Why I Made the Switch to REDcard (REDbird) & Why You Should or Shouldn’t Do It Yourself!

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redcard target switch

Making the Switch

Note: As of October 13, 2015 the Target REDcard (REDbird) can only be loaded with cash in-store at Target. This means that neither debit cards nor gift cards can be used to load REDcard any longer. For more info about the changes and where to go from here, see: REDbird Postmortem: An MS Path Forward

Last year when Target’s new Prepaid REDcard (aka REDbird) came onto the scene I wrote about how I was going to be keeping my Serve for awhile. In that post I listed a few reasons.

Among the reasons were, “I don’t believe credit card loads will last very long.” Well, that was October and this is February and credit card loads are still going strong. Of course they could end at anytime, but there aren’t any signs of that happening yet.

At that time I had also recently switched from my Bluebird card to a Softcard version of the Serve. While there is no official rule against it, I am not sure American Express likes people moving between these products within a few weeks of each other. Now that four months have passed, I feel more comfortable.

So Why Make The Switch Now

  • 5x Back – Last month I wrote about our recent round of credit card applications. In that round we picked up a card that pays 5% back at grocery stores. After consulting the Visa website, I discovered that the Target closest to my house is classified as a grocery store.
  • Convenience – I am kind of sick of Walmart. Sure it is easy enough to get gift cards and then load them to Bluebird/Serve, but it is so much easier to load the card directly from a credit card. (And I like Target better!)
  • I Can Switch Back – American Express has made it easier than ever to switch between these accounts since they can now be closed online. Closing my Serve and opening up the REDcard was a breeze.
redcard target switch
Some of the unique benefits of the Target Prepaid REDcard.

What I Am Giving Up

  • Online Credit Card Loads – The Serve with Softcard allows $1,500 per month in online credit card loads. While I will lose that benefit, I was paying purchase fees on gift cards that were being loaded to Serve, so it is close to being a wash.
  • Amex Offers – REDcard doesn’t currently get Amex Offers, although the only time I really used them on my Serve was during Small Business Saturday. November is nine months from now and as you know, nine months is an eternity in the miles & points game.

Should You Switch

I think the REDcard provides a great deal of value and simplicity. Being able to walk into a store and directly load the card is a huge benefit. If you have a nearby Target that is classified as a grocery store, then there is even more fun to be had.

With that said, you are giving up online credit card loads if cancelling a Serve card and there is no guarantee that credit card loads will stick around for the REDcard. I would decide which is more convenient for you based on availability of gift cards and the location of your local Target & Walmart.

For me, the REDcard is the right move at this time. (You can find a comparison of REDcard, Serve & Bluebird here.)

Do This Before Switching

redcard target switch
Make sure to max out your current card before making the switch so you can double dip.

Before making the switch I made sure to max out my Serve card for the month. By doing that I will be able to “double dip” by loading my Serve card to the max and then my REDcard to the max in the same month. This only works for months that you switch, but it is a nice little perk.

Where To Get One & More Info

The REDcard is still not available in a lot of areas of the country. I was lucky enough to have a friend send one to me, but there are other ways to find them. For everything you want to know about the REDcard along with where you can get one, I highly suggest reading Frequent Miler’s Complete guide to REDbird.

Conclusion

While I am still waiting for my permanent card in the mail, I can’t wait to make my first load. It took some evolving on the issue, but I am finally on board with the REDcard and ready to see where the journey takes me.

How about you? Have you made the switch? Are you still waiting? Let me know in the comments!


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44 COMMENTS

  1. I’m right with you on the reasons to switch to REDBird, and anxiously waiting for my card in the mail. FM’s website is a great resource on this. I particularly find his “which card to use” discussion (http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2015/01/26/the-best-card-for-reloading-redbird-3/) to be interesting. I assume the 5% you mention at grocery is the WF Visa (for six months)? Are you aware of any Visa cards (for the Target grocery category) that pay say 3% (or 3x) or more for grocery category, that isn’t capped (or with a relatively high cap) or with a limited time offer (like 6 months)? Don’t think there is, or it would be on FM’s list. So that leaves the options on his list (many good ones), working toward minimum spends, or using the best 2%+ cash-back card option available.

    • You can load REDcard with any gift card (except Target gift cards) so you can get 3x or 5x that way, by buying gift cards wherever you have such categories.

      Further, you can load them as credit cards (without having to input pin), just hit cancel when it prompts for pin.

  2. I’m confused about how to use gift cards at Wal-Mart to reload Serve or Bluebird. The FAQ’s on the Serve website, for example, specifically states that gift cards are not allowed for reloads. Thanks.

  3. I’m in the same exact boat and agree with everything you wrote. I’ve finally warmed up to RB and obtained one (although they’re not here yet). I maxed out Feb limits for Serve. Will be going to Target Wednesday morning to do the switch. I’ll close my Serve as soon as I successfully walk out of Target with my temporary RB activated (have read you can wait to close Serve up until the point you register RB online).

    I’m curious, how did your experience go with initial load/registration in-store? I ask because an out-of-market store will undoubtedly cause a few raised eyebrows, confusion (as with their amex rb that’s of the non prepaid variety) and possible security/manager approvals. How much did you load on your initial deposit?

    • I got a RB today in Pittsburgh, PA. Actually, I got two. One for myself and one for my wife. Here is the Readers Digest version:

      They asked for, and scared my ID.
      I had to provide my SSN, my birthday, phone number. I had to agree to autodialed phone calls.

      I went to pay and was going to use my Amazon Rewards Visa (only because my SWRR Visa hasn’t arrived yet.), but the transaction was declined. So I used my AmEx Blue and loaded it with $500.

      By the time we finished this transaction (it was the cashiers first one), the line was pretty long behind me. Since I knew we were doing some shopping, I told the guy we would come back.

      Came back and checked out. Paid for our stuff with the RB that I purchased maybe 30 mins earlier.

      Went to load next card in my wife name. Same as before, provided info, tried to pay with Amazon Rewards Visa, declined. I didn’t want to put another $500 charge on the AmEx, so I used an old CapOne Platinum and only loaded $100 on it.

      Not sure what was happening with the Visa. I never received a fraud alert or anything. Anyone have any ideas?

  4. i’ve had the red card since October, however, I’ve been very careful. Right now, I need to meet the SW minimum spending of $ 10K to get both bonuses and companion pass. I could just go and make refills of 2.5k a day twice a month but I’m afraid chase will figure out my strategy. I do charge small expenses in between red card reloads and when I reload I do random figures. It is more work but I really want my companion pass and don’t want my account closed. I wonder if anyone out there got their accounts closed for excessive ms.

  5. We purchased RedCards out of state (on a Mileage Run) and using them locally in a state that does not have them yet has been NO PROBLEM!

    The staff at the customer services desk has taken the card and without skipping a beat we have had several, many reloads performed without a glitch.

    We have had a few questions like “Hey, I haven’t seen this card before” and when we explain it’s a Target idea that is slowly expanding across the nation every cashier has said “Wow, that’s neat” and “That makes a lot of sense and is easier”

    So far, no problems with US Bank Visa, Chase Visa, US Bank AmEx or any “conventional AmEx” cards

    We simply hand them the card, and tell them we want to reload our RedCard, and then we walk them through the steps, but for them it is a non-event it seems. Only one cashier has mentioned that the register prompts them that “no Target gift cards may be used to reload” but she said “well, we knew that and you’re using a credit card instead”

  6. Doesn’t Target have a credit card that gives you a 5% back on all Target purchases? Couldn’t you use this to load the prepard RedCARD? Then, unload the prepaid RedCARD by buying a MO at Walmart? Or unload it via an Allpoint ATM? What am I missing? Are there fees that I’m missing that would make this a wash?

    • @Adam –

      If you use your Target CC, then you are not receiving any rewards/points/miles for that transaction.

      • The Target CC gets 5% back. If you can load the prepaid RedCARD using this, then you net the 5% reward on your Target CC. No miles, but still 5% back – right?

          • The RedCARD Prepaid is not a giftcard. Are you so certain it wouldn’t work? It’d be worth a try…

  7. I just made another Mileage Run and picked up a couple of RedCards that are loaded and ready to be registered.

    If anyone is interested in buying these from me (for a nominal charge for my effort) leave me your email here and I will contact you. Only have two, and I will include easy instructions on how to register them online (to get your permanent card) with your information.

  8. Do I need to close Serve before applying REDcard? also, it is not available in Cali right now. I am having a business trip in Phoenix next month. Can I buy it in Arizona with CA ID? Thanks

    • Yes you need to close it before applying for your permanent REDcard. You can close it in the account settings and yes they will allow you to purchase it with an out of state ID!

      • Hi Shawn,

        Thanks for quick reply. I read your other blogs. you are think RED card may not be able to reload with credit card later. Why do I need to close Serve and then open RED Card? I don’t want to open and close so frequently. Thanks

        • I do think credit card loads will go away eventually, however I have no idea how long it will last.

          Bluebird, Serve and REDbird all use the same backend system, so American Express only allows you to have one of them combined. It is their rule unfortunately.

    • Ryan, not only you can get the temporary activated card on an out of town trip but you can get more than one too, if you’d like! The one-per-person limitation comes to play only when you register online.

      On the other hand, for people who are thinking on traveling on purpose to get one, not worth the cost since its really cheap to buy one online. I’m one of the people who sells them, many others do also.

      • NoonRadar, Are you selling registered card? Can I reload with credit card or change card profile after buying yours? I just checked Target website. RED card is available in Tucson, AZ. I am going to Phoenix next month. If I can buy one online, I do not have to drive.

        • Ryan, I’m selling activated but unregistered cards, you use that info (the card’s acct nr + 4 digit sec code) to register for one in your name. The activated temporary card doesn’t have any personal info on it, its just a token for you to register online.

          10 days after the registration you get the permanent card in the mail, which has your name, different acct numbers (from the temp one) and as soon as you activate the permanent one, the temp card becomes disabled. The temp card I sell has $1 balance on it which gets transf to the permanent one.

          This process works the same way regardless of whether you obtain the temporary card in person at Target or online from me or from other people who sell them. So that I don’t abuse this blog post with my personal business (selling this cards online) pls email me at NoonRadar@gmail.com for more info if you’re interested. I’ve provided this to hundreds and have many feedback comments from previous buyes on public MS blogs, which I can provide as reference.

          For people who are not sure if their local (or nearby) store has them and plan to drive, if you want to call the store to find out make sure to ask specifically for the PREPAID Target REDcard, since there’s also a debit and a credit product by the same name. You can specify that this is a new product since Oct 2014. You can also look it up by the store locator link: https://amex.serve.com/prepaidredcard/?ref=sr_shorturl_prepaidredcard#store-locator though I’d personally call to also verify if I’d be driving somewhere far.

          P.S. Needless to say I’m NOT affiliated with this blog and only speak for myself. I merely commented here for the sake of commenting and providing info about REDcard, and also about offering this service for people who’d rather not spend money driving to another city/state to purchse a Redbird. Like myself, there’s other people who offer this online.

  9. Can you have the Target REDcard and the Target Amex Reloadable (the sparkly silver card). I know both are from Amex, but I think that it outside the Serve, Bluebird, REDcard family.

    I understand that there are fees tied to the second card mentioned, but I also have a no-fee ATM nearby.

    I have access to both of the cards, but at oddly enough, each at different stores.

    I don’t have family so I cannot get family members to sign up for just the REDcard so I am looking for options. Any advice are greatly appreciated.

  10. I never thought of switching from Bluebird to Redcard until today when I went to WM to load Visa Gift Cards onto my Bluebird. They told me that they can not longer do that – unless I had a debit card with my name on it. (I’m not sure what she meant.) But let me ask you: now that I have $5000 in $200 Visa Gift Cards that are unloaded, is Redcard the new approach that I should be taking? If you all recommend Redcard and I sign up for it, will the loading of the Visa Gift Cards be a relatively easy process? Any advice will be appreciated!

    • Harlan you could certainly switch to the REDcard, but sometimes cashiers want to see your ID and prepaid cards don’t have a name so it too is YMMV. Remember if there is a MoneyCenter kiosk in your Walmart that may be a better option or you could always try another cashier.

      • Thanks, Shawn, for your speedy reply, regarding a switch to Redcard. Still, my immediate problem is how/where to reload the $5K in Visa Gift Cards that I can no longer add to Bluebird through Walmart. I need to pay my May credit card bills with that $5K.

          • Thank you noon radar! Also, just wondering…in one month can I load more than $1000 in Visa Gift Cards onto Redbird? Or is $1000 the limit? I have $5K in GCs to deposit…

          • Harlan, the same (cumulative) credit card loading limits apply: $1K/swipe, $2.5K/day, $5K/month.

            Cumulative meaning that if for example for May you’ve already loaded $3K to Redbird with credit cards, you got $2K left to load with credit cards, gift cards, or a combination of.

    • If you want to stick with loading gift cards, one method is buying personalized amex gcs online so you have your name on the card. Note, I’ve not yet loaded to a RB yet going this route, although I will in the future. I know many do this. You can look for cash back alerts from online cb sites as well, usually in the 1-2.25 range. Buying with a 2% cc and utilizing cb sites will yield you 3-4% cb.

      I have access to a Serve account for visa gc loads, although this option is slowly losing its appeal overall.

  11. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for your response. And I have a another question a bit off topic. I tried to load Redcard yesterday with $500 gift card I bought in Ralph’s with freedom in 1st quarter. It did not go thru as I found out my gift card balance is $19. The card info has been stolen and someone made purchase in Walmart in East coast. Do you know how can I dispute? Can I call chase to dispute or Ralph or the gift card company? Have you seen my experience before? I was stupid that I did not register my gift before. Do you think chase would investigate for me if I call my chase banker directly? Thanks.

    • You most likely will have to call the bank that issued the gift card. I have heard of this happening and most of the time it can be difficult to get the money back. Chase most likely won’t do anything as long as the card was properly activated and Ralph’s will probably tell you that what happens after it leaves their store isn’t their concern.

      I would probably contact all three, but based on other people’s experiences you probably will be stuck dealing with the gift card issuing bank who probably won’t be of much help. This is a good reminder that it is best to liquidate gift cards as soon as possible and to always check the packaging for signs of tamper.

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