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More good news, holiday shoppers! Target recently announced a new perk: Anytime you shop with your Target RED card at Target.com, you’ll get free standard shipping to anywhere in the US. And, better yet, you can now use your branded debit card to make online purchases. These new deals apply to the whole family of Target REDcards, which also includes the Target Credit Card and Visa Card.

“REDcard free shipping provides great value for our guests today and every day, and it’s easy to understand – [there’s] no minimum purchase requirement [and] no membership fee, and [it’s] available nationwide,” said Kathee Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising at Target. “With the holiday season right around the corner, this new benefit makes it even more convenient for our guests to shop Target for great gifts and enjoy our great prices.”

REDcard Rewards at a glance

Target’s REDcard Rewards loyalty program offers card holders an extra 5% off on almost all items purchased in Target stores or at Target.com. You can also opt-in to other rewards programs, such as the Take Charge of Education program, which lets you donate 1% of all your Target purchases to the eligible school of your choice. The Pharmacy Rewards program offers participating guests an additional 5% off for a day, on top of their regular 5% reward rate. You’ll qualify each time you use your REDcard to purchase five prescriptions at the Target Pharmacy.

Four types of cards

The Target RED card family has four types of cards. The Target Credit Card and the Target Debit Card can only be used for purchases at Target stores. The Target Visa Credit Card is the only card that can be used for purchases outside Target. Unfortunately, it’s not as useful as a regular rewards credit card, such as the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred, which gives unlimited 3% back on gas and 6% back on groceries (up to $6k/year). The Target Visa doesn’t come with any additional reward opportunities, but it does come with a free online bill management system from Billeo. Target also offers a business version of the regular Target Credit Card that includes discounts on certain bulk purchases, such as gift cards.

The fine print

In terms of purchasing power, the Target Debit Card comes with the most restrictions. You can’t use it on Target.com’s mobile site, but you can use it everywhere else. For all Target cards, that 5% back doesn’t apply for all your Target-related purchases. It doesn’t cover prescriptions, gift cards or prepaid cards, clinic visits, eye exams, commercial interiors, gift wrap, or shipping and handling charges, should you decided to upgrade past free shipping. The discount applies to eligible purchases minus any other discounts, as you might have guessed.

Should you get a REDcard?

If you shop at Target a lot, the REDcard will sound pretty tempting, and rightfully so. However, since the Target Credit Card is only usable at Target stores, we recommend you opt for the debit version if you’re going to get one. You’ll get the exact same discounts, but you won’t risk damaging your credit score. The Target Visa Credit Card has the added bonus of being usable everywhere, but it doesn’t offer any other rewards for different stores. If you’d like a credit card you can use anywhere, a regular rewards credit card is a much better deal, since it will give you cash back for all your purchases.

Moreover, if you already have a credit card, you might be eligible for 5% back at Target through other means. For example, if you have a Discover card, you can get 5% back when you shop at their online rewards mall. The Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall gives you 3% back on Target.com spending, on top of your regular rewards. The Ultimate Rewards Mall is available to all Chase cardholders, but if you use a Chase Freedom card for your holiday purchases at Target this year, you’ll get an additional 5% back, since department stores are one of the rotating 5% back categories this quarter (October – December). You’re probably better off going with a more versatile card, or supplementing your primary card with a Target one.