Target RedCard Primer for Newbies – how to Manufacture Spending for Points

UPDATE:  This is, unfortunately, no longer available.

It seems that lately a lot of people have asked me about how Blogger Hubby and I are able to travel as we do.  Between credit card sign-ups, shopping through credit card shopping portals  and knowing bonus categories for each of our cards we do pretty well.

I do like to make sure we have enough points by doing what is known as manufactured spending (MS).  The Target Prepaid  Redcard (pictured below), affectionately called Redbird certainly helps us and it can help you to travel the world for almost free by racking up frequent flyer points/hotel points.  It is so easy and I often wonder why more people don’t do it.  Really, it’s that easy.  In addition, when you use it at a Target for purchases, you get an automatic 5% off your total.  That’s a WIN – WIN proposition for me.


Get the right card – Target has several cards (credit card, debit card) but the one you want may not be in YOUR Target as it is still be tested in several markets throughout the country.  It has to look just like the one pictured below.

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 4.46.56 PM

Locating – To find the nearest Target to you that sells the Prepaid Redcard, please refer to this map.  If there isn’t one near you, you might be able to purchase one on Ebay or find a friend who does live near a store that sells them and have them get a card for you.  You can load them at any Target store even stores that do not sell them.  I have heard that you cannot load them  in North Carolina if the store does not sell them but I have no personal experience.  If you look at the map you’ll see that there are several Targets in  North Carolina that do sell them.

Purchasing – When you go to Target you are purchasing a temporary card.  In purchasing it, you need to activate it at the store.  The register will ask for your social security number and you can put yours in or a fake number – at this point it doesn’t matter but it will later on.  You should load it with some money – either cash, debit card or credit card.  Even though it says you can only load it with cash, you CAN load it with a credit card, debit card, VISA or MasterCard gift card or cash.  When you load it with your credit card, you are earning points on that card.   You will not be able to reload till you have registered it online though can can reload once registered but before your permanent card arrives in about a week.

Loading your Redcard – I use either a SunTrust debit card which gives me Delta points; any of the Chase cards that I have which give me hotel or airline points; and any of my American Express cards where I can earn Membership Reward points.  I find that I’m using my American Express SPG (Starwood) card more frequently because  I can get Starwood status based on my spending and their points are very valuable.  I have also used VISA or MC  gift cards that I have purchased at grocery stores (where I get 5 x points with certain cards).  With some gift cards I have to set a pin first though with others I just make one up the first time I use it.  You can always call the number on the back of the card to change a pin if you want to.   HINT:  you might want to let your credit card know that you will be making a large purchase at Target otherwise it might trigger a fraud alert.  If, when you try to load money on your credit card, it gets declined, wait a minute and see if you get a text message from your card asking you if this is your purchase.  There is no fee to load money onto your card.


Registering your card on your computer – You cannot register a Prepaid Redcard if you have an active Bluebird or Serve account.  They must be closed first.  You are allowed one Prepaid Redcard account per social security number.  At this point you will need to go to a computer and register your card on the website.  Here is the link for it.  You must use your social security number – no fat fingers allowed.  You and your spouse can each have one and your children can have one in their names as well.

Lately a lot of information has come out as to how to use and load your Redcard.  Previously I was loading about $1000 per visit but then it was suggested that I do odd amounts so that it wouldn’t look suspicious as to what I was doing.  Now I am loading $912.56 or $869.44.  It was also suggested to not just pay your credit card bill that you used to load your card with online but use it for other purchases.  Now when I go out, I’ll use this card as a debit card and pay for my small purchases.

ATM – Lastly, it was also suggested to use the card at an ATM.  That I hadn’t done but was successful in doing it today.  Yesterday I tried using it at my bank and it kept failing.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted the withdrawal from my credit card or checking account.  I tried both and it still failed.  Last night I did a little research and found that I could only do it at Allpoint ATM’s.  There is no fee to use the Allpoint ATM machine.  I found where they were located and one was in the 7/11 near my home.  When I walked in the ATM said it was Citibank – didn’t see anything that indicated that it was Allpoint.  Nevertheless, I inserted the Redcard, typed in my PIN, indicated that it was coming from a checking account and put in the amount that I wanted to withdraw.  Again, no fee.

Fees and Limits – For a list of all the load and withdrawal amounts, please follow this link.  You find out how much you can load per day/per month as well as withdrawing.

Remember the family that loads their Redcards together,  flies together!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them.  I’ll do my best to try and answer them

11 thoughts on “Target RedCard Primer for Newbies – how to Manufacture Spending for Points

  1. Today I was informed that Target has changed their policy. We will no longer be allowed to load money onto the Redcard using a credit card. 😦

  2. Jane, I’m going through Richmond tomorrow so I’m going to pick up a Redcard at one of the Targets there. But I’m still wondering about it…If I use my Visa card to load money onto the Redcard, yes, I’m getting points. But I get points on all my purchases anyway. It doesn’t seem to give me any more points when I load the Redcard. I’m going to get it to save the 5% on purchases. Is it that you do this in order to gain points when you have an airline ticket to purchase? Instead of just waiting to earn the points?

  3. Very good comprehensive REDcard post Jane, for people who are not familiar with it. I use 3 Redbirds myself (you can only have one per SSN, so family members helped) and like you, I wonder why some of my friends find MS difficult, though they sure do get impressed by my numbers (cash back, free travel, etc).

    I just wrote a Redbird FAQ post myself today since I get a lot of repeat questions about it from people who are not (that) familiar with Redbird. I think it will benefit your readers as well: I sell Redbird online in various MS blogs, so I’m including this bit as a disclaimer, since it is mentioned in the post.

    As far as buying it on eBay, keep in mind that eBay officially prohibits the sale of REDcard and takes listings down regularly and also suspends accounts for repeat listings (I was selling on eBay also previously that’s how I know this, plus calling them) so because of this you’re often dealing with people who “borrow” eBay & PayPal accounts (i.e. buy accts with fake names) to sell this product, and they disappear frequently after some sales. That doesn’t mean you’ll be burned, just that you might.

    Here’s a couple of extra Q&A for your readers (in addition to the ones on the linked post above):

    – If you happened to be at a store that has the temporary REDcard, when you activate it you can load it with as little as a penny (I’ve done a couple to test) and as much as $500.

    – If you’re not sure whether a store has it, call the store before traveling (sometimes they run out) and ask if they have the prepaid REDard, stress the prepaid part since they’re also a debit and a credit Target card by the same name (Redcard). The prepaid one is new since Oct 2014.

    – Once you obtain the info (acct nr + 4 digit security code) of an activated Redbird to register online, keep in mind that after the registration you won’t be able to change the following fields (unless you call Amex Redcard) from your Redcard profile/account: Name, Date of birth & SS#. So make sure you enter them accurately.

    – After the registration process you will receive an official email confirming registration. If you don’t get one within 30 minutes of registration, call REDcard customer service support at 855-306-7395 (open 24/7) and they can push the email manually; they had to do it for one of my Redbirds.

    – The card arrives via mail in 7-10 days after registration, some times it will actually take over 7 days (one of mine took 9 days) so don’t panic if you don’t see yours in a week. If your registration completed successfully, it will come.

    I follow Redbird news daily on many blogs so if you have a question about it, I likely have an answer, feel free to ask and I will try to follow this post and reply to it.

  4. Hi Jane,
    I finally bought a Redbird on ebay last week and just got the permanent card. I am glad that you mentioned that you can load with a credit card because the paperwork with the card says cash. Target is about 10 miles from me, so I rarely go there, and it doesn’t sell Redbirds, so I would love to get another for my husband.
    I have never purchased Visa or MC gift cards, but since Freedom is giving 5x in grocery stores until 3/31, maybe I should do this to load Redbird. What kind of cards am I looking for?
    For loading to Redbird, are these considered debit or credit cards?
    In the link you provided, it says cash loads are $2500 per day / $5000 per month – so I assume this applies to credit card loads, correct? And debit card loads are $200 per day / $1000 per month. Just trying to understand this because I’d like to minimize my trips to Target if possible,
    Thank you for all your help.
    Marilyn B

    1. When I use my gift card or my SunTrust debit card, it is considered a debit because I put in my pin number. For my credit card, it is considered a purchase. I have loaded more than $200 per day using my debit card doing multiple transaction – in fact last week it was over $900. If doing more than $1000 at one time you may have to go through the register twice – just be aware that when you have high multiple charges at a place like Target, credit cards automatically think fraud. You cannot load $2500 all at once. Yes, I use either my Freedom card (till the end of this quarter) or my American Express Blue Cash which gives me 3% back at supermarkets to buy the VISA or MasterCard gift card. The gift cards will say you cannot get money at an ATM but you are not using it at an ATM but using it for a purchase at Target. Call the 1-800 number on the back of the card to change/set a pin. Hope this helps

  5. Hi Jane – thanks for the good explanation of Redcard, I’ve been wondering about it. Is it correct that, the Redcard can essentially be used the MS the way that the Bluebird used to be able to? For example, if I were to load about $1,000 onto the Redcard, using a Chase rewards card (or any card to meet a minimum spend), how would I then use the Redcard to pay my credit card bill? (it sounds like I can just find an ATM, but you can’t always withdraw such a high amount at ATMs). thanks!

    1. Allison – these are like BB only better as there is no activation fee like there was with BB. You go to the same link that you would go to to register the card to bill pay online (here is the link: You can withdraw $750 up to $2500 per month. Go to this link that sets forth fees and limits and scroll down to see how much you can withdraw at an ATM:

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