Manufactured Spending

Adventures in Redbird Hunting

The coveted Target Prepaid REDcards
The coveted Target Prepaid REDcards

Many of you know that I live in the Bay Area (sort of), where we have yet to see any Target Prepaid REDcards (aka “Redbird”). So when an opportunity presented itself for me to tag along with my sister on a trip to Michigan, where manufactured spending is apparently super easy and convenient, I was excited to go. We ended up in Troy, which is about 30 miles outside of Detroit. We arrived the day after a snowstorm and piles of snow where everywhere. I’m glad I didn’t have to drive, because it would have been a bloodbath.

Anyway, I’ve always heard Michigan is a hotbed of manufactured spending activity. People are still buying Vanilla Reloads and the Redbird card is readily available there. What makes Redbird so great? It can be reloaded fee-free at the Target register with a mile-earning credit card, up to $1,000 per swipe/$2,500 per day/$5,000 per month. It’s like Amex for Target, minus the hefty fees and with higher daily load limits. 

Anyway, when I found out I could buy this card despite being a California resident (where the card is not currently available), I made it my mission to get four Redbird cards before I left. According to Google Maps, there were at least three Target stores within a 6-mile radius. I requested an Uber ride to the Target store in Madison Heights and asked the driver to wait outside so I could get a ride back to the hotel. This way, I didn’t have to wait around for another car and the driver got paid just for waiting in the parking lot. 

I decided to play it safe and try just two Redbirds at a time. To avoid looking like an identity thief on a spending spree, I asked the cashier to load just $100 on each card. Yes, this was less than the $500 limit, but I figured it would look less suspicious and my credit cards would be less likely to get declined – especially since I was out of state.

The cashier told me I could probably buy just one card, but I explained that the second one was a gift and could we just try and see if the transaction goes through? She was willing to give it a shot and I followed Frequent Miler’s instructions, swiping my driver’s license and entering my brother’s SSN and date of birth for the Redbird card I intended to register in his name. It worked and I walked out of the store with two Redbirds. I could have certainly gone back into a different line and bought two more, but the lines were long and I wanted to avoid suspicion. Besides, the next Target was just 2.7 miles away. 

At the Warren store, I picked up two more Redbird cards and while the cashier didn’t object to the purchase, my credit card companies did. The Barclay Arrival Plus card, Virgin Atlantic Mastercard, Club Carlson Visa, Chase Sapphire Preferred – all cards I hadn’t even used up until that point – were declined. My last purchases were at gas stations in Northern California and all of a sudden I’m at a Michigan Target, trying to spend exactly $100. That set off a red flag.

At this point I was out of credit cards and just wanted to wrap up the transaction asap, so I was glad when I dug around my wallet and found my debit card: $100 worth of non-rewarded spend and I was out of the store with my fourth Redbird card in hand. The Uber driver, on the other hand, must have thought I was shoplifting when I came back seemingly empty handed each time.

The next day, I had some time to spare and headed back to the Madison Heights Target for some souvenir shopping. I picked up a Redbird for my younger sister (who is turning 18 this month and needs to start contributing to her mileage account) and another for my older sister and/or brother-in-law. The jury’s still out on which of them will manage the card, but since I couldn’t get each of them a card, I figured they can share one.

It took about 1.5 hours, three trips to two Target stores, but now I’ve got $25,000 in free monthly manufactured spending to look forward to. As far as productivity and value go, this trip paid for itself ten times over.

Have you picked up a Target Prepaid REDcard (aka Redbird) yet? 

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  1. I would have got you a few and shipped them! I live in Indiana – another place where MS is easy to do!

  2. I have been waiting for you to write this post as you had been mysteriously quite on this topic. Any way I never had a chance to visit these blessed places (from MS point of view) so I relied on ebay and flyer talk forums. I bought four of them with hard cash and still think it was worth it.

  3. Did you have to cancel your bluebird before getting the redbird cards?

  4. I was under the impression you can only buy 1 RB card per day. When buying the 2nd, 3rd, etc cards, did you enter in the names and SSN of your respective family members?

    • Really? Unless she just updated her post, she explained this already.

    • Yes, you can only buy one per day using your SSN. I entered different SSN’s/DOB’s for the other cards. Through Frequentmiler says you can just make up numbers.

    • You can get several temporary activated REDcards a day, not just one or two or four. I do this regularly since I provide/sell them online to people who can’t get them in their area and let’s say I’ve tested getting a lot more then one or two…I got 29 cards one productive day (many Target stores, of course).

      Also, when you go to register online with a card that someone else activated for you, leave the date of birth field empty on the first page; you get to enter it on the next page.

      Note that after you register online you won’t be able to change the following fields (unless you call Amex Redcard) from your Redcard profile: Name, Date of birth & SS#.

      P.S. If anyone is interested on getting one, just click on my handle. I have many references from people on public MS blogs.

      • I ran into this one manager who said I could only buy one RedCard per corporate policy.

        I asked him if he could show me this policy as he kept referring to it and he disappeared to go find it. About 10 minutes later he comes back with an e-mail that explains how to sell a RedCard and the process the customer has to go through.

        There was a statement that said, “Only one SSN is allowed per RedCard”. He explained that, that statement was justification for only selling one card per customer because a customer can only have one SSN. I told him that made no sense, especially if I was there to pick up a card for my spouse, parent, or other relative – which he stated that I should not have their SSN to begin with.

        I could see I was going to get no where with Mr. “I’m a Target Manager and denier of all” attitude so I left him in his smitten glory of denying me additional cards.

        You Can’t Fix Stupid!

        • I’ve come across that too (of course, I should say, since I do this all the time).

          Once only I decided to argue, against my better judgment*, told her I understand your logic, however, I believe you’re acting against Target policy since Target allows you to obtain more than one activated temp card in one visit to the store; she let me have more than one then, after she couldn’t find any fine print to justify her thinking.

          Other times though I just plead ignorance and didn’t argue, moved on to the next store.

          * I don’t suggest arguing with Target management, since in the end they CAN allow/block you to load/buy/etc that day, and perhaps more than that day. If you only have one Target nearby, why make yourself “that person” every time you go in there to do your ‘REDcard business’, if I may say so lol

      • I bought a temporary REDcard from NoonRadar and it worked great. Thanks, Noon!

    • They have to be purchased in separate transactions (e.g. swipe credit card for each one separately and have multiple charges on your credit card instead of just one) and each require a different SSN. I just made up random SSNs on the spot. But the same cashier would let me buy multiple…my store never had more than 4 in stock but I’ve bought all 4 with the same cashier and they don’t bat an eye (this is CA).

  5. Does the name on the Redbird card (or name / SS# registered to) have to match the name on the credit card you’re loading it with in store?
    How do you manage 3 Redbirds for family/spouses etc? Do you have to use a credit card in each of their names?

    • No, the card number doesn’t have to match. I used their SSN’s to purchase the additional cards, though apparently you can just make up a bunch of numbers during the initial purchase process.

  6. I want to hear about your success (or lack thereof) when you try and load the Redbirds in California. I am willing to drive a fair distance to acquire a Redbird (I live in a state that doesn’t have them yet), but I want to know it will work in a non-Redbird state before I drive for six hours to hunt down a card.

  7. Any luck loading the cards in a region where they’re not sold?

  8. I recently switched from BlueBird to RedBird. Awesome for feel free MS!!

  9. I can pick up an extra Redbird when you want to add one for your sister/bro in law when they get tired of sharing. Just say the word.

  10. RedBird allows $2,500 load per day. Lots of people break that into three transactions as $1,000, $500, $1,000. And I found it a bit suspicious if the CC bank sees repetitive same charges over and over. So I break them into three transactions like $738.21, $809.32, $952.47. And show the numbers on my smartphone’s calculator to Target staff to proceed. Although it’s a bit more hassles for me, but I rather do this way. While I put spending notes in advance by calling my CC that large amount transactions are coming through. One of the many MS transactions is declined which it happened to be the even amount of $500. I’m not 100% sure about if CC has an algorithm to catch any suspicious $500 or $1,000 charge. But I will continue my approach to make those “purchases” look more “natural”.

    • Chris, are you saying that you never get declined/fraud alerts when you have “natural” numbers, and you ONLY get denied when you have $500/$1000 even charges?

      I ask because I’ve only been doing $500/$1000/$2500 (I did $2500 in one swipe successfully earlier on Sunday but FrequentMiler says that should be disabled now) and I seriously get fraud alert everytime, despite having cleared it before. Fortunately I have the Amex app on my phone and set up text alerts for my other cards, so I can clear the alert while I’m still standing there without holding up the shoppers behind me too much.

      • Yes. I put in spending notes in advance and still being “grounded” that I had to call CC to verify those declined transactions of “500 and $1,000 before they finally removed the temporary hold. It’s frustrating and wasted me about 20 minutes at store. After I change tactics to break $2,500 into those random numbers. So far so good. The only one incident that the charge got declined again happened to be $500 and it confirmed my assumption. The reason for doing straight $500 was because I wanted to shortcut the routine. Later, when I broke $500 into two “natural” numbers, it worked fine. Hope this information helps.

    • That’s a really good way of going about it.

  11. Glad you had good luck with that. I was in the US two weeks ago and picked up two. Now whenever I’m back on business trips, I can load them up. MS is not so simple in Asia 🙂

  12. You didn’t have to travel so far to get a Redbird. Your first statement is incorrect – they are alive and well in California very near to where you live. E-mail me for details if you like…

  13. I live in SF Bay Area and if Redbird is available close by I would dearly love to hear about it! Thanks!

  14. If there are any in the Bay Area I would also love to hear about it. Thanks in advance!

  15. If anyone can let me know where the cards are in the BAY area that would be great, I have a connection at SFO

  16. Greetings to All!
    I’m a newbie to this whole free travel miles approach to financing flights. I just recently got a Chase Saphire Preferred and am saving up miles for a vacation in May of 2016 for my wife’s birthday. I need about 300,000 miles to fly the two kids as well. Fido stays. I know I will have to get at least 1 more CC. I have heard about this RedBird but I can’t find any in Los Angeles CA area. I appreciate any suggestions for getting to 300k miles and any leads to get that elusive RedBird.

  17. I’m getting ready to drive to a Target that has them in stock.
    Is there anything that would prevent me from buying multiple cards (10-25+) and activating them w/$1 each and and then selling them on eBay for $20 each? Current going price is $25. Figure I can make a little money eBay’ing them too.

    • Nope, when I am lucky enough to see multiple cards I buy 5 of them…holds up the line since each has to be a separate transaction (can’t be on the same transaction; we tried). I don’t resell (when I buy extras I always give them to my friends to introduce them to the world of MS) but I personally think $20 is perfectly reasonable for you to resell. My store is usually out of stock so I paid a Redditor $20 for one and felt it was well worth it not to lose out on a whole month of MS while trying to wait for my store to come back in stock.

    • Be careful though, I’ve heard a lot of people get their ebay accounts shut down for reselling Redbirds. Craigslist or setting up your own site might be better.

  18. I was unable to purchase ANY cards today.

    First, I’m military. Like others in the military, I have a drivers license from where I joined. Most states (CA in my case) have a policy where a military members drivers license is still considered valid as long as it accompanies an active duty military ID card. Lets just say, my drivers license expired in the 90’s!

    I went up to the counter with my REDCard and tried to make my purchase and activate it with a $1. The woman asked for my license, which I handed to her. She tried to swipe the magnetic strip but it would not. She also noticed it was expired but I explained to her I was active duty military and the license was still valid (I also carry a separate card from CA, indicating that the license is still valid for military members) and showed her my military ID. She then scanned the bar code of my ID and my name popped up on her screen. She then asked for my address, which she inputted into the system. She then directed me to the credit card machine pad at the checkout counter and the machine asked for my SSN, DOB, & phone number. I then verified all info that I had input. The clerks register though said, “transaction ended” and a screen popped up saying to call Customer Service Center.

    She tried it all again and even tried a different REDCard. Same thing – No Go!

    I went to another nearby Target and encountered the same.

    Finally, I called AMEX and they could not figure it out either. They took my name, SSN, and verified that I did not have a BlueBird or Serve card or any other blocks that might keep me from making a purchase of a REDCard. They also said that there was a major issue going on the other day with REDCard system and they wondered if something similar maybe happening or just my area where I was buying (East Coast) but the store indicated that they had sold some earlier in the day.

    Oh well. Looks like I’ll be buying one on eBay or getting someone else with a valid drivers license to go try and purchase one.

    I wonder though…do you even require a drivers license to get a REDCard? There are many people without a DL for one reason or another.

    • Interesting data point! I think I read that State IDs are fine too, and people will have one or the other. Stupid question, but did you try swiping your military ID?

      • Yes, she swiped the mag strip on the back of military ID and nothing came up.

        When she waved that wand thing (with the redlight) on the barcode, on the front of my military ID, only my name populated on her screen. From there she asked for my address, city, state, & zip. After that, she directed me to the touchpad for me to put in the rest of my info…after all that was done and I was ready to swipe my credit card to put a load on it but her screen said to contact Customer Service Center.


        • I guess Redbird isn’t ready for all kinds of IDs yet. 🙁 At least your Target has a healthy stock of Redbirds…you could try to enlist a family member or friend to come with and help buy Redbirds (you can pay for the fee on your own credit card), and you can split profits (or just treat them to a Starbucks for their time :P).

          Have you ever had an issue with swiping your military ID or expired driver’s license at a pharmacy on the regulated drugs like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)? Trying to think of other place where they tend to swipe IDs instead of just eyeballing them…

          • I will try the family member option next round.

            IRT swiping the DL, I don’t come across many situations that requires a swipe.

            Even renting a vehicle has never raised an eyebrow. Most agents I’ve come across are aware & well versed in the military/expired DL situation – they only needed to list the DL Number on the rental contract. I think they use my military ID expiration date as the DL expiration date.

            PS. I like the Starbucks idea!!

  19. hi would you be willing to purchase some preloaded ones and ship to me via tx? no stores available in tx!

  20. Ariana and/or anybody on this Message board, I will much appreciate if you please email any Target Stores in the Bay Area where i can acquire a RedBird. Called up 10-12 Stores in the South Bay and most of them while they are aware of it mentioned they don’t carry it yet.

    • Reports on FT indicate that the Dublin location(s?) might have had REDcard available in the last couple of months, not sure if you called there.

      I see more reports on FT of people asking (like yourself) than reporting of availability in the SF Bay area.

      • Thanks.. will check in TriValley Dublin Pleasanton, and call them up.. just 20 minutes away.. Was probably reading in Ariana’s post or in the comment section of some other post they have showed up in SAC as well.

        • Andrew Wang

          Any update on confirmed Bay Area locations?

          • I obviously have a vested interest since I sell activated temporary Redbird cards online. But from a buyer’s perspective, every month that you wait, you forego $5K/month of credit card loading, that means $100 net loss at 2x (with a card like Citi Double Cash).

            You can buy 4 activated temporary Redbird cards with $100 and have change left, so in your shoes the math would tell me to buy one now online as opposed to wait for them to show up at my local Target stores.

            If you’re not sure about the Target stores in your area, just call them and ask to see if they have the “prepaid REDcard”. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, they likely don’t have them.

          • West Dublin Store carries RedBirds and is the only one that told me they do carry. Called up 10-12 stores in the Bay Area and none of them do. Called up other TriValley Target Stores and they all pointed me to West Dublin.. Called up West Dublin for almost a week every single day and they were out of it. They said they receive it and they go out very fast. I ended up purchasing 2 through EBay and had no issues activating them withing minutes of cancelling my accounts from Serve Softcard (previously ISIS). Don’t even waste your time calling them unless you are a very patient man. I will advise to get them from NoonRadar or Ebay whichever method you prefer.

          • I got mine in West Dublin. Jealous of NoonRadar though b/c you have so many to be able to sell. I wish I could sell…but West Dublin is always out 19 out of 20 times I go there (I work across the street) haha.

          • I definitely think ebay is the most convenient route. I keep hearing they’re available, but when people go to the stores to buy them they’re gone.

          • My friends and I have purchased several other ones at I think he sells like 10+ per day = $$$$$!

          • I have purchased two now from NOONRADAR and it is easy as could be. He emailed them within minutes of paying and registered immediately after. Well worth it since there are no stores within 3 hours of me.

          • I’ve bought twice from NOONRADAR now without at hitch. Definitely worth the small fee to get it since I can’t get any in my state.

  21. Thank you. NOONRADAR!!
    I reloaded $$$$ today at customer service desk.

  22. This is my first time reading about MS. I have a few questions,
    Why not have just one or two red bird card instead of multiple and just keep reloading and unloading and pay it off? You can keep reloading with a credit card and unload at an All point ATM multiple times right with the same card… Im really confuse and need explanation on this.

    • @Wooppie – since each card has a limit of $5000 per month, sometimes people want to reach a certain goal faster. I thought I was fine with 2 cards, but after I spent $25,000 buying gift cards recently, I needed a faster way to unload them and be able to pay back my credit card bills, but without incurring more fees, and Redbird is the easiest way. So I picked up 2 more Redbirds and now I can unload $20,000 in one month without having to dip into my bank account too severely. Does that make sense?

    • Redbird has a $5k monthly load limit, so you need more than one if you want to keep earning more points.

  23. Just checking, I can pick up two extra Redbird cards and register them under my parents’ name and SSN…and then, I can use my own credit cards under my own name to MS using their Redbird cards? Is that okay?

    • Yup, that’s correct. If anyone asks, just tell them you’re loading it for your kids as an allowance or something. I’ve NEVER been asked and I load 3 Redbirds at the same time with the same customer service staff. I just got a 4th Redbird activated today from (that guy is seriously making a killing) 🙂

      • Since I kept my Bluebird in my name, my Redbirds are in my mom’s, dad’s, aunt’s, and my husband’s names/SSNs/birthdates. Of course, you need permission from all those people because you might be asked by Amex to upload images of proof of identity (i.e. driver’s license and utility statements). Without permission it would technically be identity theft! 😉

    • Sheila,
      Yes. Your understanding is correct.

      I have RedBird cards in my wife, mom, and sons names, as well as my own.
      I mix and match my own credit cards when putting money on their cards.
      Sometimes I even have my wife’s credit cards with me and use her cards to MS.

      When it comes time to paying the bills from Redbird, you can even pay someone else’s credit card bill. All RedBird online requires is the payee (i.e. bank) and the account number you want to pay. I pay credit card and mortgage payments. I can even pay MY credit card bills from my son’s RedBird account.

      • That’s a perfect response. I use all 4 Redbirds to pay my own credit card bills that I use for MSing, and I load all 4 Redbirds with either my credit cards or Amex gift cards that I’ve bought whenever there are gift card deals going on.

    • Yep, that’s fine. The cashiers don’t look at the name on the Redbird cards.

  24. NoonRadar Thank you for all your help…you’re the best!!

  25. Anyone have problems loading a second temporary Redcard (registered to someone else); using the same credit card? I got the initial $1 ‘purchase’ load just fine, then registered the card online; loaded $1450 on my primary card… then multiple denials attempting to do the same on the second card.

    • Scott, the card that you were able to load, did you load it over $1K and did you do that load before or after you registered it online?

      • Noonradar – The first (aka primary card) I loaded with $50 at the time of purchase – the second card I loaded at purchase shortly after, with only $1. I then registered both cards online the same night.

        Chase says there are no ‘fraud holds’ on the CC. So its not an issue with the bank. Possibly I hit some sort of daily store maximum for the CC (if there is such a thing)? I plan to try again tomorrow and hope it gets resolved – If not then, hopefully id does once I have the perm. card in hand.

        Thanks for your response!

    • That happens to me sometimes – it sets of a fraud alert. I’d bring a secondary card just in case this happens.

  26. I actually sell Redcards for $20 each. Cheapest out there. Whatsapp me 2485080871 instant reply and great and friendly service

  27. How does this work? Can you please elaborate a little bit more details? Thank you!

  28. Hi.
    I already have a target redcard, and just got another one today using a family member’s SSN# and contact info at checkout. My Question: When I’m registering card online, can I put in my original information, or will it detect that I already have an existing redcard account and not allow me to register?

    • If you already have a redcard, you can’t put your own SSN in again and must use someone else’s SSN on the registration (but you can use your own address). It might ask you fraud-prevention questions, so you need to be able to ask the person who owns the SSN to answer some questions and possibly even upload their driver’s license.

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