Manufactured Spending

American Express Tells Us Something We Already Know

I got an email from American Express this morning telling me something I already knew: Target will no longer accept credit cards for Redbird loads. Someone at American Express must have hit the snooze button because one month after they stopped accepting credit cards for Redbird Reloads, they’re sending out emails letting us know about it:

Amex Target Redbird

And in case you haven’t already heard it a hundred times from your local Target cashier, you can’t load Redbird with a Target gift card either. I also hear the sky is blue and pigs can’t fly, but I’m waiting for an email from American Express to confirm it. 

On the plus side, the email confirms that debit loads are still accepted. So if you have a mile-earning debit card, like the one from Hawaiian Airlines or UFB Direct Bank, then you can continue earning a decent number of miles each month without much effort. Since PIN-enabled Visa and MasterCard gift cards are processed as debit transactions, you can continue loading Redbird with these cards. This information might be outdated as well since I’ve been hearing some conflicting things about this from readers. It probably varies by store. If you can, try to get a gift card with your name on it so that if the cashier asks to see it, you won’t get rejected because “this is a gift card, not a debit card.”

I’ve been putting this off for a month, but I’m picking up some gift cards this afternoon and giving it a try. If I can buy a decent stack of gift cards, I may even go back to Walmart and see if the kiosks are still dispensing money orders or just flipping customers off as usual. Either way, it will hopefully be productive and give me something to write about if nothing else.

Update: According to reader Pam, on June 1 UFB Direct began excluding the following merchant categories from earning points with the AAdvantage mile-earning debit card: Super Markets, Super Stores, Grocery Stores, Wholesale Stores, Discount Stores, USPS, and financial or money transfer institutions.

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  1. UFB Direct, as of June 1: Purchases made at Super Markets, Super Stores, Grocery Stores, Wholesale Stores, Discount Stores, USPS, and financial or money transfer institutions are not eligible. Purchases made using virtual wallets, funds transfer services, or other similar technology are not eligible.

    • Oh man, they really covered all their bases, though Target may not fall under any of these (depending on how they code it). Considering these are all standard shopping categories, I imagine non-ms customers aren’t going to find this card very appealing anymore.

  2. Yesterday I loaded my RedBird with a VISA gift/debit card I purchased at Walmart. No issues at all. Just used the last 4 numbers as the PIN, as usual.

  3. Not sure if this is news to you but I recently found this on the Redcard FAQ:

    “Debit Cards — add money from your debit card at the register or by linking it to your Prepaid REDcard account online. Please note: Gift cards cannot be used to add money.”

    Interpret it how you will, but I recommend high caution i.e. one load per transaction per card, and (to state the obvious) don’t advertise the fact you are using a GC. As usual, YMMV.

    Also there are widespread reports that Target POS are currently (6/12) offline for RB loads. Temporary or otherwise, TBD.

    Good luck!

    • I think it’s a reference to Target gift cards. Or maybe they’re intending to ban visa/mc gc’s, but since they’re processed like debit cards anyway, there’s not much they can do about it. I’m going to try loading on different days next week and see if it still works.

      • Based on my own (multiple) in-store experiences of being told “no GC loads”, I believe it is the later of the two possibilities you list i.e. all GCs. I think the policy just hasn’t filtered down to all stores and staff yet. In the meantime, I do all my loads using the most discrete means possible (see earlier post).

        FYI: There is currently no hard-coding of the Target POS to deny GS’s, so your load will go fine if you keep it on the down-low and they aren’t aware (or don’t care) that they are GC’s.

  4. Loaded VGCs from Office Depot and Simon Mall yesterday to my Redbird, no issues. Bay Area 🙂 Also, Buxx works great!

  5. Yeah, before I even got to see the Amex email today a couple of people who got the Redbird from me had emailed worried if this email meant anything bad.

    On top of that, because this email went out during a Redbird outage (the electronic network was down for less than 24 hours, its back up and running now) some people worried some more. The outages have happened several times before but this was probably the longest.

    Bottom line, nothing changed today, you can continue to load Redbird with pin-based gift cards; more on how do to that here:

  6. Loaded 2 RedBird cards (my wife’s and mine) this morning with $1K each (2 x $500 Vanilla Visa/MC GCs per RedCard). Absolutely no problems with card acceptance or cashier! (I did go to the customer service desk.) Very quick, less than 2 minutes total.

    Check your Walgreens ad: They are offering a free $5 Walgreens GC with the purchase of 2 Vanilla Visa GCs. I bought 2 $500 Vanillas yesterday for $1009.90 and did receive the $5 Walgreens card. (Tucson, AZ). I believe this expires Saturday 6/20.

    • Thanks for sharing, John! Unfortunately my local Walgreens won’t accept credit cards for gift card purchases, but I’m sure lots of people will be able to make good use of this promotion.

  7. I’ve had no problems loading gift cards to my Redcard. The only policy changes I’ve seen is that I’m no longer allowed to do it at the register. But the customer service people have been very friendly when doing the loading.

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