Bluebird takes flight and changes the game

American Express’ new prepaid product, Bluebird, is now available and yes, it appears to be “all that”.  In the battle between banks for prepaid card supremacy, Bluebird has changed the game by making checking accounts unnecessary and by eliminating virtually all fees.  For points and miles collectors, Bluebird appears to have changed the game by opening the gates to a world of almost unlimited points and miles.

Getting Bluebird

The easiest way to get a Bluebird account is online via bluebird.com.  Click the “register now” button and when asked if you have a starter card, click “no”.  Signing up for a card is free and does not affect your credit score.  If you have an Amex Serve account, you are required to cancel that account before you can get a Bluebird account.image

 

Bluebird Features

Here are some of my favorite Bluebird features:

  • No fees.  No transaction fees, no load fees, no withdrawal fees, no bill pay fees, no foreign transaction fees, etc.  ATM fees may apply (see next bullet)
  • No fee MoneyPass ATMs.  For the no fee ATM option, you must setup direct deposit to your account.  Go to MoneyPass.com to find MoneyPass ATMs near you.  If you use a non-MoneyPass ATM, or if you don’t have direct depost, then you will be charged $2 per withdrawal (fee is waved until Nov 4, 2012).  You may withdraw up to $500 per day and up to $2000 per month.
  • Vanilla reloads.  Like the regular American Express Prepaid cards, the Bluebird can be loaded via Vanilla Reload cards.  You may load up to $1000 per day and up to $5000 per month.
  • Swipe reloads.  Another option for reloading Bluebird is to bring your card to a Walmart register.  American Express says to “simply present your Bluebird Card and cash (or other accepted tender type) at a participating retailer.”  I asked an Amex rep if Walmart would accept credit cards for payment and he said that yes, some Walmart stores do accept credit cards for swipe reloads.  There is no fee for a swipe reload.  Just like Vanilla Reload cards, you may load up to $1000 per day and up to $5000 per month.  Once I get my Bluebird card I’ll have to run over to Walmart to try this out!  UPDATE: Only debit cards work to for swipe reloads. Credit card swipe reloads do not work.
  • $10K balance limit. You can keep up to $10,000 on one account. This may be the answer to those looking to pay very large bills with a prepaid card.
  • Pay bills.  You can use Bluebird to pay bills either through the Bluebird website or the Bluebird mobile app.  Bluebird provides a list of available Payees.  If your payee is not listed, you can enter their name and address and a check will be sent.  There is no fee for this service.  Check payments are limited to $5000 per month.
  • Debit payments.  While I can’t find proof of this online, I asked an Amex rep if the Bluebird could be used as a debit card in situations where credit cards are not accepted.  The example I gave was someone who wanted to pay their property tax online.  He said that, yes, under those circumstances the card can be used as a debit card.  I believe that Amex prefers that we use the card as a credit card (since they receive higher merchant fees that way), but that it can be used as a debit card as well.  Of course, I look forward to testing this soon.  UPDATE: This does not seem to work
  • Send money.  Bluebird allows you to send money for free to other Bluebird cardholders.  You are limited to $2500 per transaction and $2500 per month.
  • Withdraw funds.  There is no fee to transfer money from Bluebird to a linked checking or savings account.  See the FAQ for details.
  • Check capture. The Bluebird mobile application can be used to take pictures of checks to deposit to your account.  Check capture is limited to $2000 per day and $10,000 per month.

 

There are a few not so good features:

  • Debit reloads.  You can setup a debit card to load your Bluebird account online.  You will be charged $2 per load and you are limited to $100 per day and $1000 per month.  In other words, you will be charged a minimum of 2% for loading via a debit card.  Thumbs down Amex.
  • Online Credit reloads – Not.  The older Amex Serve product allowed limited loading via credit cards.  Bluebird does not have this feature.  I was told by an Amex rep that customers said they didn’t want that option.
  • Direct deposit required for free ATM use.  MoneyPass ATMs are free only if a direct deposit has been received in the past 30 days. I would like Bluebird better if they didn’t have this requirement!  I wonder what types of transactions qualify as “direct deposit”?

 

What about points & miles?

While Bluebird doesn’t provide rewards directly, you can earn points and miles indirectly by using a points-earning card to load Bluebird.  There are three possible ways to do this (that I know of):

  1. Find a Walmart that allows you to load Bluebird with a credit card.  This may take some trial and error.
  2. Find a store that lets you buy Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card.  Office Depot stores are the best option I’ve found.  To see how incredibly lucrative this can be, please read “One card to rule them all.”  For help with finding an Office Depot near you that carries Vanilla Reload cards, please see “Where to buy Vanilla Reload Cards.”
  3. Walmart stores that don’t accept credit cards for reloads may accept debit cards instead.  If so, it would be worth trying a card like the SunTrust Delta debit card to see if it can be used to load the Bluebird via a “swipe reload” and earn miles.

 

Points for cash.  Points for bills.  Points for taxes.

If you succeed in finding a way to load Bluebird via a points-earning card, then your opportunities for earning points and miles appear to be virtually unlimited.  For example, here are some ways you can earn points & miles that are not available with a credit card alone:

  • Pay bills where the payee does not accept credit cards (e.g. mortgage, rent, etc.)
  • Pay federal taxes via debit (less than $4 per transaction)
  • Take out money via ATMs
  • Send money to friends
  • Withdraw money to your bank when you receive money from a friend
  • etc.

 

Be responsible.  Go slow.

American Express is always on the lookout for suspicious behavior. If a person adds money to Bluebird, and then withdraws it all (via ATM, bill pay, linked bank account, etc.), that would look suspicious.  American Express does not make money from these types of withdrawals, so with a pattern like that they’re not going to like you very much!  If you do too much of this, I believe American Express will close your account.

My recommendation is to make Amex happy by using the card often for regular credit transactions.  Use the various withdrawal and debit options in moderation.

More information

For more information about Bluebird, you can find the membership agreement here, and FAQs here.  Also, see these follow-up posts:

Last updated on November 7th, 2012

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Thanh P.
Guest
Thanh P.

This is HUGE

David
Guest
David

Wow, AMEX Prepaid is now obsolete after 6 months.

Why so many similar products from AMEX? Serve -> Prepaid -> Bluebird

Scuta
Guest
Scuta

Isn’t it limited to 5K per month?

MileValue
Guest

I look forward to using this responsibly to help meet the ever-increasing minimum spends. Great work, FM.

Thanh P.
Guest
Thanh P.

But after thinking about this a bit, this Bluebird may serve less purpose than what I initially wanted it for.

Firstly, no online credit loading is BS. I think this would be the sole reason why I’d ponder on this before I cancel my Serve account. Serve account is very useful for me in unloading small prepaid Visa debit cards.

Secondly, this does not alleviate some of the issues NYC-ers like myself face. We don’t have access to vanilla reload cards, as well as Walmarts. Will be interesting to know what “participating retailers” include.

Are walmart purchases categorized as grocery by Amex anyway?

David
Guest
David

Would be interesting to plan MRs with 3-4 hr stops in IAH, as it’s been noted that the Houston area has an abundance of Vanilla reloads.

AK
Guest

Awesome post, FM. I’m still going to stand back as I’m working on Serve right now. As for Direct Deposit, check your milepoint conversations … I have an idea, but not sure if it will work with this. But I just found out that I have 7 MoneyPass ATMs within a mile, so this looks tempting 😀

The $10K balance seems useful for large bills (I’m juggling several Prepaids right now), but the $5K load limit per month is the limiting factor. It means that per month, it’s worth 2 Prepaids.

MilesMaven
Guest
MilesMaven

FrequentMiler <—– We <3 you

mommypoints
Guest
mommypoints

Woohoo! I think this really does open up some good opportunities…hopefully the Blue Bird likes me better than the other Amex prepaid!

marZ
Guest

You’re the KING. Oh and Amex is cool too for having this product.

JettyBoy
Guest
JettyBoy

Post. of. the. year.

Yong
Guest
Yong

I don’t think you need to cancel your Serve account before signing up for this.

When I signed up, it complained when I tried to use the same email address as my Serve account, saying something to the effect of “the email address isn’t eligible”. But once I changed that, it was smooth sailing. I figured they’d do the check based on SSN, but that didn’t prevent my signup either.

So unless there’s something in the terms (which I haven’t found), it seems that as long as you use different email addresses, you should be able to keep both accounts.. right?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Yong: I’m surprised you were able to get the BlueBird without canceling your Serve account. When I tried to sign up, I first received the “email address isn’t eligible” message too. Then, I tried a different email address and at the end a message on the screen explicitly said that I couldn’t open the account while I had a Serve account open. I called Amex and they confirmed this.

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

I tried using different email addresses on signup and it gave me the message saying that I had an existing serve account. I canceled the account and it still gives me that message. I wonder how long after you cancel the serve account that it takes to clear that message..

FrequentMiler
Guest

Stevedealin: After I canceled my Serve account, I closed my browser, waited a minute, then tried again. It worked.

emt
Guest
emt

This is phenomenal, on both AmEx’s part and FrequentMiler’s. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

I do have a couple of questions/requests.

1) Could you generally write a post for those of us who do not (and perhaps cannot) have Business credit cards? I’m one of these people, and I know many others are also. What would you recommend that we use to reload a Bluebird card? Are there any consumer cards that would give a good bonus on Walmart reloads or Vanilla Reload cards? I haven’t seen anything on this topic…

2) I’m aware that Citi counts many transactions as cash advances, rather than purchases. Do they do this with Vanilla Reload cards? What about Walmart reloads?
And, more importantly, do any of the other issuers do this? I’m thinking AmEx, Chase, Barclays, Bank of America especially.

Many thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

emt: Great questions.
.
1) First, you should know that most people can get business credit cards even if they don’t think they have a business. Please see “How to sign up for the Ink Bold” for more information. That being said, it is worth loading Bluebird with almost any rewards credit card since you can then use it at ATMs and to pay bills that you couldn’t normally pay by credit. So, if you’re working on a new card’s minimum spend for a signup bonus, use that. Or, if you’re trying to get a big spend bonus (which some cards offer), use that one. Or, simply use a card who’s points you highly value (SPG, any Ultimate Rewards card, etc.)
.
2) I’ve bought Vanilla reload cards with my Citibank cards and they were treated as a purchase, not a cash advance. I don’t know if the same will hold true with a Walmart reload. That’s something we’ll have to experiment with.

Noel
Guest
Noel

I’m thinking this is a great option to pay my rent. If I can get a check mailed to someone every month, that would be amazing. That should work, right?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Noel: Yes, it should work for paying your rent.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Can you get multiple Bird accounts in your name? I’d like to have ability to load up a few cards to pay big bills (like mortgage/taxes).

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ron: I think that you can only have one account (you can add up to 4 sub-accounts, but they are really just extra cards that you can manage under the same master account). Of course, couples can each get their own master account. Same with any children 18 or over.

John K: I suppose you could pay a credit card bill, but that might draw unwanted attention by Amex auditors. Tread carefully.

Rick Ingersoll: I had $10 in my Serve account so I setup a BlueBird account for my wife first, then I used Serve to send her $10. She successfully received the $10 into her BlueBird account. Then I was able to cancel Serve and order my BlueBird.

John K
Guest
John K

Can you bill pay another CREDIT card with the bill pay option?

MidTierStatus
Guest
MidTierStatus

Sounds awesome! Can’t wait…

Rick Ingersoll
Guest

The reason some of us “old timers” show we have Serve accounts is because of 2008 we joined the “Revolution Money Exchange”. That was bought by Serve. They are sending me my $84 balance, then I can close my Serve account and get a Bluebird account.

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

I’m skeptical this will play out well for those who push the envelope if the anal types behind Serve are monitoring activity. I had loaded the minimum $250/month via CC for 3 months to my Serve account, then withdrew $750. Soon thereafter I was sent a nastygram telling me I had violated their T&C and my account would be cancelled if I did it again. I cancelled my Serve account proactively.

FrequentMiler
Guest

HikerT: Thanks for the data point regarding Serve. BlueBird definitely seems to have similar (or more likely, the same) technology behind it (the web site once you log in looks very similar).

TonyL: Interesting that they told you 24 hours since my account refreshed in less than a minute. Maybe I just got lucky!

blake
Guest
blake

1) Could you generally write a post for those of us who do not (and perhaps cannot) have Business credit cards? I’m one of these people, and I know many others are also. What would you recommend that we use to reload a Bluebird card? Are there any consumer cards that would give a good bonus on Walmart reloads or Vanilla Reload cards? I haven’t seen anything on this topic…

+1

TonyL
Guest
TonyL

I was told by BB custom rep that Serv cancellation takes 24-hour to be refreshed to BB, so I’ll wait for 24-hour to retry BB registration.

webazoidd
Guest
webazoidd

i tried registering but it says i’m too you. however, i’m over 18. weird.

webazoidd
Guest
webazoidd

“You have the following errors.
date of birth: Sorry, you have to be at least 18 to open a bluebird account (19 in Alabama or Nebraska). Enjoy your youth.”

FrequentMiler
Guest

webazoidd: Weird!

pbailey19
Guest
pbailey19

Looks like you’ve already wrapped up “Post of the Year” just two days after the Chicago Seminars. This looks to be amazing, amazing news and after reading over the features, I think this one might be the Holy Grail of “Points for Mortgage Payments”. Thanks again for your fantastic blog – I’ll certainly share my experiences once I receive my Bluebird card.

Grant
Guest
Grant

@FM, here is another experiment. Can you use Walmart gift cards to load to Bluebird card?
.
I just closed my Serve card because it wasn’t letting me sign up. After a few minutes, I re-tried my application for bluebird and it went through. I guess this card will make my 2 AMEX prepaid reloadbale cards obsolete, we had some good times together 🙁
.
Any foreign transaction fees for this card? Consumer benefits?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Grant: Great idea. Yes, we’ll have to see if we can reload with Walmart gift cards. No foreign transaction fees. Same consumer benefits as the Amex prepaid cards.

Jimmy @TravelByPoints
Guest

Wow, it is probably time to buy Amex and WalMart stocks :D! Thanks, FM! This post will probably be honored again at next year’s #ChicagoSeminars!

Jimmy @TravelByPoints
Guest

@webazoidd, you have to add the back slash when entering your birth date.

Sil
Guest
Sil

Can I deposit initial funding with my credit card at Walmart?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sil: I expect that it depends on the particular Walmart. Want to give it a try?

AJH
Guest
AJH

I just ventured into my Wal-Mart neighborhood market and found the new Bluebird display. Picked up two of the Bluebird account set up kits (one for me, one for wife) and headed to the register. The cashier said I was the first person to get one, then proceeded to call over 2 other co-workers who huddled around for first Bluebird transaction in their store (note – one lady had a 3-page instruction manual in hand). Scanned the first set up kit and asked me how much I wanted to load. I asked if I could load with a credit card… the lady flipped through her instructions… no indication if it was possible, so we gave it a whirl. Tried loading the full amount allowed ($500 plus the $5 account set up fee), swiped my Ink Plus credit card… no go! Bummer. The manager had to clear the transaction. Tried again with a nominal amount of cash…obviously no issue there. For the second kit, I tried using a debit card (with PIN). Worked without any issues. So it’s looking like credit card loads won’t work at this store, at least for the initial account set up kit. I’ll have to try again when I get the permanent card.

Two other notes– you can’t purchase any other items in the same transaction as the Bluebird setup kit. I had to pay for my daughter’s Hershey bar in a separate transaction. Also, can’t do two account setup kits in the same transaction.

FrequentMiler
Guest

AJH: Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I doubt that your Walmart’s registers will allow you to reload if they wouldn’t even allow the initial purchase, but its worth a try of course.

Scott C
Guest
Scott C

cool. looks like AMEX just took the world of mortgage and car payments for all us points nuts.

Sil
Guest
Sil

I will give it a try at Walmart when my card arrives. This afternoon, I bought 2 vanilla reloads for my AMEX prepaid card today without reading your post. I wish I had loaded $500 on the Bluebird instead, oh well….on another note, OD said they are required to charge 2 different transactions for my two $500 vanilla Reload cards. I couldn’t just pay for the $1000 and someodd dollar fees for one transaction.

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

…and the plot thickens. There’s also something called the Feeder Pack that’s coming out:
.
https://www.feedbluebird.com/birdFeeder-webapp/faq.html
.
Website still has missing links but looks like you can get $100 increments for $1 which isn’t a terribly high cost.

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

The feeder pack appears to be administered by Incomm, who are behind Vanilla packs.

timothy
Guest
timothy

closed serve 1 hour ago, reopened new browser and still can’t sign up for BB card

jeff
Guest
jeff

closed serve an hour ago, reopened new browser but still can’t sign up for the BB

Mike
Guest

I just recently bought my Bluebird, I had a similar experience to AJH.

I tried my Ink Bold and it didn’t work. It seems like debit and cash is the only way to purchase the card.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Interesting!

Tony
Guest
Tony

Registration is still no go here after closing my Serve count couple of hours ago, same result even with a different browser. @FM, you are really lucky.
Will try registration again later.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Seems really exciting…

smitty06
Guest
smitty06

Not excited to have any of my paycheck direct deposited onto a card. Any creative workarounds?

steven
Guest
steven

i just register bluebird online, but it said I need to wait for 48 hours to get the account ready. I have 3 AME prepaid cards. Anyone have same experience?

stealph
Guest
stealph

Looking forward to the excitement! Congrats

steven
Guest
steven

FM: I have a feeling that vanilla reload from OD by using INK will be dead soon. If it happen, is there any other funding way to get the points?

N
Guest
N

If you close the Serve account, what happens to the existing balance in Serve?

FrequentMiler
Guest

N: Serve forces you to empty the account before you can close it. I sent my balance to my wife’s new Bluebird account. That worked flawlessly.

Mark082
Guest
Mark082

For those of you getting the “Enjoy Your Youth” quote, add the “/” to the DOB, and it should work.

Sil
Guest
Sil

steven- i registered around 5 P.M PST and my account is open. Just need to wait for my card to activate.

puck
Guest
puck

Enjoyed your talk in Chicago. Just bought my first vanilla reload cards at OD and funded them using Ink Bold. Should I load the money on Bluebird or AMEX prepaid or both?

FrequentMiler
Guest

puck: I’d recommend going right to Bluebird, but you can’t really go wrong either way.

Pearl: This might help: http://www.realmofprosperity.com/2010/01/how-to-fake-a-direct-deposit-and-avoid-bank-fees/

steven
Guest
steven

This is eail i got from AME.

Hello XXXX,
Thank you for signing up for Bluebird! We are reviewing your request and will send you an e-mail to provide an update on your Bluebird Account status.
If you have any questions, please contact us by calling Customer Service at 1-877-486-5990.
Thanks,
Bluebird

Pearl
Guest
Pearl

What are the alternatives to an employer direct deposit? Several people are asking about this. And you alluded to this in your post. Thanks for the help!

jim6
Guest
jim6

Hmmm. Absent ability to load with CC, I don’t see a “game changer” here. Yes, fewer fees but not fundamentally different than using current crop of prepaid cards.

Someone care to tell me what I’m missing?

At least there will be pressure on the current prepaid bozos and get them to lower fees.

I’m still trying to avoid ODing on my ice cream runs.

AK @PointsToPointsB
Guest

If ACH payments count as direct deposit, and if there is no minimum, then any “withdrawal” of funds via Amazon Payments or PayPal may show up as DD. I’ve already suggested this to FM, so I guess it’s an experiment for the laboratory.

jeff
Guest
jeff

sign up not working even after you close the SERVE and it has been hours. using different emails wouldn’t work either.

Steelsnow
Guest
Steelsnow

So many interesting possibilities with this as it is now released… a lot of folks have property taxes around the corner, but can they get the card ‘seasoned’ enough that the payment won’t cause a big red flag…

Will be interesting to see if it can handle the larger payments such as rents and mortgages as well. Most of those are a thousand or more, payments that size have been an issue that many have reported for shutdowns on other PP cards.

Nice job to AMEX for an interesting product that will likely be popular.

Ram
Guest
Ram

You Da Man FM. Awesome post.
Do you think if I make a monthly 400$ car payment with this card cause Amex spy on my account?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ram: That sounds reasonable to me. Only time will tell.

Ram
Guest
Ram

I am very eager to test if Chase SP would treat the swipe at walmart as a purchase or a cash advance. Will post results ASAP

Jason74
Guest
Jason74

Ordered. Hoping some utilities, car payments and others will work with this.

jeff
Guest
jeff

canceled serve online 5 hrs ago, still unable to order the BB. changing email wouldn’t work.
Thank you for
choosing Bluebird.
Sorry, but we cannot approve you for a Bluebird Account at this time because you have an existing Serve Account. If you have any questions, please contact us by calling Customer Service at 1-877-486-5990.

any tricks?

hpewen
Guest
hpewen

@FM: Do you think AMEX will offer a promotional bonus for ordering this card like they did with the original Prepaid card? I’m wondering if I should wait since I’m in no particular hurry. Your thoughts?

FrequentMiler
Guest

hpewen: It’s certainly possible that Amex will offer promotional bonuses for the Bluebird. If you don’t need one right away, then it can’t hurt to wait and see if that happens.

RK
Guest
RK

Can I buy AMEX/VISA prepaid card from OD and use the same for Loading Bluebird at Walmart?

Eugene
Guest
Eugene

No OD in phoenix so i think i will stick with Serve for now. Just have to endure the 2500 limit between 2 accounts.

marathon man
Guest
marathon man

FM, GREAT write up!! Thanks.
For those for whom this will work, go forth and prosper!!

However, I personally may need to pass since there are NO ODs near me and Vanillas are hard enough to come by if the sets of people I have in places where they have them are not available. (I have had them all work too much for me with ones needed to max out INKs, etc anyway lol)……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

As well, with WM, I have a little tip that everyone here needs to head and head well!: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

If you do a certain ‘other activity’ at WM (you know the activity I mean so let’s not say it) then you should be VERY careful about doing things there with other financial products such as this. Hard to explain right here and now, but for example, if one uses the WM MoneyCard, other PP cards or, now this BlueBird card at WM for things like loads and swipes, it becomes very much ‘noticed’ and it is very risky when they begin to see you co-mingle your visits with the ‘other activity’ you may already be doing a lot of there………………………………………………………………………………………………………

This could get you in deep trouble for reasons WM’s Loss/Preventions department has, and that we mileage people always question with little satisfaction in the end. Let’s just say I heard all that from a little bird and that one should tread very lightly when doing multiple/mixed financial transactions at WM. That said I think they’d be more inclined to allow a debit load than a CC one, but am curious to see what people find out. ……………………………………………………………………………

Good luck!

:)MM

FrequentMiler
Guest

marathon man: thanks for the timely tip!

Sil: go to any cash register

trackback

[…] course, now that Bluebird is flying, that may be the best way to go.  This card sounds even better than the one I just got.  My mind […]

Sil
Guest
Sil

If I try using a credit card to load at Walmart, do I go to Customer service or any cash register?

trackback

[…] Frequent Miler reviews the new American Express Bluebird prepaid card. […]

Jesse O
Guest
Jesse O

“If you succeed in finding a way to load Bluebird via a points-earning card”

That’s a pretty big “if” there chief.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Jesse O: loading Bluebird via a points earning card is a small “if” for those of us lucky enough to live near a well stocked Office Depot. It’s a big “if” for others.

eltex: Very good point. Let’s hope Amex auditors see it that way too!

eltex
Guest
eltex

Just a note here. This card is designed to compete directly with normal bank checking accounts. Therefore, it is possible that the large rent/mortgage/tax payments won’t raise a red flags. We will have to sit back and see how it unfolds.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Hi FM – If you use as Debit for paying for taxes and such, is a PIN required to process the transaction?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Christopher: No, a PIN is not needed when you pay federal taxes online (or on the phone) via debit card.

Jim: Bingo. Vanilla and Bluebird fees are low enough that anyone can play this game, not just Ink cardholders (although Inkers earn far more points).

Jim
Guest
Jim

I should bw able to buy beans with any CC at OD and load the bird.( like SPG)Am I right?

redcat255
Guest
redcat255

I’ve had my Serve account closed for a few days now, and I can’t sign up for Bluebird. Two family members are having the same problem. Any ideas? Or do I just need to bite the bullet and call?

LarryInNYC
Guest
LarryInNYC

Can we slow down a bit for old folks like me? I just want to see if I follow.
.
I assume the value of this card is that you can earn parts when you “charge it up” with money, then use that money for non-points-earning activities like paying using the cards send-a-check functionality.
.
So that means the card is only valuable to the extent you earn points when charging it up. It sounds like the real value there is figuring out how to earn 5X points during the charging process. That is done by using the Ink Bold card in combination with in-store purchases of reload cards (Vanilla Reload) on which you will earn 5 points per dollar value of the card, less whatever the fee for purchasing the card is. Correct?
.
Otherwise, the best one can do (which is still okay) is one point per dollar added to the bluebird card, but only assuming you can figure a way to charge it from your points-earning credit card, and not a debit card or cash. Correct?
.
This would work great for me if I can use it to send checks for tax payments since I’m self-employed and therefore send the government tens of thousands of dollars a year instead of having it withheld. But the secret is finding some way to charge the card at 5X (or, anyway, better than 1x if possible).

FrequentMiler
Guest

LarryInNYC: Yes, you seem to get it. Even at 1X, this is a great opportunity for most people because you can now earn points for far more expenses.

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

Unless I’m missing something, I’m not sure that at 1x it’s a great opportunity. If $500 reload cards cost $4.00 that’s $8 for $1,000 worth or roughly .8%. On a 1% cashback card that only nets you .2% in rewards or $2 on a $1,000 purchase.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Stevedealin: There are several 2% cash back cards, and cards like SPG where the points are each worth about 2 cents. Or, look at cards that offer big bonuses for big spend. For example, the Delta Reserve gives you 15K bonus miles (and elite qualifying miles) when you spend $30K, and again at $60K so you can earn miles and elite status quite cheaply.

redcat255
Guest
redcat255

Just as an update, I called Serve. They said if you’ve closed your Serve account within the last 30 days, you must use the exact same information to register your Bluebird account as you used for your Serve account. I was using a different e-mail address, and that was causing the problem. If your SSN matches what you used for Serve, you must make sure every other piece of identifying information matches, including e-mail and phone number.

FrequentMiler
Guest

redcat255: Thanks for posting the key to getting your account! Just to repeat: if you had Serve before, make sure to cancel, and then use the exact same email address, phone number, etc in order to establish your Bluebird account.

jeff: There’s no reason to tempt fate by buying money orders with prepaid cards. With the Amex Prepaid I’d recommend ATMs and Amazon Payments. With Bluebird, many other options open up that are sanctioned by Amex

JetsFan
Guest
JetsFan

Thanks again FM. (I met you very briefly at the Seminars by the way). If I understand this all correctly, I can buy Visa debit cards from anywhere using any card and meet minimum spend (and earn some points) for only a $4.95 fee (roughly 1% of a $500 card), and then load them onto a Bluebird at Walmart and pay my mortgage (just for example) through Bluebird’s bill pay service. This is in addition, of course, to trying to get 5X at OD.

FrequentMiler
Guest

JetsFan: No, I’m not sure that would work. If you buy a Visa debit card you won’t get a PIN to use with it. I think that Walmart would most likely require a PIN (but I do plan to test this theory).

Jana: Once you log into your account, you can select the “Pay Bills” button and then search for payees. If your mortgage company isn’t listed, you can still pay by entering in the required info. Just FYI, CitiMortgage is in the list (that’s where my mortgage is).

Jana
Guest

Where can I get a list of payees? I would like to pay my mortgage this way.

Jim
Guest
Jim

This makes me think we are going to Ink ourselves right out of the points and mile game? However, I’m in but slowly.

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

This is a goldmine. Thanks FM! Was trying to figure out how we were going to pay off student loans and earn “real” miles (not Delta via SunTrust). Same with monthly mortgage, taxes, etc.

Preacher
Guest
Preacher

Will I be able to buy money orders with this and it’s limited debit features, do you think?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Preacher: There’s no reason to buy money orders when the bill pay feature will send checks for free. I wouldn’t risk it.

DRSP: I noticed that too. I expect that it would work, but for me this card is too promising to risk on a transaction like that until I’ve seen others have success with it.

DRSP
Guest
DRSP

After playing around with the bill pay feature, I notice that credit card companies are included in the list of payees. It seems like a Perfect PPM to load up the account with a credit card then pay the bill from the account. Would this raise alarms and be grounds for account closure?

harvson3
Guest
harvson3

Well done, nice summary, thanks FM.

Vadzim
Guest
Vadzim

Due to technical difficulties we are unable to process your request at the moment.
Please try again at a later time.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

Does anyone else get this when tries to sing up?

Mike
Guest
Mike

@vadzim Just signed up without issue. The site did seem a little sluggish though.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I signed up but I’ll hold off being excited until I find out that my local Walmart allows loading via CC. I’m already worried about spending too much on Vanilla cards at OD as it is. Trying to get enough Vanilla cards to pay for my mortgage would push me beyond my comfort zone.

THEsocalledfan
Guest
THEsocalledfan

@Jim

I tend to agree. I actually sent a message to a couple friends of mine stating I can’t see how Chase stays in the 5X business much longer. So, as they say, get in while you can!

stacey
Guest
stacey

THanks for a great post! I registered online – do they mail the card out? No confirmation of that in the email I received…

Brent
Guest
Brent

Tried entering Wells fargo mortgage account# in bill pay but keep getting invalid account# message.

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

@THEsocalledfan — we’re a small drop in the bucket and get lost in the noise. There’s people who run up a balance and pay interest, or aren’t privy to these tricks. If it was a big problem for them, FM would be losing his affiliate links.

chuck
Guest
chuck

Well done, again!

Sam_Goh
Guest
Sam_Goh

@FM – Do you know if there are restrictions on the check writing capability? Do you just say pay XYZ at XYZ address? I currently am using Serve for loads so don’t want to cancel just yet but have some bills coming up to individual contractors that I would like to pay. This sounds promising!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sam_Goh: the only restriction I know of is the $5K per month limit. Yes, I think you just enter in the biller’s name and address and then send them however much you want to pay them. I haven’t done it yet, though.

Surface Interval
Guest
Surface Interval

Couldn’t wait. Went to Walmart and picked one up at lunch today. Tried to load with AMEX, no dice, VISA, no dice. First tried at a register, then at customer service. Wound up parting with a $10 bill and netting a whopping $5 balance. Time to go ice cream shopping.

Possibly after registration, re-loading will work with a CC? I’ll find out in the next day or two.

Sam_Goh
Guest
Sam_Goh

@FM – Thanks. I think the initial press release said that check writing wouldn’t be available till Q1 2013 so it is nice to see this working now.

Now to figure out if my local county will refund property taxes if double paid through escrow and me 🙂

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sam_Goh: I see the confusion. The way I understood the original press release is that next year we will be able to get paper checks that we can write ourselves to draw from the Bluebird account. The current feature is part of “bill pay” and checks are sent from Amex to whoever you specify.

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

FAQ and T&C both say $5k/mo limit on the Cash Funding category includes Vanilla and swipe reloads at register combined. Given 1) too expensive to at 2% fee to do debit load of $1k/mo and 2) other loads do not earn pts
it seems to me this is effectively limited to $5k/mo max load.
Love to know if anyone sees anything I am missing in this?

FrequentMiler
Guest

greek2me: That’s how I read it too.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Do they do a credit check? If not, why do they need my SSN?

Stoughton
Guest
Stoughton

Dan – Fed requirement to combat laundering

ElTurk
Guest
ElTurk

I peruse a decent amount of points centered blogs/sites. I can say without equivocation that few are so entirely dependent on Chase Ink as FM. As someone who has near perfect credit but simply cannot get an Ink (I have only been with Chase for a few months and the recon rep told me that they wouldn’t give me a business card – even if I gave up a chunk of my credit – until I was with Chase for at least 6 months) I find any Ink reliant post rather useless.

Like other posters, I am also frustrated that this post relies on our ability to buy Vanilla reloads from OD – which not everyone can do – and stipulates that Walmart “might” allow reload by credit card, when no Walmart has ever been confirmed to do so.

So, it seems like what we have is basically a free checking account with free checks and inconvenient ATM situation.

IF there were a real, verifiable, universal method of putting money on this card by using a credit card, THEN this card would be incredible. But for a decent portion of people, there simply isn’t.

Jim
Guest
Jim

@ElTurk,This can help you with min spend on new CC’s, you can also spend you way to status.

ElTurk
Guest
ElTurk

@Jim – that would only be true if this card could be loaded with a credit card. There has not been any confirmation that such an avenue exists (sans OD Vanilla).

caveman
Guest
caveman

I second ElTurk views. Unless Walmart accepts the use of mileage cards, we are stuck with vanilla reloads from OD.

Jason
Guest
Jason

There is no vanilla reload pack in OD nearby. CS said the pack won’t be restocked. CC reload is impossible in Walmart. CS rejected the transaction. They know the trick and ask for $$ only. What’s this BB good for?

Vinh
Guest
Vinh

Great post FM.

What are those vanilla reload cards at Safeway that LOOK like the OD vanilla reloads? Will they work with Bluebird?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Vinh: if they say Vanilla Reload card then they should work. I can’t promise you’ll be allowed to buy them with a credit card though. Different stores have different policies about that

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

This card will make use of Feeder packs: feedbluebird.com
.
Merchant locator link doesn’t work yet.

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