Using the Target Amex card to run up spend

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UPDATE 1/12/2016: The American Express for Target card has been discontinued

The American Express for Target card that I wrote about yesterday is hardly revolutionary.  Compared to the generic American Express Prepaid cards, the Target Amex has higher ATM fees and much stricter limits (for example, the card may only be used within the U.S.).  Compared to the new Bluebird card, the Target Amex doesn’t compare at all.  It doesn’t have bill pay, you can’t move money out to your bank account, and there are no plans to allow check writing.  However, the Target Amex has one awesome feature that the others don’t have: you can load this card in-store with a credit card.

To get your own American Express for Target card, please see my post “How to get the American Express for Target card.”

Fees and Limits

The Target Amex card has the following fees and limits:

  • $3 per reload in-store
  • $3 per ATM withdrawal after the first free withdrawal each month.  Note that ATM owner fees apply as well.
  • Number of cards: Each person is allowed up to two cards.  Only one may be purchased in a day.
  • Maximum load: Per rolling 30 days, $2500 per card / $5K for two cards (can do $3K to one card and $2K to another, for example)
  • ATM withdrawals: Limited to $400 per day

Running up spend

There are many reasons you may want to run up spend on a credit card.  Here are a few examples:

  • Meet credit card minimum spend requirements.  Many credit card sign up offers require high spend to receive the full value of the offer.  For example, the Ink Bold and Ink Plus currently require $5K of spend in 3 months in order to get the full 50K bonus.
  • Achieve high-spend bonuses.  Some cards offer bonus points when you reach certain thresholds of spend.  Other cards offer airline or hotel elite status.  Personally, I use “manufactured spend” tricks with the Delta Reserve and Delta Platinum cards in order to achieve high level elite status on Delta each year (see “Mileage running, from home“).
  • Maximize promotions.  Some cards target cardholders with temporary incentives (such as extra points) to use their cards more.

Whatever your reason for wanting to run up spend, the Target Amex can be a nice addition to your tool chest.  It’s not free (like Amazon Payments), and it’s not a game changer (like Vanilla reload cards), but it’s pretty good.  Here are two approaches to using the card to run up spend…

Straight-Up Approach

The simplest way to use the Target Amex to run up spend is as follows:

  1. Use your credit card to pay for each reload.  Load the maximum allowed $1000 each time in order to make the $3 load fee as small of a percentage as possible.
  2. Find the lowest cost ATMs around and unload the card $400 at a time.  Some people have been lucky enough to find free ATMs at their local credit unions.  Some have reported finding 99 cent ATMs inside MacDonald’s.  Others have settled on the still inexpensive ATM’s in Costco ($1.25 per withdrawal).

If you load and withdraw $2000 per month, and use Costco ATMs at $1.25 per use, your total costs will come to $24.25, or 1.21%.  If you don’t count the value of your time into the equation, this can be a very reasonable price to pay to get points!

Indirect Approach

There are many variations of the indirect approach.  The basic idea is to get extra points or cash back when buying bank gift cards and then use those bank gift cards to load your Target Amex.  For this post, I’ll focus on a simple cash-back strategy for buying Amex gift cards at a discount:

Buying Amex gift cards at a discount

The idea is to go through the online portal BigCrumbs to buy American Express gift cards and receive 1.4% cash back.  Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for BigCrumbs.  (If you would like to contribute to Frequent Miler, please consider using this referral link — I’ll earn a small bonus each time you get cash back).
  2. Search BigCrumbs for “American Express”.  You’ll find two options: American Express Gift Cards – Business, and American Express Gift Cards – Personal.  Click through either one.
  3. Order gift cards for yourself.  Except when special promotions are going on, each card has a $3.95 fee, so your best value is to buy one $3000 card at a time.  You will also be charged $8.95 for 2nd Day shipping.
  4. Pay with your credit card.  Note: do not do this with Citibank cards since it has been reported that Citi treats these purchases as cash advances!  In my experience, both Chase and American Express treat these as regular purchases.  If you’re unsure about your bank, consider buying a small denomination card first to test the waters.

In total, your fees will come to $12.90 or .43%.  From BigCrumbs, you should get back 1.4% of $3000, which is $42.  After subtracting out the fees, you still gain $29.10 which is a .97% profit!

Liquidating Amex gift cards

Now that you have Amex gift cards that you effectively got at a discount, you can liquidate them by using them to load Target Amex cards and then withdraw the money from ATMs.  By going through this indirect approach, your total fees for running up spend will come down to a miniscule .24%!

Scale up

With the options shown above, you can easily “manufacture” $2000 spend per month.  Yes, you could go to $2500, but then you wouldn’t be perfectly optimizing the fees since you would have to do a $500 load each month.

One easy way to scale up beyond $2000, is to get a second card.  That way, you can go up to $5000 spend per month.  Further, if you have a partner you can work with, they could get two cards as well.  A couple could manufacture $10,000 in spend per month!

Warnings

I’ve cautioned heavily before against doing exactly what I wrote about above.  With either the regular Amex Prepaid cards or the Bluebird card, I think it would be a mistake to abuse them by using them just for loading and unloading.  Amex counts on you using these cards for real credit card transactions.  If you don’t, they have the ability to close your accounts.  Just as concerning, loading and unloading cards looks like money laundering.  So, you do run some risk of being investigated (even though there’s nothing illegal about the procedure I wrote about).

Everyone needs to use their own judgment about the level of risk they’re willing to incur.  In the case of Target Amex cards, my guess is that the fees are just high enough to put us in the clear.  What I mean is that Amex and Target probably don’t lose money (at least, not much) when we load and unload cards as described in this post.  If true, then they would have little or no incentive to spend resources on monitoring how we use these cards.  I can’t stress enough, though, that this is just my educated guess.  Use your own judgment about how (or whether) to proceed.

See also

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
Chase 5/24 semantics ("Subject to" vs. "Count towards"): Most Chase cards are subject to the 5/24 rule. That means the rule is enforced in making approval decisions. In other words, you probably won't get approved if your credit report shows that you opened 5 or more cards in the past 24 months. Meanwhile, most business cards (such as those from Chase, Amex, Barclaycard, BOA, Citi, US Bank, and Wells Fargo) are not reported on your personal credit report. These cards do not count towards 5/24.

Example: Chase Ink Business Preferred is subject to 5/24, so you likely won't get approved if over 5/24. If you do get approved, it won't count towards 5/24 since it won't appear as an account on your credit report.
Amex credit and charge card limits: If you apply for a new Amex credit card, you may get turned down if you already have 5 or more Amex credit cards; or 10 or more Pay Over Time (AKA charge) cards. Both personal and business cards are counted together towards these limits. Authorized user cards are not counted. See also: Which Amex Cards are Charge Cards vs. Credit Cards?
Applying for Business Credit Cards

Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.

When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.

Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.
Manufacturing Spend Caution: Many, many things can go wrong when manufacturing spend. If you suddenly increase credit card spend, your accounts may get shut down. If you cycle your balance often (e.g. spend to your limit, pay the bill, repeat) within a billing cycle, your accounts may get shut down. If you repeatedly pay your credit card bill from an anonymous bill payment source, your accounts may get shut down. If you buy lots of gift cards you may lose money due to gift card fraud, theft, loss, or simply mishandling those gift cards (e.g. maybe you thought you already used a gift card and tossed it into your “used” bin). If you rely on only one method to liquidate gift cards, you may be stuck unable to pay your credit card bill when that method gets shut down. In other words, don’t try this at home unless you know what you’re doing, and you understand and accept the risks..
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are super valuable and super flexible. At the most basic level, points can be redeemed for cash or merchandise, but you'll only get one cent per point value that way. A better option is to use points for travel. When points are used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, points are worth 1.25 cents each with premium cards (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or 1.5 cents each with the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve card. Another great option is to transfer points from a premium or ultra-premium card to an airline or hotel program when high value awards are available (see this post for details). If your points are tied to a no-fee "cash back" Ultimate Rewards card, then first move those points to a premium or ultra-premium card before redeeming them in order to get better value.
Amex Membership Rewards points can be incredibly valuable if you know how to use them. In general, if you use Membership Rewards points to pay for merchandise or travel, you won't get good value from your points. One exception is with the Business Platinum card where you'll get a 35% point rebate when using points to book certain flights. This gives you approximately 1.5 cents per point value, which is pretty good. Another exception is with the Business Gold Card where you'll get a 25% point rebate when using points to book certain flights. This gives you approximately 1.33 cents per point value. If you don't have either card, then your best bet is to transfer points to airline miles in order to book high value awards. More details can be found here: Amex Membership Rewards Complete Guide.
Marriott points can be redeemed for free night awards, travel packages, airline miles, or experiences. 5th Night Free Awards: When redeeming points for free nights, the 5th night within a single reservation is free. Airline miles: Points can be converted to airline miles at a rate of 3 points to 1 mile. With many programs, a bonus is added on when you transfer 60,000 points at a time, such that 60,000 points transfers to 25,000 miles. Also, you'll get a 10% bonus when transferring points to United Airlines.

Everything you need to know about Marriott's rewards program, Bonvoy, can be found here: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by the same guy who showed you how to fly round trip to Africa (DC to Senegal) for 50,000 points, how to book business class to Europe for 80,000 miles roundtrip, and more. You can find John’s website and award booking service here: theflyingmustache.com/awardbooking.
-Greg The Frequent Miler

Amex Application Tips



  • Safe to Apply: Amex is the safest bank for trying your luck at earning a new welcome bonus offer. They don’t usually issue a hard pull when denying your application, and if you already have an Amex card, they won't usually issue a hard pull when approved for another one. Plus, they’ll now warn you during the application process if you’re not eligible for the bonus.

  • Lifetime Rule: If you've ever had the same card before, you are most likely prohibited from earning a welcome bonus offer for the card if you apply now. Fortunately you'll be warned during the application process if this is the case. Amex is known to "forget" that you've had a card after about 7 years.

  • 90 Day Rule: You can get at most two credit cards within 90 days. This rule does not apply to Pay Over Time (charge) cards.

  • 5 credit card max: Amex usually won't approve applications for new credit cards if you already have 5 or more Amex credit cards or 10 or more charge cards.

  • Better Offers: You may be able to get a better offer than the best available public offer. Details here.

  • Hard inquiries combine into 1 when approved same day


Check application status here.
If denied, call reconsideration: 877-399-3083 (new accountholders); 866-314-0237 (current accountholders)


Chase Application Tips

  • Shut-Down Caution: Signing up for new Chase cards can lead to Chase reviewing your accounts. This may lead to Chase shutting down all of your accounts if you appear to be a credit risk. See this post for details and recommendations: Why Chase shutdowns have increased and how to avoid them.
  • 5/24 Rule: With most Chase cards, you won't get approved if your credit report shows 5 or more cards opened in the past 24 months. Details here.
  • 24/48 Month Rule: With most Chase cards, you can get the same card and bonus again 24 months after having received the bonus as long as you no longer have the card open. With Sapphire cards, you must wait 48 months. No wait is required for Chase Ink cards.
  • 30 Day Rule: It is tough to get approved for more than 2 Chase cards within 30 days
  • Get Same Card Again: You can get the same exact card and again if you first cancel the older card and follow the 24/48 month rule. Ink cards are OK to get again without cancelling previous card if you apply with a new business.
  • Better Offers: You may be able to get a better offer than the best available public offer. Details here.
  • Hard inquiries combine into 1 when approved same day (not always true when mixing business and personal)

Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
If denied, call reconsideration here:1-888-270-2127 for both personal and business cards

Citi Application Tips

  • 24 Month Rule (ThankYou Cards): To get bonus on any ThankYou card, you must wait 24 months after receiving a new cardmember bonus or closing any ThankYou card account. Applies to Preferred, Premier, Prestige, and Rewards+.
  • 24 Month Rule (Expedia Cards): To get bonus on any Expedia card, you must wait 24 months after opening or closing any Expedia card account.
  • 48 Month Rule (AA Cards): With Citi AA cards, you have to wait 48 months after receiving a bonus for the same exact card.
  • Velocity Rules: Max 1 personal card per 8 days. Max 2 personal cards per 65 days. Max 1 business card per 95 days.
  • Get Same Card Again: Citi allows getting same card again (even if card is still open) as long as you follow the 24 or 48 month rules and velocity rules (above).
  • Hard inquiries DO NOT combine into 1 when approved same day

Check application status here.
If denied, call reconsideration here:800-695-5171 (personal); 800-763-9795 (business)
If reconsideration # doesn’t work, try the Citi Credit Card Executive Office: 423-477-6858

Bank of America Application Tips


  • 3/12 or 7/12 Rule: You won't be approved if you have opened 3 or more accounts, with any bank, in the past 12 months. For those with Bank of America deposit accounts, the rule changes to 7+ accounts.
  • 2/3/4 Rule: Max 2 consumer cards per rolling 2 months, 3 per rolling 12 months, and 4 per rolling 24 months.
  • 5 card limit: You will not get approved for a new consumer card if you already have 5 consumer BOA cards open
  • Get Same Card Again: With some BOA cards, must wait 24 months after either opening or cancelling, depending upon the card.
  • Hard inquiries are usually combined into 1 when initiated within 30 days but there have been reports of TransUnion not combining.

Click here to check your application status
If denied, call reconsideration here: 800-354-0401 (8am-7pm ET Mon-Fri); 866-695-6598 (business cards);

Barclays Application Tips


  • Get Same Card Again: Must wait at least 6 months after cancelling previous card (with some accounts Barclays requires waiting 24 months).

  • Hard inquiries are combined into 1 when approved same day. Most inquiries issued through TransUnion.


Consumer: Click here to check your application status
Business cards: Click here
If denied, call reconsideration here: 866-710-2688

Capital One Application Tips


  • 6 month rule: Must wait 6 months after applying for a Capital One card before applying for another one.

  • 2 card limit: Conventional wisdom and user experience has been that you can have at most 2 Capital One consumer cards, but according to application terms it may be possible to have up to 5. You may be limited to 2 of their rewards cards. Note that this limit does not apply to Capital One co-branded cards like the Kohl's charge card.

  • Get Same Card Again: There is no known rule against getting the same card and bonus again even if you still have the card open.

  • Hard inquiries usually get issued through all 3 credit bureaus


To check application status, call (800) 903-9177 or (877) 277-5901
If denied, call reconsideration here: (800) 625-7866

Discover Application Tips


  • 2 card limit: You can have a maximum of 2 Discover cards.

  • 12 month rule: Must wait just over 12 months after previous card was opened before applying for another Discover card.

  • Get Same Card Again: No known rules against getting same card & bonus again.


Click here to check your application status
If denied, call reconsideration here: 888-676-3695

TD Bank Application Tips


Call (888) 561-8861 to check your application status

US Bank Application Tips


  • Get Same Card Again: Depends on the product. For example, with the Altitude Reserve card you cannot get the bonus again. The terms state "The bonus is not available to Cardmembers who currently have, or had, a U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite account."

  • Hard inquiries may be combined into 1 when approved same day.


Call (800) 947-1444 to check your application status.
If denied, call reconsideration here: 800-947-1444 or 800-685-7680

Wells Fargo Application Tips


  • Bank first: Wells Fargo usually requires having a bank account open before you can apply for a credit card.

  • 16 month rule: Limit of one signup bonus per 16 months

  • Get Same Card Again: No known rules against getting same card & bonus again.

  • Hard inquiries are combined into 1 when approved same day.


Check application status here.
If denied, call reconsideration here: 1-866-412-5956 (consumer) or 1-800-231-9244 (business)

Under certain circumstances consumer Visa cards don't work with Plastiq. The following payments are fine:

  • Rent (residential rent, HOA fees, and commercial rent)
  • Taxes & government fees
  • Utilities (electricity, cable, internet, and telecom)
  • Tuition (including daycare and camp)
Payments outside of the above list are subject to the following limitations:

  1. Payments using personal Visa cards issued by Chase are subject to a limit of 20% of your credit limit.
  2. Payments using personal Visa cards from other issuers (other than Capital One or Wells Fargo) will code as a cash advance. That means you’d incur cash advance fees and wouldn’t earn any credit card rewards.
  3. The following types of Visa cards are not affected by these changes: Capital One personal Visa cards, Wells Fargo personal Visa cards, Visa business credit cards, Visa corporate, debit and prepaid gift cards.
In order to meet minimum spend requirements, people often look for options to increase spend in ways that result in getting their money back. These techniques are referred to as "manufacturing spend". American Express has terms in their welcome offers that exclude some manufactured spend techniques from counting towards the minimum spend requirements for the welcome bonus offer. For example, most new cardmember bonuses have terms like this:
Eligible purchases to meet the Threshold Amount do NOT include fees or interest charges, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards, person-to-person payments, or purchases of other cash equivalents.
That said, many techniques for meeting minimum spend are perfectly fine. Here are some techniques that are safe for meeting Amex minimum spend requirements (click each link for more information):
We have added this to our running list of Black Friday deals, which will be constantly updated through Cyber Monday with a mix of gift card deals, merchandise deals, and travel deals. Check back often.
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Frank

ATM at Costco just charged $2.25 – rather than $1.25 – making this less attractive. Anyone know where I can find a cheaper ATM for AFT card withdrawals?

Claudio

Is this card still available? Any body found it in the Fort Lauderdale area?

Daniel

I often have my first few transactions denied when using a new card. It has always been related to fraud alert on the card. I just call, have them clear it and it had worked when charged again. I have not used gift cards before so I cannot chime in on that.

[…] the Target Amex card going away?  (My guess is that they’ll stop selling these old prepaid cards at Target or may […]

Dino

Any more word on Target not accepting Amex gift cards as payment for reloading Amex for target?

Frank

@Chuck,
If you mean using an AMEX Prepaid Gift card I had the same problem. They would not accept it.

So, FrequentMiler, what’s up? You say above it can be done but it cannot, unless there is a trick to it.

chuck

Did anyone have problems loading AFT with Amex card?
I tried numerous times in NJ and the POS denies it (after asking for the 4 digits on the front of the card)
I then tried with visa gc, and it got accepted (with PIN). Don’t know if the limitation is that it will only accept with PIN, or that it won’t accept Amex. I tried both Amex gc and regular Amex card (FIA).

SJCRussell

Might want to add to the limits: Max load $5k across both cards / rolling 30 days.
To minimize load fees you can load $2k and $3k rather than $2.5k per card.

FrequentMiler

Thanks. Done.

[…] Load the American Express for Target card and then withdraw money from ATMs. […]

Rapid Travel Chai

Finally got around to trying to get this, tried two stores in Illinois last week and one in New Jersey this week, multiple POS machines, and all had an error at the last step in the process. After clicking to verify all the information and before payment the system gives an error to the cashier, “Offline to processor – can’t sell card.” These stores rarely sell them and had no idea of the problem. One manager suggested I called the customer support line, which produced a clueless guy who had difficulty understanding the issue and checking with a supervisor had no info on the issue. For more fun I tweeted askamex, they said they would investigate, so far no response. I wonder how long they have been offline. Must not be selling many if no one seems to know they are down.

Chris

That problems has been fixed. You should be able to buy a target Amex now.

Rapid Travel Chai

@Chris – thank you, got my two cards this week after saw your message on the other post. Now I need to find a low cost ATM near to me, BJ’s is one candidate.

[…] sell gift cards or other financial products that are easily converted to cash. Target has the American Express for Target prepaid card, and Best Buy sells up to $200 Visa gift cards ($5.95 fee) which are now available […]

FrequentMiler

Rachael Z: It depends where you buy the gift cards from. If you buy from a regular store (grocery, gas station, drug store, etc.) it will be fine. The issue is when you buy from a financial institution like when buying Amex gift cards from Amex.

Rachael Z

A little late to the game here…one thing you mentioned tangentially—about not using Citi—should I not be using Citi (Hilton Honors Reserve) to pay for gift cards I’m then using to fund my Bluebird with at Walmart? Haven’t noticed cash advance fees before (but then again I’m not always diligentat about combing through my statements).

Scott

Free ATM withdrawals at WaWa convenience stores in the Phila area and Quick Chek convenience stores in many parts of NJ.

luchex

FM said
With the options shown above, you can easily “manufacture” $2000 spend per month.  Yes, you could go to $2500, but then you wouldn’t be perfectly optimizing the fees since you would have to do a $500 load each month.”
You don’t need an extra target card
The maximum we can have at a given time is $2500 but the maximum we can deposit per month is about 5k. If i have a 3k amex gc:
Day1 deposit 1k, extract $400
Day2 deposit 1k extract $400
Day 3 deposit 1k (limit is $2500 and I only have $1200 on my account)

luchex

No. So far all charge. Gateway bank in Oakland Chinatown charges 1.50 and is sort of on my way.

andreas

@luchex:
have you found an atm in bay area that doesn’t charge fees.. does the EBT/Moneypass apply to the AFT?

FrequentMiler

Luchex: Thanks!

LUCHEX

HERE IS SOME INFORMATION THAT CAN BE USEFUL. IT’S FROM THE BAY AREA, IT’S THE FEE FOR WITHDRAW MONEY FROM ALL AND EACH BRAND OF ATM.

http://www.ebtproject.ca.gov/Library/Cash_Access.pdf

FrequentMiler

luchex: No, you can’t use the Target card (or any Amex card) as a debit card even though they have an ATM PIN.

luchex

Sorry $323 on visa citi AA .
We’ll see what happens

luchex

I had to try but I had I didn’t want to deposit 1k on 1 cc (SUSPICIOS ROUND NUMBER)but at the same time I didnt want to pay $3 for loading less than 1k. So I remember you saying that you can use many cards on one load. I loaded 640 from amex spg, 140 from chase SW and 323. We’ll see if all go as spend in all 3 cards.

luchex

FM, that’s great news.
Thanks
I see that the target amex has a pin for ATM withdrawal. Since the daily withdrawal limit is $400, can you use it as a pin card to, let us say, load your Bluebird. ? I know that Amex cards generally do not have a PIN. Is this PIN for ATM use only or to be use for PIN based transaction? Would they charge $3 if you use it to buy MO or to load your Bluebird?

Thanks FM

FrequentMiler

Luchex: Yes it shows up as spend

luchex

Let me see this.
The straight up approach is using my CC to load the AMEX for Target. That means that if I use lets say my Chase or citi AA or AMEX SPG card, it will show as spending?

FrequentMiler

Sam: you could pay the $3 with cash or another card if you prefer. Or, pay with the Amex gift card entirely, then for the next load, pay $997 with the Amex gift card and $6 with another card.

Sam

If you buy a $2,000 AMEX gift card and load $1,000 will Target charge your $1,003? Leaving you with $997 or can you pay the $3 with cash/another card?

[…] gift cards (see “Gift card PINs“), or to load and unload Target Amex cards (see “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend“), or to buy free after rebate […]

John

i did its actually $4.25 to withdraw the money so you’re really negative $4.82/2000…but a total cost of $0.0024/mile… right?

John

So let me see if I understand this correctly:

Let’s say you buy a $2000 Amex gift card for $2012.90. You get 1.4% back from TCB, $28.18. Leaves you with $15.28. (I know 3k is a beter deal, I’m just using 2k as to not carry $ over month to month)

Costs $6 to load $2000. Costs $2.75×3 + $1.25 ($15.5 total) to get $1600 off the card at ATMs at Costco (3 fee paid atm withdrawls and 1 free withdrawal + costco atm fee). Spend the rest as normal for the remainder of the month as to not draw up too many red flags. You should get 2000 Ultimate Rewards points for a total of $0.32. Am I missing something?

[…] Use Amazon payment to liquidate $1,000 of Visa gift cards per month for free. Alternatively, use American Express at Target to load a $1,000 at a time for $3 […]

[…] Use Amazon Payment to cash out $1,000 per month from Visa/Amex/Master gift card or Use American Express for Target card to load […]

Thanh P.

Miler, initial loading can only be up to $500?

FrequentMiler

Thanh P: yes, that’s right

[…] Next week, TopCashBack is planning a one day special in which they’ll bump up the payout on American Express Gift Cards to 2% from the usual rate of 1.5%.  This could be a great way to get ahead on paying taxes (see “Pay federal taxes by credit card, almost for free“).  Or, if “almost free” isn’t good enough, see “Pay Federal Taxes via Credit Card for Free.”  The rates listed in the latter post are out of date, but the general ideas still work.  If you don’t have big tax payments to make, see also “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend.” […]

Phil

Is it possible to use the target AMEX & WF debit to load bluebird, if so, is there a transaction limit for the target AMEX and WF debit? I’m trying to find ways to load my bluebird account, in my area its basically impossible to find VR’s and my UFB direct debit card lost its miles earning capabilities

FrequentMiler

Phil: you can use the WF debit to load bluebird by taking it to Walmart for a swipe reload. You cannot use the Target Amex to load Bluebird.

Phil

Is it possible to use the target AMEX & WF debit to load bluebird, if so, is there a transaction limit for the target AMEX and WF debit? I’m trying to find ways to load my bluebird account, in my area its basically impossible to find VR’s and my UFB direct debit card lost its miles earning capabilities.

FrequentMiler

TV: you can use Amazon Payments that way, but there’s not much point in it. Instead, just use Amazon payments directly with whatever credit card or gift card you would have used to fund the Target card. That way you avoid the $3 load fee and the hassle. Keep in mind, though, that Amazon payments is limited to $1k per month

TV

Can you use the Target Amex to do Amazon payments to avoid the ATM fees?

[…] Miler is a true master when it comes to gift cards, racking up spend, all things churn-able, and he explains the AMEX for Target thing better than I probably ever could. It’s kind of like Vanilla Reload, and basically just […]

Roundabout

FM:

Thank you for your awesome website. I am currently trying to formulate a strategy, but I trying to find the best way to manufacture spend.

They don’t have the Target Amex within a 300 mile radius from me. I cannot use the WF Debit card, as I have issues with Wells Fargo. I have a BB card, but have had troubles purchasing a VR card at Walgreens. The register would not load it, apparently their system blocks it. I do not have a rewards debit card.

Is Amazon Payments the only other option? I would like not to get anyone else involved if at all possible.

Thanks for all of the info!

FrequentMiler

Roundabout: If you can wait a while for your money to come back, then I like Kiva as another option. See https://frequentmiler.com/2012/05/31/minimum-spend-requirements-kivalens-to-the-rescue/

Frequent Miler

Kris: Yes, buying a 3K amex gift card would work to meet the spend requirement on your Amex gold business card. No, I wouldn’t recommend using the same gift card on multiple Amazon payment accounts.

Kris

Thanks FM for the reply.
Do you think buying a 3K amex gift card with my amex gold businesscard would work to help meet the spending threshhold?
Also in amazon payments can I use the same gift card in three different accounts (my friends accounts)?
Thanks

FrequentMiler

Kris: Yes, you can buy them elsewhere then load them at your local Target

Kris

The stores in my place doesn’t carry these.. can I buy them when I travel to other places that have these TargetAmex?
Can I reload these cards at target at my place where they don’t sell TargetAmex cards?
Thanks

[…] stores and opportunities exist in all locations.  For example, I expect to make some use of my Target Amex card to help meet minimum spend requirements.   Unfortunately, the Target Amex card is not […]

[…] Amazon Payments.  Other options include loading them into your Serve account, loading your Target Amex, using them to buy reload cards, etc.  Unfortunately, all of those approaches can be pretty […]

FrequentMiler

Ben: No, I don’t think they need to open the package. Try a few other cashiers next time.

J-Star: Thanks for that great information. I’ll plan to update this post with those corrections!

J-Star

Even though there is a $2,500 balance limit on the Target AmEx, you can load up to $5,000 per 28-day period … but having 2 cards in the same name does not increase this limit.
From Target AmEx card agreement, “You may load funds to your Cards using your Funding Source until the Available Funds on any Card purchased by you equals $2,500 and on all card purchased by you equals $5,000, and you may load funds to your Cards using Direct Deposit until the Available Funds on any Card purchased by you equals $10,000 or on all Cards purchased by you equals $10,000. Not more than $1,000 may be loaded to any Card purchased by you in a 24 hour period using your Funding Source, not more than $5,000 may be loaded to all Cards purchased by you in any 28-day period using your Funding Source, and not more than $10,000 may be loaded to all Cards purchased by you in any 28-day period using Direct Deposit.”
So, you only need 1 card to load $5,000 per 28-day period at a cost of $15(-0.3%) for reload fees.

Also, free credit union ATMs can be found at many places of employment … check that unfamiliar ATM at work.

Personally, I find its easiest to hit minimum spending requirements by purchasing AmEx gift cards through BigCrumbs (with free shipping and no card purchase fees) earning +1.4% then liquidate through Target AmEx (-0.3%) and free ATMs(-0.7%).

I also found its advantageous to purchase gift cards to become Hilton Diamond with $40K in spend from Hilton AmEx Surpass, which earns +50% more points, before using Vanilla/Bluebird … this gives 4,500 Hilton points for $3.95 fee.

[…] The Frequent Miler explains the Target Amex card. […]

Ben

Hey everyone, quick question. I found the prepaid cards at a Target by my house but no one in the store could figure out how to activate them. They tried scanning the two bar codes on the back of the packaging and input an amount to load on the card, but then the whole process failed. Am I supposed to ask them to open the package and swipe the card for the initial load? Thanks in advance.

FrequentMiler

bandana: I don’t understand. Why does the cashier even know that you intend to use a Visa GC? When I load my card I just tell them I’ll pay by credit and then I swipe the Visa gift cards myself. Yes, you have to show them each card after you swipe, but I’ve never had anyone raise any issues with that.

bandana

Same experience as some of the others at Target in Chicago. The cashier refused to load the card with Visa GCs. Tried three different cashiers.

Alex

So when I go to BigCrumbs, it isn’t letting me buy a gift card > $200? So for $2000 in gift cards it wants to charge me 39.50 plus the 5.95 shipping? Am I missing something?

FrequentMiler

Alex: it depends which gift card you choose. If you choose the most basic one (in the top, left corner) it should let you get a card as big as $3000.

Mickey

Just try it with a different cashier. Go to a different store. Come on, no need to world-is-ending.

TonyL

Bay area Target store.

Jon Chan

I don’t know what to say, TonyL. Which Target did you go? I am in Los Angeles.

TonyL

GC does work, just did reload of 2 Amex For Target cards with 3 Visa GC & 1 Debit today without problem.

According to the employee at target, only target GC is not allowed, all other Amex/Visa/MC GC/Debit cards are ok.

Jon Chan

The cashier asked me for the cards and knew right away that they are gift cards. Moreover, she said this is fraud in doing so. I did tell her that this is a credit card, but she did not buy into this fact. Feel so bad now.

Jon Chan

Attention: Do not attempt to load Target Amex cards with bank gift cards. I went to two Target stores and got turned down. Now, I need to figure out how to spend those cards!

Unless someone can tell me which store(s) in the Los Angeles county area can do so. Once again, don’t buy gift cards!!!

FrequentMiler

Jon Chan: Did you try to use the bank gift cards as regular credit cards? If so, how did you get turned down? Whenever I do it, I don’t even show the cashier the gift card until after I’ve swiped it.

MichaelP

Was able to get $300 out of ATM at Sams Club DFW area.

[…] few people have reported failing when trying to use these to load the American Express for Target […]

davina

i tried to use amex gift cards to load my target amex by swiping them and it was a no go. will have to try a visa gift card next time.

FrequentMiler

davina: What kind of Amex gift cards did you have? Where did you buy them from? Thanks

CHRIS

this is different chris 🙂
If you have 5 x $200 gift card, how do you pay for the $3 fee?

FrequentMiler

CHRIS: to pay the $3 fee when you have gift cards totaling to $1000, you have plenty of options: use cash, use a credit card, load $970 instead of $1000 so that the total comes to $1K even.

Chris

I went to my local Target today and had a problem loading my Target AMEX with $200 AMEX gift cards. I tried 5 of them and each time a screen popped up on the cashier saying that you can’t use this type of payment. The cashier had no idea, in fact I had to walk her through how to load the card to begin with! Then I tried to load it with 5 $200 Visa gift cards and there was no problem at all.
Possible Bottom line: Maybe you can’t use AMEX gift cards to load the prepaid Target AMEX card?

FrequentMiler

Chris: Interesting! I don’t think I’ve tried an Amex gift card. Anyone else encounter this?

Jon

I wonder how soon does BigCrumbs give us the cash back. I read on some forums that people had a hard time fighting for the cash back.

FrequentMiler

Jon: I’m not sure how long it takes (several months, I think), but I’ve never had any trouble getting cash back from BigCrumbs.

Picmeup

@CHRIS It is doubtful that you can use amex target to load BB. I tried today at walmart, but it failed after I swiped the card and entered the 4 digit security code on front. Next time I’ll try 3 digit code on back to see if that works. But it is unlikely.

CHRIS

FM…can you load bluebird with amex target?

FrequentMiler

CHRIS: No, you can’t load bluebird with Amex target

umc

@Jonathan: would you mind sharing what you told the lady to do? In case I got rejected by loading with Visa GC, I will try customer service cashier like you did.

[…] checking account and money market and was given the option of using a credit card.  I used my Target Amex and put $300 into one account and $200 into the other.  It’s possible that some credit […]

Jonathan

Try loading 2 $500 GC today at register, cashier took GC to check with supervisor and came back with “No, you can’t purchase with this card”. Walked away and try again in customer service(return area), lady didn’t know what to do and I told her what to do… success!

ArizonaGuy

OK. I see that a card cannot have more than $2500 on it, as we know. I also see that “not more than $5,000 may be loaded to all Cards purchased by you in any 28-day period using your Funding Source.”

I don’t see that it says you can’t run $5000 through a single card. Granted, two cards easily gets you to $4000. I think I may attempt to load $3000 on a single card this month. Worst case is I get to load just $2500.

FrequentMiler

ArizonaGuy: I’m looking forward to hearing how that goes!

FrequentMiler

ArizonaGuy: Yes, the max load per month is $2500. If you try to go to $3K in a month, let us know if it works!

ArizonaGuy

Missing something re scaling up. Why are we limited to $2000 per card per month? Is the max loadable per month only $2500? Why can’t you load $2000, spend/withdraw, and repeat?

I’ve been using this only to meet minimum spends on various cards so haven’t gone beyond $4000 a month anyway (I’ve 2 cards, and I load $4000 all in a single day which really annoys the people waiting in line but eh. I go just before store closing to do this.)

carwag25

False alarm. Went into the same Target today and added $200 in visa gift cards to the Target reload today. Didn’t mention that they were gift cards and told them I was paying with a credit card… all good to go.

Chris

Easily got one of these last night. Cashier actually scanned my ID to get all my info and then just had to verify on the keypad and input my SSN and phone #. Seemed a bit easier than your ordeal.

carwag25

: with the initial prepaid card purchase, I used cash at this store, but today was the first time I used a gift card. I might try again tomorrow as I suspect the cashier treated it as a gift card (I mentioned it was a gift card instead of letting them assume it was a credit card).

FrequentMiler

carwag25: Yeah, definitely don’t mention the gift card thing. Just have them ring it up and then use the keypad in front of you to pay by swiping your Visa gift card.

FrequentMiler

I went to Target today and successfully transferred $1000 in Visa gift cards bought at Staples (5 $200 cards) to my Target Amex. It still works in Ann Arbor.

FrequentMiler

Steven Lu: 1) that should be fine; 2) just swipe and the system knows how much is left : 3) no, it can’t be used as a debit card

Carwag25: uh oh! Have you had success before at that Target? I’m hoping this is specific to that store

carwag25

Looks like Target has nixed the ability to load the loading of the Target prepaids with MC/Visa gift cards. Just tried today and they said it wasn’t allowed, but tried on the register anyway… no go.

Steven Lu

@FM, I have three important questions

I have 10 $100 mastercard gift cards from the staples promotion, Do you think they will be suspicious if I load up all of them on the target amex card?

Question 2: when you load up the full $1000 on one card with vanilla prepaid card, do you have to tell them to put in $500 or do you just swipe and the system knows to deduct $500 from the load?

Question 3: Is this a debit card where we can buy MO from walmart?

FrequentMiler

TonyL: yes, you can use multiple MC/Visa/Amex gift cards to pay for a single Target Amex load so I recommend doing the full $1000 load each time.

TonyL

@FM, thanks for the tip, it worked for me today too.
Is it possible to combine multiple Vanilla cards in a single load to reduce cost?

TonyL

@FM, went to a target to load my newly arrived Amex4Target with 2 Visa OneVanilla prepaid cards, one cashier didn’t know how to do it (she was new probably), another more experienced one said they wouldn’t take gift cards, I told them mine are Visa Prepaid cards, they still wouldn’t accept them, the reason being if the card has no name on it, it is a gift card. Do you have experience successfully loading with OneVanilla prepaid cards? Thanks.

FrequentMiler

TonyL: Yes, I’ve successfully loaded my Target Amex with Vanilla prepaid cards. I don’t even show the Vanilla cards to the cashier. I just have them ring up the $1000 load and then I swipe my Visa gift cards through the customer facing card reader.

harvson3

Save on shipping for Amex gift cards. AFLQ42012 through EOY. Sorry FM that I couldn’t use your BC referral link; I had signed up once before.

[…] Using the Target Amex card to run up spend […]

FrequentMiler

Dave: I’m currently doing the same thing so I certainly hope so!

Dave

FM, most of my spend requirement for the Citi HH is made up of VR and Target AMEX purchases. You’re confident these will count toward my spend for bonus pts?

Dave

FM, you mentioned in your earlier post that Citi cards do NOT charge Target AMEX as a cash advance, but here you say that Citi charges GC purchases as cash advances. Why the discrepancy?

FrequentMiler

Dave: Citi doesn’t charge a cash advance at Target for loading up the Target Amex, nor do they charge for buying Vanilla Reload cards, but people have said that they do charge a cash advance fee for buying Amex gift cards online, for example. Sorry for the confusion.

nep301

If you get two cards, can you use the same SSN? How does online access work. Will both cards show up in your profile or you would need to make a different profile for each?

FrequentMiler

nep301: Yes, use the same SSN for two cards. They’ll show up together online.

jim6

Can you get cash back at Costco when going thru checkout when using the Target Amex? If so, that, plus a trip to their ATM would be a good way to unload. I go to Costco a few times a month – and it’s literally across the street from my local OD…

AndroAsc

Can you get a AMEX Target card without giving away your SSN? If yes, then one can get as many cards as one likes…

russell

Just picked one of these up. In reading the enclosed terms and conditions there is a major limits:

“May load $1k at a time, max $2.5k balance, max $5k per 28 day period. ATM withdrawal $200 per week”.

However the online card member agreement states:
“you may use the Card to obtain up to $400 US per card, per day”
Contradictory.

FrequentMiler

russell: I’ve done $400

AndroAsc: I don’t think that’s possible

jim6: I don’t think that would work

tly

If I don’t have access to Vanilla Reloads, would this or Serve be the better option?

FrequentMiler

tly: serve is better, but is much more limited in how far you can run up spend. You could do both

Joe

@JoC — Your math is off. You only get 1 free ATM withdrawal per month. After that, Amex charges $3. In addition, you pay whatever fees the ATM owner charges.

Ollie

I’m sorry to say that FTG doesn’t deserve your call out in this post. He sent out an e-mail with almost exactly your information but his own links to profit. Too bad the blogosphere has no ethics. Good luck to you as you try keep up some standards.

puck

Enjoyed your presentation in Chicago a few weeks ago. Thanks. Have since gotten a Bluebird card and loaded it a few times with Vanilla from OD using Ink Bold.

After reading yesterday’s post, I went to Target tonight to get Halloween candy and while there got an Amex for Target prepaid card. Like you said, they were only available near one cashier. The cashier had to swipe my license and then confirm my zip code. After that, I had to enter my SS #, home phone, date of birth, and then confirm my address. The cashier, a high school kid, got nervous when I had to keep entering information and called over the head cashier who told him to just keep following the prompts on the register.
Finally, I was able to swipe my SPG AMEX to pay for the initial $500 load and the $3.00 load fee was taken off with a coupon (good until 12/31/12) attached to the Amex for Target card.

As you said, the probable best feature of this card is being able to load it with any credit card.

Andy F.

Can you use Amex cards to purchase Amex gift cards? Any problems?

Stephanie Noss

Can you reload the Target AMEX at any Target? Even Target stores that do not sell the Target AMEX cards?

Stephanie Noss

Can you reload the Target AMEX at any Target? Even Targets that do not sell the Target AMEX card?

TravelGuide37

Another tip about citi and/or others classifying purchases as cash, every time I get a new card, when i call in to activate it i also do 2 other things.

First i verify the sign up bonus and requirements, and lastly ask that the cash advance be set to $0 negating any chance of having a cash advance.

JoC

May be use the United card, spend 25k,and get a bonus of 10K.
cost will be: $3 x 25 $1000 cc load = 75
ATM fee : 25K /400 = 63 withdrawal x 1.25 = 79
total cost : 154 for 35K United miles

Joe

About Vanilla — My OD stores don’t have freestanding gift card racks. The gift cards are just on some pegs underneath the cash register (close to the candy) and there are only about 8-10 selections. Has anyone found Vanilla reloads at a store like this? Just wondering if there’s someplace else I should be looking (though I’ve pretty much searched everyplace in the store and asked cashiers).

Grant

I literally just saw a Bluebird Walmart commercial followed immediately by a Chase Ink commercial on CNN. It’s a sign…

Sil

FF- I haven’t had any problems finding Vanilla Reload Cards at OD. I usually just buy one or two(rarely) at a time and leave at least 8 for my fellow Frequent flier pals. I can click to get to my AMEX prepaid account from my regular AMEX website. Loaded $500 on Bluebird to pay for a $25 purchase and then ATM $440 out. Found out I needed to pay off Chase credit card.

Kelly s

So if I need to meet spend on a visa but shop a lot at costco then I can buy these at target and use them at costco? Is the first load free?

DealSeeker

I guess I’ll be applying for the target redcard, which gets you 5% cash back on all target purchases. The T&C’s do state the bonus does not apply to:

Target gift cards and prepaid cards

But, worth a shot…

Sil

worry about Amex being suspicious with many prepaid cards….I already have the AMEX Prepaid, the AMEX bluebird along with my regular SPG biz and Personal and AMEX hilton honors…think I won’t apply for the Target AMEX card.

FrequentMiler

Sil: I don’t think the different Amex prepaid departments talk to each other, but I understand the concern. Also, if you can buy Vanilla Reload cards easily, there really is no point in going with this card.

DealSeeker: I don’t think it will work, but let us know if it does!

Kelly s: Yes, that should work. Good idea. You could also make good use of the cheap Costco ATM while you’re there.

Nick

Banks are obligated by law to prevent money laundering, and the feds put a certain amount of pressure on them to prevent at least the obviously criminal behavior. So even if Target is making money from churning, they still do have an incentive to shut people down if their activity looks suspicious. Or at the very least they *will* have an incentive to shut people down at some point in the future when this behavior catches the eye of the appropriate authorities. Where the line between suspicious and non-suspicious falls is the question… All of which is to say, you would be wise to heed Frequent Miler’s advice about not using these cards solely for loading and unloading.

MileageUpdate

How much is too much? Once you couldnt use a Target GC to load it this took a back seat for me. But you are still when using BC it makes it a decent earn.