7 Ways to Save Cash and Maximize Miles at Target

When the Target Prepaid REDcard (aka Redbird) essentially died as a manufactured spending tool earlier this month, it not only eliminated an important manufactured spending tool but if you’re a frequent Target shopper, it also eliminated the ability to save 5% on Target purchases while also earning miles. I personally shop at Target often and that 5% rebate really added up. If you’re looking down your nose at this discount, consider the fact that there are people in this hobby milking 5% cash back cards for ms purposes. So why forego rewards on your daily spend? If you’re a frequent Target shopper and want to continue to save on your Target purchases while maximizing mileage earnings, here are a few ways to do it:

Target store Prepaid REDcard

1. Buy Discounted Target Gift Cards

An easy way to earn miles and save cash at Target is to buy discounted gift cards through websites like Cardpool (my referral link) and Raise. Search for Target on Gift Card Granny to find the gift card resale site offering the best deals. At the moment, the highest discount on Target gift cards is 7%.

2. Get 5% Cash Back Through Office Supply Stores

Last week I walked into an Office Depot near San Jose Airport to try and buy $500 Visa gift cards. I hadn’t received my replacement Ink Plus card in the mail, but I figured 2+ miles per $1 on my Barclay Arrival Plus card would be sufficient. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any Visa gift cards and the register was hard-coded to reject OneVanilla Prepaid Visa cards, but I found something else that might come in handy at some point: Target gift cards

Buying Target gift cards from an office supply store with a credit card that earns a category bonus at office supply stores could generate upwards of 6 points per $1 or 6% cash back. With Ultimate Rewards points being frequently valued at over 1.5 cents each, using a Chase Ink Plus card for this spending category might get you more value. For example $10,000 worth of spend = 50,000 UR points, which are valued at a minimum of $750, depending on how you use your points. Meanwhile, 5% cash back through a card like Chase Ink Cash or Amex SimplyCash Business would get you just $500 cash back. You can also order Target gift cards online at Staples.com and some reports indicate you can earn portal rewards doing this.

3. Get 6% Cash Back at Grocery Stores

If cash back is your preference, then you’ll be glad to know that Safeway carries the same Target gift cards and you can earn upwards of 6% cash back on these purchases. The Blue Cash Preferred American Express card earns 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent, which means you’re limited to earning just $360 cash back this way. There’s also the Hilton Surpass Card from American Express and Hilton HHonors American Express, which earn 6 Hilton points per $1 at grocery stores, though we all know 6 Hilton points aren’t worth nearly as much as 6% cash back.

4. Use a Credit Card that Codes Target as a Grocery Store

Some credit cards, mainly American Express, code some Target stores as a grocery store. I remember noticing this on my statement back when I had an American Express Gold card. If your credit card codes Target as a grocery store, you can bypass the step of buying Target gift cards at Safeway with a category bonus-earning credit card and instead make your purchase directly at Target. There’s a Flyertalk thread with members discussing this at length.

5. Shop Through a Cash Back Shopping Portal

Once you’ve got your savings through the purchase of discounted Target gift cards, you can stack on further discounts or points by purchasing items online rather than in-store through a cash back or rewards portal. I always check EvReward, Cash Back Monitor, and Cash Back Holic to ensure I find the highest reward payout possible. Currently, the cash back rate ranges between 1 – 5% or 1 – 4 points per $1. Stacking this with your Target gift card purchase savings translates to significant savings. There are also reports that if you have a Target Prepaid RED credit or debit card (NOT Redbird), you can use a Target gift card for online purchases and still get the 5% rebate. 

6. Visa Signature Discount

If the shopping portal savings aren’t great, there’s currently an offer from Visa Signature for $5 off $50 online purchases. This translates to a 10% discount and you can use a card like the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature to earn 5 points per $1. If you’re done with Club Carlson following the latest devaluation, you can always pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or a slew of other credit cards in the Visa Signature lineup. Keep in mind that if you’re going to use the Visa Signature discount, you’ll have to forego cash back from shopping portals. This may or may not make sense, depending on the purchase amount.

7. Mobile Apps

Cartwheel – The Cartwheel app gets terrible reviews, but it’s worth downloading in case a good coupon comes along. Simply pull up the app, see which offers are available, and if you see one you like simply present the bar code to the cashier at check-in.

Shopkick – Shopkick is a mobile app that lets users earn “kicks” for walking into participating stores, scanning select merchandise, and even shopping. Shop kick no longer offers kicks for purchases at Target (it might have had something to do with Amex for Target loads gone amok), but if you’re at Target, all you have to do is open the app in front of the entrance and you’ll earn points just for walking in. And while you’re waiting at the check-out line, you might bag an extra 15 kicks for scanning the latest issue of People Magazine. It’s an easy way to generate some extra points, which are redeemable for a variety of prizes including gift cards, cruises, and even a vespa! If you don’t have a ShopKick account, consider using my referral link, which gets me an extra 2,000 kicks for every three sign-ups.

Follow these tips before your next Target run and you’ll walk away with significant savings and a decent stash of points and miles. 

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Ariana Arghandewal


      • The best way is to use the Target REDcard to save 5%, and then pay the bill at customer service with a Visa Gift Card bought with 5x Ink at an Office Supply Store. In effect you are getting over 10% back at Target.

    • You mentioned above about portals paying for Staplezz gift card purchases.
      Which ones still do this?
      Thank you

  1. Shopkick is a pretty terrible “rewards” program. Half the time your phone can’t find the scanners and you have to hop around on one foot chanting while holding a chicken carcass for that to happen. It’s also a really low return for the manual effort you have to put in to chase / collect Shopkick points – and they are sometimes bait-switchy with big kick offers across the board but once you use one the rest of the stores disappear. Not recommended at ALL.

    • I haven’t had many issues with it, but it’s definitely not without its faults. But I don’t consider opening the app while walking into Target to be much effort at all, so I do it.

  2. I received a letter from AX blue cash preferred telling me they were reducing the cash back at grocery stores to 2% effective 10/16/15. What do you know about this?

    • I don’t know what that’s about, but the product pages for both Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday list 6% and 3% cash back, respectively, on grocery store spending (on the first $6,000).

  3. Discover is offering 10% cash back on Apple Pay on purchases up to $10,000 (or $1,000 in cash back), not $10,000 in cash back.

  4. Since the demise of Target RedBird, have you thought about to covert RedBird back to BlueBird or Serve One VIp and get ready to return to WM battlefield? If not, what’s your alternative MS tool for now besides charging $10,000 Amex gift card order to your Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard?

    • I’m curious as well.

      Personally I had 2 Redbirds and switched one of them back to Bluebird. I bought a Happy Birthday gift card at Walmart and immediately loaded it to my Bluebird without issue. Happy that still works, but I won’t do it often as it costs $4.94 each time. Just doing it now to meet minimum spend on 3 new cards.

      I still use the other Redbird to get the 5% discount at Target.

  5. Oooh, I didn’t know Target accepted Apple Pay! I wonder how Discover/Apple is going to figure out what you purchased at Target…

  6. I used to buy a lot of AMEX GCs using my Barclay Arrival (2.2%) and the TopCashback portal (2.25%) then use the AMEX GCs to buy lots of discount Target gift cards from Raise/Cardpool/Saveya. Then I’d use the Target GCs together with a RedCard and shopping portal to get close to 20% off everything at Target! Of course, those days are over. 🙁

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