Which Credit Card to Use for Target REDCard??

This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners, such as American Express. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here. Additionally, some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through Deals We Like.

Loading your credit card at Target to your REDCard has been a very hot topic in the points and miles world. This is because you can load up to $5,000 per month ($2,500 per day and $1,000 per load) to your REDCard. And the best thing is that you can use your credit card to do this thus earning points and miles! You can then use your Target REDCard as a regular debit card, to shop at Target (and get a 5% discount), or most importantly pay bills! For paying bills, this means you can pay any bill or person – even your credit card bill that you used to load the card!

This is one of the best cards as the only fee is the initial cost to purchase the card which is $5. It is a one time fee and that is it! The main downside of this card is that purchasing the temporary card is not available everywhere. Only select stores cary it unfortunately (you can check here). Although, if you have a friend that lives near another store, they are able to purchase one for you by entering your Social Security number when purchasing the card (or a fake SS #) and you can change it when you register the card online. There is no hard pull like applying for a credit card when purchasing this card. Even if a store does not sell the card, you can still load the card at that store. Some stores, however, you can only load the card at customer service and not a check out register.

I promise I will dedicate an entire post to an overview of the Target REDCard later this week.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 1.58.15 PM

So now the question, and the real purpose of this blog post is, “What credit card to use to loading your Target REDCard?” For the purpose of this post, I’ll assume the max load of $5,000 a month. Remember, you can pay your rent, mortgage, credit card bills, a friend, car payments, etc.

What will this $5,000 get you in points per credit card type:


  • Starwood American Express = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = Earn SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 on the card in the calendar year; Remember, you can transfer your SPG points to many airlines and get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred making spend on this card more valuable than many of the airline-specific cards (although not all!)
  • Marriott Visa = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent on the card (this can help you earn the desired status), for example 60,000 extra points a year can earn you 20 elite nights!
  • Hilton American Express = 15,000 points
    • Extra perks = With both Hilton Amex cards earn Gold status if you spend $20,00 annually, however, with the Surpass card only you’ll earn Diamond status if you spend $40,000 annually
  • Citi Hilton Reserve = 15,000 points
    • Extra perks = If you spend $40,000 in a calendar year get diamond status + if you spend $10,000  in your cardmembership year you get 1 free Hilton weekend night
  • Hyatt Visa = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = If you spend $20,000 a year you get 2 stays/5 nights towards status or if you spend $40,000 a year on the card you get 3 stays/5 nights towards status
  • Chase Fairmont = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = If you spend $12,000 in your cardmembership year, earn 1 free night stay
  • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature or Business Rewards Visa = 25,000 points
    • Extra perks = None, although remember if you have the credit card then you get your last free night for free on an award reservation (for stays of 2 or more nights)


  • American Airlines Visa/Amex/Mastercard = 5,000 miles
    • Extra perks = With the Citi Executive card (this is the $450 annual fee card) you’ll earn 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in a calendar year
  • British Airways = 6,250 points
    • Extra perks = If you spend $30,000 in a calendar year you will earn a Travel Together ticket (one time use ticket where you travel for free with a companion who is on a British Airways award reservation – you still pay taxes and it be a BA operated flight only which means taxes can be a lot!)
  • Chase United Explorer = 5,000 miles
    • Extra perks = Earn 10,000 miles when you spend $25,000 within the calendar year
  • Chase United Club = 7,500 miles
    • Extra perks = None
  • Delta Airlines = 5,000 miles
    • Extra perks = With the Delta Platinum Skymiles card earn up to 20,000 MQMs and 20,000 redeemable miles yearly (10,000 MQMs and redeemable miles after you spend $25,000 a year and an additional 10,000 MQMs and redeemable miles after you spend $50,000 in the same calendar year); With the Delta Reserve card earn up to 30,000 MQMs and 30,000 redeemable miles yearly (15,000 MQMs/15,000 redeemable miles after you spend $30,000 a year and an additional 15,000 MQMs/15,000 redeemable miles after you spend $60,000 in the same calendar year)
  • Southwest Airlines = 5,000 points (which equals a flat $71 towards a Wanna Getaway fare)
    • Extra perks = Credit card spend counts towards the Southwest companion pass:  $1 = $1 point and you need 110,000 points for the companion pass; Additionally, you get 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards status for every $10,000 spent up 15,000 TQPs
  • US Airways = 5,000 miles
    • Extra perks = Later this year (most likely in Q2), if you spend $30,000 on the card annually you can get a $100 flight discount

Flexible Programs:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred = 5,350 points
    • Extra perks = None
  • Chase Ink Bold/Plus = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = None
  • American Express Platinum = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = None
  • American Express Premier Rewards Gold = 5,000 points
    • Extra perks = None

Fixed Redemption Programs:

  • Capital One Venture = 10,000 points (which equals a flat $100 towards any travel)
    • Extra perks = None
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus = 10,000 miles (which equals $100, but if redeeming for travel get 10% miles back, so really equals $110)
    • Extra perks = None
  • Chase Freedom = 5,000 points (which equals $50 cash back)
    • Extra perks = None (although you can transfer to a better Ultimate Rewards account if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold/Plus)

So which card is best?
This really depends on the person and what they are looking for. Are you trying to meet minimum spend? Do you fly one airline or stay at one hotel over another? Do you prefer the flexibility of using a fixed redemption program, etc.I personally find the load process at Target to sometimes be quite annoying. Typically it gets flagged as fraud so a phone call to the bank is required. However, I find American Express to be much better to deal with than Chase. With American Express you can immediately accept the charges on the American Express app and no call to the bank is required. This is one reason I use an American Express card (specifically my Starwood American Express) over Chase. I haven’t yet tried it with a Barclaycard or US Bank card. There are times you might need to use a card to meet minimum spend requirements.

You then need to consider if you are more interested in maximize your miles or the perks of spending $X in a year. For example, using your Southwest credit card clearly will not get you the most value, however, if you are looking to earn that companion pass, this additional spend could be a great way to get there and outweigh the points earned on a different card where you might get a better value. Another example is getting a free Hilton weekend night just by spending $10,000 on your Hilton Reserve card. While Hilton has really devalued their points recently and I’d prefer earning a third of the points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, a free night certificate could be well worth it. If you are slightly shy of your desired airline status, you can spend the required amount to earn those miles towards status. Also, if you are into staying at Club Carlson properties, then this card should also not be overlooked. Just after two months of putting on the maximum amount, you have enough points for a free night at almost any of there hotels. Combine that with the free night just by having the card and you are looking at two free nights in Aruba for example!

If the perks are not part of your decision making factor and you are interested in earning airline miles, hotel points, or points in a flexible program where you can redeem at hotels/airlines, I’d personally suggest using the Starwood American Express, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or British Airways. As I mentioned above, I personally use my Starwood American Express for a few reasons: 1) It is an Amex so much easy to avoid calling the fraud department after every purchase (at least based on my experience), 2) The points are deposited to your Starwood account on a monthly basis so if the bank looks into these purchases and for whatever reason decides to close your account your points are not with the bank directly (i.e., Chase Ultimate Rewards), 3) Starwood points are awesome! 4) Starwood has an extremely flexible program where you can transfer to many airlines at a 1:1 ratio and get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred (i.e., American and Delta, NOT United though!).

If you are looking for a no frills program with a fixed redemption or cash back, then I’d suggest the Barclaycard Arrival – although it is only slightly better than the Capital One Venture, but the annual fee is more expensive. There are many other 2% cash back cards out there as well. 

The chart above can also be used in any application, not just loading their Target REDCard, but for anyone who has high credit card spend for whatever reason and wondering what card to use. Although keep in mind that they do not take into consideration bonus spend, for example, many cards give double points at hotels, travel, dining, etc.

If you want to learn more about this specifics of many of the cards listed above, along with the sign up bonus and other perks, take a look at the Promotions and Credit Card page. Let me know if you have any questions!

Which card do you use to load your Target REDCard?


  1. The math on the Barclaycard Arrival card seems off. I’m assuming you’re referring to the Arrival Plus which gets 2x points on all purchases. So $5000 X 2 = 10,000 X 12 = 120,000 * .1 = $1,200.

  2. Do you know if/when you can reload your RedCard from overseas? I having been using mine for the past 4 moths however I am going to be moving to Australia at the end of the month. Do you think the Target’s in Australia will be able to reload my Red Card?

  3. There are no Target stores in florida that offer the prepaid Redcard. My husband often travels to MA, where according to Target’s website, several locations offer the prepaid RedCard. However, he already has a Serve account that he does not want to cancel. I have a Bluebird account that I was planning to cancel anyway (was going to switch to Serve, but I like the Redbird idea even better). Can he buy a card for me when he is in MA, and let me register it online later?

  4. I read from target website that the REDcard has a debit card and a credit card. How are they different? Your article is talking about the debit card or credit card? Thanks.

  5. dishonest post! Read all the shut down reports due to the Target loads alone in last couple of months! Card companies like Chase, Citi and specially US bank has been shutting down accounts and banning from ever getting their cards again for the reload abuses! They specially hate Target abuses cos they say tall due to the recent massive data breach where the card companies lost millions!

    Please delete your post! or at least WARN your readers about reload abuses!

    • @jim – with anything you always want to tread with caution. However, I haven’t read reports of people’s accounts getting shut for simply loading their card.

  6. Jim, if you want to be helpful, then at least be specific and please provide evidence. Don’t say “it’s on FT! go look!” either. Come on.

  7. I have been procrastinating on switching my bluebird to this card. I believe the credit card load capability is a mistake and soon to be rectified. In looking at the redbird page no where does it say it can be loaded with a CC. I just know with my luck as soon as i get it they will cancel the CC load ability

  8. I guess I will be the bearer of bad news. When I approach the Target store this evening, the manager seeing me with the card told me right away that they have suspended the use of this card indefinitely. He kept on repeating “and this card isn’t from here.” Even when I pushed and say, “so you are an independent Target?” I was told that, sorry they just cannot process the RedCard at this time. He wasn’t able to give me a deadline as well.

    • @Kai – This is the first I’ve heard of this. Do you mean purchasing the card, using the card, or loading the card?

  9. I took advantage of the TCB 2.25% off AMEX GCs. I have been using my SPG AMEX Biz and Personal cards to load but figured this would be a way to diversify. I also put plenty of normal spend on them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *