It used to be only tax cheats, illegal aliens, and regular aliens didn’t have bank accounts. Now that banks are making it more difficult to have free accounts, people are looking for less expensive alternatives.
Do you pay a monthly fee to have a bank account? Even something as meager as $10 a month is $120 a year, $600 over 5 years, and so on, and so on. That’s real money. That’s money you had left after paying taxes. It adds up!
Before you choose to pay for a bank account, consider Target’s Prepaid REDcard. It’s not a credit card, but it is from American Express. It’s not unlike Bluebird or Serve from American Express. In fact, AmEx only allows you to have one of those three accounts.
(Update June 2015: You can no longer fund the Target REDcard with a credit card. Some folks did this to meet credit card spending requirements. If you are looking to meet a credit card spend, you can still fund your Target REDcard with the “OneVanilla” prepaid Visa Card. Just use your new credit card to buy a OneVanilla card at 7-Eleven. Take the OneVanilla card to Target’s Customer Service desk to use it to fund your Target REDcard. When asked for your OneVanilla PIN, punch in the last four numbers on the OneVanilla card. Not all 7-Eleven stores allow you to buy the OneVanilla card with a credit card.)
Otherwise, you can load money onto your REDcard via cash at a U.S. Target store, as well as by direct deposit or a linked bank account. There is no minimum balance or monthly fees. You get free ATM access at over 43,000 U.S. Allpoint network ATMs. AllPoint has a handy ATM app in case you are out and about and wonder where you can get some cash.
Once you have money on your REDcard, you can use the card anywhere that accepts American Express. You also get 5% off when you use it for purchases at Target, as well as free shipping and an extra 30 days to return merch.
With REDcard, you can also sign in online and pay bills just like you’d do with an online checking account. That means you can pay your mortgage, rent or property taxes with money you have on your REDcard. And that money may have gotten on your REDcard via a credit card. Sweeeeeeet.
How Do I Get This Prepaid REDcard Of Which You Speak?
I didn’t have one of those stores near me, but I have a partner-in-crime in Pittsburgh who was happy to help. My buddy Gumbo swung by his Target and picked up a temporary card for me. The card was free, but he had to load a dollar on it and give his personal info. Gumbo called me with the code on the back of the temporary card. I went online, plugged in the card code, added my personal info and my permanent card arrived a week later.
By the way, I never saw his personal information. My info replaced whatever he put in when he bought the card. I shot him back a little sumthin’ sumthin’ on an Amazon eGift card for the effort. Everybody wins!
Will It Work?
I took my REDcard on a test drive to my local Target to load $1,000 via a credit card. My card was rejected. I tried a different credit card. It was also rejected. Suddenly, I got an email from the first card’s fraud department, and a phone call from the other bank’s fraud department.
This is where I was an idiot. How many times do people walk out of Target with purchases totaling exactly $1,000? Of course a red flag went up. So maybe toss on a bag of Cheetos or load an odd amount to avoid potential fraud flags. Or, heaven forbid, shop while you are there. FYI, one is allowed to load $2,500 per day, $5,000 per month.
I assured the bank that called that the charge was mine. We hung up. I loaded $1,000 to my REDcard and then did it again minutes later. A few days later, I decided to pay off that credit card with the REDcard cash in my Target Prepaid REDcard online account. Worked like a charm. I few days after that, I loaded $500 so I could to play with the ATM feature. I withdrew $100 right away from the Target store’s ATM. A bit later, I whipped out my phone to consult my AllPoint app to find another ATM right nearby. I took out another $60 at 7-11 and $340 at Vons grocery. Here is the ATM locator for the app-less. Very handy! Check out the screenshots: