UPDATE: As of May 6, 2015 Target has stopped accepting credit cards as a source for loading of REDcards.
The Target Prepaid REDcard enables you to use credit cards to indirectly, but effectively, pay your mortgage, rent, student loans, etc. free of charge!
This is extremely useful, especially if you’re trying to meet a spending requirement for a credit card signup bonus. After all, the largest recurring bills for most Americans – rent, mortgage, student loans – usually can’t be paid with a credit card (unless you pay huge fees).
Even if you don’t have those sorts of bills you can use the Prepaid REDcard to manufacture spending, where you load the REDcard with your credit card and then use the bill-pay feature of the REDcard to pay off the credit card balance.
The REDcard can be a key tool to use to meet the spending requirements of credit cards that have lucrative signup bonuses. And those lucrative signup bonuses can be key to getting a luxurious honeymoon without breaking the bank.
(Some More) Opening Notes
The Target Prepaid REDcard is an American Express product. It takes a few minutes to understand, acquire and set up but from that point forward it’s useful and easy to use. Though it is an AMEX product, as a prepaid card it is more similar to a debit card than a credit card.
You can load it with your credit card at any Target free of charge. Here are the most important loading limits:
- $1,000 per transaction/swipe
- $2,500 per day
- $5,000 per month
Once you’ve loaded the card you can use the online REDcard site to pay bills electronically or by mailed check, to individuals or to businesses.
I’ve used it to pay my mortgage, student loans, utility bills, send money to friends and more. Without the REDcard I would have made all of those payments out of my checking account. That would have meant no credit card rewards earned and no progress towards minimum spending requirements. With the Prepaid REDcard that has changed completely.
On top of that, the card gets you 5% off at Target and Target.com and free shipping from Target.com. You also get an extra 30 days for returns if you use your REDcard for the purchase.
You can also use it for purchases anywhere that American Express is accepted.
Because it’s a prepaid card, there is no hard credit pull for obtaining or registering the REDcard so getting it will not affect your credit score in any way!
The 4 Key Steps to Getting and Using a Prepaid REDcard
1. Pick up a temporary Target Prepaid REDcard in person at a participating Target. The cards are available in most states. They’re usually located at the checkout counters.
When you check out with the temporary REDcard you’ll have to enter some personal information into the card reader device. In most states the temporary card is free but in some states it is $5.
2. Register your REDcard online at the Target Prepaid REDcard site. This will trigger American Express to physically mail you a permanent REDcard, with your name printed on it. You should receive it about a week later.
I recommend writing “OLD” or “TEMPORARY” on the temporary card and eventually cutting it up and disposing of it to prevent accidental use of it (the permanent and temporary cards look similar).
3. Visit a Target store and load your permanent REDcard with a credit card. There is no fee to do this! If you attempt to load large amounts from a credit card immediately the transaction may trigger a fraud alert by your credit card bank which will mean the transaction is declined. If that happens, simply call the credit card bank using the phone number on the back of the credit card and notify them that you are trying to use the card for a large personal purchase at Target. I don’t recommend volunteering any more info than needed. After you’ve gone through this once you most likely won’t have to go through it again.
4. Use the REDcard’s online management site to pay bills and send checks as desired. Many people are paying their credit card bills directly from their REDcard. I’ve opted to pay my credit card bills from my bank account and use my REDcard account to pay my mortgage, student loan, utilities, etc. Those are all bills that wouldn’t normally be payable by credit card. They are the largest recurring bills I have so to be able to now pay them with a credit card I am easily able to meet spending requirements for credit card signup bonuses!
How to Get Max Benefit From Your Prepaid REDcard
1. Load the REDcard using credit card(s) for which you’re working on minimum spending requirements for signup bonuses. The biggest benefit of the Prepaid REDcard is its usefulness in completing required spending for signup bonuses. For example, the spending requirement for a card like the Chase IHG Rewards Select – $1,000 – can be met in a single visit to Target. So any credit cards for which you’re working to meet signup bonus spending requirements should be the first ones you use to load the REDcard.
2. If you’re not in the middle of meeting spend requirements for signup bonuses, load the REDcard with a credit card that is offering a strong category bonus at Target. This is relatively rare but if you have a credit card that is earning you a major bonus at Targets, use it.
3. If 1. and 2. aren’t relevant, then use a credit card that has a great return for normal spending, such as the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express or even a Citi Double Cash card, to load the REDcard. SPG points can often be worth 3, 4 or even 5 cents each so there is great value in using an SPG credit card to load the REDcard. The Citi Double Cash card gives you about 2% cash back so if you loaded the REDcard fully each month ($5,000 per month) you’d be earning $100 per month in cash back. This is a really great return on your time/energy if you already shop at Target. And if you do shop at Target, the 5% discount you get on items at Target with the Prepaid REDcard will save you money.
At first, getting and using the Target Prepaid REDcard may seem a bit complicated and/or intimidating. It’s really not though. Getting the card and registering/setting it up online takes about a half hour and the payoff can be huge.
This approach enables engaged couples to overcome one of the only real challenges to getting free miles and points from credit card signup bonuses and using them on a honeymoon – the minimum spending requirements associated with the signup bonuses.
I’ll be using my Target Prepaid REDcard to meet the spend requirements for the four credit cards I just obtained in my April 2015 App-O-Rama. Then we’ll use the miles and points from those four credit card signup bonuses to take free trips to places such as Florida and Europe.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can ask them below in the comments section or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.