Is REDbird DEAD?!? I Think So & Here Is Why

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redbird debit loads dead
REDbird Might Be DEADbird

Update: REDbird is dead. I have seen a memo stating Target’s new cash only policy. To help, I have posted a detailed resource describing a path forward including, how to liquidate cards, switch to Bluebird/Serve and more. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Yesterday I was perhaps the first blogger to cover the widespread reports on Flyertalk and Reddit about debit loads not working with Target’s Amex REDcard (REDbird). At the time I said I was hopeful it was a glitch due to the fact that neither gift cards or normal “bank issued” debit cards (cards linked to a bank account) were working.

I spent much of the day yesterday watching forums and reading about the experiences of others. Eventually we learned that cash loads were working, which was a bad sign since it meant the system itself was working. That didn’t convince me entirely though, until I read report after report of people calling Amex and being told that debit loads in-store were no longer allowed. Yikes!

Of course some of these accounts came from forums where people have been known to misinform, but by the evening, even trusted sources such as the Bengali Miles Guru Tahsir had heard the same thing:

Then there is NoonRadar. This guy has sort of been the REDbird guru over the past year. He started out by selling the cards and has grown into a great resource. He has as much inside information as me (which I believe to be none), but I know he is an honest person. He shared this tonight on his blog:

I’d love to be proven wrong tomorrow or the day after, but I think Redbird is dead. RIP!

NoonRadar only said what I have been thinking all afternoon. This morning I said that I believed it was an error and I did. After hearing what has happened today, I no longer believe that is the case, but this isn’t the end of the story.

A Hint From the Past

The final thing I have been thinking about is this comment from October 5 on the blog:

Hi Shawn,

A quick question off topic but I think it might be useful. Do you know that target red card cannot be reloaded by debit card from Oct 4th? It will be cash only or chip enabled debit card. Thanks. Hope you can help me verify.

I reached out to others and no one had heard of this so I moved on and didn’t write about it. People often write in with stuff that doesn’t turn out to be true so I am careful about what I publish. With yesterday’s news, it seems like he may have known what he was talking about. Yes the dates were wrong, but the information seems to be spot on.

I Would Wait

While I now believe that debit loads of all kinds to REDbird are dead, I would still wait for confirmation. MS is an emotional “sport” and we all tend to jump into action too quickly. I fully acknowledge that the evidence is not looking good, but as someone who has been doing this for awhile, I am still going to wait it out a little while longer. Not out of false hope, but out of being prudent.

Most importantly I want you to know that this post isn’t written to scare you or to be sensationalist. I encourage you to read the accounts of others and listen to what they have been told. Make the decision for yourself. Either way, we will know soon if this is something temporary or something more permanent as I now believe.


Once again my point here is not to scare anyone. Later today I’ll share some resources on alternate ways to liquidate gift cards and I’ll also detail how to switch from REDbird to Serve/Bluebird if you so desire. This battle is far from over even if Target ends debit card loads.

Yes this is a blow for the MS community, but it definitely isn’t a death blow. There are more ways than you realize to liquidate, so don’t you worry. Perhaps it will take a bit more effort going forward to learn about MS and what needs to be done, but it is still entirely possible if you want to work at it.

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Hi Shawn,

    I am the guy who sent you a message on Oct 4th that target red card cannot be reloaded by debit card after calling CS back on the red card. I am on vacation right now. That’s why I load at beginning of this month. Very sad that you confirmed that is dead. So which card can I still load max $5K/month to with gift cards, Serve or bluebird? Thanks


  2. […] Others have written in detail about why they believe that this isn’t just a temporary system issue.  This appears to be an intentional change.  You can read, for example, NoonRadar’s analysis, or Miles to Memories’ post. […]

  3. We still need more data points, definitely today and tomorrow (today it’s only day 2).

    When trying to load look at the cashier’s computer screen (or ask them to show it to you, it can be somewhat tilted even behind the service desk counter) so you can confirm that if it denies, it is the same error message (see the pic I took yesterday

    If you have them, try to load with an emv chip bank issued debit card, a non-emv bank issued debit card and with different types of pin-based prepaid/gift cards and with cash (you can do small amounts). Also, ask local management to see if they have heard anything, hopefully today (if not by tomorrow) some of them bothered to call corporate and got some insight/info which they are willing to share.

    I did all these last night at the stores I tried to load (after I found out about it being dead):

    1) Cash loaded fine (it was my first cash load), the receipt and email looked the same as with loading with gift/credit cards before.

    2) Both debit cards and the pin gift cards (Vanilla and Meta) gave the same error message.

    3) Local Target management had no clue, all they had to offer was educated guesses and basic troubleshooting steps (i.e. it is maybe a network/debit card issue, etc).

    On one of the tries last night I even had the Target manager select debit on her screen during loading, just to rule things out. All that changed was that it didn’t prompt me to select debit/credit, but gave the same denial error message.

    What other things do you suggest we/people for troubleshooting and data points purposes?

    P.S. If you already read this comment on other blogs, sorry for the repeat, just trying to generate as much data points as possible so the dust settles, along with people’s anxiety about this.

  4. Guys, it’s dead. It’s right there in the FAQ’s on Redcard. Prepaid gift cards are no longer accepted. Beyond that I didn’t read very closely but it looks as if any unlinked bank debit card will be denied, possibly even at the registers.

    But for MSing, there’s no more mystery. It’s over.

    Last night a guy posted all of the text on the Doctor of Credit site. I went to verify. Sure enough…..

    • Agree with your sentiment, but for the record, the RC FAQ has read like that for a long time (maybe since the beginning).

  5. I think this got too expensive for Target not in terms of swipe fees but in terms of labor hours. The people who would come in with four RedCards and 50 visa gift cards… Target has higher labor costs than Wal-Mart and you are spending their labor dollars!

  6. Since I can only get vanilla visa’s at WAG this is gonna be so much harder to hit 10K before the end of the year for the apple pay promo. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Well, you can always liquidate VGC’s using PayPal and their PayPal HERE scanner.

      Doing so WILL cost you about 2.7% per swipe, so you cant do this for regular MS.

      BUT for bonus offers, and a Discover type offer with 10/20% back, its worth it as a last resort.

  7. Some comments mention October 1, as the day it was supposed to start. Isn’t that date when they had to implement chip cards. Maybe it has something to do with that.

  8. Here’s my two bits….

    REDBird is dead, because Target never really had its heart into it.

    Target saw that Walmart had Bluebird, and figured “If Walmart is doing it, we must do it, since it must be good for business”.

    What Target didn’t figure is that Walmart (typically) caters to a socio-economic demographic that NEEDS the Bluebird card, and while Target is a bit more “upscale”.

    So the folks who target Target, are likely to have more of an inclination to do MS.

    Walmart has also gone and “productized” Bluebird, so its a SKU you buy. Target you have to go to “Customer Service” to sign up.

    Ah, well. RIP REDBird…. (Maybe we can still do $1k a month, of online loads??)

  9. “I Would Wait”

    Definitely worth emphasizing Shawn, glad you did.

    I too suggest people wait a couple of days for this to be sorted out. By a couple of days it would be Oct 15th, so there would be still time to switch to another prepaid Amex card and do the October loads.

    We’re all just making educated guesses here about the fate of Redbird, so in the small chance that we’re proven wrong (hope so) there’s no reason to switch to another prepaid Amex today.

  10. From the AMEX site: “8 Reloads are not currently available at Target stores in AR and NC. Card can only be loaded at Target Stores with Cash.”

  11. Has anyone tried loading with a gift card online…you can do $200 per day and $1000 per month…does that work or does it need to be a bank issued debit card?


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