Bluebird eliminates online debit load fee. Does it matter?

Earlier today, each Amex Bluebird account holder received an email titled “Another no-fee way to add funds to your Bluebird Account.”  The email read as follows:

Hello Frequent Miler,

Adding funds to your Bluebird Account is easy. Now, Bluebird is adding another no-fee way to add funds online to your Account.

Effective immediately, you can add funds to your Account from your debit card for no fee (previously $2.00 per transaction). Click here to learn more about adding funds with a debit card.

You can review the updated fee chart by clicking here.

Should you have any questions about this change, please visit or call 1-877-486-5990.

Thank you for your Membership,
The Bluebird Team

P.S. We love your blog.

Amex used to charge $2 per online debit load, but now it is free.  As far as I can tell, all other fees and limits are the same.  For example, debit loads are still limited to $100 per day and $1K per month.  Walmart swipe reloads are still free and are still limited to $1K per day and $5K per month.

Potential Opportunities…


$6K load limit?

It’s worth checking whether the $1K per month limit is in addition to the $5K per month limit of loading via Walmart and/or Vanilla reload cards.  If so, this would mean that you could load up to $6K per month to Bluebird altogether.  That’s not a huge difference, but it’s better than nothing.

Rewards debit cards

If you have a debit card that earns miles or cash back then you should be able to earn rewards when loading Bluebird online.  Unfortunately, even with a card that earns 1 mile per dollar, you can only earn up to 12,000 miles per year and, thanks to the $100 per day limit, you’ll have to load Bluebird 120 times to do so.  Also note that Bluebird does not allow the same debit card to be linked to multiple Bluebird accounts.

Gift cards

This could be a nice easy way to drain up to $1K per month of Visa/MasterCard gift cards except for two important considerations.  First, I’ve heard stories from people who have used Bluebird this way (even with the old $2 per transaction fee), but were shut down or warned to stop.  It’s easy for Amex to notice if you repeatedly change your registered debit cards.  Second, according to a couple of readers, initial attempts to load from gift cards have failed.  I wonder if Amex has found a way to deny gift cards?


It’s nice to see fees going away, but I think that opportunities here are pretty limited.  Also, be very careful about loading from gift cards unless you’re willing to risk getting shut down.

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  1. […] Bluebird accounts can now be loaded online via debit cards for free.  Online debit loads are limited to $100 per day and $1000 per month.  Luckily, Bluebird offers an option to do automated repeated loads, so it’s possible to set this up once a month for 10 daily loads rather than having to log in every day.  Note that most debit gift cards do not work for online debit loads. […]


  1. You correctly note that the juice is not worth the squeeze (sorry OJ)………….Loading 120 times a year to get 12,000 miles? I don’t think so…… there is a little old lady in tennis shoes watching my account just ready to shut me down for looking cross eyed……..I don’t want/need that grief………’s great for you to bring up the topic and then dissect it so thoroughly in true autopsy style………..

  2. Since my nearest Walmart is a 45 minute drive on a highway heavily infested with both deer and tourists, this actually is quite a bit better than nothing- unless this would in some way bring unwanted attention to my account activities.

  3. I load about $2k per month from gift cards and pay off the credit cards for the gift card purchases to hit min spends and that’s all I use bluebird for. The wal Mart kiosk denies a $500 load but it will take a $400 and a $100 load from my gift cards. I just hope they don’t shut down my account before I get my last 25k avoid bonus on my Chase BA card. But at $2k/month, it may not be that noticable.

  4. You asked a month or two ago how obnoxious those anti spam letter things are when commenting on a post. normally I don’t mind them but the Solve Media one you’re currently using is pretty obnoxious.

  5. I read the T&C as meaning it is $1k on top of the $5k. The $5k limit applies to Cash Funding Sources and Debit Loads are a separate category.
    I agree on the risk of using GCs to do this 10x a month just to get 1k extra miles. I will stick to one debit card, registered in my name.

  6. About a week ago I tried to liquidate a couple smaller gift cards received from software rebates. The first one went through. A day later I tried a second one and got an error message saying to call account protections services. After trying another card with no success I called and them and they asked what bank my card is issued from. I admitted it was a gift card and they stated only cards linked to a bank account are allowed.

  7. Hello, so yesterday I loaded six $100 visa gc’s to my bluebird card at walmart via a cashier. I use the funds to pay my mortgage. Would this raise a flag if I keep loading with multiple visa gc’s? Thank you!

  8. @FM wrote: thanks to the $100 per day limit, you’ll have to load Bluebird 120 times to do so. – If you plan to use single debit card (like me, I will use ST Delta debit card), there is an option in BB how often to load funds using your funding source. There are several choices: everyday, every week, etc. Just select everyday and let BB to load it itself.

  9. I had no issues this morning registering 3 no-PIN GCs from rebates and loading $100. The warnings have me worried, though

  10. It concerns me that sometimes Visa gift cards are denied when doing online debit loads. What if that means Amex can someday deny Visa gift cards at the Walmart Money Center ATM? Let’s hope that never happens.

    • Thanks!! Yeah, already got 2 CVS accept credit cards for VRs. I only buy 2 cards for $495 each so that trans won’t need mgr approval. But I only have 2X on drugstores ’cause I only have Chase Amazon cc for drugstores.

  11. @Mona u r da bomb……….now the next level is to decide which program you want to max out with manufactured spend to get all the beanies……….Hilton Diamond? Delta status levels? Southwest companion pass? United for its’ 10k bonus……….Hyatt for its’ meager help in Diamond status………….

    • Yay! Thanks!!! I just made a booboo awhile ago when I recycled some ink at Staples. Got a $200 visa with $6.95 fee and used my Chase Sapphire instead if my Ink plus!! Oh well. Can you email me here.. I have a few questions on the Other loyalty programs. :-)

  12. I’ve had no trouble buying VR’s at CVS for a while now. My problem is this– all my credit cards are earning 1 miles/points per dollar at drug stores and the only card that I am trying to reach a certain spending is my United Explorer. I will definitely reach the 25K this year for my 10K bonus. Other than that, I am getting them for the 1 mile/point per dollar, loading them to the BB and paying the very few bills that are not payable by ccards. I just don’t have that many bils that are not already payable by cc. I do not feel comfortable paying my credit card bills with the bluebird. I know alot of folks do that but I wonder if that is going to be a red flag for the bank that I pay. Am I being over cautious?

  13. FM: According to reports on FT, the 1k limit is indeed separate from the 5k VR/Walmart limit. But also according to FT, loading with GC is getting people in trouble with Amex, and it’s easy for them to tell that your card is a GC if they are screening for that (first 6 digits of a Visa/MC number identify the issuer/type of the card, remaining 10 digits are your account number). On the other hand, when you load at Walmart with debit, it shows up as cash on the BB website, and my guess is Walmart just authorizes the load with Amex and confirms it was paid for without specifying the method of payment. So only Walmart knows you paid with GC for a load. I think the best/only use for this is the ST debit card. 12k miles per year may not be very much, but it’s free and it doesn’t take that much time to go online 10 days a month and load $100 with it especially if you are already on the BB site. So I’ll take the SkyPesos and I’m glad to see this change although it’s not a game changer by any means.
    Kathy C: Only you can decide what you are comfortable with, but I and many others have been paying CC bills with BB ever since it became available and haven’t heard anything about it from the banks. My guess is that paying CCs with bill pay is very common, and BB is supposed to be a checking account alternative so I don’t see what the big deal is. Most people who have BB probably aren’t loading it with VR or GC. What I wouldn’t do is pay a CC with MO, as that is probably a lot more unusual. Plus I save on postage and float time (not to mention the risk of a mail mishap) by depositing the MO in a checking account and paying the CC from there. No need to mess around with MO if you only want to do 5k/month or less, though.

  14. I have been using my personal checking account to pay my CC’s and honestly, they are alot more than $5000 per month. I guess I could pay a few from the BB account if I decided to go that route. I do load with VR’s (almost 90 %) and sometimes transfer some from paypal. The bills that I pay are ones that usually don’t accept credit cards. We have some work related vendors through our business that only accept checks.

  15. FYI, BB system allowed me to link my debit card to only one BB acct. This creates a limitation for a couple with 2 BB accts. Am I missing something?

  16. Can I use Chase Gift Card to add fund? I tried to register my Chase GC for online use but I couldn’t find a way to add/edit my address info there.

  17. Greg: you can change the address by calling customer service. I managed to link my GC to BB but a transfer was unsuccessful. If you can get it through, please let me know.

  18. I loaded a $100 visa gc on Friday. Then yesterday loaded a $50 mc, but when I tried to load a second one ( identical card type) it failed with the weird message that you have to wait to receive your authorized bluebird card in the mail. And if you it already, then call customer service. So, I’m just going to wait and see. Maybe a few weeks actually. I just have a bunch of $50 GCs that I don’t want to go through the tedium of loading at Walmart. I guess I might have to though.

  19. Just learned the hard way that you cannot add your bluebird account as a funding source for paying off your amex card. I added the account no problem using the account and routing numbers, submitted the payment with plenty of funds in the account, and got the “Payment Received” confirmation email from Amex. Did not see the payment hit the account the next day, or the day after, but sometimes it takes a few……but today i logged into my credit card account to find a hold on my card account due to lack of payment! did not get an email alert from either my bluebird account or amex Gold account. Having to re-send using the Bill Pay feature, but it’s kind of a downer to have missed a payment. Spoke with the Amex Gold rep and he assured me it would not affect my good standing with Amex, but wanted to share in hopes of saving others the trouble.

  20. Definitely got the ‘account alert’ message for loading from a Visa GC, and got the dress down from a phone rep: “The T&Cs say you cannot do this”. Crap.

  21. Bluebird locks me out when I try to change up a debit card for unloading online.
    Do I have to register the card, then wait to load it? Am I doing something wrong?

    • Amex sometimes puts a security hold on your account when changing debit cards. They won’t let you use the new card until you call and they verify that its a real debit card and that it really belongs to you

  22. I ddin’t know that you couldn’t load a debit gift card to your bluebird acct. In fact, one time I couldn’t get a card loaded at the walmart kiosk or register and I called in and the bluebird customer service rep advised me to made sure that my name and address was linked to the card and then I would be able to link it to the account. Unfortunately, the card I had at the time was a generic debit card and I couldn’t do it. I eventually found a cashier at walmart that was able to load it. Today, I had a debit card that I couldn’t get load at the store. i came home and registered the card online with my name, etc then I linked it to my account and transfered $200 (the daily limit). I hope I don’t get flagged.

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