While Bluebird continues to be one of the best tools available for collecting points and miles (see “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game“), it is just now living up to its promise of becoming a full fledged checking account alternative.
In my first ever post about American Express’ Bluebird card (see “Bluebird is coming. The sky isn’t falling“), I quoted American Express’ promise to add check writing capabilities:
In the first quarter of 2013, Bluebird will be adding additional features, such as more options to deposit money and check-writing capabilities.
And, true to their word, with a few days remaining in the first quarter, American Express did indeed add check-writing capabilities to Bluebird. Additionally, they added Check by Mail deposits, and FDIC insurance. They also raised the total account balance limit to $100,000 (but only for funds added through Direct Deposit and Check by Mail deposits).
Feature-wise, Bluebird now really does have all of the pieces needed to be a good alternative to a checking account. The best part is that American Express charges no fees (except for ATM fees, which can be avoided by setting up direct deposit and using MoneyPass ATMs). On the other hand, many readers have complained about Bluebird (often due to customer service issues) so they may still have a way to go to earn the average person’s business.
For points collectors, Bluebird has become incrementally better. You can still buy Vanilla Reload cards at certain various stores (using a credit card in order to earn points), and then load the funds to Bluebird. You can still access those funds through Bluebird’s Bill Pay feature, or by transferring money to another bank account. And, now, you have the additional option to write a paper check. Nice!
Checks are free until August (for your first order). Here are details from the press release:
Bluebird Members have access to one free checkbook until August 2013. Thereafter, Bluebird Members enrolled in direct deposit can receive their first checkbook of 50 checks at no charge, otherwise direct deposit and non-direct deposit users can order a book of 50 checks for $26 (including shipping).
To get your free checks, log into your Bluebird account then go to “My Account… order Bluebird Checks”. You will be given the option to order 50 or 100 checks. Since the first order is free, I’d recommend going with 100.
- View from the Wing: American Express Bluebird Becomes a Real Checking Account (Get Your Limited Time Free Checks Now)
- NerdWallet: Amex Bluebird Now Offers Check-Writing, FDIC Insurance. It’s a BFD.
- The official press release from American Express: American Express and Walmart Announce the Addition of FDIC Insurance and Worry-Free Check Writing to Bluebird®