Starbucks Corporation's loyalty card is proving to be the company's best selling holiday gift, with around one in eight customers owning one.

The loyalty card, which can be pre-loaded with a cash amount of the customers’ choice and used in stores as an alternative to paying with cash or debit card, has been very successful in North America. Since Starbucks introduced them five years ago in November 2001, 96 million loyalty cards have been activated, bringing the company $2.17 billion in revenue.

The money spent on Starbucks loyalty cards during the 2005 holiday shopping season in North America accounted for 12% of the company’s revenue for the quarter. As a result, the loyalty card is one of the company’s most successful gift items at Christmas. In early November 2006, Starbucks launched its loyalty card in the UK, selling well above expectations.

Fast-food outlets, such as Wendy’s and Burger King which have also launched loyalty cards in North America, have said that they are pleased with the results, although figures have not been disclosed.