REDbird grounded. Now what?


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”

We didn’t know when it would happen, but we all knew it was coming.  The fact that Target allowed customers to use credit cards to reload the Target Prepaid REDcard (AKA REDbird) was almost too good to be true.  Those of us who hopped on the bandwagon early have enjoyed this perfect perpetual point machine for the past 7 months.  It went like this:

  1. Load REDbird with credit card at Target.  Earn credit card rewards from the “purchase”.
  2. Log into REDbird account, pay credit card bill
  3. Repeat

To increase rewards further, some of us added a step:

  1. Go through a cash back portal to buy Amex gift cards.  Earn both credit card rewards and cash back.
  2. Load REDbird with Amex gift cards at Target.
  3. Log into REDbird account, pay credit card bill
  4. Repeat

Either way, it was awesome… for us.  Target, though, ended up paying the credit card transaction fees for loading REDbird, but gained little in return (for the record: I did do a tremendous amount of shopping at Target during this period, but probably not nearly enough for Target to come out ahead with my business).

REDbird over Bluebird… I used to feature an image like this in presentations, but now that the two cards are roughly equal, I’ll have to change my PowerPoint slides.


It’s easy to be right when you make enough predictions

Target stopped allowing credit card reloads on May 6th 2015 (For Person of Interest fans please note that this was the same date as “The Correction.”  Coincidence?  I think not).  This came almost exactly 7 months after REDbird was first introduced.  The Target Prepaid REDcard was first seen in stores on October 5th 2014 (See: Amex introduces new Bluebird-like Target REDcard!).

A reader recently noted that I originally predicted that credit card loads would last 6 months.  That guess was almost spot on.  However, I also publicly predicted 9 months (and I made a bet with a friend to that effect so I now owe him a category 4 SPG night).  And, more recently, I started predicting that credit card loads would last a full year.  In other words, if you want to be right (or close to it), follow my lead and predict everything… something will stick.

Return to Bluebird or Serve?

A number of people have asked me if I now plan to go back to Bluebird or Serve in place of REDbird.  After all, you can only have one (see: The Complete Guide to Bluebird, REDcard, and Serve).  The the other cards do have a few advantages over REDbird such as the ability to signup for Amex Offers and Small Business Saturday.

In the short term, the answer is no.  I’ll stick with REDbird.  For me, REDbird was always primarily about my preference for Target over Walmart.  That hasn’t changed.  Plus, unlike Walmart, Target continues to treat Vanilla Visa gift cards as the debit cards they are.  Since Vanilla Visa gift cards are easily purchased at many drug stores, Office Depot (max $200 denominations by credit card), and even at Target itself, this is a huge benefit.

Longer term, I might convert one or two of the cards I manage from REDbird to Serve (I currently manage 5 cards for myself, my wife, my sister, my niece, and a friend).  Doing so, though, will mean a commitment to visiting Walmart a couple times per month.  I’m not really sure that I’m willing to do that to myself.

Dealing with Amex gift cards

While writing this, the UPS guy showed up at my door with a big pile of Amex gift cards that I had ordered on Tuesday when TopCashBack offered 2.25% cash back.  The original plan was to use these to load REDbird at Target.  That plan is now out the window.  Fortunately, I have an easy alternative.  I’m aware of a few stores in my area that will let me buy $500 Visa gift cards and pay with Amex gift cards.  Sure, I’ll incur a fee for each gift card of around 1%, but its well worth it – it simply eats into my 2.25% portal earnings.  It’s a bit more work, but I’ll still be well ahead.

Note that this solution is extremely location sensitive.  There are stores in my town within the same chain that do not allow Amex gift cards as payment.  And, I’ve heard from some readers that wherever they live they’ve been unable to find stores that accept credit card payments at all for gift cards, let alone Amex gift card payments.

It used to be possible to buy Visa gift cards online at GiftCardMall and pay with Amex gift cards, but that option has long since dried up.  For a few ideas of what is still possible, please see: How to spend down Amex gift cards.

The path forward.  Is Necker Island at risk?

Some of you may remember my ridiculous decision to earn and burn 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles for a week at Richard Branson’s Necker Island (see: 420,000 miles closer to Necker Island).  The strategy is basically to sign up for a huge number of Virgin Atlantic credit cards.  Each signup requires $12,000 spend.  REDbird would have made that spend easy.  Actually, it still does.  Going forward, rather than buying Amex gift cards, I’ll buy $500 Visa gift cards.  Unlike Amex gift cards, Visa gift cards can be used as debit cards to load REDbird.  Done.

Of course the math changes significantly.  Before, I was earning a cash profit in addition to miles (thanks to the Amex gift card portal cash back).  Now, I’ll lose money on the deal (due to Visa gift card purchase fees) while still earning miles.  If I wanted to, I could still profit by continuing to buy Amex gift cards and then using them to buy Visa gift cards, but the extra work isn’t worth it to me.  I prefer to keep it simple: buy gift cards, load REDbird, repeat.

See also:  Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards.

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[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]

[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]

[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]

[…] the post “REDbird grounded. Now what?” I described how I would deal with Amex gift cards I had on […]


I don’t see any Vanilla Visa gift cards at Kroger. I do see Green Dot Visa gift/debit cards. Will those work?


I doubt you’d be able to buy Green Dot Visa gift/debit cards at Kroger with a credit card. Or so I assumed (haven’t tried)…I’d be interested to know if you can though.


Supposedly, Target in San Jose in CA no longer takes VGC. The associate said the store policy is not to take third party gift cards. “It has to have your name on it or each time it happens, we get fined.” … Don’t know why San Jose fines Target, but it’s time to change my name to “gift card recepient.”

Dan B

I left BB and went red b/c I couldn’t get past the 9 digit pin requirement at WM moneycenter. It was asked for regardless if I picked BB or WM money. I use visa GC’s from Meta. Has anyone got past the 9 digit pin?


FYI, FM’s recommendations for closing down the Bluebird also work with the Redbird. I just closed my Redbird account in order to get another Serve using this method:

1.) Login with normal credentials.
2.) Empty account. You may have to wait a day or so for the transaction to finalize.
3.) Use this URL:

Overall, Redbird was a great card to learn about MS but Serve will work just as well for me and I don’t have to visit a physical store anymore.


One more note: Not 2 minutes after I cancelled the Redbird, I was able to sign up for the Serve using the same SSN and email I previously used for the Redbird.

[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]

[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]

[…] As of May 6, 2015, Target no longer accepts credit cards for in-store REDbird reloads. For more information, please see “REDbird Post Memo Answers“, and “REDbird grounded. Now what?“ […]


1. I need to spend $3,000 for my new credit card, so it means I need to pay $35.7 (6 x $5.95 fee) to purchase 6 $500 gift cards. Is it correct?

2. What kind of $500 gift cards should I buy to load to Target RedCard? Should I go to Office Depot/Staples/Office Max or supermarkets (Giant, Safeway, Wegmans…)? Definitely do not by AMEX gift cards, right?

3. Are there any other quick ways to spend $3,000 without too much extra costs? I know Amazon Payments, RedCrad, and Serve are all out.


Are “Simon Malls” shopping malls? Where can I find the gift cards from the malls? What kind of gift cards should I buy at Simon Malls and CVS with cheaper fees?


Have you written anything outlining the process of purchasing GCs at lower rates than grocery stores, etc.?

[…] was some to-do about Target last week (FrequentMiler). I have mixed feelings about my own addiction. It was so easy I […]

[…] Then, Million Mile Secrets posted that the Target policy does appear to exist, though some stores seem to be unaware of the change in Redcard policy.  So, what next? […]


Alex: No Kroger gas points on the loadable $20-$500 gift cards

In answer to: Do the Amex GC come with your name printed on them? They can. You need to order personalized cards. Be aware it takes 5 business to get the personalized cards