I found the REDbird to make a (data) point in New York City

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First of all, Happy New Year’s Eve! And now…

I HAB THA REDBIRD

I just got back from REDbird Land (AKA the Memphis metro area). I was there visiting family for the holiday and made a point to stop in to a Target to pick up a REDbird card (AKA Target American Express Prepaid REDcard) and load it up with $500 – the max load for a temporary card.

The REDbird experience

The Target in Horn Lake, Mississippi was a veritable utopia for one looking for REDbird. The signage was on point and the cards were stocked at nearly every register.

REDbird spotting

REDbird spotting

Endcap positioning

Endcap positioning

At nearly every register

At nearly every register

Quick overview of benefits per store signage

Quick overview of benefits per store signage

This is the one you want to get

This is the one you want to get

The store was very well-stocked and signed with these cards. Taking these pictures, I felt like I was doing a corporate audit or something. In reality, I was just very impressed by how easy they made it for me to find this new product.

Confusingly, Target offers a REDcard product in the form of a debit card, a store credit card, and now in a prepaid reloadable card. The one in the picture above is the one you want to get.

There was no purchase fee in Mississippi, although in some states it’s $5 to buy the temp card.

I went to the register and asked to load it up to the maximum. The cashier had no issue with loading it up, and seemed to know right where to go to set it up. She made sure that I knew I was not buying a gift card. “No, I know it’s not a gift card.” Then she asked, “Do you know how the card works? It’s a prepaid reloadable card.”

I really liked how she made sure that I knew what I was buying (go corporate training!). I told her I knew all about the card, and thanked her for taking the time to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Then she asked for my driver’s license and had me verify the info on the screen.

I entered in my SSN and phone number and then went to swipe my credit card (I used the Barclaycard Arrival for this first load-up). Kinda/sorta predictably, it didn’t go through. I had her pause the transaction, stepped out of line, and called Barclays.

While on the phone with Barclays, I got a barrage of fraud alerts via phone call and email – kudos for them for being on top of it. I verified the transaction through the automated system, then I was on my way. The rest of the transaction went through smoothly, and I now have the REDbird!

The allure of the PPM

The reason I’m interested in this particular card is the allure of the PPM – the Perpetual Points Machine. If I can load it here in New York City for $5,000 per month, that’s an easy 60,000 points a year – minimum.

  • If I use the Barclaycard Arrival, it’s 120,000 points, worth $1,320+ in travel credits.
  • If I use the Club Carlson Visa, it’s a whopping 300,000 points – easily enough for lot of Club Carlson stays.
  • If I use the Amex EveryDay Preferred, I get 90,000 points (assuming I get 1.5 points per dollar by meeting the 30 transactions per month)
  • If I use the Fidelity Amex, I get an extra $1,200 added to my IRA, which could turn into much more in 30+ years.
  • If I use the Chase British Airways Visa, I get 75,000 Avios (at 1.25 points per dollar) PLUS the Companion Certificate for running $30,000 through the card.

The “point” is: I have options. And, if this works, I will really have to decide what my points and miles strategy is for 2015. The clock resets at the stroke of midnight, and I don’t have any trips planned for the future (!) – a first for me.

I’ve been throwing around the idea of going to Patagonia or extreme Northwest Canada, back to Europe, or finally to Asia, as it would be my first time there. I’d also love to get back to Hawaii next year.

If this is a PPM, I have to figure out what I value and where I want to go. Between us, I’m tempted to go hard with the British Airways Visa, get the Companion Certificate, and supplement the rest with Club Carlson Gold Points.

There are lots of other cards that offer threshold bonuses and category bonuses – I’m guessing a lot of people are assessing their strategy moving forward into 2015.

Bottom line

Since Amazon Payments went away and Serve reloads starting coding as cash advances, the “game” has been barren as far as manufacturing spend. Personally, I’ve been relying on category bonuses, shopping portals, and signup bonuses to get my points and miles lately.

If this REDbird does unlock a new cornucopia of earning points and miles, it could be a boon. There’s a lot that could go wrong: Target could refuse credit cards for reloads, or Amex could reduce the reload amount, or any other number of things: the card simply might not work in New York yet.

For now, I still have my Serve card. I’m gonna do one more round of loading and unloading before I kill it off. Hoping this REDbird works as I think it should.

Does anyone have any words to the wise regarding REDbird? Is it the PPM we’re expecting it to be?

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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