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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Dave
Guest
Dave

I find myself agreeing with Jason and ElTurk. Unless we can use CC to load at Wallyworld, I don’t see the how this is all that special. The only thing that would really help would be if someone can confirm that this can be used as a “debit” payment for property taxes.

Titan limousine (ground transport IAD DCA BWI)
Guest

the feeder packs can only be purchased with cash or debit card. it doesn’t look like this is going to be a big deal for meeting CC spend

Dave
Guest
Dave

I just checked my county’s property tax website. They only take Visa debit, which basically excludes using BB for this purpose for me. I just registered my Prepaid AMEX today, I think I’ll use that.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: why not use Bluebird’s bill pay?

James
Guest
James

where can we go to figure out what marathon man was referring to?

pas
Guest
pas

Waiting to receive the bluecard in the mail now, then a quick activation. But in the mean time, can I transfer money into the account from American Express Prepaid card and hopefully send out the first rent check payment?

Jana
Guest

I would love an update to see how this goes-I’m a late adopter for these kinds of miles earnings options 🙂

Dave
Guest
Dave

FM, I forgot about paying bills, but the IB does cover a lot of the more expensive bills already (cable, phone). I guess BB can be used for car payments (which I don’t have), auto insurance, utilities.

bf
Guest
bf

A major limitation is the difficulty in finding Vanilla Reload Network cards at OD. I found one card at a distant OD today, but when the store searched all the nearby stores for inventory, the result was zero. I guess the big Q is whether Walmart will accept CCs as a form of payment to load BB cards.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Maybe with the permanent BB card, not the temporary. I just ordered a permanent card today so I can see if Walmart will allow CC swipe load at register.

ElTurk
Guest
ElTurk

Also, OD goers, don’t forget to factor in the price of gas. Small, yes, but it can add up.

Jesse O
Guest
Jesse O

Sorry guys, but there’s going to be absolutely no chance that Walmart will allow reload by CC. It’s just reality.

Vanilla Reload at OD seems to be the best bet, however it looks like that’s on the way out as well with OD ceasing to carry the product anymore.

SB
Guest
SB

I didn’t see this in your post nor did I see it at Amex/BB FAQ page: Once you sign up the card will be sent to you in the mail. I thought the card you got from Walmart was your permanent card but that’s only a temporary card. Just sit tight once you sign up and they’ll be sending you a card in 10 business days.

I wasn’t sure about this so now I went and wasted $5 I didn’t need to; hopefully this will stop someone else from doing that.

k2o
Guest
k2o

For the record, Vanilla reloads are available at several other places. If you don’t have an Ink for 5x, you might have an opportunity with 2x or 3x cards @ gas stations (yes,I’ve seen and bought them there). Other locations are noted on the Vanilla reload website as well.

k2o
Guest
k2o

@ James, if you need an interpreter for MM’s WM post, then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. 😉 to MM.

Niko
Guest
Niko

If it’s possible to load the card with a CC (such as amex platinum) and earn points and then possible to deposit money from BB to checking account then that means you could then take the money from your checking account to pay your amex card. No money would be spent but points would be earned. Right?

AJH
Guest
AJH

I’ve had a different experience with Vanilla reloads at OD. There are two OD’s within ~10 miles of my house. The closer OD has been out of VN reloads for the past 2-3 weeks, so I’ve driven to the further OD to pick them up. However, stopped by the closer OD today and they are back in stock (40+ reload cards on the rack, next to the Amex Prepaid cards). Promising sign, as it was looking like the OD would stop carrying them. Each store is obviously different, so YMMV.

Niko
Guest
Niko

FM, please comment more on the benefits of BB in a scenario where Vanilla Reload is not an option to load BB and where CC is not an option to load BB. What advantages would there then be to have BB?

Karen
Guest
Karen

@k20:

Could you tell us what gas station you see vanilla reload?

Frequent Flyer University
Guest

Just called AMEX Bluebird to cancel my Serve. Was told you can do it online at Serve. They also said it can take up to 30 days to process cancelation. Until then you can’t get Bluebird Card.

vxmike
Guest
vxmike

I’m also not seeing the benefits here for those unable/unwilling to go all-in with Vanilla. Not only do you risk being cancelled by Chase but also Bluebird. Amex isn’t generally a company that’s going to allow such shenanigans…I bet we’ll be seeing a ton more of the dreaded “FR” coming up. Amex has excellent safeguards in place to prevent this type of churning..for instance they just capped the Preferred Blue Cash 6% at grocery stores to $6K/year for those who were buying $500 prepaids at Kroger and other grocers.

This product is designed for poor/undocumented people unable to bank normally like the rest of us do. They aren’t going to allow thousands of people to effectively load it up with CC’s and cash out via checks. Is it worth getting blacklisted by Amex in addition to Chase??? I predict the “gamer” effect will be too large to remain sustainable just like I predict the Vanilla reload game will go for the same reason. Not very many people buy $500 prepaid cards, so I’m willing to be that that well over 50% of the Vanilla reloads at a national level are being purchased at OD using a Chase 5X card. No way it hasn’t been noticed.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Before we all get too down on BB, someone needs to check whether Walmart will allow Walmart gift cards to be used to load the BB. If they will, then the following strategy would be nearly as good as ice cream @ OD and would reduce some of the pressure on OD & Chase: Buy Walmart gcs through PlasticJungle (2% discount), linking through TopCashBack portal (4% cash back), using any CC presumably earning 1 UR point or some other CC reward and/or minimum spend). I’m sure FM will be putting this one at the top of his experiments list, as we are all anxious to know the results!!

Jason S.
Guest

I am finding it difficult to believe that a direct CC reload at a Walmart register will be processed as a purchase, not a cash advance, if it is allowed in the first place (we’ll see). That said, I don’t see why Vanilla reload purchases and billpay to your credit card will raise flags. If you (could) charge a reload to a CC and pay that CC off from billpay, that might look interesting to the CC company, but even that is a stretch. The CC company still gets merchant fees and should be happy.

Also, Amex FR has to do with debt and your ability to repay. I’ve had one. I don’t think anyone will get a FR over BB. I believe it is in their CC terms, but not in BB’s.

Seems just like a bank account to me, and Amex is probably getting a cut of of the $3.95 Vanilla reload fee, merchant fees for purchases, interest on existing balances, other fees, and of course revenue from the inevitable unused and abandoned balances. Just because some people hit the jackpot, it doesn’t mean the casino is unprofitable.

I’m not advocating people go crazy with this, just don’t be afraid of the boogeyman under your bed.

bwiflyer
Guest
bwiflyer

“LarryInNYC says:

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)”
If you find a way to pay taxes with checks and get a benefit out of it in the form of miles or points, let us know.

Simmy
Guest
Simmy

@Mike – can you use gc to buy gc from plastic jungle? Never tried that, there site says “credit card or paypal.”
But if so you can buy an amex gc through bigcrumbs for 1.4% (there could be some shipping/purchase fees under $10 but on a $1k gc you are getting $14 from bc) and then use the amex card to buy the walmart card from pj through tcb (which is 2.5% btw not 4%).
Just adding a layer! lol

Karla
Guest
Karla

Okay, so I’m probably missing something here. But it seems like the only way to add funds with a vanilla reload is at a Walmart register. No link that I could see on my account online. Is that right? And would that mean the reloads would need to be purchased at Walmart?

Karla
Guest
Karla

Never mind – found the information in the FAQ’s:
“Visit http://www.VanillaReload.com or call 1-877-429-8140 to transfer your money from the Vanilla Reload Pack to your Bluebird Account. You will need to have both your Bluebird Card number and the Vanilla Reload PIN from the Network Card handy”

M. Jan Gradowitz
Guest
M. Jan Gradowitz

Besides BB, you can easily pay property taxes online with any CC but will pay a fee. House insurance by CC..no fee. Tell your morgage company to stop impounds. All DMV vehicle registrations online..no fee.. Also, water/garbage bills paid online with no fee, PGE bills by phone (CC) for $1.45 per month. Pest control by CC, no fee (phone to set up automatic). And of course satellite tv, cell phone and Internet for 5x thru ink. I’m gonna wait and see if this bird is all that 🙂 Thanks to all you brave souls for your experimentation!

B-Rad
Guest
B-Rad

After reading all the posts above, I think I have an experiment that may work (the post may be lengthy, but worth it) for those of us who don’t have the Ink Bold, Plus, etc.

I have an amex blue cash preferred card and buy lots of gc’s at my local safeway (grocery store) to maximize the 6% back, plus 2x fuel rewards. Because my office depot doesn’t have vanilla reloads, I starting looking at other places that vanila reloads are sold near me. There aren’t any within 20 miles, so I began to look at vanilla reload’s website and affiliates (mio, momentum, netspend, etc.) After looking at the mio and momentum locations near me, these seemed to be very inconvient (20+ miles to drive to), so I moved on to netspend. When I looked at these locations, I found that they actually carry Netspend prepaid cards at my local safeway (and many other nearby locations). It seems that Netspend works just like the bluebird. For example, you register online for the card, they send it to you, you go to safeway and buy a $500 reload pack for ~$5 and you reload your card that way. (I’m not sure if there are daily reload limits, fees, etc. because when I tried to call, I needed to have a card in hand to get to next level of options). Once the card is in hand, could it be loaded with these reload packs? I don’t see why not, but can’t confirm until I talk to a rep / get the card) Netspend is a visa / mastercard, so that could be helpful as well. Interesting note, when I was at my safeway, there were reload packs that could reload $20-1000 dollars, but said purchase with cash only. There were other temporary reload packs that would load $20-500 for a fee of ~$5, which could potentially be continuously loaded to pay all bills while earning ~5% on nearly all spending since the netspend is a debit card.

I hope I’m making sense. Has anyone else tried this before with a blue cash preffered? With netspend? Can netspend be reloaded with the reloads at the grocery stores? Can you buy these with reloads with a credit card?

I’m trying to come up with an alternative to ink bold for those of us who don’t / can’t have one or office depot is not an option.

Keep us posted if you have any info about this or have tried it out.

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

It works, but only for small amounts over time or big amounts one time, as NetSpend has shut down almost everyone that has done more than a trivial amount of this.

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

@B-Rad — many have tried, most have gotten away with it for a few months, almost all had their accounts shut down. Stay away from any card marketed by Netspend / PayPal. Or, get it, load it up with $5k+ worth, buy money orders to clear it out and shred it once they close your account.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

I may have missed this but…

Can you for sure add money to the Bluebird card using a vanila reload card?

The post on Million Mile $ecrets made it look like doing this was not possible….

FrequentMiler
Guest

Stephanie: Yes, I’m sure you can add money using vanilla reload cards. I don’t understand MMS’ position on this. The ability to use Vanilla reload cards is very clearly spelled out in the public documentation for the Bluebird card. I also have confirmation from two different Amex reps.

Chetan
Guest
Chetan

I called vanilla and they said that their Vanilla Reloadble Netowrk Card will not work w/ the BB.
Although Amex’s Term’s say otherwise ..http://ow.ly/eAcCD

Mike
Guest
Mike

@simmy – I like to keep things simple!
The strategy is to buy walmart gcs at the biggest possible discount (2% @ PJ, was 4% – just lowered to 2.5% @ TCB) using any credit card (presumably a reward card or one on which you are working on the minimum spend for a signon bonus). Then take the walmart GC to Walmart (I personally detest this step, as I find Walmarts pretty repulsive) and load the BB with the walmart GC. Then use the BB to pay your mortgage, bills etc. Even with the lower TCB rate, its still 4.5% plus whatever reward you get for the credit card spend – pretty good for paying your mortgage, bills, etc (and NO vanillas needed)! There may even be cheaper ways to buy the Walmart GCs – I’m sure FM will inform us if there is. The key to the whole strategy is whether Walmart will allow loading to the BB using walmart gift cards. FM should run that experiment ASAP!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: Yes, of course I’ll test that once I get my Bluebird card in the mail. I’m not too keen about visiting Walmart either, but I’ll do it for you 🙂

Mike
Guest
Mike

Thanks, FM!
I would do the experiment myself but I’m holding off on getting a BB until a profitable way to fund it is identified, other than vanillas, because any strategy that is reliant on OD continuing to sell vanillas on CCs is short-lived in my opinion.

Simmy
Guest
Simmy

@Mike – FWIW my buddy and I called BB and they said they would not accept a walmart GC to fund BB. YMMV hopefully.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Spoke with an AMEX rep this morning at length and he said that at this time you can not load a walmart giftcard onto the bluebird directly. You could however (supposedly) use the walmart giftcard to purchase the re-load packs in a Walmart but this would seem to be not profitable because of the fees/small amounts.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Let’s see what FM discovers in actual experience.
The $1 fee on $100 reload packs equates to 1%, so the net benefit of loading with Walmart GCs would still be 3.5% plus whatever reward you get for the initial credit card spend. Admittedly, this is getting farther away from the value of 5 UR points currently available on the Ink-vanilla route, but I think that is short-lived at this point, so very interested in finding another way to profitably load BB, as it holds so much potential for regular bill paying.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: If Walmart really lets you buy feeder packs with gift cards then there’s plenty we can do with that. I’ll test that soon.

B-Rad
Guest
B-Rad

Thank you the info regarding netspend, a bummer, seemed too good to be true. Although, I did find something else that could be promising…I checked the vanilla reloads website to find other places where the are sold and found they are sold at savemart, aka as lucky grocery stores, where I live. Being a blue cash preferred amex guy, this seemed very lucrative. I went inside and wouldn’t you know it, there were about 25 vanilla reloads on the rack. Does anyone know if lucky earns 6% for blue cash preffered? Does lucky / save mart let you buy gift cards with amex? Any tried this before me, could be pretty sweet it if works. Could also help get around ink bold…

Ideas? Thoughts?

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

@B-Rad — you can still play the reload-it pack game, just use one of the non-nestpend pre-paid cards to do it. I’m doing this now by putting some legitimate spend on there to throw them a bone, and do periodic mortage payments and money order purchases at an obscure local pharmacy.

Marc
Guest
Marc

Just tried to load Vanilla onto new bluebird. FAIL.
Called them and they said they only take the feeder packs, not vanilla reloads. I looked back on the BB website to where it said it would take Vanilla, but I cant seem to find it. Did they take that part off?
So no Vanilla-no 5x.
Anyone else having this problem?

AJH
Guest
AJH

@Marc: did you try loading the temporary card with Vanila? That isn’t supposed to work. Just curious

AJH
Guest
AJH

FYI, the Vanilla reload option is still listed in the FAQs under “How do I deposit cash with a reload pack?” – https://bluebird.com/faqs/?linknav=us-Prepaid-Bluebird-Home-Faqs

Larry L (In NYC)
Guest
Larry L (In NYC)

@bwiflyer: “If you find a way to pay taxes with checks and get a benefit out of it in the form of miles or points, let us know.”
.
If you can load the BB card from a credit card (directly, or buying Vanilla reloads), the BB card can be used to pay anything (including taxes) by having them send a check, up to $5K per month. So, that’s potentially $60K and up to 300,000 UR points per year if you max out on Vanilla reloads at 5X, or 60,000 UR points at 1X.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I hope this isn’t true but I had an interesting discussion with the manager at the Framingham, MA Office Depot yesterday. I went in to do my monthly Vanilla Reload purchase and as I stared blankly at the gift card display wondering where they were he came over and asked if I needed help. I asked about the cards and he said they were out and sell out quickly. I’ve never had an issue before, so I was either lucky or they’ve had an increase in sales. He then proceeded to tell me people have been buying them to do “something” with credit card points, but he wasn’t exactly sure what, and that the credit card company would soon be putting a stop to it. Apparently this particular location receive lots of calls from Chase regarding the purchase of these cards. It sounded like Chase was trying to put some blame on OD for people taking advantage of these cards, but the manager said he told Chase as long as the shopper has a valid credit card, and ID he’s not going to stop them from buying a product in his store. Chase then indicated this is loophole, and they are actively working to close it. I hope it takes them awhile to do this but in the meantime grab the cards if you see them!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mike: That’s interesting, but I’ve heard lots of strange stories like this in the past 5 months, yet the deal lives on (in most places). So, I wouldn’t risk Chase’s wrath by overdoing it right now just in case the cards get pulled. If they do get pulled, we’ll move on to the next best thing.

frequent churner
Guest
frequent churner

@Mike — good info, I was reading it while licking a big block of salt.

jj
Guest
jj

i tried to use a vanilla reload on a temp bluebird from a walmart starter pack and it failed. called vanilla they said it would only work with feeder packs and that amex website was wrong. called amex and they said only the permanent blue could be loaded with vanilla reload.

fwiw

FrequentMiler
Guest

jj: Thanks for the info. Yeah, I didn’t realize that I was unclear about this point: you need the permanent version of the Bluebird card to reload it with Vanilla Reload cards.. I believe the Vanilla people to be wrong. We’ll see for sure once the permanent cards arrive in the mail.

Irishmpk
Guest
Irishmpk

Has anyone seen a “Feeder Pack” yet?? I am curious to know by what means we will be able to purchase these packs?? All I have seen at Walmart are the actual BB Starter Packs.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Irishmpk: I went to two Walmart stores today looking for feeder packs, but no luck. I don’t think they’ve been shipped to stores yet.

Irishmpk
Guest
Irishmpk

I spoke directly with BB Customer Service today and they were adamant about the fact that Vanilla Reload was a viable source for funding the Blue Bird.

Choi
Guest
Choi

I ve just signed up for a bluebird account and I think they are sending me the starter kit. anyhow, when logged in, I moved over to deposit button and scroll down to “cards”, it doesnt give me a vanilla option, just a debit option with $2 fee. how do you suppose to load vanilla card ??

FrequentMiler
Guest

Choi: Once you have the permanent Bluebird card, activate it, then go to Vanillareload.com to load the money from your reload card to the Bluebird card.

hsinaz
Guest
hsinaz

@FM: I just loaded 2.5K of ice cream (that I could get only because I happened to travel to an OD infested area) to my new AX prepaid for the first time. I have almost zero chance of getting more ice cream in the near future because they are not around in Phx. I need to drain the prepaid somehow back to my bank. What is the best way to do it? I do not have Serve. DW does. If I get BB, can I load it with this prepaid and then send a bill pay to DW/friend who will revert back? Also, would you suggest keeping the prepaid around if I cannot easily buy ice cream with my ink?

FrequentMiler
Guest

hsinaz: I don’t think you can move money from the prepaid to the Bluebird, but I will call Amex this coming week to find out for sure. In the meantime, the best option may be to find the cheapest ATM around (Costco charges $1.25, for example) and unload that way. There’s no reason not to keep the prepaid card around just in case.

ffmiles99
Guest
ffmiles99

Good find! Would recommend saving the $5 by simply going to the website instead of purchasing from WM.

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

Hope that there is a way to do this besides ice cream in the end too. I’m in an area that has them in stock usually, but I’d like to have another method than that for when those go away.

Sil
Guest
Sil

Just want everyone to know you can not reload with the Vanilla Reload cards onto the Bluebird. I had to call Vanilla Reload customer service as I could not reload my $500 onto my AMEX prepaid . I had the code “70”. Found out I am short by 2 days for the $2500 limit per 28 days. Well, the CSR thought at first I had the AMEX bluebird and that was the reason I couldn’t reload.

glen
Guest
glen

Sil: So…. a CSR told you that you couldn’t load Vanilla onto Bluebird, but you haven’t actually tried loading onto the actual Bluebird card, correct?

jason
Guest
jason

you guys are going to ruin this fee free card if you get your way. They will lock this card down or introduce fee’s all because you guys wanted to get some free miles. Stop trying to abuse and cheat the system. AMEX did a good thing for low income ppl by offering this card, and you rich ppl with your fancy cards are going to ruin it.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Jason: I have a feeling AMEX would prefer to have an account with a balance of several thousand dollars loaded electronically over an account that gets a few hundred in cash loaded at Walmart every couple weeks. In fact it will be folks that carry larger balances that in effect subsidize smaller accounts. If low income people needed to OD on ice cream to stay alive, you might have a point!

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Also a thought for bean enthusiasts: Assuming the credit card bank can’t see the actual transaction information, (only the total sale), it might make sense to either purchase another item or make one of your cards for an odd amount besides $500. If all of your OD transactions are divisible by $503.95 they are very easy to spot!

mw
Guest
mw

How many bluebirds per person? Can I order a second one?

John
Guest
John

Just loaded my bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards as well. No issues at all.

pas
Guest
pas

Thats great news, FM, and John,
Is there a way to move the balance from Amex Prepaid to the bluebird?

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

Good to see that FM and Million Mile Secrets both were able to load up permanent cards today! I think I ordered one day behind you guys, so expecting to have mine tomorrow and do the same! Woohoo!

System Administrator
Admin

Decades ago had a situation where a now bankrupt Fortune 1000 company was having me commute in to work via planes, hotels and rental cars and they were slow paying, so I had a big Sign & Travel balance. Then one day, the manager there said te company was growing so fast he was being promoted and he deligated management of my contract to a kid with one year experience who went on to use up all my good will (and AMEX line) without having secured any approvals and they wouldn’t cut a check knowing I did the work. I wound up going 120 days late and AMEX called in my whole balance. I tried to pay the $10K off about 6 years later but they wouldn’t agree to clear my credit –the debt was no longer colectable and I let it drop off my credit at 7.5 years rather than pay them $1 and reset the 7.5 year clock in the 6th year! If I now open a BB (or any other AMEX account) it would legally reactivate that nightmare here in the future…they could sue and get a 10 year judgment. No thanks. PS: that kid who knowingly ruined me like was a foreigner who (after being sacked) eventually became a VP at Oracle.

chuck
Guest
chuck

Here is a tidbit of interesting information. I discovered today that American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit cards earn 6% cash rebate at Wal-mart NEIGHBORHOOD grocery stores. This type of Wal-mart is different from the big-box discount department store locations and Sam’s. So if you have this type of store in your vacinity, purchase your Wal-mart gift cards there and then use them to purchase bird feeder packs if you think that might be a beneficial way of loading up your Bluebird account.

jennifer
Guest
jennifer

We just got those blue bird card we’ve withdrawn $278.00 and for some reason will no longer allow anymore ATM withdrawals!!!???? I read the daily spending limit is $500 a day. So wtt?

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[…] Get one. Nuff said. Look at this Frequent Miler explanation. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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[…] running, from homeWhy Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself)Vanilla ReloadablesBluebird takes flight and changes the gameLearning to […]

paul
Guest
paul

Hi there, thank you so much for this post.
I tried to pay my citimortgage loans with bluebird card online. But I kept getting the error message about my account number. My account number ends with something like “-2”; it seems that bluebird sees it as incorrect. Do you have this problem? How to solve it? Thanks.

FrequentMiler
Guest

paul: I haven’t tried a real Bill Pay yet. It sounds like there are still some bugs for Amex to work out.

Dave Op: I’m amazed to hear that you don’t have any payments (or cash withdrawals?) that can’t be made via credit card. If that’s true then yeah maybe Bluebird isn’t for you.

Thanh P.: Yes the billpay feature is amazing, but I don’t believe it is a “loophole” to be closed. Amex intentionally wants this card to compete with traditional checking accounts. To do that, it needs this feature and they even plan to expand it next year with a heck writing capability (ie. you will be able to write checks yourself)

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[…] there patiently waiting for me!  I ordered it last week after reading FrequentMiler’s post, “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game”.  If you have no idea what Bluebird is, check out that post.  One of the critical pieces of the […]

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[…] latest buzz on how to earn miles is through Bluebird, a prepaid American Express product.  While FrequentMiler has done a great job summarizing the highlights, the general premise is that if you load money onto the Bluebird AmEx (using a miles/points earning […]

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[…] week when Frequent Miler announced American Express’s release of its brand new multi-purpose prepaid card, Bluebird, I […]

emily
Guest
emily

does no forex fee mean that i can write a check in another currency for free? i live in canada, where atms are never free with a non-bank card, but i’d love to pay my rent this way with the check method.

FrequentMiler
Guest

emily: “no foreign exchange fee” means that when you use the card as a credit card internationally there is no extra fee (many cards charge 2.5% or 3%). I don’t know if you can use bill pay internationally. I doubt it.

TK
Guest
TK

How likely is it AMEX tracks if you use an Amex Bus. Gold CC to buy vanilla cards for the AMEX bluebird card? It’s probably harder for them to track with Chase since its two diff companies. Can they close accounts for that if you are legitimately making the purchases?

FrequentMiler
Guest

TK: I think it is unlikely that they would track that. They run their credit and prepaid divisions separately. But, I could be wrong 🙂

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[…] many of you know about Blue Bird and how to load it with Vanilla Reload. The limitation with Blue Bird is that you can’t load with a credit card at Walmart. With […]

Blue Skye
Guest
Blue Skye

I understand the part about no forex fees when you use the BB card int’l for a purchase. What I want to know (before diving into this) is if one can use the BB card at an int’l ATM to withdrawal cash, without having a 3% conversion fee? I cannot find anywhere on the BB site that mentions any ATM fees other than if one doesn’t use the MoneyPass ATM.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Blue Skye: There is no fee to use BB at international ATMs, but not all international ATMs will work. You can call Amex to ask where to find compatible ATMs based on where you will be traveling.

Blue Skye
Guest
Blue Skye

Off to New Zealand next month and was looking for a way to avoid a fee for cash withdrawal at ATMs. Thanks for that suggestion.

Blue Skye
Guest
Blue Skye

data point:
called AmEx, got a very helpful CSR. there is no transaction/conversion fee for ATM withdrawals (aside from the usual fee the owner of the ATM may charge. usually $1.50 to $4.00).

the CSR also looked up the ATMs that would accept this card. He had a bit of trouble trying to find which exchange bank site/chart they used for foreign transactions but I am hoping that it won’t be too far off from OANDA or XE dot com.

PatMike
Guest
PatMike

Not sure where else they are being advertised but Bluebird ads are all over CNN. I would think that’s not their target market. They are probably advertising on the reality shows, no doubt !

Chase is losing money with our Inks; Bluebird is losing money with us, but we are the most inexpensive way for them to advertise their brands.
Chase also wants the business market from Amex. With the Plus being a credit card, my guess is that many people (not us ! – LOL) will end up carrying a balance.
The frequent flyer blogosphere also has been great marketing for the Bluebird. For every one of us, there are many that will hear about it from us and use it in a profitable way for Amex/Walmart. Also, a lot of us have visited a Walmart this week. I know I did and I ended up buying a scooter for a grandson that I was going to buy at Toys R Us (with a giftcard I was going to get at Staples for 5X). Also got Halloween stuff and got a glimpse of the new Walmart food store. Pretty impressive.

Instead of looking at ourselves as Chase/Amex/Bluebird leeches, we should see ourselves as free marketers for these products.
Most of your readers are savvy, but many who hear about these deals through the blogs and blog readers will use them as the companies’ intended.

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[…] with a mile earning debit card and have been playing with it while ignoring my wife. Frequent Miler says that Bluebird “changes the game” and I agree with him that there is a lot of potential! However, I just hope that we can use Vanilla […]

Ronald
Guest
Ronald

NB: Vanilla reload NOT working!!! Vanilla CSR Yvette claimed the reload cards are NOT for AE BB – ONLY for AE pre-paids!!!

smitty06
Guest
smitty06

They are working. Many, many people have successfully loaded their BB and paid bills already.

PatMike
Guest
PatMike

Ronald: – Are you loading directly from the Vanilla Reload site (https://www.vanillareload.com/) ??? If so, it should work.

Sam90802
Guest
Sam90802

This is huge, particularly for those of us who have been unemployed for a while. I’m just getting back to work but my credit has suffered and my options have been greatly reduced…so thank you to the genius at AMEX for dreaming this one up!

mo
Guest
mo

Does your credit card company charge you a fee for cash advance for loading money onto bluebird?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sam90802: I’m glad you’re excited about it!

mo: almost all credit cards charge a fee AND interest on cash advances. In general its best to avoid cash advances from credit cards

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[…] running, from homeWhy Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself)Vanilla ReloadablesBluebird takes flight and changes the gameLearning to […]

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

This is really exciting, especially being able to pay for bills that do not allow credit cards. What if you live in Manhattan, with no Walmarts near by, how would you go about reloading the Bluebird card?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Daniel: Manhattan residents have a big problem because Vanilla Reload cards aren’t available there either. Your best bet is to look for a backup plan.

Mary Kate
Guest
Mary Kate

I just bought a $500 bean card and the mgr asked if I was doing it for points or for fraud. Ha ha I thought that was funny, I said “Well, points of course.” He said “the bad guys” use these cards.

Then when I got home hours later to reload it, I got error 29 and had to call in. The automated load didn’t work either, so then the CS rep at Van RN said “oh you can’t load onto the Bluebird card.” I asked if she could please try it because I swear I thought I did it last week. It worked. She didn’t speculate on why I got the invalid code number online or automated load on the phone.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mary Kate: Great story. Thanks for sharing your experience with the reload card too. That could be very helpful for others.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

@Brent post 107-
I had this same error, but it cleared up when I entered the 9 digit zip code for payments (leave out the dash). Still nervous to try it, gonna make sure I use that memo field.

Steven Lu
Guest
Steven Lu

FrequentMIler:

Do you know if you can load up Multiple Gift Cards Visa/Amex onto the BlueBird card at walmart just like the Target Amex?

Thanks so much!!!

Nick
Guest
Nick

Ok, I am trying to get started on the BlueBird/Serve cards (been reading a while, just can’t get my head wrapped around it). BlueBird in wifes name/Serve in my name. OD’s around me have no Vanilla cards left (DC area). I saw Amex Prepaids at my OD. I saw some Mio/Greendots at my Safeway as well. I was hoping to use the bluebird to pay for the mortgage/car payments.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Nick: you won’t be able to get points for loading Bluebird unless 1) you can find Vanilla Reload cards; or 2) you load at the Walmart register with a points earning debit card

Marie: No, you’re limited to $5K per month altogether

Nick
Guest
Nick

so, I have no OD’s with Vanilla cards around where I live. I did get a BlueBird card, what are my best options?

Marie
Guest
Marie

Can I combine Vanilla reloads and Swipe reloads to $10,000 max per month? Or I can only load max $5000 per month by either Vanilla and/or Swipe?
Thanks!!!

DealsSeeker
Guest

I ordered the Bluebird online, received an email that I should call in to verify my identity, but I can’t get through! Anyone else having this problem?

FrequentMiler
Guest

DealsSeeker: I haven’t seen that issue before

xina: It took less than a week for me to get my card, but they could be going slower now that they’re in high demand.

xina
Guest
xina

FM, I ordered the bluebird card online and it’s been a week now. How long does it take to receive the card? Thanks!

Sergey
Guest
Sergey

FrequentMiler: Can I order personal checks (since I know bank name, account number and routing number) for BB and use them to pay my bills (service man, plumber, etc)? I guess it *should* work, since BB is supposed to be a checking account alternative.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sergey: That’s a great idea, but I don’t know if it would work. Amex says they are adding paper checks as a feature next year so a better bet is just to wait until then.

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[…] running, from homeWhy Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself)Vanilla ReloadablesBluebird takes flight and changes the gameLearning to […]

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[…] running, from homeWhy Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself)Vanilla ReloadablesBluebird takes flight and changes the gameLearning to […]

Harry @ PF Pro
Guest

I don’t think bluebird is that great unless you have the chase ink. Then it will def help you unload some of your vanilla cards instead of putting them all on amex prepaid cards.

If I go to OD and buy $1000(2 $500) worth of vanilla reload cards, don’t I have to pay $8(2 $3.95) in fees. On my regular cards where I get 1% cash back I’m making only $2 per $1k out of all this. Don’t think so.

Gonna wait a couple weeks and see if a beter offer for the ink plus comes out..

Mike
Guest
Mike

I could never get anyone on the 800#
My email was put in wrong and they gave me the run around about resetting it. That’s bull

Martin
Guest
Martin

I’m having a hard time understanding how the Vanilla reload cards are worthwhile even with a standard awards card. According to my calculations, $1,000 worth of Vanilla cards will cost you $1007.90. 1000 points when valued at $.02 per point would be worth $20. So you would basically be making $12 or 1.2% on this example. Is that worth the time and hassle ? I can understand the math with a 5X card, but not a 1X card. Am I missing something ?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Martin: You have it right. There are a few times (besides 5X) where it is clearly worth the hassle: 1) to help meet minimum spend requirements for new credit card sign-ups; and 2) to help meet big spend bonuses (for example, spend $30K on a Delta Reserve card and get 15K bonus miles AND 15K elite qualifying miles). If none of those situations apply, then it just depends on how badly you want to earn points. Many people will gladly pay .8 cents per point for SPG points, for example. Is it worth the effort? That’s up to each individual to decide.