Why the New REDcard Beats Bluebird & Serve!

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Update:   You can no longer load Target Prepaid REDcard with debit cards or gift cards.

Update:   You can NO longer load your Target Prepaid REDcard directly with a credit card

I’ve written that there will always be different ways to earn miles and points.  And there’s now another prepaid card for folks to try.

Via Frequent Miler, Target and American Express introduced a prepaid card called Target Prepaid REDcard.  It functions much like as Bluebird and Serve, but it’s got an extra feature that lets you earn easy (and free) miles and points!

You can load REDCard directly with a credit card at Target, up to $5,000 per month!

Why The New REDcard Beats Bluebird Serve

Target Prepaid REDcard – Similar to Bluebird and Serve, but You Can Load It Directly With a Miles-and-Points Earning Credit Card!

The Target REDcard is not available in all areas.  But from Frequent Miler’s reports, it could really help folks with meeting minimum spending requirements and earning extra miles and points paying bills you can’t normally pay with a credit card.

That’s because there’s NO extra step of having to buy a gift card 1st (and pay gift card purchase fees), then load it to the card like Bluebird and Serve.  You can add funds DIRECTLY from your credit card!

What’s Target Prepaid REDcard?

Link:   Target Prepaid REDcard

The Target Prepaid REDcard is an American Express prepaid debit card, much like Bluebird or Serve.

It’s got a lot of the same features, including:

  • Adding money (via loading at the register at Target stores, linking your bank account, or linking your debit card)
  • Withdrawing money from ATMs (free at Target and Allpoint Network ATMs)
  • Direct deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Sub-accounts (for example, your kids or your sitter)
  • NO monthly fees

Note:   Unlike Bluebird, Target REDcard does NOT have paper checks.  But you can pay anyone (businesses or individuals) using online bill pay.

Note:   Unlike Serve, you can NOT use a credit card to add money online.  But you can use a debit (not gift) card for online loads.  And for cash register loads, you can use several different payment methods!  Including loading from your credit card!

The Target Prepaid REDcard has some extra perks that you don’t get with Bluebird and Serve, including:

  • 5% off all purchases at Target and Target.com (except prescriptions, gift cards, prepaid cards, clinic services, and eye exams)
  • Free shipping when you use your card at Target.com
  • An extra 30 days to return purchases to Target or Target.com
Why The New REDcard Beats Bluebird Serve

REDcard Has Extra Features Not Found With Bluebird or Serve, Like Free Shipping, Discounts on Store and Online Purchases, and 30 Extra Days for Returns

So if you live near a Target or shop there frequently, this could be a very good card for you!

How Do You Get One?

Link:   List of Participating Target Stores

You can only get a Target Prepaid REDcard if you do NOT have a Bluebird or Serve account.  So you’ll have to cancel your Bluebird or Serve account if you want to get a REDcard.

Currently, the REDcard is only available in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Not all Target stores in these states have the REDcard.  Check the store locator for exact locations.  Eventually, the card should be available in all Target stores, but it seems like they’re launching it slowly.

Note:   If you don’t live in 1 of the included states, there are still ways to get a REDcard!

You can purchase a temporary card at a participating Target store (up to a $500 initial load, and yes you can use a credit card!) then register it online.  But be sure to cancel your Bluebird or Serve account before you register.

Why The New REDcard Beats Bluebird Serve

You’ll Have to Buy a Temporary Card at a Participating Target, Then Register It Online

Once your card is registered, you can reload it at ANY Target store.  And both Frequent Miler and folks on FlyerTalk report that you CAN use a credit card to reload REDcard at Target!

But use caution here.  That’s because the official terms of the REDcard do NOT specifically say you can use a credit card to load it at the register.  They just say “cash reloads.”

Why The New REDcard Beats Bluebird Serve

No More Gift Card Fees! Add Money to REDcard at Target Directly With Your Credit Card

I don’t know for sure if this is a temporary glitch or a permanent feature of the REDcard.  Serve and Bluebird have similar language in their FAQs, but we know you can use gift cards to load those cards even though it’s not specifically stated.

Loading $5,000 a month directly with a credit card is THE most compelling feature of the REDcard.  It means no more fussing with gift cards, which usually charge a ~$3 to ~$7 fee.

Should You Get a Target Prepaid REDcard?


If you live near a Target, spend money there frequently, and don’t mind giving up a Bluebird or Serve account, then the REDcard might be a great deal for you!

The monthly loading limits are similar to Serve and Bluebird, but remember you can NOT use a credit card to load REDcard online, like Serve.

You can read the FAQs for information about limits and fees, but here’s a summary of REDcard’s loading limits:

  • Direct deposit:  $100,000 per year
  • “Cash” (loading at Target register, currently includes credit card loads):  $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month
  • Checking or savings account:  $2,000 per month
  • Debit card:  $200 per day and $1,000 per month
  • Request & receive money transactions:  $10,000 per month
  • Send money transactions:  $2,500 per month
  • Pay bills:  $15,000 per month ($5,000 per month for unregistered payees, like individuals)
  • ATM withdrawals:  $750 per day and $2,000 per month
  • Retail or online purchases:  $15,000 per month

Being able to load REDcard directly at Target with a credit card is huge!  You can load up to $5,000 a month ($2,500 maximum per day) using a credit card that earns miles and points.  Then use REDcard to withdraw cash or pay bills that can’t normally be paid with a credit card, like mortgage, rent, or student loans.

Why The New REDcard Beats Bluebird Serve

Instead of Paying Your Mortgage or Loans With Cash, Load REDcard With a Credit Card Then Use Their Bill Pay Feature

The loading limits for Serve are higher ($5,000 per month at the register, plus $1,000 a month online credit card loads, or $1,500 if you have the soon-to-be-phased-out Softcard) but you can’t use a credit card for register loads!

Some folks might prefer Serve’s higher limits, but I’m excited about REDcard and not having to worry about buying gift cards anymore!

Emily’s just cancelled her Bluebird account and we’re waiting for her new REDcard in the mail, so I’ll report back once we’ve received it with more details!

Bottom Line

American Express and Target have introduced the Target REDcard, which has most of the same features as Serve and Bluebird, plus some extra perks!

With the Target REDcard, you can add money (with a credit card) at a Target cash register, direct deposit, online bill pay, transfer money, withdraw cash for free at certain ATMs, and more.

Plus, you’ll get a 5% discount and an extra 30 days for returns when you use the card for purchases at Target or Target.com.

You can NOT have a REDcard if you have a Serve or Bluebird account.  So you have to choose which of the 3 you prefer!

Emily and I are waiting for her new REDcard to arrive in the mail.  I’ll update after we’ve experimented with it!

Have you switched to REDcard?  Please let me know about your experiences in the comments!

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55 responses to “Why the New REDcard Beats Bluebird & Serve!

  1. Daraius,

    What are your thoughts on the recent scare about RedBird account(s) being shutdown since the customers didn’t comply with Target’s views on how the card should be used?

    personally I’m going to wait it out and see what happens. I think another thing to point out is that Target doesn’t allow gift cards as a funding option. Therefore no going to bonus category (i.e. grocery) and buying gift cards and earning 5x points and then unloading the gift cards via RedBird.

    My theory– Target is doing a bait and switch method. They’re getting everyone to switch from BlueBird to RedBird and then they’re going to stop taking credit card as a funding option!

  2. It’s not advertised, but Minneapolis has one store that carries redbird. It’s the one in Northeast – I’m guessing it’s their “test market” store. It’s funny because even through Target is based in Minneapolis, has 20+ locations in the metro area, this is the only one I was able to find here 🙂

    @Travel Hack Guy – I’m guessing they just want people in their stores. That’s half the battle for ANY retailer. They already have a branded CC and a debit card offering 5% off, and redbird is the option to get the “unbanked” through the doors as well. Time will tell if the CC merchant & billpay fees make it no longer worth their while…..

  3. Have u been living under a rock for the last 6 months? Or is this post a joke?

  4. I can’t tell if you’re serious, or if this is an early April-fools post.

    RedCard came out in October 2014, is FAR from “new”, and if anything, is on its way out already.

    Either you didn’t know about it till now (which I find hard to believe) or you kept it from your readers for some reason (even though virtually ever other blogger has already written about it).

    Thoroughly confused.

  5. We have closed our Serve accounts and plan to get the new RedBird soon. We are excited and hope this will last.

  6. @Yehuda! Well said!

  7. I live in NY and bought a Redcard while traveling to MD on business. I have reloaded in NY at the Customer Service counter using a credit card without any issue. I love the card. Loading $1K/month onto my Serve card online from my home was a breeze but loading $5K a month is so much better. My wife still has Serve and we can transfer to each other!
    Some thoughts regarding Redcard best practices so as not to get cancelled.
    1. Do not load multiple times a day.
    2. Do not transfer your funds immediately out of your account after a load and do not transfer using the same denominations as the loads themselves.
    3. Use the funds for bills other than the credit cards actually used to load the Redcard – do not churn!
    4. Use the card at Target every so often!

  8. Serve with Softcard allows you to load $8K/month ($5000 at Walmart via gift cards purchased at 5X + $1500 via bank debit card online loads + $1500 via credit card online loads). Although Target is a more customer-friendly experience than Walmart, $8000/month beats $5000/month. I think this is not discussed in your post.

  9. I found that I cannot withdrawal more than $400 from the ATM in a day. Went to two different stores, but maybe the timing was too close.

    Some of the real bills I have cannot be loaded as a business; RedCard does not recognize the account numbers. So I have to set them up as personal payees. Not an issue yet but could become one if I want to send myself a check for a significant amount to get my money out.

  10. I got the Target Redcard a week ago. Here are some of my thoughts:
    1: Since they offer a 5% discount in Target, it’s going to lead me to buy more at Target. I’m assuming this is Target’s main goal of the Redcard. Personally those that are using the Redcard for points/miles should spend some of the money on their Redcard at Target since there is a 5% discount and it’s basically giving back to them (more business) what they’re giving to us (free points/miles and discounts). This will make it less likely for them to want to shut down this program in the future.
    2: I read somewhere that Target is aware of people loading the Redcard with a credit card at Target registers to earn points/miles, and see it as ok if it brings in more business to them and increases their revenue.
    3: Target probably has deeply discounted rates with the credit card companies, so the fees shouldn’t affect them as much as a smaller store.
    4: With American Express losing a large chunk of their revenue through Costco, they might be trying to work out new deals with companies like Target to make up for their loss.

    Hope these thoughts help. I’m looking forward to using my Redcard more in the future (loaded with points earning credit cards), both for paying bills and getting discounts at Target. This site has been very helpful for me giving me different ideas for maximizing my points miles. Thanks Darius.

  11. I’d heard about the REDcard before, but, for some reason, hadn’t pulled the trigger on getting one.

    But, I’ve now got the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card with Platinum Honors status, so I can earn 2.625% on all spending, including loading the REDcard. So when I’m not working toward an initial spending bonus, I can always get 2.625% for messing around with REDcard. That’s pretty compelling.

    So, I’ll be getting one now. I hope the loading from credit card lasts for a while longer.

  12. @yehuda & Jake, you are right. Looks like Darius milked the deal for a while & now that there are issues / some shutdowns (allegedly), he can do his click bait.

  13. If I get a red card in one of the states it is sold in, then can I use it at a target in a state that it is not sold in to reload? Can I reload at any target anywhere?

  14. No yellow arrows and red boxes! The card still has a small chance of survival!

  15. I have Bluebird.. my wife has RedCard… so between the two, we can do a pretty good Manufactured Spending.. but I personally don’t recommend that people load $5000 at Target.. then pay off the card for exactly $5000 a month.. every month.. I believe that is a quickest way to get noticed by AmEx fraud department.

    We go to Target once a week.. we load about $700.. 650..550 everytime first.. then we also have a need so we purchase things from Target (getting the 5% off)

    I wait few days at least.. maybe a week.. then I pay my credit card bill but in odd increments.. like $439.. then $255 or something like that.. not just a flat $500 or $1000.

    I love RedCard… and I hope it doesn’t go away.. and as long as you use some common sense.. your account won’t get shut down.

  16. It’s worth clarifying that although you can (so far) only obtain a temporary activated REDcard (Redbird) in person at certain Target stores, you can use the REDcard anywhere and you can load it with a credit card in all Target stores except for North Carolina (not sure about Arkansas no load unconfirmed reports) and the Atlantic Ave store in Brooklyn (NYC).

    Why do you need a digital/picture copy of a unique activated temp one? You MUST have the account number and four digit security code of a temporary activated REDcard in order for you to register online for the permanent one in your name, which arrives in about 10 days after registration.

    @Travel Hack Guy, it is not true that you can’t load Redbird with gift cards; you can load it with anything (credit/debit gift card) other than a Target gift card. You can even load it with multiple gift cards + one credit card in a single load. I’ve done this many times.

    Also, that FT report of the shutdown was likely a hoax. When/if Redbird starts to shut down we will all hear about it; there’s many thousands of avid Redbird users across the country.

    P.S. Not to rub it in, but while you ponder why and what Target will do with Redbird in the future, I’m loading $15K/month with credit cards at Target (have two additional cards in family peop names)…there’s some bloggers who have 5+ Redbird accts 🙂

  17. @LD – It’s $400 per transaction, $750 per day

  18. seriously? Great way to draw tons of attention, this will be killed in a month…

  19. @NoonRadar YMMV. There are plenty of reports that Target doesn’t accept gift cards as a loading option. I’m not willing to take that chance. It could change in an instance. For now I’m going to stick with my 6 BlueBird cards.

  20. So can you technically load this with a credit card and then withdraw the cash and then go to a bank to pay off another credit card?

  21. Or car loan preferably! Since Evolve likes to charge fees!

  22. Darius mentioned the Redcard back in October as well, so he tries to keep us readers up to date. These travel hacking websites are much easier to read then FlyerTalk. I know many people want to keep things a secret, but it is all over FlyerTalk. Thanks for the summaries and all the tips Darius.

    I will try out the Redcard and maybe load different amounts 6 times a month to get close to $5000 month with my Freedom/Saphhire and use the Redcard for purchases at Target and then pay off my SPG card with the balance using the Redcard bill pay. Hopefully this will work out for a while.

  23. @Adam, yes, but the suggested method to unload (pay from) the Redbird IT IS NOT via cash at ATM or bank withdrawals because they will attract negative attention from both your credit card and from REDcard, for potential fee-free cash advances to yourself and maybe even suspicion of money laundering (since people who do that will also do those things).

    It’s suggested to do billpay for the bulk of it, preferably not closed loop (don’t pay the same credit card with which you loaded it). You can also do non-MS (actual) billpay, such as mortgage/rent, utilities, etc. You can also pay a person via check online for services etc, Redbird will mail them a check. Needless to say you can use it as a regular Amex credit card and I would suggest you do so occasionally, even for just small amounts. This way you have ‘regular’ spend on it.

    @ Travel Hack Guy This is not to convince you, but just so that readers are not misinformed…loading REDcard via gift cards is not really YMMV, I’ve done it many times myself and have followed Redbird news pretty closely (especially in the last month) and have seen only positive reports about this. Feel free to point a link where you’ve read that people couldn’t so we can too.

    As to what Target will do about Redbird in the FUTURE regarding any of its features, that’s a different (speculative) story.

  24. I hear that Amex is beginning to go after users of the card who purchased them off of eBay and from other “alternative” sources, and are targeting (forgive the pun) heavy users in states where the card is not officially available. Closing accounts, holding funds, and more. I also know of several users who bought cards from Craigslist, loaded them up, and then the cards were mysteriously drained to empty. So…. beware.

  25. Thanks Darius! Grabbed 3 cards a couple of weeks ago, loading $2,500 each round then bill paying has been wonderful!

  26. @Lartigen There was a dude on FT (Flyer Talk) who spread panic by procuring a fake email alleging that his REDcard acct was shut down due to MS. Some speculated he faked that in trying to scare people off REDcard; some people want to keep this golden egg for themselves ONLY and they believe that if they spread fake news and scare tactics to keep people from getting the REDard, they themselves will enjoy its benefits longer.

    I personally don’t buy this theory; Target is well aware of the fact that people MS with REDcard so I believe they will allow the credit card loads until it makes economic sense to them regardless of how many people jump on board.

    The things “you’ve heard” regarding Amex going after people sounds a lot like that FT thread. Sorry to say but your story would have been more believable if you didn’t add the bit about you personally knowing many people whose funds have disappeared mysteriously from REDcard, which is a PREPAID financial account 😀

    Amex & Target themselves allow you to obtain several activated temporary cards at Target in one visit alone despite the fact that you can only register one per person. When it comes to registering online for the permanent acct, the info from the temporary card is merely a token for you to register, so it matters not how you obtained that; there’s nothing personal about that info. Only AFTER you input that info you get to go to the second registration page where you enter your own personal information, which information then is used by Amex to register you for the permanent acct in your name.

  27. @NoonRadar Sorry to say but your story would also be more credible if you weren’t one of the people making big money by selling REDCards for profit. I’m all for sharing a deal… not selling a deal, and I still say… beware.

  28. I live in a state where they don’t sell Redbird. If i buy from another state can i go to my nearby Target for reload.

  29. Vir, yes, unless you live in North Carolina or Arkansas. There’s also a couple of other stores that don’t let you load REDcard, like one in Brooklyn, NYC.

  30. Everyone is aware of MS at this point. If you don’t think so, it’s kinda like a card game for you…if you don’t know your’re the mark, it’s you. They know what is going on at this point.

    Just load in incremental values…is it really so hard to load 951.99 and 915.34 a few times. Then, you’re getting the 5% discount…use the card at Target, are you really getting a better return elsewhere. And then, use the card randomly, some small, some large purchases. Don’t be an idiot and immediately start cashing out.

    I’ve been using it for a couple months now in Chicago.

  31. Yo D! You live here in Austin, TX, where it sounds like Red isn’t sold – how did Emily get her card? Did y’all cross state lines?

  32. Just picked up a prepaid card at the NE Target in Minneapolis, but it is not advertised on target.com that they have them. I called ahead and they confirmed that they did have them.

  33. I wouldn't buy a redcard

    if you go to Flyer Talk there is a loooong thread about the red card. It’s a fraud alert waiting to happen. Ebay is selling redcards, but you lose if the cards are shut down before you get to use them.

  34. There simply isn’t one single report of a REDcard account being shut down due to MS or due purchase online. Target and Amex could themselves allow the sale of multiple cards at their stores and they are well aware of this.

    There was someone on Flyer Talk who posted a fake shutdown acct post and disappeared. There was another dude who–when MMS (Million Miles Secret) posted this blog post–said that REDcard would die now because MMS posted about it and therefore a lot of people would get it, so Target would shut it down.

    I understand that you’re the type who’d like to have this awesome product by yourself only, however I believe you’re simply being paranoid without good reason. REDcard hasn’t even launched in most of the stores yet, so Target would not shut it down so soon.

    In any case, you’re simply LYING to people by posting such a comment periodically here so for this reason I believe MMS should not enable you in doing this by allowing your comments.

  35. Current Red Card Member here….

    Question, how can I gain another Red Card legally? I do have a small business with a separate FEIN number, could I register that? Or is there another way to get another card? Would it solely have to be in someone else’s name?

    Any information is greatly appreciated…

  36. REDcard is not tied to an EIN, its per SSN, so another person in your family/friends would have to sign up for it…it is one per each person over 18 who does not have Serve or Bluebird.

  37. The PILOT program has ended and Target is in the process of rolling out the card to all of their stores. Per a store manager in a local target. Basically, it is at a similar place the CVS bluebird was back in September 2013. $5,000 a load is worth it for me.

    The store manager was super excited for the new card which hasn’t arrived yet but it is one state to the north.


  38. There is a $5 fee to buy the card ?

  39. I was specifically told at the Target in Alameda that they are not allowed to recharge the card with credit cards anymore.

  40. I just asked a friend to buy the Redcard for me in OK. I live in CA. She said it asked for gross income and other information. The card was declined based on information sent from the credit bureau. Has anyone else heard of this? Why would the credit bureau be involved with a prepaid card?

  41. @ GZ Your friend mistakenly applied for the Target credit REDcard, there’s also a debit REDcard. You want the prepaid REDcard.

    There’s no credit check for the prepaid REDcard, the only requirements are being over 18 and not having Serve or Bluebird.

  42. Can I load my Redcard with an Amex Gift Card?

  43. @Don, yes, you can load it with Amex or any other gift card, as long as it is not a Target gift card.

  44. I have been having trouble with loading with a Visa giftcard. The site now states you cannot load with a gift card under debit in FAQs: https://amex.serve.com/prepaidredcard/faqs/?anchor=cash-1

    The Target CSR asked a manager and they said it had to be a bank debit issued card to me.

  45. @nirlay The $5 fee depends on the Target location. I purchased my redcard in South Carolina and there was a $5 purchase fee. If I would have got the card from Pennsylvania I wouldn’t have had a charge. Check out this map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=zaZeFBtuy5B8.kyYIaq26n5m4

  46. Does anyone know if/how this card will report to the crediting agencies in regards to limit? Some cards similar to this with “no limit” actually report that you have no limit and therefore make your utilization rate look terrible.

    I hope that makes sense. Any help is appreciated!

  47. @MrC Redbird (Target prepaid REDcard) does not report to credit bureaus, it is a a prepaid acct (kinda like a checking acct) not a credit acct.

  48. I’ve linked my RedBird to my bank account hoping to be able to transfer money to the bank account. But I can’t see how to do it (seems the link is only to fund the RedBird, not the other way). Does anyone know how? I tried to search my Bank under bill payees but only mortgages etc come up for registered payees.

    Ultimately, I want to use this method to pay tuition bills that I cannot pay directly with a credit card. So I need to link to a bank account to pay the bursar (not sure directly paying the bursar will work but I’ve tried that out with a small test amount)
    Thanks for the help!

  49. I used to use my Bluebird card to withdraw cash from foreign atms associated with AMEX abroad at a cost of $2 per transaction.

    Does this still work with the prepaid Redcard?

  50. Justin, from March 25th reply stated he was told Target no longer accepts credit card loads. Is this true for all Targets?

  51. @Justin and @Sam, I reloaded with credit cards in three different Targets in Ohio in April.

  52. I tried to withdraw from an all point atm inside a target. It was going to charger $2.95 for the withdrawal.

  53. I live in Chicago and they are catching on to gift card reloads to redbird. I went to 3 different stores and all of them asked what type of card I was using, to which I simply replied a debit card, and then they requested to see the card. Once they saw it was a gift card, they would not allow me to load my redbird. The third time, when asked to see my card, I handed them my debit card so they would continue the transaction, but the cashier was paying very close attention to me and immediately stopped me when I tried to swipe the gift card instead. They have definitely been trained to look out for this, because they were asking questions and wanting to see my card before I even told them the amount I wanted to add. Just wanted to alert everyone. Since you can reload at a kiosk with the Serve card, I am switching.

  54. MS is local; what works for me at Target/Walmart is not going to necessarily work for you at the Target/Walmart store in your city. In densely populated areas (like NYC, Chicago etc) it is harder to MS with ANY venue (compared to suburbs) because there’s more people per store and also more people attempting fraud at said retail stores via the same/similar venues as us MS-ers. As a consequence local stores implement their own restrictive policies.

    For instance a Target store in Brooklyn (NYC) disallowed loading Redbird since early Feb 2015, way before the credit cards died nationwide via hard coding the registers. Some other Target stores in NYC followed suit with prohibiting Redbird loading or implementing lower limits.

    Obviously if in Chicago it is easier to load a prepaid card with gift cards at Walmart vs Target, switch to Serve/Bluebird.

    As to the Walmart kiosks (KATE) that you mentioned as the reason for the switch, being that they are sparse, I’m curious to know how many functional ones are in Chicago, and also what kind of experience do people have with the Walmart cust service for loading (where no working KATE is present).

    P.S. I know, I’m copy & pasting my comment from the FM thread, but only because you copied & pasted this comment of yours to FM, hence nothing new to say 🙂