Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is Best?

by Shawn Coomer – Senior Editor
Updated: 1/8/2016

american express serve types guide

Note: On January 8, 2016 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

In the Summer of 2015, American Express revamped their lineup of Serve cards. In addition to changing the normal “Blue” American Express Serve card, they added a “Green” card with free reloads and a “Silver” card which earns cash back. There is also a co-branded “One VIP” Serve card which perhaps has the best combination of fees & features.

All of these cards have access to Amex Offers and work much in the same way, however each one is slightly different. In this guide I’ll detail the features and fees of each of the four current versions of the American Express Serve card along with the old version.

One VIP Card from American Express Serve

american express serve types guide

Sign-Up Link

  • Monthly Fee: $1 or $0 with a $500 direct deposit or $500 in loads. (The monthly fee is waived in TX, NY & VT.) Note: In some areas of the terms, it mentions only direct deposit waiving the monthly fee while in others it mentions $500 in loads being required. According to Doctor of Credit, $500 in loads are currently working to waive the fee.
  • Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. No fee.
  • Cash load limits: $2,500 per day/$5,000 per month.
  • Online Amex credit card loads: $200 per day/$1,000 per month

You can find all of the spending and load limits here.

Bottom Line

The One VIP Serve card is the closest to what the “Old Serve” card was. It has a waivable monthly fee and no fees for loads. It also comes with One VIP loyalty access which provides increased access to select events & tickets.

American Express Serve (New Blue Version)

american express serve types guide

Sign-Up Link

  • Monthly Fee: $1 or $0 with a $500 direct deposit. (The monthly fee is waived in TX, NY & VT.)
  • Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. Up to $3.95 fee.
  • Cash load limits: $2,500 per day/$5,000 per month.
  • Online Amex credit card loads: $200 per day/$1,000 per month

You can find all of the spending and load limits here.

Bottom Line

The new Blue version of the American Express Serve card has a low waivable monthly fee, however loads are not free.

American Express Serve FREE Reloads (Green Card)

american express serve types guide

Sign-Up Link

  • Monthly Fee: $4.95. (The monthly fee is waived in TX, NY & VT.)
  • Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. No fee.
  • Cash load limits: $2,500 per day/$5,000 per month.
  • Online Amex credit card loads: $200 per day/$1,000 per month

You can find all of the spending and load limits here.

Bottom Line

The new green version of the American Express Serve card can be loaded without a fee. It carries a higher monthly fee, but is better than the Blue card for people who do multiple loads per month.

American Express Serve Cashback (Silver)

american express serve types guide

Sign-Up Link

  • Monthly Fee: $5.95. (The monthly fee is waived in TX, NY & VT.)
  • Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. Up to $3.95 fee.
  • Cash load limits: $2,500 per day/$5,000 per month.
  • Online Amex credit card loads: $200 per day/$1,000 per month

You can find all of the spending and load limits here.

Bottom Line

The new silver cashback version of the American Express Serve card may be good for people looking to use the card for everyday spending, however it is hampered by high load fees.

American Express Serve (Old Blue – No Longer Available)

american express serve types guide

  • Monthly Fee: $1 or $0 with $500 in loads per month. (The monthly fee is waived in TX, NY & VT.)
  • Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. No fee.
  • Cash load limits: $2,500 per day/$5,000 per month.
  • Online Amex credit card loads: $200 per day/$1,000 per month ($500 per day/$1,500 per month for Softcard version.)

You can find all of the spending and load limits here.

Bottom Line

The “Old” blue version of the Serve card is no longer widely available. This card allows loads for free and the monthly fee can easily be waived with $500 in loads.

Each Version Is Slightly Different

One of the biggest advantages of the “Old Serve” card is access to free reloads and the easily waivable monthly fee. While the One VIP Serve card has a more involved method of getting the monthly fee waived (direct deposit vs. loading), it is identical to the old card in every other way.

With the other products, American Express has spread the advantages of “Old Serve” out. The normal “Blue” version of the Serve card has a waivable monthly fee, however it does not have free reloads. The “Green” version of Serve does have free reloads, however the monthly fee is much higher and currently cannot be waived. Finally, the cash back version of the card has both a high monthly fee and a cost to reload, however if you spend a lot with Serve then it may make sense.

Walmart Loads

Initially only the “One VIP”, “Old Serve” and the “Green” cards could be loaded at Walmart. When the other new cards were launched they did not work at Walmart, but that issue has now been resolved. As of now all versions of Serve can be loaded at Walmart, however some do have a fee as noted above.

Choosing the Right Card

Since “Old Serve” is no longer widely available, the best overall product is probably the One VIP card since it has a waivable monthly fee and access to free loads. For people who are looking to use Serve as their normal spending card, the cash back version may be interesting, however it comes with a high monthly fee and a fee every time you load in-store.

Bluebird, REDcard or Serve?

While this resource covered all of the types of Serve, American Express has two other prepaid reloadable products. For a detailed comparison of the three major American Express prepaid products, see: The Complete Guide to Bluebird, REDcard and Serve.

Comments

  1. Hi Shawn,

    I am new to credit card signup bonus and MS. I enjoy your writing. I do not have any serve card yet and planning to apply for Amex serve (One VIP) card. I could not figure out the difference between old serve and new One VIP. As I can see for the new One VIP card the fee can be waived by two means.

    Monthly Fee
    $1 Monthly Fee (no fee in NY, TX, VT).
    Or
    $0 Monthly Fee if you do any of the following during each monthly statement period:
    Receive a Direct Deposit
    Add $500 or more to your Account

    So I suppose it is another option added to the old serve or did I miss anything?

    • In one place it says only direct deposit will waive the fee and in another place it says the $500 load will waive the fee. If that is the case, then it is pretty much identical to the old Serve.

      If you plan to get the fee waived via loads, make sure to save a screenshot or document it, since they seem to have different terms in different places.

  2. Does the silver serve offer 1% back for paying your bills with it also or just regular swipe transactions qualify? I live in NY so the fee is waived.

    Thanks.

  3. Heads up on the Cashback card – in the details it states, “You agree NOT to transfer funds from your Account to a linked credit or debit card or debit/payroll card; for example, you may not transfer funds from your Account to pay for an outstanding credit card bill.” So, be careful if you’re looking at this for Fidelity AMEX loads.

      • But, and this is the critical point that I can’t seem too get a straight answer anywhere on, will Serve Loads, with An Amex. CC, count towards Min. Spend Requirements?

        • I just finished my min spend on Amex SPG Business.
          The Serve loads counted towards my minimum spend, but I did not earn SPG points for the loads.
          In other words after my spend was amount was hit, the signup bonus points showed on my statement, but the value of the Serve loads were not included in the point total

  4. If I load to Serve online from my Amex SPG card, do I get the Starwood points for that, or is the online CC load feature only useful for meeting min spends?

  5. Shawn, I noticed quite some Serve cards at retailer stores such as Walmart and Walgreen, and I believe those are still the old blue Serve cards, is that right? Thanks.

    • Yes I believe so. I would look at the monthly/load fees to see which version it is. If it is Blue and says no fee for loads then it is the old card. The new Blue card has an up to $3.95 fee for loads.

  6. For the Blue Serve:

    “Cash loads: Available at CVS & Family Dollar. Up to $3.95 fee. Walmart loads are not currently supported”

    Can you also not load pin enabled debit cards on to this at Walmart?

    • For the new Blue Serve Walmart loads supposedly don’t currently work. The last data point I have is from a reader about a week ago. If you have the old Blue Serve card with the waivable monthly fee then Walmart loads should work.

      • Made the mistake of getting a new Blue Serve instead of One VIP, but at least I can provide a datapoint.

        New Blue Serve loaded VGC at Kate this morning, but charged a $3.74 fee.

  7. I’ve been having trouble with Kate. I have the old Serve, but when I swipe to load nothing happens. It just keeps on the screen like nothing happened. Do you know what’s up?

    • Have you tried swiping another card to see if it registers it? I had this happen once where the card reader was dead and the machine needed to be reset. My guess is no matter what is causing the problem, a reset will probably fix it.

      • I did, sort of. But it wasn’t a Bluebird or anything (just my ATM card). But I wasn’t sure if it would register that other card either, since it wasn’t part of that system. It did this to me yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday). Perhaps I’ll see what happens next week.

  8. This is my 1st try using my Amex card to buy a gift card with a pin on the back, to load my Serve. It was a vanilla GC. My Family Dollar did the load, but scanned the GC which added a $3.95 charge. They said that is the Family Dollar policy. I live in Pa. Is that to expected? Can I get around it?

    • If I am understanding your question correctly, you are asking if there is any way around the $3.95 activation fee and the answer is ‘no’. IME all VGC’s have an activation fee, it just varies in regards to the amount.

  9. Does credit-card loading count towards the $500 load requirement to waive the monthly $1 fee for the One-VIP Serve? Or do the loads have to be from cash/debit gc?

  10. Hi,

    I am trying to do manufacture spending on my credit card for earning points. So, I brought Gift cards using the credit card and also a blue classic serve card in CVS pharmacy. I came home and activated the serve card and went back to CVS pharmacy and 7-eleven were it was mentioned as free reloads for serve card. Both the places cashier told me that debit cards(pin enabled gift cards) cannot be loaded into serve. Can you please help me on this and also let me know what i am doing wrong. Thanks!

  11. I have 3 quick questions. First, does anybpdy know if these serve accounts are subject to liens, judgements or garnishments like regular checking accounts, 2. Does the 49.99 limit using vanilla cards apply only to walmart or does it include family dollar, and 3. Can these be reloaded at all at 7-11 with vanilla?

    • 1. I’m not sure. That is something I would ask American Express directly.

      2. Yes the $49.99 limit is Walmart specific. You can load the full amount at Family Dollar.

      3. No you cannot load Serve at 7-11 with a prepaid gift card.

  12. I have a question about old serve. My serve is blue and is very much like to blue new version, but I got it before AMEX rolled out these 3 new versions. I loaded my card in Walmart with GC without fee before. So, does my serve keep its characteristics, or does it convert to the new blue serve automatically?

  13. Hi!
    As far as I found out, the one VIP is better over all other three, if there is no extra requirement, why people still open other three Serve cards?

  14. So which have you gotten / will be getting with RB dead? And where can one get these elusive Old Serves that you sneakily alluded to?

  15. So for a TX resident, One VIP and Green Serve will be the same since monthly fees are waived in TX right?
    Does having the Green Serve give me a better chance against change of the term-condition? Reading from other blogs that One VIP has a better chance of changing terms then Green. Could this be true or most likely if one product changes, others will change as well?

  16. Shawn, does the TX, VT etc exclusions apply based on the state of purchase or where the card is registered. I’m guessing it’s the latter but figured I’d check. Fairly close to VT so it could be a nice excuse for a road trip!

  17. I just purchased a new serve blue card at Office Depot $2.95 with a $10 cash load. I am confused on how and where I can load this card. Also which prepaid pin enable gift cards I can load to the card. Can you explain please. Is this the wrong Serve card to switch to from the Redbirds card?

    • This card is totally better than the Redbird. I can use Kate 24/7 and I was able to load vanilla cards with Family Dollar. I did run into an issue with one Family Dollar saying they did not have the load card available. I need to see if I can bring on to the location. I am still confused about the load cards but I have a lot of Family Dollar’s in my area and a lot of Wal-Marts. I did also have an issue with my Redbird card needing to be closed before I could register the temp card. I had to call Amex and they went through the tech support and called me back the same day.

  18. Worked perfectly! One thing though, my wife has the “new” Serve card without the silver border and it has been loaded at WMart before. Is the inability to load this card at Walmart a new policy?

  19. Can you use ONE VIP Card to load with Debit Cards (Giftcards purchased from Grocery, Office SUpply etc) at anything other than just Walmart? What about Family Dollar, CVS etc?

  20. Ok just signed up for OneVIP and loaded 200 dollars online via My FIA AMEX. Besides the 200 Dollars a 1 dollar fee separate fee appeared from SERVE. Is this normal and is there a way to avoid it?

  21. For the new Serve card above, you state:

    Cash loads: Available at Walmart, 7-11, CVS & Family Dollar. Up to $3.95 fee. Walmart loads are not currently supported

    What does that mean?

    • That card didn’t allow loads at Walmart for awhile, although that ability has now been fixed. The guide had been updated, but that last segment was accidentally left in. I have updated everything to remove that section. Walmart loads are supported by all versions of Serve, although some have load fees as described above.

        • If it’s just the $1 monthly fee then I don’t think anyone reading this would care about that!

          One advantage to the new Serve is that you can buy it at CVS and load it with up to $500 on a CC, plus the $1.99 fee).

  22. Be careful with these cards. I had one for about 3 years. On Thursday at 6:24 and 6:25 pm I received two emails saying my account was locked due to possible fraud. I called customer service at about 7:00pm. NO ONE has been able to tell me what happened. I have no idea if someone took money from my account (there was about $900 on the card), no idea why the account was closed, and no idea if and when I am getting my money. I have called a total of 10 times. I have tweeted. I have called the executive offices. No one is willing to help me. Can’t reach a supervisor, can’t reach “back office” (the folks that supposedly made the decision). Can’t access account. A nightmare.

  23. Walmarts in my area (Marin County, north of San Francisco) are not very close, and those I have visited do not have KATE. There are no Family Dollar stores within 50 miles either. Since my REDbird is now useless, is there any process to manufacture spend using any of the Serve cards? It seems the only thing I can do is load $1k per month from Amex cards, which will only count towards minimum spend (still better than nothing). What about manufacturing minimum spend for new Visa and MC credit cards? It seems the gift card route does not work for any Serve card w/o KATE. Can I instead use VISA or MC cards to purchase and load Vanilla Reload cards and then load those funds online (or in store) onto the Serve card? If so, where can one purchase Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card, which stores would allow the load from Vanilla Reload to Serve (if any, or is it only online?), and which Serve card would be best for this approach?

  24. I would really like to use the Walmart Kiosk but I have yet to see one that actually functioned and I haven’t seen one at all since right after they started the program with Amex. Is there a list somewhere of Walmart that have functioning Kiosk’s? It would be very helpful.

  25. Silly question: for the places that have a RiteAid that allows debit card loads, we still have to have a PIN-enabled Visa/Mastercard prepaid card, right? They don’t allow reloads with credit cards right?

  26. Is there a way one can the difference between the “New” blue Serve and the “Old” blue Serve by retail packaging? Other than by the card numbers starting with 375171 / 377772 which are not visible through the retail packaging, are there any other clues? I found one on a grocery store peg and the terms on the reverse side indicate “…$1 Monthly Fee: Waived during any month you Direct Deposit OR load $500.” The Serve.com website indicates the current blue Serve card “Monthly Fee: $1 -or- $0 when you Direct Deposit $500+.” Are these different blue Serve cards?

    • I have BBVA NBA card and Serve VIP and confirm you earn points, and dont pay any fees. $200/day upto $1K month

  27. @shawn coomer
    i accidentally ordered the blue serve… $3.74 load fee.
    is it simple to change it to the serve VIP? close blue, open VIP same day, same email?
    thanks!

    • Yes you should be able to close it online and then sign-up for the VIP with the same email. I haven’t tried in a couple of months, but unless they have changed something that should work fine.

      • Accidentally got the card with blue card with a 3.95 loading fee. Cancelled card before ever making a load (this was months ago) and I am unable to sign up again. I get: Sorry, we are unable to approve you for an Account at this time.

        Thank you for your interest in American Express Serve.

        Using same email/phone/info as before. Are you aware if I have to change something up? Thanks

  28. I have the Blue Serve. It was free to buy and I have always loaded it for free.. Family Dollar, CVS, Dollar General, 711, Rite Aid. Maybe different in other states… I’m in Michigan. $1 monthly fee if that. If I have $0.30 they will take that as fee. I love it.. Only downside…Everyone take American Express

  29. Can someone confirm that using American Express Credit Cards for auto-loading the Serve card at $200/day for $1,000 each month WILL earn Membership Rewards points??

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