Switching between Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve

Note: As of October 13, 2015, 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), Serve, and Serve with Softcard…  These are prepaid reloadable American Express cards intended to be viable fee-free checking account alternatives.  Even better, they are all good choices for those who primarily want to earn miles and points.  The problem is… each person can have only one.  And, each has its own strengths.  For details see:

So, what if you decide you want to switch from one type of card to another?  The key is to close the old account and then open a new one.  You can’t simply call Amex and ask them to switch you over.

Here are a few pointers:

1. Optional: Max out your old card early in the month

Each card has a $5,000 in-store + reload card load limit per calendar month.  If you want to maximize reloads within one month, you can load up the full $5,000 to your old card before switching to the new card.  If you initiate the switch early enough in the calendar month you should have time to take advantage of the new card’s $5,000 limit as well.

I do not recommend switching back and forth every month in order to load $10,000 every month. I believe that would be a sure way to get flagged by Amex.  They would most likely stop approving any new cards for you.

2. Empty your old account of all funds

Before you switch cards, you have to empty all funds from your old account.  The quickest way to unload up to $2500 is to send the money to a friend or family member who also has one of these cards.  Keep in mind that all of these cards can send money to each other: you can send money from Bluebird to REDbird; from REDbird to Serve; from Serve to Bluebird; etc.  Each card also has a calendar month $2,500 limit for these “Send Money Transactions”.

You can also unload funds through ATM withdrawals up to $750 per day and up to $2,000 per month.  With Bluebird and Serve, MoneyPass ATM withdrawals are fee free.  With REDbird, Allpoint ATM withdrawals are fee free.  With all three, the ATM machine may say that it is going to charge you a fee, but you’ll see on your receipt that it did not.

If you use Bill Pay or withdraw to your bank account to empty your account, it’s a good idea to wait for those transactions to completely clear before cancelling your old card just in case something goes wrong.

3. Cancel your old account online

For some strange reason, when people call to cancel accounts, those accounts often seem to get stuck in a state of limbo somewhere between open and closed. This can make it difficult to open a new card.  As a result, I highly recommend cancelling online.

To cancel REDbird or Serve online, log into your account, click on the menu button and then click “Profile”.  Scroll to the bottom of the screen until you find something like this:

image

Click the “Close Account” button and follow the instructions on screen.

With Bluebird, it’s just a little bit more complicated.  Bluebird doesn’t show the Close Account option online, but there’s a simple work-around.  Please see: How to cancel Bluebird online.

4. Consider using a new email address for your new card

Many people have successfully switched from one type of card to another without changing their email addresses, but others have had trouble until they tried using a different email address.  If you use Google’s GMail, you can change your email address without changing where the email goes by adding a period somewhere in your email name.  For example, if your email address is someonecool@gmail.com, you can use someone.cool@gmail.com instead.  Emails sent to either address will go to the same inbox.

UPDATE 9/7/2015: Several readers have told me that the process actually works more smoothly if you use the same email address as you used before.

5. Sign up for your new card

Each type of card has a different process for signing up:

Bluebird:

  1. Browse here: www.bluebird.com.

  2. Press “Register”

  3. Click “No” to the question “Did you purchase a Temporary Card at Walmart?” (unless you did buy a temporary card at Walmart)

  4. Answer all of the remaining questions.  It’s OK to use the same information as you used with your old card (but see step 4, above, regarding email addresses).

  5. If all goes well, it should take somewhere between a week and 10 days for your new card to arrive

Serve:

  1. Browse here: serve.com.

  2. Press “Get a Card”

  3. Click “No” to the question “Did you purchase a Temporary Card?” (unless you did buy a temporary card)

  4. Answer all of the remaining questions.  It’s OK to use the same information as you used with your old card (but see step 4, above, regarding email addresses).

  5. If all goes well, it should take somewhere between a week and 10 days for your new card to arrive

Serve with SoftCard:

Serve with SoftCard is just like Serve, but with higher online load limits.  To sign up for Serve with Softcard, you must have the SoftCard app and you must sign up for Serve within the app.

REDbird:

REDbird (more precisely known as the Target Prepaid REDcard) requires buying and activating a temporary card in-store before you can register online for your permanent card.  Unfortunately, the temporary card is currently available only in certain test markets.  In about half of the test markets the card is fee free. In the rest, they charge a $5 fee to purchase the card.  It is fine to get the temporary card before cancelling your old Bluebird or Serve card, but you must cancel the old card before registering the new card online.

See also:

No need to wait

After canceling your old card you can order (or register for) your new card immediately.

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

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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Matt
Guest
Matt

Are you just fishing for clicks, there’s a reason the bigger bloggers aren’t covering this as much as they did VR.

PhatMiles
Guest
PhatMiles

Matt,
I think FM is really passionate about writing what he believes is a great deal out there. Whether or not he is phishing for clicks, it is up to the reader to decide. I personally think he never blogs for clicks alone. There is always rich quality content for the targeted reader. If you want arrows and boxes, FM is not the guy.

Dee
Guest
Dee

I agree. I read several pts & miles blogs. FM is the only one covering this. The others were all over Bluebird/Vanilla reloads, but have steered clear of MS of late.

Thanks for being the voice in the wilderness, FM!

Matt
Guest
Matt

The reason being is there was an unspoken hint at FTU that RedBird should remain off the radar of wide coverage like VR so not to promote widespread abuse. Perhaps FM didn’t get the memo.

Tom
Guest
Tom

I applied for BlueBird a month ago & the message displayed was “Unfortunately, we are unable to approve you for an account at this time”. I tried twice later once a week. Today, after reading this post, i got this idea of trying with different email ID to check my luck. Hurray – APPROVED!!!….Waiting for the card now. Thank you FM !!!

athenakt
Guest

I got my mother to sign up for a Bluebird card- and they declined her, treating it like it was a credit card!

I’m curious as to whether anyone else recently had this truly baffling experience; I got my card a couple of years ago without issue.

UnitedEF
Guest
UnitedEF

I am stuck in a state of limbo. I closed my account online with bluebird but I can’t open the Redbirds because it says bluebird is still open. I have tried everything and can’t seem to register my Redcard. Any tips would be appreciated. Funny thing is the two other people I helped have all gotten their cards for months now while I still can’t register 36 days after Bluebird account closure.

PhatMiles
Guest
PhatMiles

I think the best way is to call them. Sometimes it is a pain but usually they are not that bad.

momK
Guest
momK

Use a new email and a new phone # when doing the registering. See if that helps. If not,have you called Redcard?

Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor
Member
Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor

The person who “closed” your Bluebird account may not have closed it out completely. I would call back and explain that it needs to be completely closed. This happened to my wife when we switched from Bluebird to Serve.

After calling back, the agent fixed the problem and then she was able to sign up.

josefismael
Guest
josefismael

Same thing happened to me. Give them a call – I had the redbird register page open, and about 10 seconds after they told me my Serve was closed I was able to register the Redbird 🙂

AndyTLe
Guest
AndyTLe

Had bluebird and closed it (via phone). Waited a few days and was able to register my REDcard without issues.

Andy
Guest
Andy

So I don’t have to do the SSN trick anymore to move from Serve to Redcard? As soon as I close one account, I can move to Redcard immedately?

Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor
Member
Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor

Correct. As soon as one account is closed completely, you can sign up for another one. There is no waiting period.

TinyElvis
Guest
TinyElvis

Does anyone know if Redbird works in NC yet?

Dave
Guest
Dave

I read your tutorial on how to buy RB for others. I want to clarify something — the person purchasing the RB can enter in any name, phone number or SSN? His/her own, that of the person who will manage it, or simply made up? I have one under my name and my sister has one under her name. She has access to these where she lives and I asked her to buy me one for my wife. So she doesn’t specifically need to enter in my wife’s info?

PhatMiles
Guest
PhatMiles

No she does not. Your sister can go to the target with the Redbird. When asked she can give her License and when prompted she can enter any SSN. Putting sth like 123456789 will hit an error. May be she can alter hers by few digits. That is totally up to her. Same applies to DOB.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Can she use a SSN that she’s used before?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Also, just to be sure– if my sister already has one under her name and SSN, can she buy one and enter her own SSN? Or is the 1-per-SSN just per day?

Gabriel
Guest
Gabriel

Hey FrequentMiler,

Recently my Serve account as closed because I was loading it with my US airways credit card even tho Barclays was not showing it as a cash advance. Is there a way to get the Serve back, will the same thing happen if I get a RedBird?

Thanks

David
Guest
David

I didn’t know you could send money from bluebird to Redbird & vice-versa. Can anyone share the steps involved? Thanks

Will
Guest
Will

I personally think that things such as MS takes effort to get started. If I randomly bumped into a blog like this talking about redbird and all the stuff, I wouldn’t have any clue unless I spend hours figuring out the game. It takes a lot more than reading blogs to get things work. And I doubt many people would be interested in this at all. That being said, I don’t agree with FTU’s memo about being silent on MS especially redbird.

On the other hand, the real deal break is that people being stupid by calling in and arguing with the company. Somehow I think they do know how their product is being used on the market, but no one likes abuse.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I, for one, appreciate all the work Greg puts into his posts. There is much to learn and he has done the advance legwork. In response to Matt’s comment about the “Bigger Bloggers” not writing about the REDbird……..Perhaps they are loathe to write about something that pays no referral fee?

Kp
Guest
Kp

I second this. I started with a “bigger secret spreading blogger” and it took me a week or so to understand the whole game till I bumped into Greg’s blog and boom, the whole picture is crystal clear. The big bloggers talk extensively about credit card sign up bonuses (which gives a referral bonus) without clearly explaining how can we meet the spending requirements. Greg is awesome for someone who started to learn and also he is quick to find deals.

Preacher
Guest
Preacher

Do you have a working link to close BB? The one you have on the previous blog about closing BB online has stopped working, thx!

trackback

[…] who primarily want to earn miles and points.  The problem is… each person can have only one. Read More for some great […]

trackback

[…] Switching between Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve by Frequent Miler. I think I must be the only blogger still using Serve and patiently waiting for Softcard to start offering some promotions again. […]

Ara
Guest
Ara

When you load your redbird at Target using a credit card, does it always show up as a purchase or do they code it as a cash advance? Are there any strategies there for which card to use (I want to use my citi 2% card and then pay it back). Does this still work?
Does the loading strategy (3 transactions at the cashier (1K,1K, 500), 1 cc swipe) still work for their daily allowances, and will redbird only charge you 1 $3 fee for this?
Thanks!

Tracey
Guest
Tracey

Citi card has worked for me, no cash advance for REDbird.

martin
Guest
martin

Can I get the temporary red card in the store on a state where they have it available (nee mexico) but then register and have the new permanent card delivered on a state where there is no red card available yet (houston, texas, to be more precise)?

Sam
Guest
Sam

I have a bluebird account with my wife having sub account. Can she get a red card and keep sub account? Or do I have to cancel her sub account with bluebird first? I assume I can still keep my bluebird account? Thanks

corridor!
Guest
corridor!

I cancelled Redbird via the method above and then applied for BB again. It says that I still have a RB account. I guess I will need to wait or call.

Casey
Guest
Casey

Same here. Closed my Redbird online four days ago, but I’m unable to create a serve account due to the same reason.

Genise
Guest
Genise

Same here – cancelled Redbird and tried to open a Bluebird with different email and phone #.
Not possible – the message states I still have a Redbird account.

Any solutions to this hiccup, except calling ?

Biggles209
Guest
Biggles209

Closed my Bluebird using the /Profile/CloseAccount url

Attempted to register REDbird using different e-mail address and same / different phone number – both failed because of open Bluebird account.

Called 855-306-7395 and was told to wait a couple of hours for Bluebird closure to complete.

Tried registering again, with same results as above.

Called again, gave Bluebird account number, and verified that all payments had completed successfully. Was told to register REDbird using same e-mail address as Bluebird; phone number is not important.

As soon as I (successfully) completed the registration the CSR said “Now your Bluebird account is completely closed” – so there must be some linkage using the e-mail address which is used for final closure.

trackback

[…] Switching between Bluebird, REDbird, and Serve […]

paul heinemann
Guest
paul heinemann

No need to wait? I just spent an hour on the phone only to have them repeatedly tell me I cant open for 30 days after I close.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Hello,

I just came out an idea. Can I open a new serve account and load 5k and close it and buy another temp one at walmart and load another 5k? therefore I may load more than 5K/month with one SSN? Thanks.

Aby
Guest
Aby

The date in the second note below the title needs to be updated to 2016…

Seeing 2015.. made me wonder whether they were having a yearly crackdown process running towards end of every year…

trackback

[…] who primarily want to earn miles and points.  The problem is… each person can have only one. Read More for some great […]