Managing multiples: Bluebird, REDbird, Serve

Manage multiple blluebird, REDbird, Serve

Note: As of 10/13/15 the Target REDcard (REDbird) can only be loaded with cash in-store at Target. Gift cards and/or debit cards no longer work to load REDcard. For more info, see: Here is the REDbird memo, “Cash is the only tender guests can use”

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

Bluebird, REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard), and Serve are prepaid reloadable cards from American Express.  The cards are marketed as no-fee checking account alternatives, but they also can be used to increase credit card spend (to earn rewards).  The key is to find ways to use rewards credit cards to buy Visa/MasterCard debit gift cards, at a low price, that can be used in-store to reload these prepaid cards.  Bluebird and Serve can be reloaded at Walmart.  REDbird can be reloaded at Target.  All three have a hard limit of $5,000 in “cash” (really cash or in-store debit or reload card) reloads per calendar month.  Serve, additionally, can be reloaded with Amex credit cards online up to $1,000 per month.  Once money is loaded to these cards, it can be withdrawn for free in a number of ways: in-network ATMs, link bank account and withdraw online, and pay bills for free with their online bill pay service (Bluebird also offers paper checks).

For complete background details, please see:

Only one per person, but…

Each person is only allowed to have one Bluebird, REDbird, or Serve account.  You can’t even have one Bluebird and one REDbird, for example.  You have to choose just one.  And, if you’re satisfied with $5,000 worth of increased credit card spend per month, one card is plenty.

If you want more than one card, the key is to convince family or friends to sign up for cards and to let you manage them.  Your friend must be 18 or older and must have a valid US social security number.  Your friend won’t incur any costs, nor will there be any impact on their credit report.  Still, I recommend being generous with anyone willing to setup an account for you.  My advice is to offer them free hotel nights using your points, free flights, or whatever you think is appropriate.

Friend Signup Details:

  • Serve and Bluebird can be ordered online for free.  REDbird requires first getting a temp card in-store before registering online.
  • Amex uses public records to ensure that the person applying is who they say they are.  You are best off having your friend setup the account with their own address & phone number if they do not live with you.
  • Amex often requests uploading proof of identity.  You or your friend may have to upload photos of their drivers license and social security card, for example.
  • Each account needs to be linked to a unique email address.  I recommend setting one up for your friend and giving them access to it during the signup process.  You may need access to emails from the account later on so its best not to have your friend use their own email address.
  • Each account needs a password.  Your friend shouldn’t use a password that they use for other things since they’ll have to share it with you.
  • Each account needs a four digit PIN.  Your friend shouldn’t use a PIN that they use for other things since they’ll have to share it with you.
  • Each account needs a security question and answer.  I’d recommend telling your friend ahead of time what to choose.

Why managing multiple cards can be a challenge.

Over time, I’ve increased my family and friend collection of “bird” cards and I now manage 7 altogether.  At the time of this writing, all 7 are REDbird cards, but I may convert one or two to Serve when I get a chance.  There are a number of reasons why managing multiple cards can be challenging:

  1. Loads and load limits: Each card is limited to $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month of in-store loads.  How can you keep track of which cards have already been loaded and to what extent?  It can be a huge pain to log into each account regularly to check on it.
  2. Name checking cashiers: When loading friends’ cards in-store at the register, you may encounter a cashier who wants to compare the name on the card to your drivers license.  How do you deal with those situations?
  3. Logging into accounts: People have encountered problems with logging in and out of different accounts from the same computer and browser.  At one point in time, for example, Bluebird bill payments were getting sent to the wrong billers!  How can you make sure that things like that don’t happen to you?
  4. Withdrawing money: When linking a bank account to your Bluebird, REDbird, or Serve account, you will likely be asked to upload proof that the bank account is yours (i.e. the account holder’s).  As a result, you probably don’t want to link bank accounts for a card in your friend’s name.  If you can’t withdraw to a bank account, then what’s the best way to get your money back?

I have no doubt that there are many good solutions to the above challenges, but I’ll present here the solutions I’ve found to work…

Keep track of loads and load limits

I have a wallet that I use just for this purpose.  It has three separate slots.  At the beginning of each month, I put all 7 of my cards in the front slot.  When I load a card in-store, I make sure to load one card with the full $2,500 allowed per day.  I then put the card back into my wallet, but into the middle slot.  This way, I know that cards in the middle slot have been loaded half way to the full $5,000 allowed per month.  When I later reload a card from the middle slot, I then move it to the last slot.  This tells me that the card is done for the month.

Over the coarse of the first couple of weeks each month, I make sure to load each card halfway ($2,500) before “finishing off” any of the cards for the month.  This is important only because I sometimes get near to the end of a month and realize that I have a lot of loads yet to accomplish.  I don’t usually like to do more than one or two $2,500 reloads per day, but if necessary I could do all 7 in one day.  If I had, instead, completed the loads for four of my cards and had three cards remaining with $5,000 yet to reload, then it would necessarily take me two calendar days to max out the reloads (since each reload is limited to $2,500 per day).

A generalized approach would be to use a wallet with just two slots.  Put all of your cards in slot 1 at the beginning of the month.  As you load each card with whatever amount you’re comfortable with (e.g. $500, $1,000, etc.), move it to the next slot.  Once all cards have been moved to slot 2, move them all back to slot 1 and start again.  As long as you can remember the monthly total load amount represented by slot 2, you’ll know where you are in the process.

Dealing with name checking cashiers

In my experience, it has been extremely rare to encounter a cashier who compares the name on my “bird” card to the name on my drivers license, but it has happened.  My approach to this is to always reload my own card last each month.  This way, if I encounter a name checking cashier, I can at least reload my own card (since I know I haven’t maxed it out yet).  Then, I try to avoid that cashier in the future.  In some cases it may even be necessary to avoid that particular store in the future if they’ve established a store-wide rule about this.

Logging into accounts

As I mentioned above, its possible to encounter serious technical issues if you log in and out of different accounts using the same computer and browser.  There are a few good solutions to this:

  1. Use a different browser for each person’s card.  For example, I use Chrome for one account, Firefox for another, IE for a third, and Opera for a fourth.
  2. Use your browser’s private mode (incognito mode in Chrome).  Launch a new private browser window each time you log into a different account.  You may have to close and reopen all browser windows each time you change accounts.
  3. Turn off cookies or clear them each time.
  4. Use Chrome’s “Switch Person” capability.  I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I’m pretty sure it would work and would be the easiest and fastest option.  So, yes, it is high on my to-do list to do this going forward.  You will need a unique Gmail account for each person to do this, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same email address that was used to register their bird account (but it would be simpler if it was).

Manage multiple blluebird, REDbird, Serve

Withdrawing money

Without linking a bank account, there are three options for withdrawing money from your friend’s account (it’s really your money, so its OK to do so):

  1. Pay your own bills.  For example, I regularly pay my own credit card bills from the accounts I manage.
  2. Send yourself money.  Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve have the ability to Send Money to other people who have similar cards.  You can send up to $2,500 per month.  So, for example, you could log into your friend’s account and Send Money to yourself (make sure to send to the email address linked to your bird card).  Once the money is in your own account, you can withdraw to a linked bank account (Settings… Withdraw Funds).
  3. Withdraw cash.  With REDbird cards, withdraw cash for free from any Allpoint ATM.  With Bluebird or Serve, withdraw cash for free from any MoneyPass ATM.  To me, this is a time consuming and unpleasant way to unload $5,000 per month so I don’t use this option.

Reader suggestions?

How about you? Do you have any tips to share for making it easier to setup and manage multiple Bluebird, REDbird, and/or Serve accounts?

Last updated on January 8th, 2018

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 »

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Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Very informative! Thank you.
All the WM around me have a $1k transaction limit so maxing the Serve/BB daily load limit would take three transactions. Has been holding me back a little from adding a second card. Anyone else deal with this?

Eric
Guest
Eric

How do you load $1K in a transaction if the maximum gift card amount is $500?

Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor
Member

You can ask the cashier to do a split tender. Basically they do a $1,000 load with two $500 payments. I find that this often confuses the cashier and have always had more success just telling them that I want to do two different $500 loads.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Wouldn’t asking to split tender raise some red flags and make it more likely for the cashier to ask to see your cards? Could you simply press “no” and change the amount yourself when the machine asks if the amount is correct when it asks for $1K or does the cashier have to be informed of the split tender?

Charlemagne
Guest
Charlemagne

I’ve always asked my cashiers to split tender for Redbird. I’m at the point that I tell them to press K1/K7, and the card is a Debit card before they even ask. As long as you don’t come off shady, I’ve never had any of the cashiers (normally 3 different ones every month) ever ask about it. My favorite CS rep has even got it memorized: “$495.05 on the first card, sir?”

Eric
Guest
Eric

Why would you load $495.05 instead of $500?

Charlemagne
Guest
Charlemagne

$500-$4.95 VGC fee.

Eric
Guest
Eric

That doesn’t make sense. Shawn and I were clearly speaking about splitting tender on loading Serve. That means you would be using your Visa gc which you would have already paid for previously. There wouldn’t be any fees involved. I have never loaded Redbird and know nothing about it but I’m guessing it works the same way Serve works. Why would you pay Visa gc fees when loading Redbird?

Curious George
Guest
Curious George

@Eric- Charlemagne is loading $495.05 on the VGC so the transaction totals an even $500 with the fee included rather than loading $500 so the total is $504.95. I do the same thing. It’s easier to keep track of what’s left on my AGCs that way.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Curious George, thanks for the explanation. So you are saying that you use a $500 Amex gc to purchase a $495.05 + $4.95 fee Visa gc somewhere and then load the $495.05 Visa gc to Redbird at Target, correct? I would think it would be more of a pain to ask to load such an odd number each time. No one’s ever given you a funny face? Do you ever run into trouble using an Amex gc to buy a Visa gc?

Bushe
Guest
Bushe

A tip I found useful is that you can add a period to gmail accounts and it will be detected as a different account but will go to the same gmail account.

Example:
mypointsemail@gmail.com
my.pointsemail@gmail.com
my.points.email@gmail.com

All emails will go to a single gmail account but can be registered to different Serve/RedCard/Bluebird

Richard valanzola
Guest

I’m concerned about having my redbird account closed down by too much m.s. is this a concern with this procedure?

Martha Barton
Guest
Martha Barton

How long does it take you to establish PINS for all the gift cards you buy to load the Prepaid cards? Do you have any tips?

Chris
Guest

Manspender.com! It will help you track your cards and what you’ve spent on them each month.

LeAnna
Guest

We are no newbies to the travel hacking schemes, but we have yet to fully utilize these types of cards to our advantage, really only because we are currently stationed overseas! Any way to use or do these without actually being present in the US/ able to physically go into the stores?

Ang
Guest
Ang

Would you by any chance know if the T-Mobile rebate cards issued by metabank work? I tried doing a search, but can’t find anything. The plus side is that the card has my name on it. Thanks!

David
Guest
David

For me the hardest part is getting people onboard. I only have 3 at the moment. One took well over a year, and only agreed after VRs were not an option and I pay her a small fee.

Is there something that can be done for people of opposite genders to have only their first initial on the card? I prefer to use Kate for that one, but she hasn’t been into threesomes lately.

Radster
Guest
Radster

“Id like to also add some funds to my girlfriends/wife’s card”… has worked every-time for me (without question).

Cheryl
Guest
Cheryl

Hi Greg, Thanks for posting this, very helpful and timely! I just added 2 REDbirds to my wallet. 🙂

One question though, you haven’t had(or heard of) any issue with transferring funds from REDbirds to bank accounts? I was doing that regularly a few months ago, but then thought I had read somewhere that it was risky behavior as it could lead to a shutdown. It would be very helpful to be able to transfer to my bank as I try to avoid paying certain CC companies in this manner.

Radster
Guest
Radster

I think most people are overly cautious on this matter. I did have an RB account temporarily frozen pending my bank account being “verified” but since then, no problems.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Sorry for the off topic question. I only know that BlueBird accepts Simon Visa Gift cards to reload. Is there an article you can point me to, that will show what other kind of “gift cards” work with all 3 (blue, Red, and Serve)? I haven’t loaded my bluebird in quite a few months, since I did not have to meet any spending limits lately. Thank you for your time.

Phong @ FinancialBasis.com
Guest

How do have multiple accounts to manufacture spending with on Serve online loads? Or is that not possible because you have to use your own credit/debit card?

Does multiple accounts only apply for loading via Walmart/Target?

Phong @ FinancialBasis.com
Guest

*How do you have

Francine
Guest
Francine

Im certainly on board with MS but frankly I have a bit of a hard time with this one, especially in light of the comment;
For me the hardest part is getting people onboard. I only have 3 at the moment. One took well over a year, and only agreed after VRs were not an option and I pay her a small fee.
Just how hard are some of these “friends” being pressed and am curious why those who canvass for friends consider it ok practice when there appears to be no benefit to the friend. Sorry guys but it kinda smacks of the ugly side of MS to me when the friends have to be coerced to such an extent.

Radster
Guest
Radster

Just be open and honest about it.. no harm done.

David
Guest
David

My “friend” is my sister, who has gotten plenty of benefits in that I have helped her find credit card money making deals she wouldn’t on her own, and I have helped her spend or liquidate money. I’ve never “charged” her for my time, and sometimes I’ve liquidated stuff at a loss if you consider opportunity cost for me. She also gets free paper and ink supplied from me via Staples.

She like many people is suspicious of what we do and worried about how this will affect her credit. Even though it’s not related to one’s credit, not everybody understands it. She also has 2 young kids, so she’s got other things on her mind.

I don’t see how you can rectify the statement that I pay her a fee and your assumption that there is no benefit from her.

I wasn’t calling my sister every day to try and convince her. I mentioned it maybe 3 times over a year. Your attempt to paint me as a pariah that goes around lurching in society with the sole goal of getting people to give me their SSN is mistaken.

calwatch
Guest
calwatch

I take my mom around during Small Business Saturday and sign her up for all the Amex Deals to get free stuff. That’s worth $200+ a year alone.

janol
Guest
janol

problem around here is there is no redbird and I can’t for the life of me find a store that will allow the purchase of multiple $500 giftcards with credit cards, safeway requires manage approval and limits to one. And your doing 7x$5000 a month?

Eric
Guest
Eric

FM, I only use my own Serve but I’m curious about something you wrote. You wrote that if the cashier wants to match up the name you give them your Serve. The one time I was asked for ID I had already given them my Serve card BEFORE they asked for ID. It would be too late at that point to switch to your card. Please advise how you handled or would handle that type of situation.

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

if questioned you could say it’s your roommates card and your saving him/her a trip to the store to load it….after all you are putting money on the card, not taking it out….as far as I know it is not against the T&C to load another persons card, so any cashier that thinks it is, is wrong…but best not to argue. I have family members with the same last name, so it is reasonable to say I’m loading my wifes card as well as my own…they cant expect us each to make a trip to WM to put money on our cards, can they?….I have 3 cards and save mine for last…I do my brothers twice for $500 at a cashier, then use another cashier for my wife’s again $500 twice, then load mine at the Kate for $500 twice….if denied for name I can use my own card and then load the other card at the Kate.

Miles per Day
Guest

Why stop at friends and family? Get your coworkers, siblings of friends, friends of friends involved too! Haha

http://milesperday.com/2015/06/how-to-scale-up-on-your-monthly-ms/

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Why not cut a deal with the homeless guys on the corner?

PatMike
Guest
PatMike

I once opened a Redbird for a preson related to my husband, with permission. Coincidently, I subsequently received a phone call from a collection agency looking for said person. That scared me off of loading and putting in jeapordy thousands of $$ on that card. I closed it.
Paranoia? Maybe…but is this an issue we should be concerned with?

Charlemagne
Guest
Charlemagne

Hey, a couple of questions.

1)Isn’t it risky to load the full $2500 per day or in increments of $500? I was scared by the shutdowns for loading in increments of $500 on RB, and one guy said he was shut down for always loading $750. Nowadays I split 3x$500 onto two cards so I’m loading something like $789.12 on one and $710.88 on the other.
2)Also, how long before draining? I typically load just under $5, and then wait 7 days till I use BillPay to pay off my credit cards. How long do you guys typically wait? I definitely saw shutdowns for instantly withdrawing after loads.
3) How fast do you guys drain? I normally split the $5k into three BillPays spread over 2-3 weeks.

Kneemuh
Guest
Kneemuh

I manage six (6) REDbird accounts, and I have never had any issue linking my own Schwab Checking account number to all six cards.

The only catch is that you will need to add a “leading zero” to the account number each time, since it will otherwise detect that the checking account number is already in use with a different REDbird.

REDbird #1: Checking Acct: 1234567890
REDbird #2: Checking Acct: 01234567890
REDbird #3: Checking Acct: 001234567890

…you see where this is going.

JL
Guest
JL

Kneemuh, you rock. I’m in the process of trying to activate a third Serve card and the first two worked with the same bank account into but Serve is now complaining on the third card. Appending the 0 to the account number worked. Now, I’m awaiting the trial deposits. Thank you!!!

Yong
Guest
Yong

Just a comment on Chrome’s multiple user management. You can add an unlimited number of users, and none of them have to be linked to an actual Google account.

You go into your preferences, and under People, just hit Add Person, type in the name, and you’re done. The first screen that pops up within that new profile will ask to you log in with your Google account, but you can just click the “No thanks” link below and to the left of the login box.

Corridor!
Guest
Corridor!

I cancelled my RB via the online method. Then I went to apply for a BB and it says that I am still a RB member. I did this a couple of weeks ago and I am still greeting the error.

Do you have any recommendations on how to get around this?

TIA

tex
Guest
tex

It looks like you buy $35,000 worth of GC each month, right? So over a year that is 420K points, but it costs about 1% due to the GC fee, right? So you are paying $4,200 for 420,000 points + alot of time and energy. Is it worth it or am I missing something?

For paying minimum spend for a new card it seems good, but I don’t see the benefit on this scale.

janol
Guest
janol

420k x 5x ink points is 2100000 miles

Tex
Guest
Tex

except I thought he said they were bought at Kroger and CVS or something. Plus, INK limits you to 50K

Chris
Guest
Chris

Ink limits you to $50K in spend at 5x categories (250,000 points annually), not 50K in points.

italdesign
Guest
italdesign

Chrome’s switch person feature is a God-send for managing multiple accounts.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Great post……….Macerich mall offices now sell gc for $1k for $3.95………can’t use a AMEX GC to buy…..have to use a Biz card but an SPG earning 1.25 miles drops cost per mile to .316 cents per mile…….I’ll do that all day long………even if it takes a little while for those sweet ladies to process my 15k………cuts down Target cashier time too………

Eric
Guest
Eric

They allowed you to purchase $15K of gc at one time?

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Yes…..I put 8k, 6k, and 1k on three different biz cards……….Everybody is happy………..

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

First month 5k….next month 10k……then 15k……….

EE
Guest
EE

No AMEX GC, but can you use AMEX biz cards to buy?

justSaying
Guest
justSaying

yes

Chris
Guest
Chris

I know Simon offered $1k giftcards with a business account after verifying your business with them. I had no cue about Macerich’s business offerings. Are you saying as long as you have a business credit card you can purchase 1k? No business verification necessary.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Showed. Then tax ID IRS letter. Easy process

PatMike
Guest
PatMike

Macerich has always sold the $1K cards to “corporate” clients. Be careful with the $1K cards. I eventually got shut down at Macerich for doing them. Corp order dept. apparently monitors them. The $500s seem to be under the radar.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

How many 1k cards were you buying? Do they continue to sell you 500 cards?

PatMike
Guest
PatMike

Actually, I wasn’t buying many $1K cards before they shut me down. My mall needed “approval from corporate” a day or so before I picked up my cards. I bought $10,000 at a time, and liquidated them ASAP. Only did it a few times a month for a few months before they told me they were instructed not to sell to my EIN anymore, as I was “not using them as indicated”.
The mall is actually not as convenient to me as Simon, so without the $1K cards, I don’t go there. I’ve also cut down on Simon, and don’t do business orders there anymore and stick to the $2500/day limit, under the radar…
FYI…An extremely heavy-MSer “titan” told me NOT to do the Macreich $1Ks, and says he doesn’t do them because of rampant shut downs. As usual, YMMV.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

I was planning on buying 9k a month TOTAL…….and the mall lady said that corporate had to approve prior to the actual sale…….

EE
Guest
EE

I’m a total noob, but I’m really excited to learn more about MS. Does anyone have a detailed primer of sorts on MS and its various forms/approaches? I tried drawing my own flow chart just to get my head around it (get card with promo, buy this, load that, pay card off, etc), which helped, but I still feel a bit lost and confused on the real nuts and bolts of how to do it best. How to use Serve, for instance, really confounds me, particularly in light of the limitations it seems to now have. I use online portals a lot for purchases all over, so that I’m familiar with, but in this context I feel less confident, too. Love this site!

Jason
Guest
Jason

mint works pretty well for serve, but unfortunately Redbird is still in beta.

Jay Bort
Guest
Jay Bort

I live in Florida where RedBird is not available. I’ll be in PA next week, can I pick up a card there and reload it in Florida?
Thanks!

Suzzanne
Guest
Suzzanne

For the time being I only want to manage 2 RB’s, mine and husbands. He has a temporary RB, I still have a BB.

1. Can I use my BB to load his RB so I can close my BB?
2. Does RB have a feature to set up auto bill pay or do you have to remember to make the payment every month? (sorry, I looked at RB intro and couldn’t find the answer).
3. I’m making a list of bills that are currently on autopay with other cards but don’t earn more that 1X pts/miles. Those are ones I want to autopay with RB accounts. But maybe there is a cc which earns pts/miles for these. Please tell me if there are good cc’s for these or if I should just stick with RB. They are:
AAA auto and home insurance, Freepress, Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison, water, house alarm

NoonRadar
Guest

1) No, Redbird can’t be loaded with Amex, which Bluebird/Redbird is. Only with pin-based gift cards (besides debit and cash).
2) Redbird doesn’t have auto bill pay. I use Google calendar to remind me of such things.

Han
Guest

Pin based cards are not working from what I understand today.

Mike B
Guest
Mike B

Greg,
You say you pay your credit card bills from the other accounts you manage. When you fill out the “Pay Bill” option do you put anything on the memo line to indicate it was meant for your account even though its being paid by a different person’s BB account? Have you even encountered a problem from the CC company paying your CC from a different person’s BB account?

John
Guest
John

This has worked well until recently when I have had a couple VGC’s declined for an invalid pin…I reset one online and it still did not work the second time. Have you considered outlining a workaround for this issue? I still have the purchase and activation recipes to file a claim if need be. I am looking to reduce the “hassle factor” going forward.
Thank you!
John

trackback

[…] and sticking to a routine.  Details of the routine can be found in yet another post: Managing multiples: Bluebird, REDbird, Serve.  In that post, I mentioned that a good way to manage multiple accounts online is to use […]

zadikim
Guest
lauren
Guest
lauren

Can I load my greenserve card with a reloadit pak online via the reloadit site, then log on to my serve account to pay bills?

Han
Guest

I tried to load my Target card at two So Cal locations and failed. I was told they are working on their systems and you are unable to load with a debit card. Anyone else have this issue?

NoonRadar
Guest

Han, usually–but not always–when Target cashiers say such things nowadays that’s because they don’t know how to work the new registers. Take a look at my guide and see if you can gently nudge them through the steps: https://goo.gl/gjNp7Y

If they don’t let you swipe, that’ another story.