Bluebird is coming. The sky isn’t falling


American Express and Walmart today announced a new prepaid card called Bluebird (see press release here).  This replaces a product with the same name that American Express had beta tested through Walmart earlier in the year.  The new Bluebird prepaid card will be available next week.

What is it?

Bluebird is a prepaid American Express card very similar to the prepaid American Express cards I’ve written about many times before (for examples, see “One card to rule them all,” “How many Amex prepaid cards can I have?,” and “Amex Prepaid cards for foreign travel.”  Like American Express’ other prepaid product, BlueBird has no fees other than $2 for ATM withdrawals.

How can you get one?

Starting next week, you can either buy a .temporary card at Walmart and then upgrade to a permanent card, or simply order the card for free from

How is it different?

Here are some features that appear to be different between Bluebird and the regular old Amex prepaid card:

  • ATM Use: With Bluebird, if you setup direct deposit, then all ATM withdrawals are free from MoneyPass ATMs.  Otherwise all ATM withdrawals incur a $2 fee (plus ATM owner fees).  With the old prepaid card, the first ATM use per month is free, then $2 per withdrawal afterwards; and ATM owner fees always apply.
  • Bluebird has no fee “electronic bill pay.”  We’ll have to wait to see what exactly this entails.
  • Bluebird explicitly allows funding via debit card for $2 per load.  it will be very interesting to see if we can load from Vanilla Visa debit cards.
  • According to the cardmember agreement, Bluebird allows loading from Vanilla Reload packs, but it is unclear to me whether this agreement has been updated with the new card’s features.  UPDATE: I called Amex and they confirmed that this card will be reloadable with Vanilla Reload cards.
  • Bluebird allows person to person payments (like Amex’s Serve product).
  • Bluebird will have a mobile app for managing your money.
  • Additional features: “In the first quarter of 2013, Bluebird will be adding additional features, such as more options to deposit money and check-writing capabilities.“


Important: bluebird Card Closure Notification

It appears that everyone (including me) who bought a prepaid Amex at Office Depot and upgraded it to a permanent card has received an email from Amex saying that their old bluebird account will be canceled.  The email looks like this:


I’m pretty sure that this email is a mistake.

American Express did have an old Bluebird product that is being shut down, but it is not the same as the product bought at Office Depot.  So, I think the email is a mistake.  I expect that we’ll get apology emails soon.  If it turns out that this isn’t a mistake, it will be a great opportunity to cash out since American Express is offering to send people checks for their balance.

UPDATE: I called Amex and they confirmed that this appears to be a mistake.  They are currently investigating.

UPDATE 2: I just got this email confirming the mistake:


More about Bluebird soon

As more information comes out about Bluebird, I’ll do my best to keep you informed.  Overall, I see this as similar to, but even better than what we have today as long as Vanilla Reload packs can be used.  Even without Vanilla Reload cards, though, I think this product is ripe with possibilities.

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  1. […] I’m still excited to see what Amex has in store for us regarding the new Bluebird Prepaid product.  Last week, they said that it would be available “next week” (which is now this week).  Has anyone seen one in the wild?  For background, see “Bluebird is coming. The sky isn’t falling.” […]

  2. […] Then came Bluebird.  Bluebird, from American Express, offered all of the advantages of the NetSpend card, but with none of the disadvantages (see “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game“).  The combination of Office Depot, Vanilla Reload cards, and Bluebird was too good to be true.  Anyone with a credit card that earned a point multiplier at office supply stores could take advantage of these products and basically generate points out of thin air. […]


  1. But it would have to be purchased at OD for it to be worthwhile and not at Walmart.

    Man! I was really looking forward to a massive Cash Out!

  2. The Office Depot prepaid temp. card did mention Bluebird in the T&C – I have a copy of them from a temp. card I picked up a few weeks back. I can try to dig thru them for more specific references to Bluebird when I have a chance. Could this possibly be replacing the current AMEX prepaid cards/program? And the big unknown is what Ed is asking….

  3. Just spoke with Amex: email does appear to be a mistake. Bluebird is a different product. Yes, Bluebird can be loaded via Vanilla. I will ask followup about true PIN transactions, and bill pay clarification.
    Walmart pulled old bluebird from shelves in July. I doubt any are there to be found

  4. @Tim2, is a jump page. once logging in , I can see everything I have with AMEX, prepaid cards, personal credit cards and business card.

  5. Data point: I got my Amex prepaid cards directly through Amex. But I can view the accounts by logging into So maybe all Amex prepaids ARE considered part of the Bluebird conversion/shutdown?

  6. Just double checked, the AMEX prepaid T&C mentions bluebird many times but also mentions the AMEX prepaid card – looks like the T&C were made generic so they could be used for both products.

  7. I’m still not sure what’s so great about Bluebird? The thing that makes the AMEX prepaid so awesome is that you can get 5x on Vanilla reloads at OD; the same can’t be said for Walmart. The issue people have been having with the AMEX prepaid isn’t with AMEX, but rather with OD and supply. I don’t know how this will help.

  8. @Dave – I agree with you that if might amplify the reload card shortages. I wonder if you can have three of these as well as three of the regular prepaid cards on one account? I don’t think anyone is saying that Bluebird is great, but since they mention being able to send to others (like amazon payments) and future check writing (maybe ACH out?) and perhaps buying money orders at walmart, it might be cheaper to take money out if you desire to do that.

  9. @Dave
    If this end-of-life was only to apply to the original bluebird card AND it were still obtainable AND it were reloadable with Vanilla cards, then the scramble would be well worth the effort (because there would be no ATM non-sense, and no hedging spend would be required). FM suggests the old bluebird was pulled long ago. Ebay?

  10. Of course I was in Walgreens this weekend and saw a new kind of card (or so I thought) the Visa Prepagada!

    Prepagada da vita, baybee! 😉

  11. Important: Disregard bluebird Closure E-mail

    Dear xxxx,

    The account closure notification e-mail you received today was intended only for bluebird Cardholders. Please disregard the email and the information contained in it. We apologize for any concern it may have caused. Your American Express Prepaid Card is not impacted in any way, and has nothing to do with the account closure notification email you received in error.


    American Express Customer Care

  12. Is this similar to “American Express for Target, It’s reloadable, It’s prepaid, It’s here” advertised in Target stores? Can you comment on the difference?

  13. Just got an email that said, “The account closure notification e-mail you received today was intended only for bluebird Cardholders. Please disregard the email and the information contained in it. We apologize for any concern it may have caused. Your American Express Prepaid Card is not impacted in any way, and has nothing to do with the account closure notification email you received in error.


    American Express Customer Care “

  14. This is not going to last very long. Cardinal Fang has gotten wind of this scheme and is gearing up for a Spanish inquisition. Be warned.

  15. ADK- i assume this comment meant re WMT bill pay ala same under MMS post?
    Would you suggest not doing that gig at all then, or doing it fast and furious till Fang shuts it down?

  16. Received the apology email from Amex as well. So stop the presses and don’t just load your cards in hope of a live refund…would have been nice though!

  17. call the number that was listed in the first email, tell them you want to select the cash out option. they will push back that the email was erroneous etc, and there is no need to cash out .. just stay politely adamant that you want to cash out. they will ask usual questions about why you want to cash out versus transfer directly to bluebird etc .. I made up some BS. so then he said it will take 15 business days to cut a check. I said I have bills to pay and can’t wait 15 days. so he processed it as direct ACH transfer to checking account within 3-4 business days. He took the banking info over the phone. let’s see if it comes through .. i trust Amex to not screw up and expect it by Mon/Tues latest.

  18. i don’t use the UR mall due to not having the corresponding Chase cards, but I note that you can fund this card with a debit card for $2 fee. So, I could fund using my Alaska Air Debit Card and earn miles? Any thoughts?

    • mike: I doubt you would earn miles with the Alaska Air debit card, but its worth a try to find out. The Sun Trust Delta debit card, on the other hand, is a bit more likely to work…

  19. Any idea on how the check writing feature will be structured wrt fees? It would
    be great to get points for those check only places.

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