Posted by Chuck on December 6, 2017
Gift Card Deals

Published on December 6th, 2017 | by Chuck


[Now Happening] Target Deactivating Gift Cards Purchased with Promo Abuse

[Update 12/6/17: Sporadic deactivations are now happening for ultra heavy hitters. I think they are basing it off the card used, so if you varied cards for each purchase you’re probably safe.]

Quick heads up: word on the street is that Target plans to deactivate some gift cards which were purchased by abusing the 10%-off deal from Sunday and refund the payment method used for purchase.

A similar thing happened last year where Target drained some gift cards for people who ‘rolled’ Target gift cards. We don’t know yet whether this time the deactivations will occur only on ‘rolled’ purchases; my gut tells me it’ll be a bit more broad this time. Even then, it’ll probably only affect those who did multiple online purchases from a single billing address or perhaps those who did more than $300-worth on a single credit card.

We’ll see…In the meantime, keep an eye out on your gift cards to make sure the balances are there. If they aren’t, double check that the refund posted properly to your credit card.

98 Responses to [Now Happening] Target Deactivating Gift Cards Purchased with Promo Abuse

  1. Dave C says:

    I got 3 online. All different logins and CCs, but 2 had sane billing address, 2 were me, 1 was wife. If 1 do want cone through, no biggie. I was just going to get 3rd party GC at 10%

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      I’d imagine an easy way for them to thin the herd is to look for multiple orders from the same IP address.

      • Dave C says:

        Yea probably. I’ll keep an eye out but wouldn’t be a huge deal.

        • anthonyjh21 says:

          Haha hopefully. Read my post below. Wife didn’t care that I made a good chunk of change from rolling gift cards, she was not a fan of what I did.

          Looking at her try to place an order on her account and watching the instant order cancellations just gained me more stink eye (all accounts at this IP were blocked).

  2. anthonyjh21 says:

    Back in the day I had my Target account banned for hitting the eBay-target Merry go round pretty hard.

    A few months ago I was able to get my account reinstated through escalating my request for a cancelled order to be fixed. Maybe playing dumb helped, who knows.

    What I do know is I missed out on many orders for things I didn’t think would matter (amazon, Walmart). Getting my account back was the equivalent of putting me on probation. I’m playing it straight here on out.

    Besides, the wife would’ve been really pissed at me if I got my account banned again seeing as she loves target for kids clothes and baby stuff.

    Moral of the story IMO is not to mess with Target anymore. If the writing wasn’t clear enough it’s now being bolded.

  3. Bryan says:

    For 3 I wouldn’t worry…There are people who bought 50-100k

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      Not so sure about that. I think this may be a case of guilty by association. It’s garnered enough attention that it wouldn’t surprise me if they preemptively had a strategy going into this year (DoC and others pointed out they fought back last year). It won’t be hard to figure out who did and didn’t circumvent the terms of the deal.

    • NoonRadar says:

      I don’t know if that kind of volume would be primary for reselling merchandise or straight up GC resell but $50K+ sounds a lot either way, the mere logistics of converting them to anything would require a lot of time. I guess if the profit margin is big enough it’d be worth doing.

      • Josh says:

        It’s really easy to liquidate a $50k volume with TPM. A little time and hassle with recording card #s, pins, and photos of cards, but well worth the hourly rate.

  4. Redbluefire says:

    Care to give any more details about why you find the rumor credible enough to report on? I’m not asking you to give away your source, of course.

  5. Justin says:

    This promo may have caused more trouble for Target than benefit (who knows unless you know the #s). Will be interesting to see if it’s back next year

  6. P says:

    What about in-store?

  7. M says:

    Can Target retain and analyze CC numbers used for in-store purchases?

    • MontyFC says:

      They could but I doubt they would keep CCs in their system after the whole hack episode couple of years ago.

      A lot of companies depend upon other 3rd party payment processors for credit card payments. At the time of purchase Target would send CC information to payment processor who would do a $1 authorization to ensure card is valid and then make a formal purchase. They would then return a unique token, card type and last 4 card digits to Target, which Target would store in their system for returns etc. That is why when you return an item the sales associate can confirm that it would return to Amex/Visa/MC/Disc ending in XXXX, but can’t tell you any more digits other than that.

      If you go to a store and they are able to pull-up your purchases using credit card (comes in handy when you don’t have the receipt but still want to return), then they are storing CCs in their system.

      • M says:

        Last 4 digits of CC often repeat, especially with AmEx cards. It would be highly risky for Target to go after past in-store orders based on just 4 digits.

        • Electroman says:

          The last four digits are the same, but the *tokens* are definitely not the same, and that’s what they would use. You need to brush up on your Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, my friend.

    • JTS says:

      I’m curious as well. The store person said I could do multiple transactions and that they “turn a blind eye”. I just did 3x $100 twice and met an Amex AU bonus with this. The cards are actually for my SOs work holiday party so might have to make sure they don’t get drained before we actually give them out.

  8. Dan says:

    What’s such a big deal about this? Are these really profitable to resell at 10% off?

    Why would someone get 50k worth of Target Gift cards?

    • brian says:

      buy with 2% cash back card + resell at 92% face value = 11.40 per card x 170. tax free, for one day’s work, not bad.

      • Bryan says:

        Plus Discover was offering 5% cashback on the 270 for 1500 dollars.

      • Evan says:

        How can you get 11.40 per card? And how can you do this 170 times?

        • SouthFay says:

          He literally spells it out in his post…2% cash back…92% resell value…= $11.40 earned per card…

          And you would do it 170 times by buying a $300 gift card 170 times…maybe bring a few friends…hit different registers, different targets. I did it 6 times in 10 minutes yesterday just myself so with a few friends could knock this out in a matter of hours…

          • Evan says:

            Spells out what, genius? You buy a $100 gc for $90, get $1.8 in cash back and sell it for $92, so it’s $11.4 per $300 in gift cards, not per $100 as he made it sound. And who is going to give 92% for a Target gc, when did this happen?

      • blue9 says:

        Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. I guess unless you are in GCW or other private sale groups you will have to float the money until the resell rate goes back to normal. It is now only 80% resell value in general rate.

      • Kyle says:

        Surely that 92% will hold strong after all of these cards flooding the market… I just don’t get it.

        • brian says:

          Probably not in the near term, already at 91.5, but if someone can float for a while (and if they are buying over 100, i’m guessing they can), it will pay off. When overstock was 20% off on GCM in august, the market flooded and the rate dropped at least 5 percentage points, but it has recovered 4 of those. Target may recover quicker with holiday shopping ramping up.

          • Andrew S says:

            91.5? Wishful thinking. Highest right now is in the mid 90%’s.

          • JuicyJosh says:

            Im sure this info is on this site somewhere but I dont know how to search for it. Where does one find these rates? Guess im only aware of the common GC seller sites.

    • Ted says:

      Buying gift cards with gift card…..

  9. Jody says:

    There is some gray area because online it said both $300 limit “per guest” (on the main part of the website) and $300 limit “per household” (buried in the terms & conditions).

  10. Paul says:

    This would cause so many headaches.

  11. Frito Pendejo says:

    I bought one in store, one online with wife’s account, another online with my account (different address). However all three paid with my discover card. The in-store one shows $300 balance, others haven’t arrived in the mail yet. I’ll post an update when I get the other two.

  12. Alli says:

    Tried to buy multiple in store, some old lady came over and voided the others out. I got 1 and then went to another store and got 1. Got 1 from online. All bought with the same card. Hopefully I avoid the shutdown.

  13. Jeff says:

    I bought 1 $300 Target GC online yesterday. That’s it. Don’t understand the need to hoard tons of Target GC’s at all or “sit” on them. I don’t want all my money tied up for several months on Target GCs.

    • Karen says:

      The people I know aren’t sitting on them they’ve already gone to Target and bought Disney gift cards for their next vacation or to pay dvc dues. A lot of people do that whether it’s Disney or another third party gc.

      • brian says:

        i should have bought more and done this.

        • anthonyjh21 says:

          Sam’s club always has them discounted in Warehouse and online. Chase freedom 5x UR buy a Walmart gc and use it at Sam’s. Or make it even easier if you have a targeted amex MR card with 5x up to 1500 points I believe. Still a few ways to get 9% + currently and they require less work (can all be done online).

      • KK says:

        Yep – this is what we are doing. 1500 bought for 1350 with discover 5% doubled for the first year = 19% discount on this money. That’s a pretty good discount for Disney and they take the gift card pretty much everywhere including tickets, hotel, and shopping at Disney Springs.

  14. JimBob says:

    Many plan to purchase Disney gift cards to pay off vacations. I bought 1800 yesterday for our upcoming trip.

  15. JF says:

    So hypothetically, when would gift card balances start getting drained? I bought “a few” physical gift cards, and most of the purchases have already posted. Given how they don’t typically store credit card numbers in their system, can they even go back and figure out if one card was used to purchase several GC’s?

    This would create a big problem if they start draining phyical cards.

  16. bryant says:

    Common Doc…putting this trash on your site….scaring people for no reason. There’s no credible information out there indicating that this is happening. Why would you post this?

    • Ryan says:

      It’s an email from the largest gift card exchange claiming Target contacted them. So yeah, it’s legit, fwiw.

      I’ll hold on to my cards and see what happens to them.

    • Maybe because there is credible information stating this is the case? Just because we didn’t post it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It also clearly says rumor in the title. This sort of comment happens constantly when we post rumors and I think you’ll find our track record is pretty good.

    • anthonyjh21 says:

      Could ask you the same thing.

      You’re probably the only person who would even question DoC about it’s intent here. Furthermore, they don’t receive financial compensation for any cards or posts. About as legit a site as you’ll find.

      Be on your way now, DoC clearly isn’t for you ….

    • Michael says:

      Seeing as your first word was misspelled, It’s easy to see that the rest of your comment was vitriol and incoherent. Focus your energy elsewhere.

      • JasonP says:

        Interesting. What word did he misspell?

        I am okay with this post, but would prefer Chuck can at least add a bit more details instead of “word on the street”.

        I remember other rumor sort of posts at least mentioned something like either William or Chuck got it from some connection inside a bank or similar while this post does sound weird.

        • Sometimes we can’t exactly say where the information comes from without outting a source directly. Doing that is a good way of ensuring people don’t share information with us in the future. When it’s highly speculative or we can share the source we usually do as it provides more context but in this case not entirely possible.

          • JasonP says:

            Thanks Will!

            And from the post itself, Chuck said ” perhaps those who did more than $300-worth on a single credit card.” Is it referring to online purchase on a single CC or in-store purchase on a single CC or both?

          • Chuck says:

            Jason, I mentioned two things separately: (1) those who bought more than $300 with a single billing address, and (2) those who used the same card in-store to do the deal twice.

        • Zachek says:

          It’s typically written as “C’mon” or “Come on.”

  17. peter says:

    I only bought one $300 target gc in store, but paid partialy with target gc.
    Don’t know what will happened to me.
    Just keep an eye on it.

  18. Jeff S. says:

    I for one am hoping Target does pull the plug on multiple cards purchased by the same individuals. If people abused the promotion that clearly stated $300 max, I hope they do inconvenience the cheaters.

    Target was doing a decent gesture; allowing folks to save 10% on basically anything and everything in the store/online, whenever they felt like spending in the foreseeable future. And instead, find people that game the system, which leaves a bad taste and potentially removes the likelihood of repeating said promotion. These acts create a hassle for them having to chase down the rogue actors and cancel transactions, which likely means a team of team of individuals is going to have to comb through hundreds of thousands of transactions. (And yes, I imagine they aren’t using clipboards and flipping through books, but I bet it still requires some manual intervention and/or database skills) Then they deal with calls of upset customers who have the cancelled transactions that won’t instantly post back to their CC’s.

    I know the guilty will whisk it away that they are still helping the store chain by moving product and that the markup on their goods is more than the 10%, but it is still WRONG. If confronted, I am sure most offenders would play stupid and say they weren’t aware, and if it was a problem, Target shouldn’t have made it possible to cheat the system. It’s that same kind of logic that costs any store money, having to constantly try to outsmart the dishonest, which ultimately costs the average consumer to pay more for products.

    My haul – Thought about buying one $100 card for a future purchase, but didn’t bother. To those who played the game, hope you find your cards don’t work the day you need them to.

  19. MoreSun says:

    Bought my gc’s with credit cards, then bought Starbucks & Disney today with no issues.

  20. Dean Hall says:

    We are frequent Target shoppers, so we appreciate this yearly sale. Please watch your gift card balances though, because I just had a Target gift card hacked. I have seen posts from people who have had their gift card balances disappear in the past. I suppose that I turned a blind eye to it thinking that they were maybe careless with the card number or something. However, it has now legitimately happened to me. In mid-November, I bought a $300 Target card at my local store. The silver scratch-off was intact upon purchase. I always check that. So, the Card and Access numbers were covered up. I am the only person who has ever had access to this card. I went to use it yesterday, and the clerk reported that the balance was zero. Upon further investigation, I have found that the card was used in cities about 30-45 minutes from me. I definitely did not use the card. I bought the card by rolling other Target gift cards, so I can’t just call my credit card company for a charge back. Target is telling me it’s my loss because these are treated as cash. People have told me to call Target corporate and file a report with BBB. I feel like this may all be a fools’ errand. Has anyone had this happen to them and gained a positive outcome from Target? I would like to find a large class of other people who have had this happen to them since we’ll probably have more success in numbers. I have my original store receipt and physical gift card that I purchased. You would think that Target would want to crack down on abuse like this and go after the fraudsters. It would be great if they had video records of the criminals who used my gift card numbers in the store purchase.

    • dave says:

      You don’t need the card or access numbers to redeem a Target gift card in store, unfortunately. All you need is the barcode, and that is exposed even if the silver scratch-off is intact. 🙁

      • Miz says:

        The bar code that is exposed is not the one that can be used to redeem the gift card. The exposed the bar code is the product bar code, which is used to scan, load, and sell the gift card.

        • dave says:

          Nope. You may be thinking of Target VGCs or MGCs, but regular store gift cards have just 1 barcode, as that’s the only one I needed to scan to load it at self checkout.

  21. Jeff H says:

    I bought a $100.00 Target GC for $90.00 with a CC that gets 3% on groceries and discount stores as a test of the CC (successful test). Since it was a single Target gift card and in store, I should be okay of it was not abused by someone hacking into Target servers. Correct?

  22. DEv says:

    I just bought an ipad pro in target last night to avoid this, will return it next week, get another gift card.

    Could’t have done this, without getting twitter alerts from you.

    Thanks for the alert DOC.

  23. Sa says:

    What would be the abuse? Buying more than 300? Buying with another gift card?

    • feelgood says:

      The buying of more than $300 might be one.

      On page 5 of the weekly ad in the small print describing the 10% offer, it says “Purchase of Target GiftCards that exceed certain transaction limits may be voided”.

  24. mike says:

    i would like to liquidate these because of some of the stories here – can i use the target gift card to buy visa or ma gc???


  25. BJ says:

    I definitely am glad Target is cracking down…I don’t know why everyone has to abuse everything….Seems like many people on this site and those similar lack morals.

    • Bob says:

      Talk to me about this when banks and retailers develop morals themselves k

      • J says:

        Others lack of morality is no reason not to display morality yourself.

        That said I think there’s nothing immoral about taking advantage of deals like this. It’s offered, it’s legal. Just because a deal or exploitation of a deal is unprofitable to a retailer or bank doesn’t mean it’s immoral.

    • Bob says:

      You think retailers care about morals when they phish for your business??? You think banks care about morals when they embezzle and engage in predatory lending??? I could go on for ages.

    • Dan says:

      Wont someone please think of the corporations!!!1

  26. Dave says:

    I bought $300 from one store and then decided to buy $200 on the way home from work at another store. I used the same Discover card. Hardly a heavy hitter. How is Target notifying people of deactivations? Email? Are they just finding out that the GC are empty?

    • JTS says:

      I’m in exact same boat. First time buying target GC with the 10% off deal. Did $300 at one store, then 2nd purchase wouldn’t go through due to fraud alert but once that’s resolved stopped by another store and did another $300. Same card. I think people are just checking the balance online and/or checking if a refund was issued.
      I’m also wondering which one of those transactions will be voided.

  27. kalf8483 says:

    Well last year Target deactivated gift cards WITHOUT refunding the original rolled gift cards.

  28. Al says:

    Buy something with the GC and return it for a new GC if you’re worried about deactivation.

  29. Kim. says:

    I purchased $300 online, then again in a store with the same Discover Card. Online purchase was pending at $270 for a day, then posted at $45 (I ordered 6x $50 cards) so they are definitely doing something with online orders…

  30. Frito Pendejo says:

    My 3x $300 gc transactions on one card all posted fine. One in store, two online.

  31. Layla says:

    They did drain some of the cards I bought but no refund yet on my account, any idea by when should I expect a refund. thank you

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