Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve

Updated: 6/25//2016

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: 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 so it is no longer useful for increasing spend and thus has been removed from this guide.

Note 5/10/2016: Rite Aid no longer allows debit cards to be used for reloading prepaid cards.

Bluebird and Serve…  These are prepaid reloadable American Express cards intended to be viable fee-free checking account alternatives.  Even better, they are both good choices for those who primarily want to earn miles and points.  The problem is… each person can have only one.  So, which is best?

UPDATE 6/25/2016: At some point recently Amex started allowing people to sign up for multiple cards. It is now possible for one person to signup for Bluebird, Serve, and REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard).

The answer to “which card is best?” depends upon your personal situation.  No single card is better than all others for everyone.  However, depending upon your situation, there is almost certainly a best card for you.  In this guide, I’ll give you the information you need to decide which card is best for you.


amex bluebird serve guide

 

Overview

Both Bluebird and Serve run on the same technology platform and they therefore have a lot in common.  They are both prepaid reloadable American Express cards.  This means that, unlike credit cards, you need to load money to these cards before you can use them (although, another option is to setup linked backup funding sources).  Once money is loaded, these cards can be used like American Express credit cards to make purchases, or can be used at ATMs for cash withdrawals, or can be used like a bank account to pay bills.

Bluebird

Bluebird was formed from a collaboration between American Express and Walmart. Even though Serve predated Bluebird, Bluebird was the first prepaid card to be a realistic fee-free checking account alternative.  And, at the time of this writing, Bluebird continues to be the only Amex prepaid product that offers a checkbook for writing checks yourself.  One of my earliest posts about Bluebird can be found here: Bluebird takes flight and changes the game.

Serve

Serve has been around quite a while and it has changed a lot over time, mostly for the better. At one point American Express discontinued the singular version of Serve and launched four new versions. While each version shares common features, they are all unique and different in their own ways. In this guide I will talk about Serve as a singular product (highlighting features that are common across all versions), however you can see all of the differences between each type in the Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is best?

One of the features that makes all versions of Serve stand out above Bluebird and REDbird is that they can be loaded online via credit card, up to $1000 per month. (The discontinued Softcard version of Serve allows $1,500 per month.) Unfortunately, as of April 16th 2015, they only accept Amex credit cards for those loads.  Amex cards issued by American Express do not earn rewards when used this way, but Amex cards issued by other banks do earn rewards. To find the best Amex cards to use for this purpose, please see: Best options for Serve online loads.

Which is best for you?

Please read through the comparison tables below to identify the differences between cards that matter the most to you.  For simplicity, though, here are my quick recommendations.

  • If you want to maximize credit card spend and savings opportunities, regardless of the complexities involved, then get Serve.
  • If you find yourself often in or near Walmart, Rite Aid, Dollar General, or Family Dollar, regardless of whether you actually shop at those locations, get Serve.
  • If you want to use Vanilla brand Visa gift cards to reload your prepaid card in-store, get Serve.
  • If you frequently shop at Walmart, and you’re interested in occasional Walmart discounts, get Bluebird.
  • If you need the ability to write your own checks, get Bluebird.

Comparison Tables

The following tables show both cards side by side.  Notable advantages are marked with green backgrounds.  Notable negatives are marked with red backgrounds.

How to get the card

Bluebird

Serve

Order online

Y

Y

Buy temp card in-store

Y

Wal-mart

Y

Various Stores

Temp card fee

$5

$0 to $5

Monthly fee

$0

Varies per flavor.

How to reload

Bluebird

Serve

Direct deposit

Y

Y

Deposit check (with smart phone app)

Y

Y

Online debit (not gift cards)

Y
Up to $1K / month

Y
Up to $1K / month

Online credit

N

Y
Up to $1K / month

Amex cards only.

In-store kiosk

Y
Wal-mart

Y
Wal-mart

In-store debit (including gift cards with PINs)

Y
Wal-mart

Y
Walmart, Family Dollar, Rite-Aid, Dollar General

In-store debit w/ Vanilla Visa gift card

N

Y

Family Dollar, Rite-Aid, and Dollar General

In-store credit

N

N

Via reload cards

Y
Vanilla Reload

Y
Vanilla Reload, Money-Pak, ReloadIt

In-store + reload card limits

$5000 per month

$5000 per month

If you’re reading this page, you probably want to find the card that is best for earning credit card rewards.  There are several ways this can happen:

  • Online debit loads: Use a rewards earning debit card or a debit card that is reloadable with a credit card.  Increasingly, both options are difficult or impossible to find, so this option is of very limited use to most people.  You cannot use gift cards as debit cards for online loads.
  • Online credit loads (Serve only): This is a great way to earn rewards easily and automatically, but Serve is now limited to Amex credit card loads only.  Please see: Best options for Serve online loads.
  • In-store debit: Unless you are lucky enough to have a debit card that earns rewards, the trick here is to use your rewards credit card to buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards with PINs, and use those as debit cards to reload your prepaid card.  See: Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards and Beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards
  • Reload cards: Vanilla Reload cards and Greendot MoneyPaks are cards that can be bought at various stores, and then money from those cards can be transferred to prepaid reloadable cards online or, increasingly common, at the register.  It is becoming increasingly difficult, but not impossible, to find stores that allow reload cards to be purchased with a credit card.
Scheduled Loads

American Express used to make it very easy to schedule loads from various funding sources, however they have now seemingly removed that option from their website. Fortunately there is still a way to do this. To schedule a load, simply log-in to your Bluebird or Serve account and click the appropriate link below.

Note: This will only work if you already have a funding source linked to the account. Make sure to link one before trying or you will simply be redirected to the settings page.

How to save money with each card

Bluebird

Serve

Wal-mart promos

Y

N

Small biz Saturday

Y

Y

Amex Offers

Y

Y

As you can see above, both of these cards provide opportunity for saving money. Wal-mart promos have been few and far between lately, so the greatest value comes from Amex Offers on these cards. Note that both cards are also eligible for Small Business Saturday, but in 2015 that promotion didn’t offer any credits like in past years.

How to use card funds

Bluebird

Serve

Foreign exchange fee?

N

Y
2.7%

Fee free ATM

Y
Money Pass

Y
Money Pass

Other ATMs

$2.50

$2.50

Free online bill pay

Y

Y

Write your own checks

Y

N

Withdraw to linked bank account

Y

Y

Send money to others

Y

Y

Both Bluebird & Serve offer easy access to your money once its loaded.  In fact, with both cards, you can simply transfer the money to your bank account or even use the online bill pay function to send a check to yourself, for free.  A couple of notable differences though are as follows:

  • All versions of Serve charge foreign exchange fees so they’re poor choices for using outside of the United States.
  • Bluebird offers checkbooks with which you can write your own checks.

For additional information about fees and limits please see: Bluebird & Serve. A Comparison Chart of Amex Prepaid Debit Alternatives.

Last updated on November 30th, 2016

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.

598
Leave a Reply

avatar
278 Comment threads
320 Thread replies
5 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
210 Comment authors
Greg The Frequent MilerJoyceLeslieDrkchrGary Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

RS_WI
Guest
RS_WI

Under regular Serve you have reload cards listed: Vanilla Reload, Money-Pak, ReloadIt.
But under SoftServe, ReloadIts aren’t listed. Is this intentional and correct?

Or is it an oversight and SoftServe can be loaded with Reloadit cards??

Grant
Guest

Grest write up and very detailed. What I have noticed about Serve, and probably Bluebird as well, is that Serve tends to change their website design and features every month or so. Hopefully there will be no major changes before Target rolls out Redbird nationwide.

Joseph
Guest
Joseph

FM, this is an awesome post. I appreciate your easy to read detailed articles. You really got the niche of maximizing MS and crazy portal techniques and whatnot on lock. Thanks for your work.

MileHighBug
Guest

Great post! I’ve been following your blog and the details on these different options all along, but I still learned some new things today. Thanks for the hard work!

Agnes
Guest
Agnes

Hi Greg – Great post! Can’t wait to try this in my area when they roll out nationwide. I just tried to call the support number to ask what’s the timeline that this will be available in my area. Under the automated voice menu, out of curiosity, I selected the tutorial on how to add money to the account. To my surprise, it seems to indicate that loading redbird online via cc is possible (as explicitly staged by that voice menu lady) – can you confirm this?

Papa Smurf
Guest
Papa Smurf

Great summary. I can tell you were an engineer in your past life 🙂

Regarding REDcard, does Target have any self-service kiosk similar to the ones at Walmart? Or do you need to reload the REDcard in person with the cashier?

Michael
Guest
Michael

Thanks so much for this great info – very much appreciated! Question for you on the RedCard: How does one set up/use the free online bill pay? Specifically, for providers that do not normally take credit card payments or if they do charge for it?

Thanks,
Michael

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

I’m going to go this weekend to get a Redbird card. Can you tell me where they are located (at the registers or at customer service desk or other location)??? Thanks

JC
Guest
JC

FM, can we load Serve with the DiscoverIt w/o any CA fees?

Chris
Guest
Chris

Very nice break down. I’ll take dealing with target over walmart any day, and the credit card load makes it crazy easy. I’d bet serious money though they’ll shut it down before this pilot goes full scale. That’s the sort of stuff they’re looking to catch by only rolling it out to a select few stores.

bltn95
Guest
bltn95

Has anyone tried using Amex GC to load Serve/Redbird?

Mike
Guest
Mike

Mix and Match

I’m assuming that the basic functionality is the same for Serve, Bluebird and Redbird? So, does anyone know if you can use the “send money” function to move money from a Redbird user to a Bluebird user? Would the recipient’s email that points to a Bluebird account allow them to receive the funds? Or would the Redbird system force the recipient to open a new Redburd account in irder to get their money?

Anyone know?

trackback

[…] is a great review of the different products from Frequent […]

mdtravel
Guest
mdtravel

Great post! I’ve recently cancelled one of the BB’s that I manage and am going to pick up Softcard.

I have to admit, that I’m a bit confused on the difference between Serve and Softcard. Is Softcard an add-on to Serve, or a completely stand alone product? Basic stuff like that.

Is there a beginners guide to Softcard?

mdtravel
Guest
mdtravel

Thanks FrequentMiler.

WTF…softcard doesn’t work on an iPhone? Damn…why’d I cancel my BB?!

https://www.gosoftcard.com/get-started.html

Missed free money
Guest

Kudos for this great post. I paid cash to ride the ‘L’ in Chicago this week before I saw a SoftServe ad in the car for 50% off pay-as-you-go until the end of the year. Other cities may have the same offer. I know I will be looking.

mr.d
Guest
mr.d

Great blog. Loving this post. Boh wife and I have BB. In the past, I purchashed vanilla giftcard fTom gas station and unloading at walmart. However, walmart doesn’t allow that anymore. I want to try family dollar route. My question is, what type of gift card to get? Should I buy the onevanilla prepaid gift card from gas station or get 200 dollar visa giftcard from staples,
office depot? Second question…can I use Softserve in ways that Serve can be used? Thanks much.

dave
Guest
dave

Can you have both REDcard and Target for Amex?

Nick
Guest
Nick

Thanks FrequentMiler.

As you stated in the chart that I can withdraw money to linked bank account, but I couldn’t find it anywhere..Could u please tell me how to do it?

Thanks

Gerald
Guest
Gerald

I recently got a Bluebird card. I went to Walmart with my Visa gift cards that I had purchased at Staples with my Chase Ink card. As I was loading my second gift card, a Walmart employee told me I’m not allowed to do that. Will I have a similar problem if I switch to Serve and load it at Family Dollar?

Frank
Guest
Frank

Gerald, go to a Walmart with a machine and it doesn’t argue. Unfortunately not all Walmarts have these and often they are broken.

Frank
Guest
Frank

A bit off topic, but you may be able to answer:
1) I have a number of the old (blue) AMEX Prepaid cards that I used to load with Vanilla Reload cards but now that I cannot get any VRs (nor the Green Dot) is there any use for these cards or should I just liquidate and dump them?
2) While I was at Target last week loading my 2 AMEX for Target cards the cashier said she had just had someone come in and load 3 of them. I thought one could only have 2 of these? Or can I load my wife’s card for example?

Gerald
Guest
Gerald

I did load my Bluebird card at the Walmart ATM. They have people watching what you’re doing. I understand why they’re restricting loads from gift cards — it’s a great way to launder money and they don’t want to get in trouble. They have no way of knowing that I didn’t buy my gift cards with cash.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I love my Bluebird but I see the Serve could be better. My big question is: can Serve be loaded at the Walmart Money Machine like Bluebird? I often go with more than 10 $200 gift cards and the customer service reps won’t like to do all those loads.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I think it would be helpful if you also showed how much one can withdraw from each account (and in which ways). For example, Bluebird allows up to $5,000 unless you use checks which then is $10,000 per month. What about the others?

Fernando
Guest
Fernando

I couldn’t find the prepaid RED card instead I saw a prepaid American Express from Target would this work similar to a RED card? I was able to load it with a credit card but the thing is how to get the cash out from an ATM.

Dave
Guest
Dave

@fernando – I could give you the easy answer but let’s review the current scenario. It sounds like you bought an AMEX Target card and likely loaded it with hundreds of dollars, yet you have no clue to get your money from it. Step back and ask yourself, how wise of a financial decision was that? These types of points earning schemes demand financial discipline. Credit card interest rates are prohibitively high, not to mention any number of other negative consequences that can occur if one does not approach these schemes correctly. Do yourself a favor and do not invest anymore money into these schemes until you’ve carefully read the last year or so of Frequenmiler’s blog. Hint: If you do that you will find the answer to your question about how to get the money off your AmEx Target card via ATM.

Love Free Travel
Guest

Last week I loaded a $200 MC GC and a $200 Visa gc at a FD about 15 miles from my home. Today I went to two closer FD’s and tried to load a $500 Visa gc and was rejected per, \cash only\ policy. Perhaps, the policy is regional. I will be going back to the original FD and try to load one $500 gc as I saw on Flyertalk that it is the store limit now.

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

tim
Guest
tim

I already have a personal Target RedCard, but I was wondering if my LLC can open a RedCard? Can I use my EIN number as my social security number? What do you think?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Does the 5K a month deposit limit reset when you close a Bluebird and get Serve e.g. load BB with 5K at beginning of month, drain and cancel, and get Serve?

Dave
Guest
Dave

…get Serve and then load another 5K in the same month?

Frank
Guest
Frank

My wife & I still have the Bluebirds and I have been considering changing one to Serve. The one advantage I see in BB is that I can offload up to $10K a month via the paper checks. With a Serve (or Redbird) surely you have to load exactly $5K and offload it each month to maximize? But if you are not able to offload a BB you can catch up the next month because of the additional $5K you can do with checks. In other words, let’s say you get your Serve balance up to over $5,000 – how would you offload that?

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

Thank you for wonderful information!

I rent from a small management company and can pay rent only by check. If I get REDbird, can I use my account to pay rent? Will AMEX send a check to the address specified by me at no cost?

It seems too good, and I wanted to confirm it.

Fernando
Guest
Fernando

I just got Serve what would be the easiest way to use 5k with my CC and put into Serve since you are only allowed 1k with credit cards. Is it buying CC gift cards at Staples or Reload Cards? By the way since joining your blog I am going to China for free in Business Class not bad at all. Thanks for your help.

Love Free Travel
Guest

More bad news for FD/gc reloads. I went to 5 Columbus, OH locations today and each had their registers programmed to reject Visa loads. Previously, it was just a verbal denial. Time to try some new WM’s.

Denise
Guest
Denise

I cancelled my Bluebird and have purchased a Redbird. I am unable to register my Redbird because it still shows I have a Bluebird. When I called the number they said it can take 30 days. Have you found this to be true?

BJ Mahal
Guest

I got the soft card serve.Tried to load $500 with credit card via softcard.No luck.It states can’t go over daily limit of $200.What am I doing wrong?
Please help

Cardbeagle
Guest

Be sure to load on your mobile app, not website.

BJ Mahal
Guest

First I cancelled the regular version.After I got special SIM from T-Mobile I applied through the softcard and got the card in mail and then loaded/connected this new card to the soft card app.I can,t get any answer from the customer service as they keep insisting the limit is $200/$1000 and there is no card with $500/$1500 load.
Any suggestions?

Frank
Guest
Frank

OK, cancelled Bluebird. What’s the fastest way to get Serve going for full loading this month? and with Softcard?

dave
Guest
dave

Any other requests Frank? Perhaps you’d like a ride to Walmart too?

Frank
Guest
Frank

Regarding Softcard: who knows anything about them? Trustworthy? What information do you have to give them?
Is it worth the extra possible 500 Delta miles and $500 credit card load per month?

Martin
Guest
Martin

Check them out here:
https://www.gosoftcard.com/about.html

Founded by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. Looks pretty legit.

Martin
Guest
Martin

I haven’t yet seen it mentioned that one can maximize the use of these cards by getting more than one in the same calendar month. Buy/register a new card, max out the spend, transfer/use the loaded money, cancel the card, then buy/register a new card and repeat. There are enough days in the month to do at least two cards, or possibly three if you work it every day.

I’m not sure if at some point this will raise a red flag, but I was able to do two Serve cards the same month without a problem (just once so far).

Han
Guest
Han

Just learned that you can’t install (on the Verizon network anyway) the softServe app if you have a “rooted” cell phone. I do, so I guess I’ll have to use the non-app website version of Serve.

Craig
Guest
Craig

FM, thanks for the awesome post. I just canceled my BB account after realizing that the Vanilla gift cards don’t work. I’m on my way to a Target store in Ohio to purchase the Pre-paid RedCard. Can I load this card at ANY Target? Or just the Target that offer the Pre-paid Red Card?

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

I finally went to get a REDCard. The local Target had differently looking card, which had a note on front that every load of the card and every ATM withdrawal carries a $3 fee. Otherwise, the card is as described here, as described in the FAQ, http://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/prepaid/american-express-for-target-card/faqs.html .

The FAQ has a question about Minimum and Maximum balance requirements, which are the same as listed by FrequentMiler.

Can someone confirm that it’s the same REDcard? Are others now paying these $3 fees, too?

tgienger
Guest
tgienger

Not sure why you have Family Dollar crossed off for loading Serve. I’ve been dumping $200 MCGCs from OM at the local FDs for over a month. Altho, I have found that it’s certain YMMV with FD. Some stores openly allow debit swipe-loads, another store requires a manager approval, and yet another store doesn’t even have the vanilla reload cards on the hook.

Regardless I’ve got 5 FD stores in the area that I’m currently using. Certainly easier to liquidated the MCGC there instead of wally.

MileHighBug
Guest

Can you load more than one $200 gift card per day at Family Dollar? I know there is a limit of $500 per day, but I am hoping I can do two $200 cards per day.

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

Dear FrequentMiler, thank you for your continuing support! A few days ago, I got a temporary REDCard and loaded it with $500. Today, I have registered it and should receive the permanent REDCard in 7-10 working days. By that time, it will be January.
– Are the load maximums per calendar month?
– If yes, it would make sense for me to load more funds in December.
– The policy document that came with the temporary REDCard states that upon registering the card the temporary card becomes obsolete, but that I still able to load it. THUS:
– Can I load my REDCard to the December maximum of $2,500 using the temporary REDCard?

Many thanks!

Sue
Guest
Sue

Has anybody else had problems loading visa gift cards at Walmart lately? I went on three different occasions to load Bluebird and was unable to do it. I also tried a different store. Started on Dec. 23 and tried again today.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Sue: No problems late December and up until yesterday – besides the usual kiosk machine problems. This is in California.

Sue
Guest
Sue

Apparently on the 3 occasions that I visited to reload, debit networks were down.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I have a family member in a state where Target sells RedCards.
Would it be easy for her to buy one and mail it to me?
Or what would be the most efficient process?
Thanks! 🙂

Cardbeagle
Guest

It is interesting to see the regional variation of loading Serve at FD or WM around the country. I feel sorry for people that have to travel to load. Maybe if/when FD is purchased by Dollar General the situation will improve. Good luck, everyone.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

I just got my first REDBird card loaded as I was buying a house and had to keep a low profile………it’s so good to come out of the wilderness…….it was brutal with no MS!

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

I now have the permanent REDCard with the money I loaded in December into the temporary card. Now, I have to off-load these funds. I thought I could transfer money to my checking account, but I can’t find an option for doing it. I have linked my checking account, but it seems that I can only transfer money from checking to REDCard but not the other way around.
.
Am I missing something?
What are the best ways to use the REDCard funds?
Thanks a million!

RS_WI
Guest
RS_WI

Victoria, please don’t take this as a personal jab– more of a cautionary statement to all new MSers…

If you don’t explicitly know how to get your money back out, diving into this pool can be financially risky. If no one answers your question you’re potentially out that cash for possibly a prolonged period. The *first* step before loading money, or purchasing a gift card, or whatever is figuring out how to liquidate and get your funds back in your own hands/account.

ONE answer to your question is to use Redbird’s online bill payment functionality. It is simple to setup and disburses payment to your payee within a few business days.

As far as ACH’ing your money directly to your bank, there isn’t a mechanism (that I’m aware of) to “push” funds from RedCard. You have to “pull” from Redcard, by setting up the ACH on your bank’s end. You submit a funds transfer *through your own bank*, and it takes the money out of your RedCard account.

The routing number and account number can be found on your RedCard PROFILE page, which are necessary to setup an ACH external account, no matter which bank you use. (and as you said, you did this– but it sounds like you did it in RedCard setup, not your own bank).

NOTE what it says below the account info:
“This information can only be used for adding money into your Account with Direct Deposit. It cannot be used to pay bills on external sites.”

I do not ‘pull’ from RedCard, so I can’t say whether this is true or not. Others might chime in that ACH pulls work, or don’t. I prefer the billpay route.

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

RS_WI, thank you for a quick reply. Your point about learning before leaping is well taken. I did read about REDCard offloading and saw somewhere that transfers to one’s bank account were possible. However, I did not realize that it referred to pulling by the bank from REDCard rather than pushing by REDCard to the bank.
.
I can set up ACH on my bank’s side, as you have suggested. However, before I do, I’d like to get an interpretation of the statement you have flagged, i.e., “This information can only be used for adding money into your Account with Direct Deposit. It cannot be used to pay bills on external sites.”
.
If I start pulling money from REDCard by my bank, would that constitute a violation? Have others used this?

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Stiff upper lip victoria…..we were all there once……..just pay another credit card to complete the loop…..that is easiest to start……

RS_WI
Guest
RS_WI

Never saw that there!! So weird that it is under settings.
Excellent information!

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

Roger
Guest
Roger

Once you get a starter Redcard, can it be loaded at any Target? Or just the ones on the participating list?

Phil
Guest
Phil

Great article. You said you have four Redbird cards. How can you get more than one per person?

Miguel
Guest
Miguel

I need to close my Serve account and then go through SoftCard to re-open it so I can increase my reload amount. Is it better/quicker to do it online or by phone? Thanks

Martin
Guest
Martin

I did it online. It’s instant.

Janna
Guest
Janna

I used to be able to reload my Bluebird card with Vanilla Reload Cards (if I had to estimate timeline I would probably say first quarter of 2014), then I could no longer buy Vanilla Reload Cards from CVS with a credit card (in all stores in my area). I could still buy Vanilla VISA Gift Cards from CVS with a credit card, and reload them to Bluebird at Walmart stores using a PIN (the PIN would automatically get set the first time you used it so I would just type 1111 as the PIN).

I used to be able to do this by using the Vanilla Visa as a DEBIT card at Walmart by hitting the “Change Payment” button on the payment computer thingy. But then suddenly it stopped working. Even if I hit “Change Payment” it would still process it as a credit card and deny it. I don’t remember what month this happened, sometime in summer 2014 and so I stopped doing this strategy altogether. I even stopped opening new credit cards. But I just opened 2 new cards today so I need to figure out a spending strategy. Does anyone have an idea if it is still working? Or should I try to use Serve card instead? I can’t do REDCard because no stores in California have it 🙁

Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor
Member
Shawn Coomer - Senior Editor

Many supermarkets and other stores sell gift cards that are issued by US Bank, Metabank and others that still work at Walmart. It may take some research for you to get back up and running, but it is possible.

This is a good place to start: https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2014/07/30/best-options-for-buying-visa-and-mastercard-gift-cards/

Janna
Guest
Janna

Ah ok i know which cards those are. You have to call in to get the pin. So it sounds like the problem is specifically with the vanilla visas not all gcs

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

OMG janna have u ben livin under a rock?

Gilrl…….go Redbird and don’t look back………BTW…..pay attention………

Janna
Guest
Janna

Haha yeah i guess i have been living under a rock. Took a break from all this but now need to get back into it. Looked up redbird, none in California. Will have to wait til i travel out of state. Just closed my bluebird last night and opened Serve .

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Roseville did have them….not sure at the “moment”

Janna
Guest
Janna

I checked on Target website and they said none in the state of California.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

YMMV My receipt has “Roseville, CA” on it……I only know what is in my hand……..

Janna
Guest
Janna

Haha nice, maybe next time im in the bay area ill try. Until then will see what i can do with serve

jaden
Guest
jaden

I found in CA, some walmart won’t let you to load serve with prepaid gift card. They only accept the debit card with your name on it. They even don’t allow you to buy money order by using prepaid gift card. Any one has encountered this problem? Any solutions for this? Thanks.

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

Henry
Guest
Henry

Can I load serve online with vanilla gift card?

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

Tony
Guest
Tony

What is the easiest way to purchase a redcard for a friend? He would like me to get two of them for him…

Adam
Guest
Adam

Is there any reward debit card still accept application?

Ed
Guest
Ed

Lafayette Bank and Trust 1 point (actually tiny, tiny mini points) for 3 USD spend. If you spend 1 Million USD you can have same hotel stay as a good hotel card after 1,000 USD spend, only 0.001 to 1 value!

trackback

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, Serve, and SoftServe […]

Redeye Dog
Guest
Redeye Dog

Just got an email from Amex Serve on change to T&C.

We are writing to let you know that we are making some changes to our credit card loading options. Beginning April 16, 2015, if you want to use a credit card to fund your American Express Serve® Account, you will only be able to use an American Express® Card. Direct Deposit, debit, and all other funding options will remain unchanged.

If you do not have a credit card linked to your Account, this change will not impact you.

How this change may impact your Account
If you have a Discover, MasterCard or Visa credit card linked to your Account, please be advised that starting April 16, 2015 these cards will no longer be linked to your Account. Additionally:
• Any automatic recurring transactions with these credit cards will no longer be completed
• You will no longer be able to use a Discover, MasterCard or Visa credit card as a Backup Funding source

Other ways to fund your account
You can still add money to your account in many other convenient ways, including Direct Deposit, debit, and free cash reloads at the register at 27,000 CVS/pharmacy®, Family Dollar®, Walmart® and participating 7-ELEVEN® locations. Click here to learn more.

Thanks,

The American Express Serve Team

Ed
Guest
Ed

Screw Walmart and the Bluebird. I’ve been outsourcing to scour around to buy up all those crap Bluebirds, only 1 USD each, to load my RedCard. I got stacks of Bluebird. So now they cost $5 for activation. Thanks, that was my reasoning, now my stacks of cards worth money. I buy until corps up the price and when they do, my inventory worth money. Since my 1 USD load never expires, it is no risk to me. Got to love that!

Chuck
Guest
Chuck

FM, do you have a confirmation that the Fidelity FIA AX card that pays 2% will still be honored by Serve starting 16 April, 2015?

Martin
Guest
Martin

I just tried loading my Serve card with my Fidelity FIA AMEX card that pays 2%. I did it online for $500 (max load per day). Worked fine, like usual, without a hitch. If you have trouble with yours, try unlinking the AMEX card from your Serve account, and then link it up again.

King Ross
Guest
King Ross

Martin, Does it process the Fidelity AmEx as a Cash advance or a Credit? I just called Fidelity, then AmEx and they were not for sure. They were leaning more towards a cash advance.

Thank you

chuck
Guest
chuck

Thanks

matthewsf
Guest
matthewsf

Shawn: With the new CC load issue with Serve, I have closed that account and looking to open a Bluebird one instead to help with MS on my Chase INK card, but also to be able to pay merchants/bills via funds that wouldn’t otherwise take a credit card (e.g. tuition, credit card bills). With the inability to purchase the $500 Visa/MC/Amex GC (WITH a credit card) at Office Supply stores, I see two options: buy the $200 ones with the 3.5% fee and get the 5x points OR go to a supermarket and buy the $500 ones for the 1-1.2% fee and get 2x points (via another credit card). I would then go to Wal-Mart to process the Bluebird for those remaining transactions I can’t do straight from the gift/debit card.

It seems paying 3.5% is high vs. 1.2%…I guess it boils down to paying an additional 2.3-2.5% fee for an extra 3x (5 vs. 2) points/miles. While fuel rewards are in play at the supermarket, that isn’t a motivating factor since I general can find cheaper gas elsewhere.

Appreciate the feedback.

matthewsf
Guest
matthewsf

OK, it looks that if I did my math correctly, it is indeed a better deal to get the $200 GC w/ 3.5% fee and 5x points vs. the $500 w/ 1% and only 2x points. (The fuel rewards provide a $3.00 max savings assuming I fill up 15 gallons).

Obviously, it would be great to somehow get the $500 ones at the office supply stores, but we know they don’t let you purchases these ‘variable amount’ GC with a credit card. Any tricks or work around to do it? If not, I guess I’ll be purchasing a punch of $200 cards to load the BlueBird.

Doc Miller
Guest

So a question.. Can you load/reload Bluebird from the RedCard?

Because I would love to keep the Bluebird for the checks (under my name), but get the RedCard (under my wife’s details) so we can load it via Target.. but move some money (as in bill pay to the bluebird account) to pay people that actually use physical checks.

Anon
Guest
Anon

So, now that 4/16 has passed, do we have data points on whether we can load funds onto Serve card online using Citi AA Amex and earn AA miles? And will Citi process the load as a purchase or a cash advance? Thx.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I have now registered my temp RedBird card and am waiting for the permanent card to arrive. I believe I can load up to $1500 on this temp card. Let’s say I do that this month, April.
Question 1: Can I pay bills with the temp card or is ATM cash withdrawal the only way to use the card?
Question 2: If I cash out (or use billpay if possible) to a zero balance can I then load another $1500 in May before my permanent card arrives?

Can’t see the answers to these on their website. Thanks in advance for any help on this.

Doc Mirr
Guest

Just a question, so the max money that the account can hold is 1500? Or the max that can be loaded at one time? Because I would love to pay my mortgage through it but if course that is more than 1500 per month.

Frank
Guest
Frank

That’s the limit on the temporary card. The permanent one can have a balance up to $100,000 (just max load of $5000 a month). But as you can only draw $5000 to $15000 or so per month – see https://amex.serve.com/prepaidredcard/faqs/

Funny to see “serve” in the link, so you see it is similar to the Serve card.

easy4u1
Guest
easy4u1

Hi

Is it possiible to reload bluebird cards with visa gift cards? If yes, please explain. Help will be appreicated.

Regards

matthewsf
Guest
matthewsf

So I just came back from a Walmart here in Northern California, with my newly acquired Bluebird card and some VISA Vanilla ($200) GCs. No Money Center machine in this location. Person at money center desk said no to generic debt card loads just ones with your name on it; supervisor reiterated the no load as well. (She actually said that they NEVER allowed those ever before). Got her supervisor to come out-she seemed to actually know about the situation and have info. What she told me was that an audit was conducted last month and since then communication is being rolled out for them to NOT accept generic Debit cards (e.g. Vanilla) to load BlueBirds; only those with your name on it. Anyone getting it processed at a register is likely because the sales person isn’t aware/heard/see the new directive. As they don’t have a kiosk in this specific store, she couldn’t comment as to whether those (machines) would be affected as well.

So is this now official? If so, I need to find a way/place to use my Visa GCs. I loved the idea of using Bluebird CHECKS to pay for things where credit cards aren’t accepted.

Fernando
Guest
Fernando

Are they any other options besides loading Serve or Bluebird at Walmart? within a week all the 3 walmarts I have close by my house shut down the GC loading option. Also de ATM they have it off.
Any suggestions?

Rob
Guest
Rob

I generally use my local CVS. I went to my local CVS the day after the load-free cash option was posted on serve.com. The store was relatively new still (less than six months old), and the staff was as well. I kept being offered the option to purchase a card, but after someone called the (Assistant) Manager on the shift, it went w/o a hitch. Most of the staff know me now. I prefer to load there because our Wal-Mart MoneyCenter is in one of two states 1) so busy it takes forever to wait and the kiosk is out of service, 2) the checkout staff aren’t sure what to do with a cash reload w/Serve. This causes a delay in the checkout line and I don’t like to be “that guy” (fifteen years in retail, I hated “that guy” and I go out of my way not to be him). Important Note: I haven’t attempted to load onto my Serve in person other than with cash.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Anyone know which AMEX credit cards are available from banks (other than AMEX directly? Fidelity and ….?

anon
Guest
anon

@Frank– Citi AA Amex (may not be available anymore), Pen Fed Amex.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Thanks, I’ll check them out.

Doc Miller
Guest

The PenFed Card SHOULD work.. but its value is not that hot. (or am I mistaken?)

Gary Thurston
Guest

Surprised by all the questions in regard to loading serve via prepaid gift cards. I simply linked my credit union master debit card to my serve account and simply load it via the serve phone app. Serve also can be set up to directly linked to your credit union or bank for free transfers. Those types of transactions take a couple of days. I love using my Serve card and was surprised to see them giving me one percent back on my purchases through a promotion. I buy all my online purchases through serve instead of having my real debit card floating out there in the in the internet world.

James
Guest
James

what credit card works with serve

Chris
Guest
Chris

I’m not sure where these “you can only use American Express to load with a credit card from now on” points are coming from. I loaded with my Chase Visa just fine tonight.

Friend tried with a Capital One MasterCard, no problem.

Logged into the Serve website to change the credit card funding source and it has Amex, Discover, MasterCard & Visa logos for acceptable sources, and just has a cash advance warning on it that’s always been there as long as I can remember, but doesn’t apply to any of mine.

Maybe this was something product specific? Mine was registered when now-defunct Softcard was still known as Isis.

silow
Guest
silow

The Amex CC requirement is for “regular” Serve accounts created through Serve. Serve accounts created through SoftCard/Isis (nicknamed SoftServe) have thus far been grandfathered into not having this requirement and having high CC load limits of $500/1500. This is made pretty clear in this article and charts.

Redeye Dog
Guest
Redeye Dog

This is what Amex sent to me in the mail. Maybe it’s targeted but its worthless to me after that change..

“We are writing to let you know that we are making some changes to our credit card loading options. Beginning April 16, 2015, if you want to use a credit card to fund your American Express Serve® Account, you will only be able to use an American Express® Card. Direct Deposit, debit, and all other funding options will remain unchanged.”

Redeye Dog
Guest
Redeye Dog

FYI, I “was” able to load Redbird using credit card previously at local Target. I just tried several different Targets and they have it built into the registers now. So even if you find some “friendly cashiers,” their registers recognize giftcards and credit cards now and return an error message. I even had a manager try to override but no go.. No more loading Redbird using CC or GC..

Gerald
Guest
Gerald

While it’s apparently true that CC loads of Redbirds were disallowed around May 6, I was able to load Visa gift cards as recently as May 12. I haven’t tried since then.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I understand it says you can’t earn any extra rewards or point, but can the AMEX reloads to Serve still be used to reach the minimum spend requirements to get bonuses? Say, if you wanted to reach the minimum spend for the SPG card?

Micah
Guest

Can anyone still confirm that loading your serve card with visa giftcard still works at Walmart? Just asking becasue im about to buy some VGC.

An
Guest
An

VISA GCs from grocery worked for me. Metabank issued cards work. Vanilla doesn’t at WM.

Tonto
Guest
Tonto

Can I load a reloadit card onto my bluebird card? The reason I want to do this is that there is only a $3.95 fee for purchasing a $500 reloadit pack/card as opposed to $5.95 for a MC/Visa gift card.

Eric
Guest
Eric

I have a Visa Reward card debit card issued by Metabank. I don’t believe it has a pin as it says to select “CREDIT” to pay. I have heard that Walmart doesn’t require a pin for under $50. Has anyone successfully loaded a reward card to Serve at Walmart?

camie
Guest
camie

Can a Birdbird card be reloaded at a money pass ATM? If so, how?

Ann
Guest
Ann

Thank you so much so such useful article! I’ve been learning these skills recently, trying to get a Serve card and start from scratch

From my understanding to use the serve card, the steps are:
1) Find Visa GC in drugstore/gas station/ shopping mall /online offers
2) Use CC to buy GC
3) Use CC (online) or GC (in-store) to load cash into Serve.
4) Use Serve to pay bills/credit card

Correct me if I’m wrong in above steps. Also I have a few questions during the process.
1) What GC can be used to load money in Serve? Do you recommend to buy GC online or in store?
2) How can I use Serve to pay credit card?
3) How can I use Serve to pay rent/mortgage? How long does it usually take to deliver the check?

Thank you very much!
Ann

Jennifer Stiko
Guest
Jennifer Stiko

I just purchased AmEx gift cards, thinking I was going to load them onto my Serve account online.
But, now I’m thinking I can’t do that?

If not, what’s the best way to do that? Buying Visa gift cards? Can I do that online?

Thanks!

Dave
Guest
Dave

So you bought amex gift cards thinking you could load them to Serve? People are willing to help rookies but this is just pure sloppiness or laziness on your part. Do yourself a favor and don’t make another move until you’ve done your due diligence. Hint, due diligence isn’t screwing up then asking blog readers to bail you out – this isn’t a game – it has real implications on people’s finances and dumb moves like this need to be strongly discouraged. Spend 3 or 4 hours reading frequentmiler’s previous posts and you will easily find your answer(s).

Jennifer Stiko
Guest
Jennifer Stiko

Wow! You sound like an amazingly, arrogant prick. And, who are you? I wasn’t even asking you, oh high and mighty one; I was posing the question to FrequentFlier, but thanks so much for your incredibly rude words.

I didn’t “screw up” as you stated. Yes, I am still learning and by all means have A LOT that I don’t know, but I actually read (in more than one place) where people were loading their Serve accounts with AmEx cards. And, I also read that if for some reason I ended up not being able to do that method (because I realize things are always changing), there were other means I could use for being able to liquidate those cards. Then, after I received my cards in the mail and was reading and doing some more research, I came across a comment that stated you can’t load them to serve, hence why I asked the question.

And, also, thanks for the lecture about it not being a game and having real implications on people’s finances. Trust me, I in no way think this is a game and am not treating it as such. My husband is in social work and therefore, doesn’t make a ton of money. And, we live 12+ hours away from both of our families so this method of getting points and miles from our credit card (on top of our normal spending) makes it possible to be able to afford to go see them because, as we all know, flights can be incredibly expensive.

And, this wasn’t a “dumb move” like you said because as I said earlier, there is more than one way to liquidate Amex cards and I knew that when I bought them, just like there is more than one strategy to manufacture spend.

I really hope for your sake you’re one of those people who are rude and bully people behind a computer screen and don’t talk to people like that in real life. Your comments were extremely unnecessary and uncalled for. If I wanted someone to call me names, I would simply visit the 3rd grade classroom down the street.

Mindy R
Guest
Mindy R

Wow what a jerk…I’m sure this forum could live without your hateful opinions

kyle johnson
Guest
kyle johnson

Dave… buddy… take a chill pill. Don’t go ape-shit on someone just because they have a life outside of their laptop.
If it takes “3-4 hours” researching the best methods to fund a Serve card then who can blame her for posting a related question in an area of a website designed for exactly that reason?! Most people are more than happy to share what they’ve learned with others… It’s why they’re here in the first place. Perhaps you should allocate 3-4 hours of your day to review the “Code Of Conduct” for the frequentmiler’s blog. (“Hint”: It basically says ‘don’t be a dick’.)

Eric
Guest
Eric

Do all Family Dollars allow you to load Serve with Visa gift cards? If so, why do most people only mention Target and Walmart in articles?

Mike
Guest
Mike

I heard that the Red Card can no longer be loaded with Vanilla VGC. Anyone know if this is true?

Sue
Guest
Sue

I was only able to load Vanilla Visa at one out of 3 Targets stores. 2 told me that they don’t accept 3rd party gift cards, only bank debit cards.

trackback

[…] Check out Frequent Miler’s post on REDbird (and the InfoGraphic version), or his Complete Guide to Bluebird, Redcard and Serve. […]

James
Guest
James

I’m new to this thread and I have been reading over most of the threads regarding the reloading of Serve. I have a question regarding that. I wanted to know if I wanted to use my debit bank card for TD bank to reload my Serve card at Walmart or Family Dollars, can that be done or will I have to pay cash for the reload to be processed?

Thanks in advance to anyone who could enlighten me on this!

Eric
Guest
Eric

I used my bank debit card to load Serve and there was no fee so I don’t see why TD Bank would be any different. It is basically making a purchase so if TD Bank allows that you’re fine.

James
Guest
James

Thanks Eric for your quick response. I will be trying that today!

James
Guest
James

I have one more quick question Eric, now whenever I go to reload my card, is there another card that I have to provide to the cashier at Family Dollar or do I just hand her my Serve card to swipe and just pay with my debit card?

1 2 3