Target recodes REDbird registers


Note: As of October 13, 2015, 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”

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?

Background: The Target Prepaid REDcard, AKA REDbird, is a fantastic tool for manufacturing credit card spend, or for simply saving money at Target.  While the card is functionally very similar to other prepaid cards, Bluebird and Serve, it is the only one of the trio that can be loaded via credit card in-store.  For complete details, please see:  REDcard changes everything, The complete guide to REDbird, and The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe.


Let me apologize in advance if the title of this post scared you.  Many REDbird cardholders have been fearing the day when Target stops allowing credit cards to be used for reloading REDbird.  Today is not that day.  And, of course, we don’t know if or when that day will come.  Instead, a much more subtle change has occurred…

To understand what’s happening, let’s review the in-store REDbird swipe limits:

  • Daily limit: Each REDbird can can be loaded, at most, up to $2,500 per calendar day (and up to $5,000 per calendar month)
  • Cashier swipe limit: In order to reload REDbird, the process is to hand your REDbird card to the cashier and ask to reload it.  The cashier then swipes the card on the cashier’s terminal and enters in the amount to reload.  The maximum that can be loaded per cashier swipe is $1000.  That has not changed.  Hilariously, if you try to do more than $1000, the cashier is told “amount is too low”.  Maybe that has changed, I don’t know.  It doesn’t really matter.
  • Transaction limit: Another limit to the Target register is that no transaction can be more than $3,000.

Here’s the key: until earlier this week it has been possible to ask a cashier to load multiple REDbird cards at once, up to a max of $3000.  For example, it was possible to hand the cashier three REDbird cards and ask to load $1,000 to each one.  The cashier would swipe each card once, key in $1,000, and then you would pay the $3,000 charge all at once.  Or, if you had just one REDbird card, you could ask the cashier to swipe it three times in order to load $1,000 + $1,000 + $500.  Then you would pay $2,500 at once.

This multiple swipe process is no longer working.  At least, it stopped working for me at one local Target and I’ve heard similar reports from many others.  The solution is simply to pay after every swipe rather than all at once.  The problem with this is that it takes a bit longer and you are more likely to have your credit card payment denied due to a fraud alert.  I can’t help you with the extra time required, but to handle fraud alerts quickly, please see: Bet You Didn’t Know: How to setup credit fraud alerts by text or email.

Slow but safe: There was a pretty significant problem with the way the registers used to work.  When loading through multiple swipes to one card, the system did not properly protect the customer against trying to load more than the daily or monthly limit to their card.  So, for example, when a person tried to load $2,500 at once to a card that only had maybe $1,500 of capacity left, bad things would happen.  Specifically, the customer would be charged the full $2,500, but only receive $1,500 on their card.  What would then ensue is a nightmare of phone calls, Amex and Target pointing fingers at each other, and most likely long sleepless nights.  Even though the new process is more cumbersome, I’m glad that customers can no longer fall into this trap.

How is it possible to have more than one REDbird card? I get this question every time I write a REDbird post, so I’ll answer it up front…  You’re only allowed to have one REDbird card in your own name, but there’s no reason you can’t manage other people’s cards (such as family members’ cards).  And, there’s nothing wrong with reloading someone else’s card.  They do not check that your ID matches the name on the card, but they may check to see if your ID matches the credit card you use to pay.

Read more about REDbird:


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