Kate vs. K8. Loading Bluebird/Serve vs. REDbird.


Kate vs. K8

Note: As of 10/13/15 the Target REDcard (REDbird) can only be loaded with cash in-store at Target. Gift cards and/or debit cards no longer work to load REDcard. For more info, see: Here is the REDbird memo, “Cash is the only tender guests can use”

Note: On January 8, 2016 American Express sent out a notice to a large number of Bluebird & Serve cardholders informing them that loading capabilities on their accounts had been terminated. For more information, see: Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend

Many Target stores across the country have updated their customer swipe terminals, and the process for loading REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard) has changed.  Via email, Rapid Travel Chai reports the new process as follows (bolding is mine):

..Now customer swipes all cards, cashier never touches the RedBird. Cashiers mostly don’t know how to do it, one who did said they need to “K8, K8” then customer is prompted to swipe, after swipe the cashier enters the amount of the load. System is very slow to respond, each load took 1-2 minutes and several prompts for each person. Split payment is possible but not with the “do you want it all on the card” which seems to cancel everything, so cashier needs to be told along with load amount…

After receiving this and several other similar emails over the course of the past week or so, I went back to my local Target to see if anything had changed.  Nope, not yet. So far, things are unchanged at my local Target.  From email reports (like above) and forum reports, I gather the following regarding loading REDbird at stores with updated registers:

  • The cashier must press K8 to get the process started.
  • The customer rather than the cashier now swipes REDbird.
  • The process is much slower than before (this may only be a problem at stores that updated their swipe terminals, but not their registers)
  • Split tender payments can no longer be initiated by the customer.
  • Many/most cashiers do not know about the new process.
  • There seems to be renewed confusion about whether or not debit gift cards are allowed for payment (see: REDbird still flying, but not everywhere).

The funny thing about cashiers having to press K8 is that one could read K8 as “Kate”.  And, as many readers know, “Kate” is the nickname many use for the Walmart Money Center Express Machine, which can be used to load Bluebird and Serve (both of which are similar to REDbird. Please see: The complete guide to Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve).

Kate vs. K8

Kate vs. K8

Now that we have the same phonetic option for loading REDbird at Target and Bluebird or Serve at Walmart, lets compare the options head to head:

Reliability Poor:  It’s difficult to find a working machine. Good: Few cashier’s know to press K8, but once they do the process generally works.
Split Tender Not available Poor: Requires cashier who understands how to do this.
Speed Poor: If you go to fast, you’ll lock up the machine (details here) Poor: New process is reportedly very slow.
Accepts debit gift cards Good: As long as you don’t try a Vanilla branded gift card. Great (or Poor): All gift cards with PINs work as long as the cashier or manager doesn’t stop you.
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Hi all,

Can any one let me know about loading redbird with OV gift card from 7-11. I tried a OVGC from drug store but it did’nt work after the recent target updates. Can anyone help with their experience?



Two comments above I’ve linked to the step by step guide to loading Redbird.

Emmanuel Ruiz

I just loaded RedBird with two OVGC with no issues. To be very specific, my Vanilla Gift Card is grey with the title” OneVanilla Prepaid Visa Card”. I hope this helps.


Anyone having problems loading serve/BB with VGC’s at Walmart in the Houston area?


Once I got to try it myself, I wrote a step by step guide on how to load gift cards to Redbird with the new Target registers (K8): https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NoonRadar/posts/82eSPgNCGi5

If you’ve already loaded with the new POS, please take a look at my post and if you see something that I missed, or if you had a different experience, let me know via a comment there so I can update the guide. Thank you.


I guess i’m running a bit confused still on this. I have a Capital One Venture, I’d like to use something like the Serve card. Do I have to purchase giftcards, load something like Serve/Redbird, and then use it to pay back my credit card?


Yes Natasha. You can’t load Redbird or Serve directly with a credit card, but you can with a pin-based gift card, that’s why you buy the gift cards.


Okay, I think that’s where I was getting confused. Will have to try this out!


Loaded $2K of VGCs at my local Target in NoVA today. No questions, no issue, same process as before so no upgrade yet.

Brand new huge Walmart just opened in in the neighborhood this week. No kiosk in sight. Could this mean that WM is deselecting this weak technology?

Purchased some Sunrise Bank VGCs – have never loaded at Walmart before. The process is that I just walk up to CS, Serve card in hand and ask to have the Sunrise VGCs loaded by the CSR? thanks


No POS changes here in suburban Phila; SE PA. The cashiers see the prepaid RedCard so seldom, they do not know how to load it, so I coach them. No stated swipe limits here. Hope no upgrades here soon.


No problem or change at Target on Palm Harbor, FL


Target on LI today told me no gift cards even if a vanilla visa witha debit. Then went to one in upper NYC and was able to use them but could not split tender and only one swipe a day w/ $1000 max . Did $500 but would not let me do a second transaction. Asked why was told they got flagged for too many swipes at store so that is why no split tender and only 1 swipe per day


A few days ago I was told my vgc were third party and not load able, but she would try and let me see. They loaded as always with the customer service. even doing a bulk load. Bulk load of 5 $200 vgc today no problem. This is palm harbor, Florida store. I was just about to put wife’s card back to serve, but now I’ll wait and see.


Went to my local Target today in Nor CA to load RC with a real DC. No more GC that say Debit on them at this store. Cashiers with the new terminals (chip and/or swipe) at their registers were required to use the chip insert for any card presented that has a chip on it, which mine did. My DC failed to load at these terminals. I asked if I could try to swipe instead of the insert and offered to the cashier the recommendations from this post re: K8 entry. Immediate failure again. There was only one register up at the CSC that had not been modified and the loads were successful there the old fashioned way. The CSR told me that was the last register in the store that wasn’t converted. I asked how the RC was supposed to be loaded and she said they were going to “cash only”. OUCH!!!!


I have the following data points from the past 3 days (I tend to concentrate my MS on the last few days of a month and then the first few days of the next month, giving me a good 50+ days in between):
1. U.S. Bank VGC
– hard coded as “debit not allowed at Walmart registers, including kiosk. I didn’t try $49.99 or less.
– target regular checkout registers did not allow, complaining of invalid PIN. It worked at the customer service/ return counter.
2. U.S. Bank MC GC
– hard coded as “debit not allowed” at Walmart registers (no option to “change payment type” on the pin pad anymore), but accepted at the kiosk
– didn’t try at Target
3. Metabank VGC
– successful at Walmart kiosk
– successful at Target regular checkout
4. Metabank MC GC
– didn’t try at Walmart
– didn’t try at Target
5. Vanilla VGC
– hard coded as “debit not allowed” at Walmart registers and kiosks for a while now. Continues to be as such
– didn’t try at Target recently

Individual cashiers and CSRs continue to impose additional “rules” without any consistency

I plan to try some of the variations I’ve mentioned as not having tried over the next day or so, and can report findings.

This is all in the metro Detroit area (734/810 area codes), consistent across several different Walmarts and Targets.

Emmanuel Ruiz

Here in California (San Fernando Valley) outside of L.A. – I went and loaded at a local Target Store. Happy to report a). Old system still, b). GC and Vanillas are ok, c). No load limits, d) No IDs’ asked. Pretty much business as usual…thank GOD!!!



[…] Kate vs. K8. Loading Bluebird/Serve vs. REDbird. […]


The target in my area is even worse. They won’t let me to load at the cashier, went to the cust service and only allowed to load $500/day.


“The target in my area is even worse. They won’t let me to load at the cashier, went to the cust service and only allowed to load $500/day.” -ferry

That’s nothing. Try $200/day…


MS in NYC is hard. Or are you elsewhere?

What is the Walmart/Serve situation nearby you, compared to Target/Redbird?


“Not that it matters much, but I’m curious to know with the new software upgrade whether Redbird can optionally be swiped at the cashier register or it must be swiped at the customer terminal.”

From what I read, this change came in response to the anticipated switch to chip cards and no card (Redbird or otherwise) can be swiped on the cashier’s keyboard anymore.