Switching REDbird to Serve, but which one?

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

Note for those who don’t like to read long posts: Amex is currently issuing multiple versions of Serve. Shawn has created a great new resource to help you decide which is right for you: Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is Best?

I’ll probably regret this soon, but I’m considering converting one of my 7 REDbird cards to Serve.  Amex offers a number of related prepaid products: Serve, Bluebird, and REDbird (The Target Prepaid REDcard) and each is valuable in its own way for those who like to manufacture spend (e.g. increase credit card spend in order to earn rewards and get most of your money back).  For a comparison of the three cards, please see: The Complete Guide to Bluebird, REDcard and Serve.

The trick is… each person can have only one.  I currently have 7 REDbird cards only because 6 family members and friends let me manage their accounts (see: Managing multiples: Bluebird, REDbird, Serve).

Switching to Serve

Considering the switch

I’ve been planning for a while now to switch one of my REDbird cards back to Serve.  Here are the reasons:

  • It’s hard for me to blog about things that I don’t have access to.  Serve continues to be an important prepaid card for this community, so it makes sense for me to have one (by the same logic I should convert a card to Bluebird as well – I’ll worry about that later).
  • Serve allows Amex online credit card loads.  Please see: Best options for Serve online loads.
  • Some Serve cards can be loaded at Walmart.  While Target is more convenient for me in many ways, I like the fact that some Walmart stores have automated Kiosks with which you can load Bluebird or Serve.  Last I checked, at least one area store had a kiosk that actually worked (they’re often out of service).  When I have a pile of $100 or $200 Visa or MasterCard debit gift cards, I’d much rather load them to my prepaid card at an automated kiosk than in-person with a cashier.
  • Serve cards are eligible for Amex Offers.  REDbird cards currently are not eligible.  Please see: Complete guide to Amex Offers.

Bad timing

The best time to have switched would have been when Serve with Softcard was still available.  That version of Serve has higher online load limits and continues to allow Visa and MasterCard online loads.  Next best would have been to signup for the regular Serve card before Amex recently unveiled a slew of new Serve cards with new rules.  Still, there appear to be a couple of good choices still available.

The main reason that this may be bad timing, though, is that Walmart may be phasing out the automated kiosks in favor of new machines that are more like standard ATMs and cannot currently be used to reload Bluebird or Serve.  You can read more about this switch here: Meet Walmart’s New MoneyCenter Kiosk (KATE) – The News Isn’t Good for Bluebird/Serve Reloads.

If I switch and then find that I can’t easily reload the card, then I’ll probably switch back.

Switching Plans

My plan is to fully load my REDbird card this week and fully liquidate the funds before switching.  This way, I should be able to load my new Serve card later in the month.  My rough plans are:

  1. Load $2,500 to REDbird in one day ($2,500 is the daily load limit).  In the same day, initiate an ACH bill payment for the full amount on the card.
  2. Load $2,500 to REDbird the next day.  Use REDbird’s Send Money feature to send the $2500 balance to another one of the cards I manage.
  3. Once the bill payment is complete, I’ll cancel my REDbird card.  REDbird offers a “Close Account” button at the bottom of the Profile screen.
  4. Next, I’ll signup for a new Serve card online.  Based on a number of reader accounts it seems that you must use the same email address to register Serve as was used with REDbird.  So, I’ll try that.

Which Serve?

Shawn has created a fantastic new resource page for this site: Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is Best?  It seems pretty clear to me that I should get the One VIP card since it appears to have the best combination of features.  Hopefully it will still be available!

I also considered the new Serve Cashback card for a single reason: Serve cards usually allow you to setup a credit card as a back-up funding source.  It occurred to me (and apparently to others as well) that I could setup a Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex 2% cash back card as the backup funding source and make sure that I never leave funds in the Serve account.  I would then use the Serve Cashback card everywhere for a total of 3% cash back (2% from the Fidelity card plus 1% from Serve).  Unfortunately, the terms for the cashback card do not list the ability to setup a back-up funding source.  You can find the terms for each of the current card offerings here: www.serve.com/legal.html.  If anyone reading this has the 1% cashback card, though, please let me know if it offers a back-up funding source option.  Just because it isn’t mentioned in the terms does not mean that it’s not there.  Even if it is there, of course, Amex might be smart enough not to give 1% cashback for those transactions.

Wrap up

If you’re considering a switch to Serve, please see our new resource page: Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is Best?  I plan to switch one of my 7 REDbird cards to the One VIP card if it is still available by the time I’m ready.  If the One VIP card is not available at that time, I’d probably choose the green Free Reloads card instead.

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

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

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dean
Guest
dean

interesting. I did not know of the new flavors-o-serve. thanks for the link. I assume it’s just how you do you MF spend that you decided not to go to bbird?

dean
Guest
dean

…and if you still had the “old bluebird” would you keep w/ that or switch to one of the new cards??

Jon
Guest
Jon

On bluebird limits, specifically the $2,500 monthly send money to your bank account feature, would that be limited per calendar month or per rolling 30 days?

NoonRadar
Guest

I’m pretty sure it’s calendar month, all Amex prepaid cards (Redbird/Serve/Bluebird) have calendar-month limits which are reset on the 1st of the month at 12:00 am EST.

Dave
Guest
Dave

What do you use to load your redbird? $500 gc’s? If so, the cashiers don’t have a problem loading 5 cards of $500 each?

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

Go with the Radio One VIP —

Contrary to what Shawn has written, the above SERVE card still provides free loads if you load from ANY source more than $500 onto the card — Shawn wrote that only a $500 Direct Deposit will prevent you from having a monthly fee.

That is incorrect at least according to the terms of the SERVE rules and conditions.

However, since my card is no new, I have yet to receive an accounting of whether or not I owe any $$ for the account. Suffice it to say that with $1,000 loaded last month from my new FIA AMEX card, I have yet to see any sort charge on my new Serve account.

Since Shawn petulantly blocked me from his site, I was not going to attempt correcting him herein since I had assumed that he had done the same here, but since you are the author of this post, I will give it a go.

Horace

SDO
Guest
SDO

Regrettably, I once had SoftServe before I blindly and foolishly followed people’s advice to switch to RedBird.

But I hesitate to switch back to Serve because:

1. Kates are being neglected more and more and are becoming relics around where I live.

2. WMT managers treat you like criminals when you try to reload with VGCs.

That being said, I will keep the BlueBird for its check writing feature and AmEx Offers and to keep my MS options variated.

Carl C
Guest
Carl C

Beware though, if you send payment, you cannot open a new amex account until those payments have been fully received/finished. Likely 3-5 days after you request payment is sent.

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

Not really following you, ‘bro.

What do you mean?

NoonRadar
Guest

Before you ca close Redbird/Serve/Bluebird the transactions should be on a complete(ed) status, not pending or processing. It will likely not let you open another prepaid Amex acct if your current one has transactions showing as pending.

For instance, if you are unloading the money by writing a check (via billpay) to yourself or someone else, you can close the account if that transaction shows complete, regardless of whether the check has been received or not. This was a particular data point a few months ago from someone who closed Serve to open Redbird.

Carl C
Guest
Carl C

As he was saying.

There were reports of individuals ‘closing’ there serve/bluebird cards and were unable to get a redbird activated. Eventually it came out that payments had been sent that were not processed/cashed etc and it wouldn’t work until that finished.

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

Thanks for the explanation, NR!

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Bully for you for volunteering to be a sacrificial lamb. I think the ultimate question of which card depends on the proximity to a loading spot. For me I am lucky enough to live 3 miles from Target where I will load 3 cards with 500 GCs at a time. If a line forms I usually go get a coffee and let others be served with their exchanges. I am of the philosophy that anything we are allowed in MS is a gift and we always approach it with a grateful spirit. Anyone who is a long time reader knows they have taken the game up a couple of notches by just sweeping up table scraps. Thank you Greg and team!

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

What’s the best way to purchase a temp RB when I go to Target if I want to sign up my family member for it when I get back home?

Just hand the the cashier my ID and then enter bogus information through the terminal and then when I register the new RB online enter the correct information? Or would the information I enter on the terminal need to match my family member?

Dave
Guest
Dave

I think most serve users would prefer you not blog about serve. So stick with the redcard.

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

This Serve user would like him to blog about the card, so keep your stupid comments to yourself!

Capiche?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Sorry, I cant take it back now.

Miles
Guest
Miles

With the demise of Kate, you’d best keep your Redbird.

Kent C
Guest
Kent C

That’s what I was thinking. Been blog reported they are replacing the kiosks with ATM only machines, no loads allowed, in Nevada? Maybe elsewhere too. Not sure. Could be a rollout.

Larry
Guest
Larry

Serve online cc load does not give points right…just good for min spend? So if no min spend at the time no point in using the online cc load on serve?

Eric
Guest
Eric

You should earn points/cash back using 3rd party Amex card (ie BBVA, Fidelity, etc.) to load Serve online.

ATM
Guest
ATM

No, you DO earn 1000 miles/points per month when you load Serve online using an AX branded credit card not issued by AX, including Citi AA AX, PenFed Travel AX. And if you have Serve with ISIS, you aren’t limited to AX and can use linked Visa and MC credit cards to earn 1500 miles/points per month.

Eric
Guest
Eric

I wrote “SHOULD” instead of “DO” because I haven’t tried every single 3rd party Amex card and don’t want to give wrong information.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Had a minor stroke tonight…..Target clerk said he couldn’t load my card with a debit card that didn’t have my name on it…….I said “yes you can” and then just smiled and walked away and drove to the other Target and loaded 5k split between 2 other cards……….if this keeps up I’ll need an IV soon!

shoppergirl
Guest
shoppergirl

Yeah, same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Thankfullly, it was just one Target. The other Targets in the area still work.

Dee
Guest
Dee

Same here. The closest target is very strict…only cards with my name (Gary has a solution to that if you poke around the MS posts on the blog).

The next closest Target loads any debit card.

Dee
Guest
Dee

Greg…not Gary. Time for sleep.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Horace,

How come you didn’t add the full $1K?

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

@Eric — Great catch!

Partner recently received the US Bank FlexPerks card and tied it to their account.

We got that card in part because it give 3X points on charity donations and unlike the US Bank Plus? card, the charity donations are not capped per quarter and we have a very very big donation coming up — partner gives a great deal to charity.

In any event, there is a relatively low $12,000 what I assume to be a monthly cap on the card and with that amount already loads, as well as the fact that we have tied the card to our cellphone bills made us concerned that we would not be able to place the entire charity donation on the card if we loaded anymore onto the Serve account. We don’t use business credit cards so this was our best option for this sort of spend.

We have taken a hiatus from loading partner’s Serve account until the charity donation is “digested” and we actually get a due date for the payment on the card — it is so new that we don’t even have one yet.

I had contacted US Bank about increasing the limits, but it was not worth a hard pull to do so, so we left it at $12,000.00

Of course, our Club Carlson cc has a monthly limit of $15,000.00

Our situation is different from most others as we don’t do traditional MS — just the low hanging fruit so to speak to pay off those bills that don’t take credit cards, and this is relatively recent at that — and our area appears not to be MS friendly in any event.

So, with the credit card loads from Serve going to pay our remaining bills that don’t take credit cards, and the NW Visa Buxx being utilized to pay off our Citi cards to some extent — we are doing more than we had ever done before — all thanks to blogs such as this!

So, a big thank you to FM and like blogs.

HORACE
Guest
HORACE

Sorry, I should have been more specific — US Bank Flex Perks AMEX card tied to SERVE.

trackback

[…] Switching REDbird to Serve, but which one? – Analyzing the many new flavors of the Amex Serve card. […]

renzhen
Guest
renzhen

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

Jason
Guest

Unless this is a glitch with my Serve w/Softcard account, Amex seems to have reduced the monthly limit on CC loads to Serve w/Softcard accounts from $1,500 to $1,000. I’ve been happily loading $1,500 per month from a credit card, but today when trying to make my third $500 load this month, I received an error message that I’d reached my $1,000 monthly maximum.

Anyone else experienced the same?

trackback

[…] this month, I described my plans for switching one of my REDbird cards to Serve.  If I only had one or two REDbird cards, I wouldn’t have considered switching.  My local […]

SJ
Guest

Gang,

New to MS but have been diligently reading threads over the last several weeks. One item that I came across when I activated my One VIP Serve today is that the monthly limit for loading via DCs is $200 per day and $1000 per month. This seems to be a marked contrast from the $2500+ I hear people loading to a single Serve account via VGCs that have a PIN. Is this a recent change for DCs?

Thanks in advance,

SJ
Guest

Gang,

Just to add do the transfer limits on the AMEX Serve site https://www.serve.com/legal/Serve/#limits supersede the limits at WM?

Thanks,

NoonRadar
Guest

SJ, the prepaid Amex acounts (Redbird/Serve/Bluebird) can be loaded at the corresponding stores with pin-based gift cards up to $2.5K/day, $5K/month. Redbird can be loaded at Target, Bluebird at Walmart and Serve at Walmart and Family Dollar.

The $200/day and $1K/month limit that you’re referring to is about lading them online with a bank-issued debit card, and that is in addition to the in-store loading limits mentioned above.