The Good News About REDcard & A Strategy Going Forward

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target redcard debit loads
New at Target. No credit card loads. Booo. Photo by Mike Mozart.

The Silver Lining in this REDcard Situation

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

Yesterday I reported that credit card loads to Target’s REDcard (REDbird) would end as of today. Over the course of the day yesterday more evidence came in that seemed to confirm it. By the time I went to sleep last night I was 98% sure credit card loads were over.

This morning reports have been coming in from across the country that credit card loads are not working. Some people report the register saying “$0 available to be loaded for this tender type” while others are saying the register says that you can’t load from Target gift cards or third party credit cards.

Is There Actually Good News?

Either way, credit card loads to REDcard are dead. So what should you do next? First off, read my post about not freaking out. Now that you have done that, I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS for you. Pin-enabled prepaid debit cards are still working to load REDcard.

This means that Visa/Mastercard pin-enabled gift cards that are purchased at grocery stores, drug stores and malls should all continue to work to load REDcard. While this will work similar to Walmart, there is one key exception. Target likes Vanilla.

target redcard debit loads
My REDcard strategy involves lots of Vanilla.

My Short Term Strategy

The other day I wrote about my Vanilla problem. You see, a lot of the local Office Depot stores have $200 Vanillas Visas, but those are a pain to load at Walmart since you can only do it $49.99 at a time. On the other hand, the local Officemax stores carry easier Metabank cards, but they only have $100 denominations here.

While I am still sad about losing credit card loads to REDbird, it just became my preferred Vanilla liquidation method. Right now since I can purchase Vanilla Visas at Office Depot for a discount and earn 5X, I am still doing really well. In fact, I am doing better than before.

Long Term

While the Vanilla solution works for me this month and next, once all of those cards are liquidated then I have to decide which of the three products (Bluebird, Serve, REDcard) works the best. I’ll tackle that in a later post once I have time to contemplate these developments a little more. With that said, preliminarily I like having a card that can easily liquidate Vanilla (and help me avoid Walmart), so REDcard still looks attractive to me.

Conclusion

The fact that pin-enabled gift cards work at Target to load REDcard is a blessing in my view. Thankfully it overlaps with the fantastic Office Depot/Officemax sale, which takes a bit of the sting of the loss away. Things may be a tiny bit harder than yesterday, but it could be so much worse!

Feel free to share your REDcard loading experiences in the comments.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. I have never done the pin enabled debit card loads before. I don’t have the Chase Ink so in my case I assume I will be stuck with the gift card fee? I’m only planning to use them for meeting minimum spending. Do they sell those Vanilla reloads at Target? That would save us a trip.

    • No they don’t sell them at Target, but you can purchase prepaid cards at Target and a variety of other stores (like grocery stores) which will work as well.

      Right now at Office Depot if you buy 3 x $200 Vanilla Visas the cost is $580.85 after the discount, so even if you don’t earn 5x with Ink, you are still getting the cards at below their face value. Going forward you should try to find the cheapest option to purchase $500 prepaid cards. Often times it can be at a local mall for $3.95 per $500.

      • I’m in the same boat as Leticia. Do you have a link to a specific post that goes more in depth on this for the Target gift cards and the office/grocery ones so we don’t buy the wrong ones? Especially interested if you’re able to get a Target gift card mentioned and turn right around 10min later to load RB. Thx.

  2. Hi, I too have never purchased any Pin enable debit cards. Can someone give a rundown are which exact names of gift cards to buy and from where? Just reading it seems onevanilla, vanilla visa, Simon Mall Visa work but what are each one exactly called as the vanilla ones all sound the same:)

    That would really help out.

    Thanks

  3. Do you know if the pin gift card can be auto drained like AGC? Do I need to tell the cashier to split the payment?

  4. Hi Shawn,

    Both Office Depot and Office Max are sold out of these in my area. What would you recommend as an online option for Visa gift cards for meeting minimum spending requirements, not to MS with Chase Ink?

    Thanks!
    Mark

  5. Odds are I will close both RB and convert back to Serve. Despite losing softcard limits, I believe Serve to be the superior option.

    Two things Serve has that RB does not:

    1. $1k online cc loads ( FIA Amex @ 2% @ $20/mo profit).
    2. Amex offers.

    Amex offers have been flowing in and it’s my opinion that Amex is ramping up its offers to push it’s post-Costco strategy. I put a conservative value of $10/mo on amex offers. Having one primary Serve account and two AU on each is then $30/mo.

    Between the online loads and amex offers I’m comfortable with placing a $50/mo value.

    You can still load gc at Wal-Mart (especially if you have a working Kate) as well. This means those who need to meet minimum spend requirements have this option.

    Do we know if Target will be apprehensive about loading with pin based gift cards? Over time the usage is going to increase dramatically and it’ll be interesting to see how they react to it.

    I don’t have any OD/OM nearby (35 min) so any deal at these locations isn’t appealing for me. Staples here started limiting me to two gc per 24 hours. This avenue for MS in my area isn’t worthwhile so I won’t get a lot of gc to liquidate.

    If GCM online cb increases and/or we’re able to find a way to double dip to offset the 1% GCM fee that would prove to be a reason to keep a RB open.

    Point of all my rambling is as of today I don’t see the value in keeping a RB. This could change of course. This is MS after all!

  6. Sigh, doesn’t feel like good news. Wife just cancelled SERVE and was planning to buy the RedBird in Albuqurque tomorrow…. Now feel like a dupe. Be curious to know how RedBird now stacks up with Serve — or would most folks be better off sticking with Serve & BBird. (I just used my first working Kate this am w/ a BBird — that worked very well….. so much better than standing in miserable lines. And then there’s the paper check options…. Glad I didn’t toss my bluebird for the now ailing red bird.)

    • I definitely wasn’t saying the loss of credit card loads is good news. My point was that at least debit cards are working. The only good news that can be reported. At this point I would say Serve is a better product, because it has access to Amex Offers and still allows online credit card loads from Amex cards.

      • Very debatable. For someone like me who doesn’t really MS outside of meeting minimal spend, going the debit card route via Redbird still trumps 1k a month load with only a few eligible CCs.

        • Serve also has the ability to do $5k a month in debit loads at Walmart so basically Serve is $5k in-store & $1k online (limited) and REDbird is only $5k in-store.

          Of course you can make the Walmart vs. Target argument, but their in-store debit limits are the same.

        • I posted a comment in the other RB blog post referencing what is for me an opportunity cost of $50/mo by not switching back to Serve. The basis of this was online load + amex offers.

          I don’t have the time to MS much these days either, and I’d still choose Serve. If anything it’s for that reason I’d choose Serve! I have a working Kate and can load them at Wal-Mart too.

          As Shawn stated Serve also has 5k limits for debit cards so you’re not high and dry for minimum spend.

          • I forgot to mention that there’s no Walmart in NYC. Plus, I have several Amexes in the family that usually suffice for offers. But mainly it’s the location issue.

            What’s Kate, by the way?

        • Kate is the name given to the ATM used for loading the gift cards to Serve.

          I personally can’t have enough Amex cards for Amex offers! Between Small Business Saturday and the Sam’s and Smart&Final offer for me, each card is worth $125 each this year alone (and we’re not half way done with 2015).

          Switching to RB on my wife’s account cost me much more over the last 2 months than it saved me. Is part of the game so I knew it before pulling the trigger.

          Either way, I can only see serious MS’ers keeping a RB so they can unload debit gc (for debit gc that can’t be unloaded at WM or in situations where a WM isn’t near you). The majority of people (imo) are better off with Serve now.

  7. Thanks for an encouraging post. In later posts please share some ideas for those who do not have x5 business cards.

  8. […] Debit cards and gift cards can still be loaded to REDbird in-store with no issues (as long as the cashiers allow it). This requires an extra step (CC>GC>RB), but it can lead to even more points and miles if you take advantage of category bonuses (eg. Ink at office supply stores, Blue Cash at grocery stores, ect.). This is the same situation Serve and Bluebird are in, the only difference is that Target employees tend to be much easier to work with than Walmart employees. […]

    • I actually had a similar experience, although they were at stores I hadn’t been to previously. Were the two stores you visited previously selling them with credit cards?

  9. I have some MetaBank cards, fulfilled my GCM, that I bought from Staples when UPromise was paying out. Question: What is the PIN set to for these cards?

    • It’s the last 4 digits of the card.

      You can also set your own pin number. I use my gowallet app and there’s an option to set it after you add the card to your account. I don’t always do this but I have had issues in the past where the default pin number for whatever reason didn’t allow the transaction to go through.

      You can also load Metabank vgc at Wal-Mart if you have Serve.

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