October 29, 2012
I recently posted “The 5X everywhere backup plan” where I showed how people unable to buy Vanilla Reload cards could still earn 5 points per dollar everywhere by making use of the American Express for Target card. I consider it the backup plan to the “One card to rule them all” trick. I also plan to follow-up with one or more additional posts showing how best to leverage this card.
In this post, I’ll tell you how to go about getting one of the Target Amex cards.
Unlike the regular American Express Prepaid cards and the new Bluebird card, the Target Amex cards cannot be ordered online. Instead, you need to first buy a temporary card at a participating Target and then wait for a permanent card to (hopefully) arrive. I found the whole process surprisingly difficult. To save you some headache, I’ve laid out below everything you need to know:
Find a participating Target
In order to get the American Express for Target card, you need to go in person to a Target store that carries them. You can find those stores here.
Find the temporary card in the store
Finding the card isn’t easy. In my case, I had to ask four or five employees before I found someone who knew what I was talking about. Most employees pointed me towards regular Amex gift cards. In the end, I found the card I wanted by one (and only one) of the many checkout lanes. Here is what to look for:
My advice is to look at all of the displays near and above the checkout lanes until you find a card that looks like the one pictured above. Make sure it says “reloadable prepaid card.” Otherwise you may be buying a simple, uninteresting gift card.
Buy the card
Now that you’ve found the card, it should be easy to buy it right? I wish! The surprising thing here is that when you buy this card, the cashier will be prompted to ask you all kinds of questions that you probably don’t really want to answer while a line of angry customers forms behind you. They’ll ask for your full name and address. They’ll ask you to input your SSN on the keypad. I can’t remember all of the questions I had to answer, but I’m pretty sure they asked me to describe my life’s most embarrassing moment (“easy – this one!”). Finally, after sharing all of your personal information with the cashier and the angry mob behind you, you can pay for the initial card load with any credit card. There is a $3 fee for each load.
NOTE: In case you’re worried that a credit card load will be treated as a cash advance: I have tested loads and reloads with Chase, Amex, and Citi credit cards. All transactions were credited as regular Target purchases, not as cash advances (that’s a good thing).
Wait and hope
The card you just bought at Target is a temporary card that cannot be reloaded. You can use it for regular credit purchases, but not for ATM withdrawals. If all goes well, you will receive your permanent card in the mail in a few weeks. If not, you’ll receive a letter or email stating that they were unable to verify your identity. That’s what happened to me. So, I called and they resubmitted my application. A few weeks later I received another letter stating that they were unable to confirm my identity (Really? You know I carry a gazillion Amex cards, right?). Ultimately I had to buy another temporary card in order to try again. The second attempt succeeded. I have no idea why the first attempt failed, but I’ve heard from others who have had similar experiences so don’t be surprised if it happens to you too!