What's "Free Starbucks for Life" Actually Worth?

As you may have heard, Starbucks is currently deep in the middle of a holiday promotion unlike any other holiday promotion it’s ever run before: A handful of lucky people who purchase a drink or food item using the coffee chain’s mobile app or a gift card from now through Christmas will win free Starbucks for life. Their prize will come in the form of a very special card engraved with each winner’s name, of which there will be 14 in all: 10 in the U.S., three in Canada, and one in the UK. Of course, the odds are slim — 60 million people visit Starbucks per week alone — but it’s a sweet deal even so, no?

So: If you do happen to be one of the lucky few, though, how can you make the most of your prize? Slate went ahead and figured out exactly what those Starbucks for life cards would likely be worth; they even went and put it all in a handy-dandy video (wasn’t that nice of them?). So even though I’m not holding my breath on winning, I get a kick out of knowing what those who do win might do with their prize. Here’s the general gist of the video in five pictures; scroll down to watch the whole video. And remember: With great power comes great responsibility. Use your free Starbucks for life card wisely.

1. Know Your Limitations

First, you’ve got to know what Starbucks itself defines “free Starbucks for life” as. We’ve already been over this, but it bears repeating: “For life” actually means “for 30 years,” and you’re allotted one food or drink beverage per day. As Slate’s video notes, don’t plan on buying a free round for your entire office; I’d also like to add that you shouldn’t plan on buying a free round for your entire office 50 years from now when you’re about to retire.

2. Get Your Inspiration from the Masters

And by “masters,” I mean all those people who use their free Starbucks rewards beverages to order the biggest, priciest, most heart-attacking-inducing concoction possible. The current record holder is this guy, William Lewis. His megalatte contained 101 shots of espresso, 17 pumps of vanilla syrup, mocha, breve, and matcha.

3. Do the Math

How much is your free Starbucks for life card worth? Let’s find out by crunching some numbers. Lewis’ megalatte cost $83.75 before the Starbucks reward program free drink voucher was applied. Multiply that by 365 days a year and you get $30,568.75; then multiply that by 30 years to get the grand total, which comes out to $917,062.50. So basically, you could retire off of the maximum amount you’d “save” with a free Starbucks for life card.

4. …But Also Keep It Reasonable

Drinking 101 shots of espresso a day, every day, for an extended amount of time… well, let’s just say that you’d probably die of a caffeine overdose long before you reach the 30 year mark. So let’s do the same math with a regular ol’ tall cup of coffee, which costs about $1.85 depending on the location. If you drank a tall coffee every day for 30 years, you’d consume $20,257.50 worth of coffee. Still not too shabby, right? That’s a lot of money saved if you have a regular Starbucks habit.

5. Consider the Card Itself

It’s made of 10 karat hammered gold. It’s valued at $5,000, so you could always sell it after the 30 years are up. Boom. $5K in the bank.

Watch the full video below. What would you get if you won free Starbucks for 30 years?

Images: Slate (5)