Target Debit Card – 5% Off, No Credit Check Required

If you shop regularly at Target, then you’ve been pitched their “REDcard” that gives you 5% off all your purchases at Target stores and Target.com. However, you may be hesitant to sign up for yet another credit card with limited usefulness. I certainly wouldn’t waste a precious hard credit check on one, those are worth $300-$500 a pop. Or perhaps you just don’t like credit cards in general.

A better option for regular shoppers is the lesser-known Target Debit REDcard. It draws money directly from your existing bank account, you don’t have to open up a new Target bank account or line of credit. You simply provide a voided paper check and apply either in-store or via mail-in application (no online application option). They do still require SSN and reserve the right to check consumer reporting agencies, but according to online reports they don’t perform a credit check on any of the three major credit bureaus.

Update: A reader reports that Target checks with ID Analytics, another lesser-known consumer reporting agency. This won’t affect your 3 main credit scores, but it may come into play if another retailer or lender wishes to check your IDA report.

You get the same 5% off (discount taken at register) and other perks like free shipping online. You can even use Target as a free ATM and make a withdrawal at checkout. If you spend an average of $150 a month at Target, 5% off is $90 a year.

Comments

  1. Looked at another way, $150 per month at Target is $1,800 per year. Seems a bit ridiculous unless you own TGT.

  2. Did they do a credit check, because the small print at the bottom of the mail in application says:

    “In connection with your Target Debit Card, we may request consumer reports from consumer reporting agencies, and we may report information about your Target Debit Card application, transactions, our experiences with you and how you have handled the Target Debit Card to consumer reporting agencies.”

  3. Jonathan, you are usually right on the money on this stuff, but I would be very hesitant to say that there is no “credit check” with this card. I haven’t applied for this particular one, but I got a similar debit card from nordstrom where the sales staff (and later, the 800 support call-in number when i didn’t believe them) said that there would be no credit check.

    while it’s true that there was no credit pull from any of the major credit bureaus, they did do a sort of soft credit check using a company called IDA Incorporated, which decided that my wife (even though she has 780+ credit scores with all 3 major bureaus, has many high-end credit cards with several issuing banks, we’ve owned our home for 5 years, she has utilities in her name, has many years of student loan payment history, financed a car a few years back, etc.) was not credit worthy because they didn’t have any information on her. So, they turned her down for this debit card.

    no big deal, we assumed, as we were basically doing it for $20 off our nordstrom purchase, and we figured that there wouldn’t be a credit pull so it wouldn’t be a big deal. well, a couple months later, she was applying for the US Bank Flexperks Visa card (when they had the olympics 33,150 flexpoints promotion going on), and her application was initially rejected because, even though her credit score was great when it was pulled from equifax, they also pulled from IDA again, and now the only thing IDA had was a rejected nordstroms debit card application!

    US Bank initially rejecting her application wouldn’t have been nearly as weird if not for the fact that WE HAVE OUR MORTGAGE WITH THEM, so they CLEARLY know who she is!

    sanity eventually won out and we were able to work with IDA and US Bank to get her an approval, but it was a huge, huge hassle and more than a minor annoyance. although i was initially very irritated with IDA (who I’d never previously heard of), we worked with their customer service manager who went out of her way to help us. BUT (and i’m eventually getting around to talking about this Target card), IDA said that nordstroms was incorrect in saying that there would be no credit pull, because they consider this to be a credit pull–it’s just not with one of the 3 major bureaus.

  4. Depending on where you live, Target is hands-down the best place to shop for groceries. My wife and I are there multiple times each week and the credit card makes perfect sense. It’s the middle of October and we’ve saved $210 so far this year. The debit card may work for some people, but if you shop at Target frequently, you probably don’t want your bank statement flooded with Target purchases. We simply pay off the credit card once each month and it keeps the bank statement clean and easy to read.

  5. Scott: A lot of Targets, especially in Calif., have added a full selection of groceries. So if a family lived close to one as opted to use it as their primary grocery store it might not be too bad.

    I do have to question, however, the value of this for target. Is this an instance of them paying for more detailed shopping information about individual consumers for marketing information….or is it more indicative of the outrageous mark-up that they’re charging for their goods that they can offer a discount in exchange for loyalty?

    This “debt card by proxy” model really scares me and is probably not something I would ever opt for.

  6. I not a fan of credit, so that option is out. As for the debit idea, I am not sure I like the idea of Target having my banking info on file. I know Safeway and the various names it operates under has the same thing attached to their club cards, which is considered in their stores an S-check.

  7. @Travis – Not sure where you see that Target is outrageously marking up their goods. Their groceries are cheaper (all categories – milk, bread, meat, produce, baby formula) than any full-service grocery store (Cub Foods, Rainbow Foods) around me and roughly on par with Walmart even before the 5% discount. In fact, I find Target is often cheaper than Sam’s Club. I’m not really sure how they compare in terms of electronics pricing or other categories, but they definitely aren’t marking up their groceries relative to other stores.

    My guess is that they make up part of the 5% b/c of not having to pay interchange fees on the transaction? The cards are directly from Target (rather than Visa, Mastercard, etc).

  8. Yeah, Target loves data. The interchange fee thing makes sense, too. And there’s the possibility that the 5% discount signs plastered all over will cause people to overcompensate and be a little freer in their spending. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they put a high value on having a complete picture of a person’s Target shopping (and being confident that they do).

    See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html and http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/24/target-isnt-just-predicting-pregnancies-expect-more-savvy-data-mining-tricks/

    (I say all this as a REDcard holder and frequent Target shopper. I don’t doubt they’ve managed to extract money from me that they wouldn’t have gotten without their sophisticated methods, but I also don’t think I would have done better overall by avoiding them.)

  9. Target is SO using you for their own,inside shopper information, that in turn helps them in many,many ways. See expose @ NYTimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp&

    Don’t just think Target is the only one doing so, Amazon & Walmart have run afoul using your shopping information for various things that have scared living bejesus out of quite a few customers. But this is only a glimpse of the future, it’s about to get even more targeted. (Pun intended)

  10. @Scott – As noted, it’s really not that hard to spend even $2,000 a year at Target without going nuts if you shop there regularly as they include so many things from groceries to furniture to pharmacy to clothing. One big-ticket item like an HDTV or computer could put you over the top.

    @Mark – Customer reviews indicate no credit check, below is an example but I did update the post as your point is valid that they reserve the right to do so.

    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/arcmessageview.php?catid=52&threadid=1137626

    @J – Thanks for your comment. I have updated the post with your feedback. I an not familiar with IDA, and am sorry to hear of your issues with them. The application does reserve the right to check with consumer reporting agencies, but customer reviews indicated that they don’t run a credit check on the 3 major bureaus. For the curious, you can request a copy of your ID report under the FCRA here:

    http://www.idanalytics.com/solutions/consumer/consumer-information/get-personal-information/

  11. For people in certain geo-specific regions, buying Target GC’s at Safeway with the right credit card is a better option than the Red Card.

    5% cash back (or more) from credit card + $1 off per gallon of gas if done properly.

    The free shipping for the Red Card is a nice perk though.

  12. I’ll stick with credit (using someone else’s money) than using debit (using my own money) for the fraud protection alone… I often wonder if people who use debit cards actually understand how un-consumer-friendly debit cards are…

  13. One other perk, is if you register a local school to your card, the school will get 1% back of all of your purchases. Our Debit card is registered to our daughters elementary school. Its kind of a pain to carry around an extra card, but 5% is 5%.

  14. Can you clarify: Is this a 5% discount, or 5% cash back?

  15. I believe its a discount. When I get to the register, they show a total. Then I pay with Target debit, and it is less than the original total quoted. IE. I had some items that rang up for roughly $41, then when I used the Target card the receipt showed $38ish. Hope that helps.

  16. Sorry about the confusion, the 5% should be taken as a discount at the register when you use your Target REDcard.

  17. I have used my Target Debit card for months and it has been great. It does take Target a few days to pull the money out of your checking account because they use your Target card like a paper check. It takes time to clear. I don’t have to worry about missing a payment or getting interest charged, which negates the 5% savings. I did not get a credit check on my report from Target, but I think it might happen in some cases. If you shop at Target a lot, then why not save 5% on all purchases?

  18. I’ve been trying to refrain from signing up for the Target credit card because I never sign up for dept store credit cards. I basically only use 2 CCs. But I’m about to throw in the towel on this one. I shop at Target quite frequently, and I’d say the bill runs to $100 each month (things like baby formula and supplies adds up fast).

    The free shipping online is also a huge perk, because they often have cheaper prices online because they have to price match other online retailers. But paying for shipping would negate those savings. So 5% discount plus free online shipping makes this deal un-pass-up-able.

    I can see how Target can offer the 5% deal. If the CC is not Visa/MC, then they can save about 3%. Rewards cards typically give 1-2% cashback too. So that adds up close to 5%.

  19. I live alone and have a target very close-by. I was contemplating about getting a Costco membership ($50), but it’s considerably farther away and doesn’t really suit my grocery needs. If I planned my shopping, I could maybe break even or save a bit of money with Costco membership.

    But I decided all that wasn’t worth it for me, so I proceeded to get the Target red credit card, a 5% discount upfront is pretty good. And my experience with Target hasn’t been bad, we’ll see.

  20. Michele Slowinski says:

    This article is COMPLETELY WRONG!! When using the Target debit card, it does NOT take the money from your bank account right away! It takes a few days! If you don’t have the funds to cover it, Target will charge you $30 and your bank will also charge you!!! Be careful, Target does not check to see if you have the money in your bank first!

  21. This is what I’ve read in the terms by the way as I’ve only used it once to make a small purchase but they did not take it from my bank for 3 days…

  22. Shirley Smith says:

    I won’t be using my card anymore. It takes too long to show up on our bank account so my husband never knows for sure how much $ we have in our account.

  23. I too was skeptical about the Target Debit Card. I couldn’t figure out what Target was getting out of it. So i did some research. To sum it all up,

    1.)Target will get purchase information from you that it will use to market to you. In my eyes its not a bad thing to get a 10% off coupon for something you were going to buy anyways. That’s what I like to call a WIn/WIn. So what if they can tell your pregnant before you can.

    (See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02…..abits.html and http://www.forbes.com/sites/ka…..ng-tricks/). Stay Klaasy ; )

    2.) The card acts like a paper check and will take 2-3 days to hit your account. Erik says this saves Target interchange fees from Visa, Mastercard, blah blah blah. Erik sounds like a mart guy.

    3.) For you dangerous types that like to play it fast and loose, when the charge finally does hit and there is no money there (Yes, it will let you buy when u don’t have the funds) you will get charged NSF fees or the like. It looks to average between $20-40. Ignorance costs money.

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