Bluebird swipe reloads via ATM

Note: On January 8, 2015 American Express sent out a notice to a large number of Bluebird & Serve cardholders informing them that loading capabilities on their accounts had been terminated. For more information, see: Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend

Now that it is possible to set PINs on Visa gift cards, my interest in reloading Bluebird at Walmart has been rekindled.  Until now, I’ve found it to easier and more rewarding to load my Bluebird account with Vanilla Reload cards.  Now that giftcards have PINs, though, Walmart swipe reloads have become a fantastic way to turn gift card balances into cash (see “Gift card PINs“).

On Monday, with four gift-cards and two Bluebird cards in-hand, I headed to Walmart.  I wasn’t looking forward to the idea of trying to explain to a cashier what I wanted to do, so I looked for an automated solution.  I decided to try out Walmart’s “MoneyCenter Express” ATM (see photo below).

2013-04-15 13.33.26

I couldn’t find an option to reload Bluebird cards, but I remembered that Bluebird was essentially an upgrade to Walmart’s older MoneyCard solution.  So, under the heading “Card Services”, I selected “Walmart MoneyCard”:


The machine prompted me to swipe my MoneyCard.  I swiped my Bluebird card instead.  I then followed the prompts to reload my card.  I selected to pay by debit card and then swiped my gift card and entered my PIN.  The payment was accepted and a receipt printed out showing the old and new balance on my Bluebird account.  Success!  As expected, no fee was charged for the swipe reload.  I then repeated the process with 3 more gift cards across two Bluebird cards (mine and my wife’s).

Keep in mind that swipe reloads are limited to $1000 per day and $5000 per month (across both Vanilla Reloads and swipe reloads).

While I still don’t enjoy driving out of my way to Walmart, the ability to reload Bluebird via Walmart’s special ATMs makes the process quick and easy.

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  1. Which gift cards did you use? Where did you buy them? Were their fees attached? For example, did you load $499 out of a $500 card to cover the fees charged by the card issuer?

  2. So, not exactly clear about your statement, is the 5K reload max a combined total for VR and gift card, or separate 5K limits for each method? Thanks

    • Robert: The $5K monthly limit is combined. For example, you can load $2K VR and $3K swipe reloads (gift cards), but you can’t do $5K of each
      Mason: Interesting! I guess the machine knows how to deal with bluebird cards regardless of which button you press!
      Carlos: See “Best Category Bonuses

  3. Mason says:

    April 17, 2013 at 5:32 am

    I was able to load my bluebird card at the kiosk by choosing the greendot option.

    May you give more details? thanks

    • There’s an option for managing Green Dot cards on the main screen of the Walmart Money Center kiosk. You can choose that option and proceed to reload your Bluebird card. I didn’t take any photos of the process, but if you visit a kiosk you will see what I’m talking about. It’s fairly self explanatory. I would note that the first time I tried it the ATM crashed. I tried it at another machine in another Walmart and it worked without a hitch. I live in central Arkansas, so I have no shortage of Walmarts to try.

  4. Loading MoneyCenter Express ATM @ WMs is useless for me since WMs near me (2 of them) always have problems and not working.

    • MileageUpdate: VR is certainly easier, but with gift cards there are more options to earn bonus points, store rewards, and even cash back.
      Duc: Yes, If you have a spouse, then you can have more than 1 Bluebird card 🙂

  5. This method of reloading GCs with pin on the bluebird at a self-service kiosk is a great alternative option when VR is not available even though it suck to drive to a nearby Wal-Mart (min. 20 miles for me) to complete the transaction.

    • I was only able to use one gift card per transaction. I tried to do a $1000 load with two $500 gift cards, but I received an error. So, I did every gift card as a separate transaction.

  6. Now we just need to figure out how to increase monthly $5k limit, or get a product that doesn’t count towards that limit ;).

    • Curtis: One easy answer to get around the $5K limit (sort of) is to load VR to a different card besides Bluebird. Another possibility is to try reloading other prepaid cards at the Walmart ATM…

  7. It makes sense to use the VR and Pin strategy to spread spending around many cards, as well as take advantage of some good earning potential on grocery store cards.

    • gomike: Answers to your question will be in tomorrow’s post 🙂
      BH: Separate transaction for each gift card. I couldn’t figure out a way to do multiple. As to liquidating BB, I simply transfer funds to my bank account from BB (but always leave a balance). Never had any trouble.

  8. Great news. I was at a WM this weekend and was trying the kiosk. I didn’t see a BB option so I tried to do a MO and it said that MO were not available at this time and to go to the counter. Since there was no line I just went and did a BB load at the counter. Had there been a line, I might have figured this out on my own!

    Couple questions: When using the kiosk, I assume you are doing multiple loads for each GC amount. At the counter they could process it as one load and break it up for each card (not sure if there is a maximum # you can spread it between).

    Also – has anyone had luck liquidating from BB via billpay or check directly to yourself? Danger in this?

  9. The one main problem with using MoneyCenter Express ATMs is finding one that works & then finding one that works on a regular basis.

  10. FM – any suggestions about acquiring $500 visa GCs for 5x? Is there a way to get $500 visa GCs using the Home Improvement gift cards, for example?

    • JakePB: I don’t know of any good options for using the HI card, but yes there are various 5X options available. Look through the Best Category Bonuses page and you’ll see lots of 5X options for merchants that sell gift cards.

      Nick @ PFDigest: No, that hasn’t happened to me yet.

  11. Wow, this is a great tip! Just this morning my husband was asking me how on earth we will get enough points for a trip to Europe in September, this solution will help us get there. 🙂 I LOVE your blog. <3 Thanks for your help!

  12. Does anybody ever receive a “debit not available” message when they try to load? I was just rejected at both the machine and the customer service counter. Not sure if this is a random glitch, a problem with my card and/or account, or something else.

  13. Nick:

    I had the same problem today. The machine was not working, and at customer service attempting the reload generated a “debit no available” error.

  14. Just unloaded 3*$200 Visa gift cards that I had from a previous Staples promotion onto my Bluebird at the Walmart MoneyCenter kiosk. No problems at all. Thanks for the tip, FM!

    • dan:I loaded two gift cards to my bb and two to my wife’s (some were $500 gift cards). Details will be in tomorrow’s post. I was only able to do one gift card with each transaction.

  15. How did you still have $2,000 in available Bluebird load on the 15th day of the month?? Looking forward to trying this in May in lieu of scouring CVS’s.

  16. Yesterday I loaded Bluebird at WM Customer Service, and when the employee saw that I was using a gift card as my debit card, she told me it was against policy, even though the transaction would go through. I don’t know if this is new policy or if she was misinformed. Either way, now I won’t have to bother with a human!

  17. Very interesting and thanks for the research. But lately the issue has been buying xcards with CREDIT. Most outlets do not let you buy gift cards/VR with credit. In addition, people forget that driving to Walmart consumes gas and on average you may end up spending a gallon back and forth, so the online option maybe more appealing if you just load one card.

    • jason: It’s very easy to buy Visa gift cards with a credit card. For example, go through TopCashBack to GiftCardMall and buy one for $1000 and a small fee. I’ve also had no problem at grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations, but YMMV
      AP: I know one person who tried the HI card as debit at Lowes, but it didn’t work. It might be worth trying again.

  18. Thanks FM for this post! Traveling abroad right now. Can’t wait to get home and start playing around with the new pin gift card game. Looks to be lots of fun for everyone!

  19. Great tip!
    My experience:
    2 Walmart did not have Money Center ATM.
    1 Walmart did but after entering the amount to load it got stuck at ‘Processing…’, had to go over to customer service register to load.

  20. @jason: I drive to Walmart in my EV and while getting my BB biz done, also get a full FREE load of juice from their awesome quick-charger in about 15 minutes. In my area driving to any Walmart is quite fun this way!

  21. @eric and @david,
    The limit for loading online is $100 per day, $1000 per month, with a $2 fee. If you go to WM and load in person with your debit card, it is called a Swipe Reload. The limit for that is $1000 per day, $5000 per month, and no fee.

  22. I think I’ll stop reading the comments now. It never ceases to amaze me how much of an ordeal some can make of such simple operations such as this. I have to stop reading a lot of FT threads for that same reason.

  23. So am I correct in assuming that the HI card from Home Depot cannot be used until they allow pins for Discover Cards?

  24. Success! Went to Staples and used my Ink Bold to buy two $200 Visa prepaid cards and one $100 card (Staples: so, MetaBank cards). (Also a $50 Amazon card and a $200 AMEX prepaid card — which I tried to put on my Costco Cash Card about 20 minutes later, but it was too quickly after purchase (apparently) and it wouldn’t go through. The Amazon card, of course, loaded easily onto Amazon.)

    Several hours later, I went to my local (North GA) Super WalMart’s ATM and picked WalMart Money Card and Reload. Did a $200 card, then the second $200 card, then the $100 card — as three separate transactions. On the first card, when it asked for a PIN, I tried making one up, which didn’t work, so I canceled the whole transaction. Then, remembering reading somewhere — maybe here? — that the last four digits may be the PIN, I tried that and it worked. No fee, of course.

    I just got home, and there were three emails waiting for me from Bluebird, saying my “bluebird POS Reload was Successful” with complete records (amount, confirm. no. and so on).

    After each transaction, the machine spit out a “debit load” receipt for each card. Oh – and the machine DOES say a lot out loud, but it didn’t say anything about amounts or anything – just stuff like: “Do you want cash back?” and “Please choose your method of reload.” (No, I didn’t want cash back – I’m loading for my mortgage payment!)

  25. I am also curious, Is there an easy way to tell which Wal-Marts have money center ATMs? I haven’t been able to find them in walmarts around austin, tx

  26. I just received my Bluebird card yesterday. When I went to the FAQ section of the Bluebird website under fees and limits it stated that the max deposit from a debit card was $100 per day and $1,000 per month. Did they change their policy? Everyone here seems to be able to load up to $1,000 per day and $5,000 per month. Before I start ordering $1’000 gift cards from Gift Card Mall I’d like to understand better as a newbie. Can anyone clarify, please?

  27. Do you think I can load Bluebird at a MoneyPass ATM not located at Walmart? My local bank is listed as having a MoneyPass ATM too. Anyone tried this yet?

  28. Jeff: Online debit loads are limited as you said, but in-store “swipe reloads” are free and are limited only to $1K per day and $5K per month.
    Jack: No, I don’t believe that outside of Walmart there is any way to use a MoneyPass ATM to load Bluebird

  29. Ordered 4 $500 Visa cards from the Chase site offering the no fee and free shipping deal. Received them a week later and went to Walmart with 2 BB (mine & husband). Used machine to load $1000 on each BB. All went well till the final $500 when a message popped up saying I needed to get an employee over to assist. Luckily the customer service line just became empty and the employee came over, used her key and put in her password and the transaction went thru. Wish the machine didn’t speak so loudly as everyone nearby can hear it. All in all, an easy transaction. Wish I wasn’t leaving for vacation this week to Canada for 5 months as I would certainly have ordered $10,000 of gift cards from Chase. Wasn’t sure the first batch would arrive in time. Thanks FM!

  30. Does anyone know how we can find whether one Walmart has this machine? I went to two Walmart, and didn’t see the machine at all.

  31. I hit the max $1500 max before the message to get employee assistance pop up too. $500×2 on one BB and $500 on 2nd BB then message pop up on the next $500 on 2nd BB.

  32. as a quick side note, you don’t have to have the money pass atm’s to upload to your blue bird card. Yesterday I went directly to a walmart cashier, gave him my blue bird card, told him how much i wanted to upload, confirmed the amount on the keypad, swiped my walmart visa gift card and the transaction completed successfully.

  33. The Walmart cashiers started telling me that gift cards are not allowed & I can only use a bank debit card. They refuse to do the transaction when I give them the cards from or when i give them a Paypal debit card! up until 2 weeks ago there were no problems with Paypal.

    When they see me doing it at the ATM they also come yelling about it not being allowed even though the ATM processes the reload without a problem. One associate even tried to cancel the transaction in the ATM after it had already gone through. (She couldn’t)

  34. I had a similar problem over the weekend. I tried to purchase the walmart visa gift card with my CC. They said that I could only purchase with cash or debit. Up until this weekend I have had no problems at walmart purchasing gift cards

  35. Greg, have you attempted doing cash back as part of the loading bluebird transaction at the kiosk? I thought of it too late today (my first successful debit/gift to BB load), but next time I go I want to try doing multiple “cash back” along with the loads (load 20 dollars at a time, and take out the max amount of cash back possible on each transaction). Do you know if the system stops you from doing more then 1 cash back in this way? If not, you could in theory do cash back 50 times in a row (20*50=$1k) and probably unload a couple cards while you are at it.

  36. By the way, I checked out a couple money pass atm’s today (using the moneypass atm locator) to see if any close to me had a load option (WM is more of a drive). Unfortunately, only the WM money pass atms had the load option of the 3 I checked.

  37. I just tried to load my BB today with $100 MC cards. I successfully loaded two, then the third kept failing with the message debit not permitted.
    Any idea what the problem is?

  38. Why are so many people loading multiple smaller value cards vs. $500 cards – I have only ever played with the max values per card and wondered if something I am missing. Thanks

  39. @Mr H – for me it’s because Jewel is running a deal where you can buy a $100 gc and get $10 off your next grocery purchase. So, it’s a $4 money making way of manufacturing spend… If I can load it onto my bb

  40. Kiosks don’t exist at NW Illinois WMs, and the ones in eastern Iowa have been recently removed. In Dubuque, manager says they weren’t being used, and WM didn’t want them in this area. Strange!!

  41. Big headache today trying to load giftcards to my Bluebird at a Walmart MoneyCenter Express ATM. I’ve had no problems loading at the register or money center so maybe I will go back to that. I tried a Chase $500 gift card and a GiftcardMall $500 gift card at the ATM/Kiosk. Both times after entering my PIN it took the $500 off the gift card then reversed it back onto the gift cards and did not load to Bluebird. Now it appears both my giftcards are blocked. I called Chase and have to fax my purchase receipt to them now – seriously, who using faxes anymore?

  42. Wow it seems that they are finally cracking down. Not good. I have not faced these problems yet.
    At Wal Mart I smile at everyone and say hello. I mean I see them almost everyday! Haha. They are like we have never seen anyone use the atm more than you. Haha.
    What I am worried about is the office supply stores. They always look at me like I am crazy to buy $1000 worth of visa gc almost everyday! Haha.
    The only problem I face is that I cant buy money orders at the Wal Mart kiosk. Everywhere else that I go (gas stations, and grocery stores) say cash only. So I withdraw $300 cash almost everyday from the Wal Mart kiosk atm. No problems yet!

  43. Yes, chase gift cards loaded to bb worked for me at the money center and register. Just not the walmart kiosk/atm.

  44. in every instance, i can only load 3x $500 GCs of any type at ATM machine, then the msg that an ‘associate must come’ & something about compliance limit reached. Appears that you can load 3 times and that’s it. Anyone else? Had this happen at 2 diff stores- and this is even when switching from one bluebird to a second one (1k load on one, then 500 on second, then msg and can’t load a second 500 on second card). Seems stupid but hard coded- so can’t simply load 1k on each of 2 birds. But then if u take second bird to register, it loads fine. So it’s on the ATM machine itself. Who else is experiencing this? How much are you able to load at one time at the ATM machine?

    • @Mike: I had the same problem, with the same amounts as you. Try taking a walk around the store to break up your reloads. It worked fine for me doing 2 loads at a time.

  45. mike: I’ve had the exact same thing happen as well (also with two different Bluebird cards). I like SteveW’s solution better, but if this does happen again to you I found that once the store employee logs in, they can press “continue” and then the swipe reload will work. Otherwise, as you said, going to the counter works too.

  46. I do not understand this .

    Please explain.
    So I get a BB card. I buy these gift cards with my airline credit card. Then I load these on my BB card.
    Now what ? Use my BB to pay my airline card ???

    What about the fees that come with the gift cards?

    • Slop: Yes, you have the idea right. If you buy the right gift cards or Vanilla Reload cards (which are a lot easier) your cost per mile will be about 1 cent or less. Depending on how much you value your miles, this can be a great deal.

  47. What are the steps to do this over the counter?
    Do you ask to reload you walmart money card but then give them the bluebird card instead? (then just pay for the reload using a prepaid debit card)

  48. I did a reload on Sunday. I noticed an actual Bluebird button to select right under the Walmart Money Card button. I’ve previously used the Money Card button as shown above. I tried to use it but the kiosk was acting up and was very slow so I gave up and went to the counter.

  49. Mel: Tell the cashier that you want to reload your Bluebird card and that you’ll pay with a debit card.
    gargoyle999: That’s great. It’s about time that they added the Bluebird button!

  50. Discover card has 5% cashback in online shopping from October thru Decemeber. Any good place to buy prepaid debit cards taking advantage of this cashback category?

  51. gargoyle999: Great!
    Mel: Hmm, I wonder if you’d get 5% cash back buying $500 Visa cards from It should work. Alternatively, use Amazon Payments which also counts as an online purchase.

  52. The Walmart Money Center Express ATMs have all disappeared from Northern California stores. Has anyone had luck finding one in the region?

  53. Was just looking at the bluebird site, and the limit for debit deposits appears to be $200/day, $1000/month. Is this effectively dead? ( not driving to walmart for $200 at a time..). Thanks.

    • Jay, the documented limits for debit loads only apply to online debit loads. When you load in-person, it is the cash reload limits that apply even when you pay with a debit card (yes, it’s confusing).

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