Kate vs. K8. Loading Bluebird/Serve vs. REDbird.

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Kate vs. K8

Note: As of 10/13/15 the Target REDcard (REDbird) can only be loaded with cash in-store at Target. Gift cards and/or debit cards no longer work to load REDcard. For more info, see: Here is the REDbird memo, “Cash is the only tender guests can use”

Note: On January 8, 2016 American Express sent out a notice to a large number of Bluebird & Serve cardholders informing them that loading capabilities on their accounts had been terminated. For more information, see: Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend

Many Target stores across the country have updated their customer swipe terminals, and the process for loading REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard) has changed.  Via email, Rapid Travel Chai reports the new process as follows (bolding is mine):

..Now customer swipes all cards, cashier never touches the RedBird. Cashiers mostly don’t know how to do it, one who did said they need to “K8, K8” then customer is prompted to swipe, after swipe the cashier enters the amount of the load. System is very slow to respond, each load took 1-2 minutes and several prompts for each person. Split payment is possible but not with the “do you want it all on the card” which seems to cancel everything, so cashier needs to be told along with load amount…

After receiving this and several other similar emails over the course of the past week or so, I went back to my local Target to see if anything had changed.  Nope, not yet. So far, things are unchanged at my local Target.  From email reports (like above) and forum reports, I gather the following regarding loading REDbird at stores with updated registers:

  • The cashier must press K8 to get the process started.
  • The customer rather than the cashier now swipes REDbird.
  • The process is much slower than before (this may only be a problem at stores that updated their swipe terminals, but not their registers)
  • Split tender payments can no longer be initiated by the customer.
  • Many/most cashiers do not know about the new process.
  • There seems to be renewed confusion about whether or not debit gift cards are allowed for payment (see: REDbird still flying, but not everywhere).

The funny thing about cashiers having to press K8 is that one could read K8 as “Kate”.  And, as many readers know, “Kate” is the nickname many use for the Walmart Money Center Express Machine, which can be used to load Bluebird and Serve (both of which are similar to REDbird. Please see: The complete guide to Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve).

Kate vs. K8

Kate vs. K8

Now that we have the same phonetic option for loading REDbird at Target and Bluebird or Serve at Walmart, lets compare the options head to head:

Kate
(Walmart)
K8
(Target)
Reliability Poor:  It’s difficult to find a working machine. Good: Few cashier’s know to press K8, but once they do the process generally works.
Split Tender Not available Poor: Requires cashier who understands how to do this.
Speed Poor: If you go to fast, you’ll lock up the machine (details here) Poor: New process is reportedly very slow.
Accepts debit gift cards Good: As long as you don’t try a Vanilla branded gift card. Great (or Poor): All gift cards with PINs work as long as the cashier or manager doesn’t stop you.
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