Confirmed: REDcard likes Vanilla and more

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?

We finally have a few answers about REDcard!  REDcard is a new product that is so similar to Bluebird that some are calling it Redbird.  For details about what has gone before and what this REDcard/Redbird thing is, please see:

Earlier this week, I bought a temporary Target Prepaid REDcard and registered it in my wife’s name.  Since then, I’ve been dying to get the permanent card to start experimenting with it.  Yesterday, my wife received an email saying that her permanent card was on its way!


I thought I would have to wait for the card to arrive to answer some basic questions.  Can REDcard be loaded by credit card?  Assuming not, can it be loaded with Visa and MasterCard gift cards with PINs?  What about those Vanilla gift cards that have become difficult to use at Walmart?  Will those work at Target?

My wife’s card didn’t arrive today, but she did get an email reminding her to register the permanent card when it arrives.  Interestingly, the email also said:

Please note, until you activate your Personalized Card, you will only be able to use your Available Balance and re-load your Account with up to a maximum of $1,500.

Wait a minute…. that means we can reload the temporary card before receiving the permanent card!  I quickly read through the T&C documentation that came with the temporary card and found that once the temporary card is registered it can be used at MoneyPass ATMs to withdraw money, and it can be loaded up to $1,500.  Time for a quick experiment!

I ran out to Target with the temporary REDcard and a pocket full of gift cards and assorted debit cards.  Out of curiosity, I first tried withdrawing cash from the ATM.  It worked.  Then I went to a register to reload the card…

Starting small, I asked to load $500 to the card.  I tried to pay with my credit card, but the transaction was denied (note: it turns out that there was a fraud alert on my credit card, so this part was just a botched experiment). I then tried swiping a One Vanilla gift card that I had bought at my local three letter drugstore. The card reader immediately recognized it as a debit card.  I made up a PIN and the transaction processed without further ado.  Success!

Next, I tried loading $1000.  The cashier couldn’t get it to go through at all.  We kept trying lower amounts until the register finally accepted $500 as a valid load amount.  My guess is that the temporary card was limited to $1500 in loads altogether and since I had started the card with $500 originally and had just loaded another $500, I had only $500 available yet to load.  At this point, that’s just my best guess of why I was limited to $500.  Anyway, this time I swiped a Visa gift card I had bought at my local mall, and after I input the last 4 digits on the card, the transaction went through.

Some questions answered, many remain

The question of whether gift cards with PINs will work has been answered.  Yes, the cards I tried worked and they worked well.  The question of whether Vanilla gift cards work has also been answered affirmatively.

Questions still to answer include:

  • Will credit cards work to reload Redbird?  Surprisingly, the register didn’t stop me from trying to use a credit card for payment. The transaction was stopped by my credit card company due to suspicious activity.  I wish I had thought to check that because I could have called to clear it up and done a proper test!  I’m actually beginning to think that there’s a decent chance that credit cards will work!
  • How large of a load can we do?  The card allows up to $2500 in load per day and up to $5000 per month.  That said, Target may only allow $500 at a time; $1000 at a time; etc.  Note: The website claims that Target will allow up to $1500 at a time: “You can add cash to your Target Prepaid REDcard® Account for free at all Target locations in the US. Add up to $1,500-just give your cash and Card to the cashier and your money will be added immediately.
  • Will Target drain each debit card automatically?  Assuming we can do a large single load at the register, do we have to ask the cashier to split tender in order to pay with multiple gift cards or will the register handle that automatically?  With credit card loads of the old Amex for Target card, the register handled it automatically.  One would ask to load $1000 and then swipe one card after another, draining each one along the way.  I expect that the same would be true with Redbird.

Anxious to keep experimenting, I picked up a second temporary REDcard today and tried to register it to my name after closing my Serve account.  Unfortunately, there was a technical problem and I had to call and open a case.  So, it may be a while before I can do any tests with that card.  Fortunately, my wife’s permanent card is on its way.  As soon as it arrives I’ll activate it and rush out to Target.  I’ll let you know what I find!

Has anyone else tried reloading REDcard yet?  What did you find?

Read more about REDbird:


About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] In my first encounter with REDcard, a store manager told me that it could be reloaded with debit cards, but not with credit cards (see “Amex introduces new Bluebird-like Target REDcard!”).  Then, when I discovered that the temporary card was reloadable after registering it, I found out that it was easy to reload with gift cards, but I botched the credit card experiment (see “Confirmed: REDcard likes Vanilla and more”).  […]


  1. I hate going to walmart so if I could get this AND get 5% off at target that would be great. Too bad it doesn’t seem to be offered in California yet.

  2. Is there an ATM to do the loads at? The benefit, at least for someone, for the Walmart products, is you can do transactions at their Moneycenter ATM’s.

  3. HI,

    I tried buying visa GC from giftcardmall today with my amex gift card but it doesn’t allow me. It says “invalid card number” when I punch in the 15 digit card number. Does it not work anymore?


    • Wow you are really late to the game on using Amex GCs to buy VGCs at GCM. GCM has disallowed the use of purchasing VGCs with Amex GCs since 8/26/14. You gotta use your credit card if you want to buy VGCs from GCM.

  4. I’ve been waiting for this kind of post from you and it came out. I live in Massachusetts and walmarts are very limited in my area. If I can write checks like the blue bird this will be THE game changer for me. Hope they allow at least allow me to send a bill pay check to myself and pay the rent etc.

  5. Great coverage on this new development. What’s the over/under on how many boarding area bloggers regurgitate this over the next 24 hours?

  6. I’ll stick to WM…it’s been my experience that if the person at the register at trgt thinks you’re getting “too good a deal” or thinks you shouldn’t be able to do something, they a lot more readily involve management. Or an instance when doing something completely legit w/ a manager running the register refused to complete transaction b/c she didn’t feel …yes FEEL it should be done and actually called corporate to verify.

    Sure, you can say “once it’s done, they are trained”…but especially w/ their CC fiasco, they have been a lot more questioning of any volume trnx.

    At least with WM they generally have a fear of involving mgmnt b/c they don’t want to look like they didn’t learn something they should have.

      • Says right on the application page that you must be 16 years of age or older.

        Overview of the Debit Card Application Process:

        You must be 16 years of age and have a United States or Canadian address to apply for a Target Debit Card online. You must have a United States based checking account.
        The Target Debit Card is issued by Target Corporation and can only be used at Target stores in the United States and on
        Keep in mind, you’ll need to have handy your Social Security number; valid driver’s license, state ID or military ID; personal checking account and bank routing numbers; and other personal information.
        We’ll have to verify your personal checking account number before you can use your card.
        This application will time out after 15 minutes.

        • I think you found the documentation for the Target debit REDcard which is different from the Target Prepaid REDcard. For the Prepaid REDcard, the FAQ states:

          Target Prepaid REDcard by American Express Accounts available to U.S. residents who are over 18 years old only (or 19 in certain states) and for use virtually anywhere American Express® Cards are accepted worldwide, subject to verification.

  7. If I buy from a location that supports it (like most places in MD) can I then go to a state that isn’t listed on the official website (like in DC) and load the card?

    • The Target Amex worked in this way. I know many purchased it in other districts and then were able to load it at stores in states that didn’t sell the card. I’d like to think it’d be the same, but I’m really curious to hear others’ experiences myself.

      • Even if the load works ok in a non selling state wouldn’t you still have to travel to the state that sells it? As opposed to have a friend buy it and ship it to you?

        • Could be that you live right across the border from a state that sells it, as I do. Could be that you’re traveling and have some time to kill.

  8. Can I buy a gift card at the mall, paying with a credit card, and then use that gift card to load an Amex Serve or the Target Red Card (assuming the gift card is a Visa)?

  9. But what is “magical” these days about Vanilla gift cards? I guess for some people in some regions, they’re easier to buy than other gift cards?

    I still don’t see the reason to get the Redbird, unless Target is significantly more convenient for you than Walmart.

    • It completely depends upon your situation. Some people find Vanilla much easier to buy than other types of gift cards, and they’re especially lucrative for those with 5% cash back drug store bonuses. In my case my interest is more about how convenient Target is compared to Walmart, and it was great to get confirmation that gift cards can be used for loads.

  10. I would love to hear any West Coast load success/failure tales so we can determine if if is meaningful for us to lean on our East coast “friends” to buy the Target card for us? Is the juice worth the squeeze?

  11. wondering if this is a YMMV thing? I’ve had awful luck previously trying to load amex4target cards using prepaids. cashiers/managers wouldn’t allow it. I somehow got lucky and have both a working serve and bluebird in my name, so I’m thinking not worth the risk tinkering with things trying to get this card, even though I drastically prefer going to target vs. walmart.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. The Targets I tried never allowed me to load with GCs to my AFT card. They always asked for a name in the card and check with ID before loading it. That is the reason I prefer WM where there is no questions asked to load a GC to BB/serve!

    • Wow, if you have both Bluebird and Serve now, I agree that it would be risky to try to switch. I can tell you this about the cashiers:
      1) When loading with prepaid cards, they never had to look at the cards. I swiped them myself and entered in the PINs without any intervention by the cashier.
      2) When loading with credit cards, the cashier had to see the last 4 digits (so Amex gift cards may be a bigger YMMV type of thing since they’ll process as credit cards)

  12. @frequentmiler: You said you “bought one for my wife and was able to register it in her name when I got home.” So does this mean the process for buying the card is not like AFT, where you have to show the DL of the person buying the card? What did you have to provide – if anything – to purchase the card?

    • Unfortunately, it IS like AFT with the drivers license and the whole bit. Where it differs is that when you get home you can have to register your card online. At that point, you can put in a different person’s info.

  13. Two Questions… Can you reload the Prepaid card with a Target Gift Card bought from an office supply store with a Chase Ink with 5x’s points?

    Anyone gone out of state and acquired the card and been able to reload it at your local target when you returned home?

    • 1) No. The register displays a message saying that the transaction cannot be paid with a gift card (and that message is intended to mean no Target gift card).
      2) Not out of state, but I was able to load at a non-participating Target.

  14. I live in NH and the closest place to get a card is in MA. Does anyone know if I was to buy a card in MA would I be able to load it in NH?

  15. Sounds interesting.. Newbie questions here…
    I think I get the idea of the uses and how this can result in CC points for transactions that were previously not payable by CC.
    1) Once REDCard is loaded can you then login online and say send a payment check to your electric company, or mortgage payment for you home loan? And they get a paper check…. that is powered by $ from your rewards credit card? Correct?
    2) Did I read that this REDCard can not be loaded from a AMEX CC to get points from Amex?
    3) If I use a CHASE card to load and my father has a CHASE card under my account, but in his name and address, can he load and use a REDCard of his own to then get points on my CHASE CC from his loading of his REDCard and I get points on that same CHASE account from my loading of my REDCard? Essentially getting up to $10K in points per month on my CHASE card?
    Thank you

    • 1) Yes, mostly correct. Many bills are paid electronically rather than by paper check. Also, the funds for the check come from the money on your REDcard (which you could have loaded there with your rewards credit card at Target)
      2) No, that’s not true. Amex credit cards are fine to use at Target
      3) Yes

  16. I live in a state that sells this card and have already purchased 1 for my own use. However, my friends and relatives from other states, have asked me to buy additional 8 cards so they can activate. Do you think this will raise any red flags as I am required to give my Driver License??

  17. I purchased one last night, when I went to register it I received an email saying I needed to provide proof of indentification, specifically asking me to upload a picture of my social security card, and then my drivers license. I called the # on the card to make sure it wasn’t a scam or something and they said it was secure and I wouldnt be able to register until I did that

  18. CVS no longer allows purchase of Vanilla gift cards with credit cards. System is displaying “alternate tender required.” Is there any other ways to do MS now?

    • Please disregard my previous comment. I tried both cards, AX and visa and I found out later that both of those cards were declined. I now know that ‘alternate tender required’ also means my cards are declined.

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