Redbird is dead, so what now? Back to Basics

There are a ton of moving pieces in the miles and points world on any given day, any given week. Earlier this week, news started popping up about a rather large flapping moving piece (aka RedBird) which may no longer being able to be loaded with debit cards (let alone pin enabled Visa Gift Cards).

This news is further corroborated by the AMEX Prepaid Redcard page

For many, this is big news. Monumental news even. Many who have cut their teeth on either RedBird when it was loadable directly via Credit Card or other ways that you never heard of, Perhaps this is even big for folks that got into MSing in the older days of Vanilla Reloads, or even the Mint.
The fact is, RedBird was easy. It was easy to comprehend… Let me draw a diagram for you

That’s pretty easy, right?!?

More than a year ago, I stated, that Manufactured Spending should be made simple, not simpler. What does that mean? It means those arrows above, are overkill, they are “simpler” than it needs to be.
But how does that come back to where we are today. Well, I think those arrows are important today, for one reason and one reason only.
So take this graphic, here we have a simple process, and now, you’ve just lost a rather integral component. What do you do? Do you just try to replace that one glaring, missing component? Or do you attempt to flip your entire manufactured spending practice and try a different approach? Matt posed flipping your stuff a few weeks ago related to programs to earn and burn points in for travel (e.g. moving to earning Thank You Points vs. AA miles). Perhaps it isn’t specifically to the point of losing a key component of your liquidation strategy, but the post is still relevant from a thought-process standpoint.
Now lets take it a step further, and I really, really don’t want to be that guy that outs a deal, but the fact is, there is another way, rather than replacing your RedBird with a BlueBird or Serve, you could instead procure a money order. Here’s how that graphic looks.
 MO Wheel
 Now, before you go any further, I would recommend you read about Freequent Flyer’s post on Structuring. I know you have no intent to break the law, none of us do. But, what if you were to do so, without intending to? Well, that’s why you are going to read Freequent Flyer’s post about Structuring, so you don’t.
Ok, that was a diversion, sorry. But incidentally, Freequent Flyer, responded to Matt’s post just this week, stating exactly the issue that we see with the X’d out Redbird graphic. He states:
“Having a routine is fantastic…. Having a routine is (can be) dangerous…..No deal lasts forever” bolding mine.

My friends, that last part is something we know. But so often we lull ourselves into complacency. The fact is, with the RedBird, some of our number allowed RedBird to take on such a regular part in our Manufactured Spending, that they will now be looking to fill that hole. Some will scale up other methods, some will research and test out new methods that they had otherwise not had the bandwidth to test, and unfortunately, some won’t have another avenue to turn to, because, they were given the simpler option, they were given the fish, without the pole, or the line, or the hook.


I would argue regardless of which camp you fall it, it is back to basics. Think back to why you got into the miles and points game. Back to why you first manufactured spend. Was it because you wanted to earn enough miles for that first trip to Hawaii? Japan? Australia? What drove you to submit that credit card application, to nervously buy that first $500 Visa Gift Card, more money than you would normally spend in a weekend? Has that reason changed? Are you still working toward that trip? If so, I would say it is time to go back to the basics.

Wrapping Up

So, given this rather eventful week, what will you do? Will you go back to Bluebird or Serve? Will you pursue other avenues and innovate? A mixture of the two? For me, I’ll probably convert one of my RedBirds to a Serve or Bluebird, because its easy, I’ll keep one RedBird and continue to test out a few things (since it is useful for more than just Manufacturing Spend), and I’ll dust off my list of other stores I’ve been meaning to visit, but just haven’t had the time to. I don’t believe this is a case of “when one door closes, another opens.” Rather, I only have 168 hours a week, and those other items on the list just hadn’t bubbled to the top.
Really, I want to highlight the “back to basics” approach. But even more so, I would implore you, to remember why you got into this game to begin with. Because getting value from all of your effort, is the truest Big Win.

12 thoughts on “Redbird is dead, so what now? Back to Basics

  1. I never got around to Redbird. I’ve stuck with Blue all this time. It’s still working for me, I’ve got two working kate’s near me. I also mix in MOs (I always pay my too-large mortgage with them, and sometimes just deposit them) reselling, and one or two other small things. It’s enough to keep my brain occupied. I’ve gotta say, though, I’d be a little dismayed if BB went the way of RB. The death of RB is a good reminder to keep my skills sharp and/or avenues diversified.
    (BTW – how about a quick mention for how this also finally killed Amex for Target 🙂 ; I will be missing that)

  2. Yeah, I need to rethink my entire strategy now because the two Walmarts within reasonable distance from me BOTH no longer have working Kates, REDbird is dead, and I have no idea where to even get MOs locally since they won’t sell me any at Walmart and I don’t know of any grocery chains in NY where I can purchase using GCs. I know there are probably other methods out there but who knows if I will have the time (at least in the short-term) to figure them out. Seriously, shoot me.

    • @Andrew – the best I could offer you is that sometimes store policies or cashiers change. For a while my closest Walmart wasn’t friendly for loading BB, but recently, they have become more accommodating. But really, it comes down to trial and error with some things… It may mean you want to go with less float in the near term, but if you keep trying different approaches, you might find something sustainable. As Kenny who writes says, all MS is local.

  3. I live in Hawaii and even with Kate at Walmart, I can’t find any visa gift cards where I won’t lose a ton of money buying them.

    • @Presley – ouch, I haven’t been back to Hawaii for a while, so I don’t really have a lot to offer… although I would have thought that pricing for VGCs would’ve been the same price country-wide, but I guess everything has a paradise tax.

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