Starbucks iPhone or Android app. Indeed there is… But the trick is that you must first add gift card value into Starbucks app before moving the gift balance onto an existing card.

Follow along for all the details:


  1. From within the Starbucks app, touch the “Gift” icon in the lower toolbar.
  2. Touch “Got a gift card? Add it here” towards the top.
  3. Enter your new Starbucks giftcard number and security code, which you will have to scratch or peel off to reveal.

Now you have a choice to make. You can either add the gift card as a new payment method OR you can transfer the balance to an existing account card, which is my recommendation.

  1. Touch “Transfer Funds” in the lower right.
  2. When presented with your list of cards, touch the preferred Starbucks card and then touch “Transfer $”
  3. Once the funds have been added, touch “Remove” so that the empty gift card won’t clutter your app.

  • To verify your updated account balance, touch the “Scan” icon in the lower toolbar. Don’t be concerned if the funds aren’t reflected immediately as it may take a few seconds to refresh.

Originally published 12/25/12. Updated numerous times, including 12/22/21. Each year, this gets so much easier. Thanks for that Starbucks!

21 thoughts on “How To Add Gift Card To Starbucks App”

  1. If you ever get an electronic gift card, you may discover that the Starbucks app does not support pasting in the ID as copied from the e-card (email or web page). Combine that with the fact that it doesn’t remember the entered card number if you leave the app to go find the code (or even more digits of the card number) and the whole process ends up requiring a pencil and paper (or a second device). :-(

  2. Sorry, to clarify (I just checked)… The app DOES support paste but forgets the entered card number if you leave the app to go find the corresponding code. So you have to memorize that (or write it down) to be able to add the e-card.

  3. A couple of thoughts:

    First, I hate gift cards. If someone wants to give me $20, then just give me $20 in cash and it works everywhere, doesn’t expire, and doesn’t have any fees or degrade over time. I think the law may have changed but gift cards typically have fees associated with them after x number of months and eventually those fees will make the card useless.

    All that being said, the iPhone Passbook looks to me like it makes a simple process more complicated. I’ve tried the ‘loyalty card’ apps before and they’d rarely scan correctly. I don’t see how the Passbook app would be any more reliable. A more reliable method, to me, would be NFC that is being built into newer Android phones. Supposedly you can just tap it and it just works. All that being said, it’s really rare when I see any place to tap a credit card, phone, or anything else. Supposedly it’s popular in Europe but it just never took off here.

    I’d love the phone to be a virtual wallet for these types of things but it just seems like it’s at least a few generations of phones into the future AND a few generations of POS systems into the future.

  4. Haven’t run into that challenge yet, Steve. But the baristas have had a bit of a hard time picking up the details of the new digital rewards for Gold members. Not all have known how to ring it and their system isn’t the most sophisticated in that they have to indicate a freebie prior to ringing the actual drink order. We’ll get there eventually…?

    Brad, Passbook was a big letdown for me on a number of levels and I don’t use it. The third party app CardStar is the better solution, but you’re right that the circle won’t be complete until we get NFC involved here.

  5. @aaronwt

    I don’t know about Starbucks on Android but some of the latest (last 6 months or so) Android devices support NFC which is supposed to allow this kind of thing.

    Still, you never see see a ‘Tap your NFC device here’ area at any store or anywhere else.

  6. aaron, yeah it works on Android. Like iOS you’ll need a Starbucks account and if adding a gift card to an existing card/balance, it’s the same basic process but a little more clear. Instead of that unlabeled plus button up top, the Android UI puts a plus button over a card icon – which is a bit more clear. But, even better, the “manage” button on Android actually has an “add card” option, which is what most folks would expect. Here’s a screengrab:

    Regarding NFC, competing services will link existing credit cards and you can tap your phone at various convenience stores, gas stations, and perhaps McDonalds. Also an unknown is how Starbucks relationship with, investment in Square will play out here.

  7. NFC is a horrible technology for smartphones, the antennas are enormous and force you to place an RF transparent aperture in your case to accommodate them. It is almost a non-starter for an aluminum body phone like the iPhone 5, and it severely constrains the shapes and body materials of Android phones that support it. Additionally the only real benefit of it over something like Bluetooth LE is that one side can power the other side, but in application like using smart phones for payments that is moot since both sides are powered.

    The thing it has going for it is that NFC proponents sold the credit card industry on it and thus some of the extant POS systems have readers (though often they are not even setup). Given the limited support they have out there it would probably make more sense to just push for a BLE based payment system, which would instantly be supported by over 100 million existing iPhones, and more than 30-40 million existing Android devices that have BLE capable hardware and are just waiting for an OS update to enable it.

  8. THANK YOU! I just received a gift card as a bday present. I CAN’T BELIEVE it isn’t easier to dump the gift to an existing account registered right on the iPhone.. Thanks for walking us through it.

  9. Perfect instructions. Worked exactly as described. Agree with Barry that Starbucks should have clear instructions like this. Thank you for taking the time to lay out the steps.

  10. Thanks for the directions! Worked perfectly and agree it would be nice that you don’t have to Google instructions to figure it out.

  11. Thanks! I’ve been scratching my head on how to add my gift cards to the app and transfer the balance! Great and easy instructions. Thanks again!!!

  12. This was extremely helpful! I received two Starbucks gift cards for Christmas and was trying to figure out a way to transfer the balance. Thank you! This was great and very helpful! Thank you for allowing me to continue to get the nectar of the gods- my coffee! :)

  13. Your walk thru worked perfectly. Thanks so much! Hated always to wait in line for this to be done and felt like I was holding up the line. I’m an impatient grandma. The only problem I had was the swipe to the right, took several hard tries before it happened on my iPhone. Thanks again.

  14. After asking two Starbucks employees for help in adding my gift card to my Starbucks app with no success, I resorted to my usual solution … Googling for a solution … And, I came across your very helpful link. I just needed the heads up that the screen to add a new card was hidden… Your guidance to swipe the existing card to the right to reveal the screen to begin the simple process of adding a gift card to my app balance was exactly what I was searching for… I figured with the high tech app there must be a way as I couldn’t imagine Starbucks would slip up so poorly in not dealing with adding gift cards to their app since their gift cards are so given as gifts by so many… Starbucks should advertise this benefit somewhere … I’d recommend adding on the back of there gift cards or on the gift card envelopes in addition to their own website (as I couldn’t find help there either before finding your help), not to mention updating their app to have a VISIBLE option to lead to this function. Anyway, thank you very much for your help in leading me to the hidden secret in adding my gift cards … You made my day!!!

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