REDbird still flying, but not everywhere

REDbird still flying

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”

On May 6th, 2015, REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard) reloads via credit card came to an end.  Target registers were recoded overnight to accept only cash or debit.  While this change wasn’t unexpected, it did make REDbird less convenient for points & miles collectors.

In the post, “REDbird PM (post memo) Answers,” I pointed out that one could still use debit cards, including Visa and MasterCard gift cards, to reload REDbird.  As a result, the new process became:

  1. Use rewards earning credit card to buy Visa/MasterCard gift cards
  2. Use gift cards as debit cards to reload REDbird
  3. Log into REDbird and pay bills that can’t usually be paid by credit card (mortgage, rent, or anything).

This is the same process many people use to reload the similar Bluebird and Serve cards (see: The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, and Serve) except that Bluebird and Serve must be reloaded at Walmart rather than Target (Serve can also be reloaded in this way at Family Dollar).  And, REDbird still had a big advantage: Vanilla branded gift cards (found at many popular stores) work well as debit cards at Target, but not so well at Walmart.

Gift cards not accepted… at some locations

Its been more than a month since the credit card ban took effect.  Since then, almost every day I’ve heard from at least one reader who has asserted that gift card loads at Target are dead too.  They had tried to reload REDbird at their local Target and were told that gift cards were no longer accepted.  Some were told that this was a corporate wide policy.  At some stores the issue seems to be that they require that debit cards have your name on them.  Other stores seem to dislike gift cards in general.

Still, despite this, I’ve continued to reload REDbird regularly with generic gift cards at area Target stores without issue.  In fact, I reloaded just yesterday.  And, I’ve heard the same from many readers.

A common conversation with a reader goes like this (this reader was referring to the Amex for Target card which has the same reload rules as REDbird):

REDbird still flying

Personalized gift cards

If the issue at your Target is that your debit card must have your name on it, there are ways to make that happen.  For example, please see the section titled “Gift Cards with a Customized Name” in the resource page: Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards (found under the Gift Cards menu on this site).

Changing to Bluebird or Serve

I plan to stick with REDbird unless/until my area Targets stop accepting debit gift cards.  For those who want to switch to Bluebird or Serve, though, there’s a simple solution:

  1. Empty your REDbird account: Pay bills; or withdraw to your bank account (found under “Settings”); or send money to another REDbird, Bluebird, or Serve user.
  2. Close your REDbird account: Log in, click the menu icon, select “Profile”, scroll to the bottom and click “Close Account
  3. Signup for Bluebird or Serve online: You can do this immediately after closing your REDbird account.  To avoid issues, I recommend using a different email address than the one you used for REDbird.

REDbird still flying

REDbird still flying

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

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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Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Karen
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Karen

I already changed 2 of my 4 redcards to bluebird this month. (I will keep 2 for Target.). I loaded $5000 the first week, have emptied them, cancelled them, and ordered new bluebird cards. I have already received them and am loading them for this month also (double mileage). Keeping the same email was no problem.

Billy
Guest
Billy

Are you able to load your bluebird with Credit card ?

Dan
Guest
Dan

I loaded $2K of VGC from Simon Mall yesterday at Target in Columbus, Ohio. No issues.

Carl C
Guest
Carl C

I have loaded 25k this month (5 different card) with 1)200 staples vgc, 2)vanilla vgc 3)sunnies 4)generic vgc from grocery stores (purchase with AGC FTW!)

No issues.

I suggest that people learn to practice more social engineering skills. Don’t wait to be told that it won’t work.

Proactively hand your redbird and tell them your loading your card again (the again creates subtle cues of accepted past behavior) today with debit. Sometimes I casually remind them they have to swipe bar up and BEFORE the message pops up on their screen I remind them “oh it will say you can’t use target gc etc, i’m using debit”

After a successful load with a cashier that greases the wheels to continue load with them.

I will often say that I have to step out of line for record keeping and will come back through when I’m ready and will see them in a few minutes.

All of this kind of interaction is designed to reduce barriers and prevent the scenarios where unsure cashiers can 1)make up rules 2)interpret things incorrectly 3)remember a memo that some overzealous manager made up a rule

Works for me.

Matt
Guest
Matt

+1000 on this. Don’t stand there holding a stack of gift cards out in the open like a dummy. Talk to them like you’ve done this a million times before. Say “split tender”, if you’re using multiple cards, talk their language. I also hold my cards under the lip of the counter where they can’t see them, only bringing it up for a second or two to swipe when they say to swipe.

Radster
Guest
Radster

“Don’t stand there holding a stack of gift cards…Say “split tender””.

I agree with your first point, but you’re undermining your initial action by doing multiple loads in the same transaction. As soon as you ‘split tender’ you raise a flag and, quiet frankly, you might as well be standing there with a stack of GC’s.

Mark O
Guest
Mark O

Loaded the other day and the swipe was not working on my end and she asked for the card and I was like oh sh@t. She grabbed it and asked is this a gift card and I said yes and she said it should work and swiped it on her end and it went through. So some of them know we are using gift cards and think it is fine.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Its no different than how some WM wont allow GCs. You people need to get better at not only social engineering but also the art of concealment and or sleight of hand. Don’t stand there with a visible stack of cards asking to load over and over again. Hold a real debit card in case you are asked, then swipe a GC. I’ve never, in over 2 years and 1MM plus of swipes had trouble.

Radster
Guest
Radster

Each unto their own, but I draw the line at employing “sleight of hand” for such matters – crosses a moral (and potentially legal) line for me.

patternseverywhere
Guest
patternseverywhere

I tried to load a Visa GC at Target yesterday and the moment the rep saw me pull out my Redbird, she slapped it out of my hand onto the ground! Astonished, I bent down to retrieve it and as I turned back toward her, she blinded me with a bag of Market Pantry flour, hopped over the counter and jump kicked me in the throat. As I was writhing in the pain on the ground, in full view of other customers, she picked up one of those red plastic shopping carts, hoisted it above her head and said, “I got your Red Bird right here. Watch it go Up & Up!!!” That was the last thing I remember before the brief moment of blinding pain. I’m typing this from my hospital room. The good news is the doctors were successful removing the metal wheel from my skull. The bad news is someone at Target Corporate is gonna get a stern talking to. STERN.

Walker
Guest
Walker

@patterseverywhere

Thanks for that post, I haven’t laughed that hard in a while…
“I got your redbird right here”

Gisele
Guest
Gisele

LOL

Radster
Guest
Radster

Yeah, but did she load your GC?

memsrr
Guest
memsrr

I have no problem as of yesterday loading gift cards at Target. I walk in and tell them I am loading with a debt card then slide the card when it is ready. They never even ask to see the card and I don’t show it to them. My Target doesn’t even sell the redcard. I had to go about 45 minutes away to buy one.

Vh
Guest
Vh

About 3 weeks ago, I used a Visa gift card to reload my Redbird. Transaction went through fine with appropriate receipt. However, when I tried to use the Redbird to pay one of my bills, I found that the funds were not there. Called customer service for Redbird and they said it was because I used GC. They traced the transaction and said don’t worry they would get it resolved. After 2.5 weeks, I got a credit on my Target CC (not the GC) for the amount of the transaction and a letter from RedCard saying it is no longer possible to use GCs to load.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Where did you buy your Visa gift card from and what branding did it have on it?

CarlH
Guest
CarlH

Bluebird is no better. About one out of three times Walmart refuses to take gift cards to load Bluebirds. Not only do policies differ from store to store, but also person to person and day to day. Walmart is a customer service disaster. If you can use the Walmart ATMs, the problem generally goes away, but finding a working ATM is almost a miracle. Even the ATMs sometimes randomly reject the gift cards and then accept the same cards later. I have had them say payment type not allowed and then work with the same card a few minutes later.

JL
Guest
JL

+1. I’ve switched to the Serve product and I tried to load two different Serve cards at the Walmart Kiosk (KATE) with some GC’s yesterday. One worked great and the other card was not recognized. 20 minutes later after I bought some stuff inside the WM, I was able to successfully load the previously non-working Serve. Go figure.

Simran
Guest

Hey,
Come check out ChangeFindr! It is a great way to fundraise for different causes and charities. You can simply use your unused gift cards and select any amount of donation. We greatly appreciate your support!

Sue
Guest
Sue

I went to target on Wednesday to vgc from giftcardmall but it said denied and refer to card issuer. Target cashier is helpful so swiped twice. Both times have messages said denied refer to card issuer. Just wonder anybody have that problem.

Emily
Guest
Emily

I had that problem, too. I tried at 2 different places. Even though I had set a pin on them, they were automatically processing like a cc. The cashier tried a couple of times for me.

Mark O
Guest
Mark O

I had that happen yesterday (same message) and I checked transactions online and it showed a charge for $1.50 I did not make on the VGC. I went back and there and asked for $498 to loaded and it went through no problem.

Sue
Guest
Sue

I tried twice as debit and after I entered pin it takes longer than normal before message said denied refer to card issuer. I thought they block vgc as well.

RM
Guest
RM

Potential workaround to liquidating Vanilla Visa GC’s: find an independently-owned convenience store that sells money orders. You know, the one in your neighborhood that almost resembles a 90’s Chevron station but without all the big franchise signage, only faint silhouettes.

Anyway, they are free to operate without corporate red tape and usually don’t see a problem with using Visa/MC gift cards (maybe even CC?) to purchase MO’s. Worked for me on my first try, just used last four digits of CC as my pin #. Con’s: Money order fee will set you back $1-3 and may raise red flags at your bank if you choose to deposit money orders frequently in large quantities. Hope this helps some of you who ran into a brick wall with Redbird.

haruka
Guest
haruka

> Vanilla branded gift cards (found at many popular stores) work well as debit cards at Target, but not so well at Walmart.

Does this include Vanilla variable gift cards?
I found variable ones ($25-$500 I can choose) but not regular $500 card at local shop.
Can I use this for Red Bird reload?

Radster
Guest
Radster

Yes.

NoonRadar
Guest

It is important to note that the Target registers are not hard coded to reject any pin-based gift card anywhere, so if you get refused it is because a human is preventing you.

Like Greg, I’ve never had issues loading my 3 Redbird cards at any my local Target stores. But some people do report (here and on other blogs I follow regularly) having issues, most of them seem to be able to load after reading some of our suggestions like “try another cashier/shift/Target store” or suggestions like the one mentioned above regarding the approach…definitely don’t ask cashiers if you can load Redbird, tell them….personally I say “I am putting some money on my account” and hand them Redbird. Because I also shop some regular items at Target, I spread them so that I get one or two items each time I load one of my Redbirds.

The main thing is to try to be cool (remember, you’re not doing anything illegal!) and be proactive and social, but not pushy. Often times cashiers just don’t know, you can nudge them in the right direction, but if they refuse or are skeptical, just move onto another one.

Having said that, there’s some Target stores that seem to have made a store policy to not let people load with gift cards, but those are a small percentage and mostly in major/dense metropolitan cities, they’re probably the same ones that stopped credit card loading before May. You will know this is the case with a particular Target store if you attempt to load with different cashiers and at diff shifts and get the same (somewhat) unified response about not being able to load and why not. If this is the case, try other Target stores in your area; if somehow you’re out of luck, you can try Walmart. However, before switching I’d try to find data points from people in the area regarding loading Serve/Bluebird at Walmart, or the Dollar Store if you can depend on that.

After all, Redbird doesn’t have the huge advantage over Serve/Bluebird as it did before May 6th so if you can’t load at Target but can load at Walmart, def switch to Serve/Bluebird. That is unless you can convince a friend/family to help you sign up for another Amex prepaid acct, that way you can test with their Serve/Bluebird and keep your Redbird in the meantime, just in case things are not better at Walmart. You can also go back and forth also if need be.

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[…] There seems to be renewed confusion about whether or not debit gift cards are allowed for payment (see: REDbird still flying, but not everywhere). […]

Claire
Guest
Claire

First time loading Redbird with GC.
Purchased $300 MC GC this morning at Staples (comes with $20 Staples GC), and loaded $200 onto my Redbird in the afternoon at Westborough MA store without any problem. .