AMEX Prepaid Twins: Bluebird and Blue Serve

There’s big money to be made in the transparent and low-fee prepaid card niche and American Express is going nuts in on this untapped market by partnering with WalMart on the newly revived Bluebird prepaid card:

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Oct. 8, 2012 – Walmart and American Express today announced the launch of Bluebird, an alternative to debit and checking accounts designed to help consumers better manage and control their everyday finances. Bluebird has been developed for the tens of millions of Americans who are looking for advanced capabilities such as deposits by smartphone and mobile bill pay, fee transparency, and no minimum balance, monthly, annual or overdraft fees. Bluebird puts the power back in the hands of consumers and will be available next week online at www.bluebird.com and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.

I have had the white American Express Serve card since it was first announced in March 2011, and while I had a rocky start with that card, Serve has recently undergone a change and expansion in purpose and it now seems to be a more friendly card, albeit a carbon copy of Bluebird.

With no credit checks and no monthly or annual fees, Serve brings more people into the American Express family. Enjoy the benefits of your account that include:

Purchase Protection 1
Shop with your Serve® account and you can help protect eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Roadside Assistance 2
When your car breaks down, we can send help your way for towing, winching, flat tires, battery boost, fuel delivery or emergency lock-out*.
*Available in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Entertainment Access 3
Enjoy access to presale tickets, reserved seats and behind the scenes experiences in certain cities when you use your Serve card from American Express.

I have the original white Serve card.  On October 1, I was sent a replacement “Blue Serve” card but nobody from American Express bothered to tell me my white card had been canceled after my blue card was shipped.

I only found out about the problem because my white Serve card stopped working with merchants, and when I called to find out what was happening, American Express finally told me a new blue card had been sent to me — oh, and that’s the official name of the new card:  “Blue Serve.”

When I asked why my white Serve had to be canceled without notification and I had to wait 7-10 business days for the replacement blue card, AMEX had no answer, because they agreed with me it was strange to kill one card before receiving another — especially when the consumer did not make the replacement request.  They also told me I should have been warned in email that a new card was on its way.  I told them I did not receive any email notification.

Then, this morning, this email notification from AMEX magically appeared in my Inbox:

Funny thing is that I HAD BEEN using my white Serve card and the $25 for $25 credit had already been used, and unwittingly, applied to my account way back on September 19, 2012, so my confidence that AMEX has their Serve shat together is waning.

However, I do like it that on Blue Serve they now place your name right on the card.  The lack of name identification on the White Serve was always curious when it came to claiming an emotional tie to your transactions.

I do like the idea of low-fee prepaid cards because, in world of identity and credit card theft, a prepaid card like Bluebird or Blue Serve can become a firewall between your real debit and credit cards.  Load up a Blue Serve card and use it for daily incidentals when you would normally use cash or your other direct cards, and you are protected from having to fiddle for change or wondering if some nefarious person is scanning your debit or credit card without your permission.

Sure, you might lose a few dollars on a prepaid card if it gets lost or stolen, but that’s much better than giving someone the keys to your checking or credit card kingdoms.  Blue Serve will become my daily carry card for all the derring do I daily do and I’ll feel safer for the effort.

You can also add up to four sub-accounts with Serve.  I like that a lot, because you can manage an entire family’s weekly allowance split among members.  You can also turn cards on and off and set daily limits for transferring funds and spending.  You can seamlessly “send money” to another family member, or any Serve card consumer.

Do you have a Serve card?  Will you get a Bluebird card?  Is there any difference whatsoever between the two cards?  I wonder why American Express wants to dilute the prepaid pool with two identical cards that are sort of separately branded, but not really.

59 comments

  • Lillian Boyington

    AMEX recently decided to commandeer my MasterCard (how did THAT happen??) and I was issued a new card with the old one being cancelled much like you.
    I’m not a big fan of AMEX due to that transaction, and you have added fuel to my proverbial fire.
    I wish I had the time to fiddle with prepaid cards. As you point out, they can be beneficial, yet I guess trying to keep up with the real kingdom, and the prepaid kingdom is one of my ‘choose your battle’ situations. I choose to use only one kingdom. (for the time being)
    I suspect the two individual Serve cards will eventually become only the Blue Serve card. As technology and business races forward, they change in waves. You’ve just been waved. :)

    • Hi Lillian!

      Aren’t AMEX and MasterCard are separate companies?

      AMEX does need to be a bit more polite in dealing with these replacement card matters. I understand why they want to cancel before re-issuing, but LET US KNOW FIRST! SMILE!

      As a victim of having my credit card stolen — while it was sitting in my pocket — I can tell you the hassle of having to deal with wrongful charges against your account is not something you want to play with ever again. My card company was great about setting things right, but the resolution took a few weeks to settle and you lose your available credit in the amount you’re disputing as stolen until the case is closed. So, I’d much rather have a few dollars on a Serve card as I choose instead of leaving an entire credit card line open for the “taking.”

      I thought, after reading about the reintroduction of Bluebird yesterday, Oct. 8, that, perhaps, Blue Serve was going to become Bluebird — even though Serve was reborn as Blue on Oct. 1! I think AMEX makes more on Serve because they don’t have to split reload fees with Walmart — but it’s still a strange carving of the prepaid baby.

  • Lillian Boyington

    From the Serve website:
    https://serve.com/help/#/addingsendingandrequestingmoney
    How do I add, send, or request money?
    You can add money to your Serve account directly from your linked U.S. bank account or from any of your linked credit cards or debit cards or from a MoneyPak® (MoneyPak purchase fees may apply). Log in to your Serve account and enter the amount you’d like to add in the Start a Transaction field on the left, then click Add.
    ****Serve does not impose a fee for adding money to your Serve account from your linked bank account.*****
    Serve is also **waiving credit card and debit card load fees until March 15, 2013**. Please note that your credit card company may charge you a cash advance fee for loading money from your credit card. Please check with your credit card issuer for details.

    My LINKED Bank Account? I’d rather have CitiBank, AMEX, or MasterCard worry about fraudulent charges.
    Is the security here having ‘another log in’?
    Did you have a paypass type card?

    • Serve ultimately wants to be a mobile payment system to compete with PayPal. You can also send money via SMS text message and to and from Facebook friends:

      Serve from American Express today announced an application that allows friends to send, receive and request money from directly within Facebook. The Serve app is currently the only application available on Facebook that allows friends to send, request and receive payments in just a few clicks.

      “The way people exchange money is evolving, and so is Serve,” said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth, American Express. “We’re constantly working to bring our customers a seamless and consistent payment experience — one that makes sense for our increasingly social lives, whether that’s paying a friend back for movie tickets or sending someone money for your share of the vacation house — it can now be sent on Facebook.”

      Exchanging money with friends takes three simple steps: Choose your friend to send money to, enter the dollar amount, and click send. Facebook friends are automatically populated directly into the app’s interface, so there is no need to worry about finding a friend’s email address or gathering additional information. Once completed, a message is immediately posted to the recipient’s Facebook wall providing directions on where to collect their money or to sign up for Serve. To request money the process is just as easy, choose a Facebook friend who owes you money, send a request and get paid back.

      http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2012/serve_app.aspx

      You have three ways you can directly add money to your Serve account.

      1. From your checking account. An ACH transaction takes 3-5 days to post to your Serve account.

      2. Debit cards. When you link a debit card and add money to your Serve account, the money is instantly available on Serve. That is the preferred and cheapest method to add money and that’s how I load my Serve card.

      3. You can link credit cards, too. You won’t get charged a load fee right now from Serve and the money is immediately available in your Serve account — same as cash — but your credit card company may charge that transfer at a higher “cash advance” rate instead of a goods charge, so Serve suggests you do a test transfer of like $10 or so to see exactly how your credit card company will handle a transfer “purchase” to your Serve account.

      You do all of these transactions initially on the Serve.com website. You create subaccounts there, too, and manage and set up everything. Once that is done, you can download an iOS or Android App to manage your Serve account on your cellphone.

      Yes, the security is managing the loading of your Serve card from the Serve.com website, so really nobody but you or your bank or credit card company would ever need to know your debit card or credit card numbers. The only “account numbers” you’ll use publicly are those on your Serve card.

      I don’t have a Paypass card — probably because I worry about hidden readers that would be able to pull information from the card during a purchase.

      • P.S.

        The “bank account” feature is one-way only on Serve. Unlike PayPal, you cannot put money into your bank account from your Serve card, but you can load your Serve account from your bank account. You either spend the Serve money using the service or AMEX will write you a check if you close your account.

        I believe the reason Serve no longer allows depositing into a checking account is because some bad people were using Serve as a middleman to get no-fee cash advances from credit cards by charging into their Serve accounts and then instantly transferring that “cash” into their bank account.

      • actually with my Serve card I can withdraw money to my bank account….

  • UPDATE:

    My Blue Serve replacement card arrived today! Activated it within seconds online. Same account number. New activation code and new verification number. Love the new blue design. There’s no other way to say it, than to just say it: “This is a pretty card.” Blue Serve now looks like an American Express product. The White Serve card was a shameful representation of the company.

    • Ah! Here’s the welcome email I just received after activating the new card:

      Hello David Boles,

      Thank you for activating your Serve Card. We know you’re going to love it!

      You can use your Serve Card to access your available Serve account funds everywhere American Express Cards are accepted at merchants in the U.S. and at ATMs worldwide*. Participating ATM networks include ACCEL/Exchange, AFFN, Fifth Third Bank, NYCE, PLUS, STAR and U.S. Bank.

      For online purchases, simply select American Express as your card type and enter your 15-digit Serve Card number.

      To view your transactions, log in to your account at http://www.serve.com and click on the View All Activity link.

  • As you may know from my article, I do have a Castleville Serve card. I don’t like a lot of the things Walmart does and so I don’t support them if possible.

    • Ah! CastleVille! I don’t think you ever told us which game is connected to your Serve card.

      I think Bluebird is AMEX’s play to kill the Green Dot card at Walmart — and so far it’s working… after only a few days:

      Green Dot, the prepaid-card firm that derives most of its revenue from Walmart stores, saw its shares drop Monday after the world’s biggest retailer said it would expand sales of a competing product from American Express Co.

      Green Dot slid 20 percent to $10.25 Monday, the most since July 27. Shares of the Monrovia (Los Angeles County) company had dropped 67 percent already this year.
      American Express reached a deal to make its Bluebird reloadable cards available at 4,000 Walmart locations and online beginning next week, the New York-based lender said Monday. The cards, which can be used for debit purchases, may threaten sales at Green Dot, which derived 64 percent of its revenue through Walmart in the first half of 2012, according to an Aug. 9 regulatory filing. Walmart was among Green Dot’s biggest shareholders as of March 31, with a 6.2 percent stake, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

      Walmart’s “equity stake in Green Dot is totally inconsequential relative to the opportunity to expand the product category,” said Andrew Jeffrey, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. “There’s no positive spin that can be put on” a vendor losing its role as dominant supplier.

      http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Green-Dot-down-on-Walmart-s-new-card-deal-3930275.php

  • UPDATE:

    I instantly added money to my Serve account using my debit card today. No fee.

    I now see there are two ways to get cash from your Serve account. You CAN deposit into your bank, but it will take 3-5 days; or you can use an ATM and pay a $2 fee or so… it seems AMEX only restricts these “cash” options if you have suspicious behavior on your account (see above).

  • Serve does offer two way ACH… I use it all the time. You can deposit money INTO you bank account with Serve. ( Just don’t think you are going to put money there ( into the serve account) and deposit into you account all in the same session. Like Paypal, you have to be smart about your transactions.) There is nothing wrong with withdrawing via ACH any funds that you did not use.

    Bluebird does not allow you to add money into your account using a credit card. You must use a debit card and you will be charged a fee.

    Unless you need a “second chance” like checking account, Serve is the way to go. The only advantage the bird has is the mobile deposit feature.

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  • I’ve had an interest in both AMEX Serve and Bluebird for some time, so I appreciate this column comparing the two. I still think that PayPal’s Debit MasterCard (not to be confused with its weaker Prepaid MasterCard) is better than either Serve or Bluebird. I also recognize that a substantial portion of people think that PayPal is Satan’s spawn and would never use anything associated with PayPal. Too bad in this case, because I think that the PayPal Debit MasterCard is a good product.

    Neither Serve nor Bluebird allows you to get cash back or cash over with a purchase transaction (i.e., you buy a loaf of bread and you ask for a $20 bill from the cashier’s register drawer to be withdrawn from your debit card account), but you can do that with PayPal Debit MasterCard. I can’t understand why AMEX doesn’t allow for that with any of its prepaid cards. This is especially with Bluebird, a card that’s associated with Wal-Mart. AMEX and Wal-Mart could least offer the cash back with purchase option if you buy something with Bluebird at Wal-Mart stores. That might draw me more into Wal-Mart stores. It could be a big difference maker and enhance AMEX customer usage, which would in turn encourage AMEX retailer acceptance.

    If you link your PayPal Debit MasterCard using a PayPal Premier account with an eBay account (unfortunately, it’s an unnecessarily convoluted process that requires creating multiple sign-ins and finding the obscurely located link mechanism in eEbay), you can earn 1 % cash back with each signature based purchases. I do like the free cash loading option on Bluebird at Wal-Mart stores and the ATM fees on Bluebird using the MoneyPass network are cheaper than those associated with the PayPal Debit MasterCard. Checks can be issued by AMEX on Serve for free while it’s a $1.75 for PayPal.

    I will be interesting to see what PayPal does next year with its Discover Card joint venture to allow for in-store purchases using a jointly issued card or a cell phone number and a PIN.

    I’m hoping that someone at PayPal or AMEX will read this and finally realize that some of us would like to do remote check deposit via multifunction desktop scanner instead of a smartphone (maybe we don’t have the money to pay for a smartphone and data plan–especially if we’re among the unbanked–or don’t have a compatible smartphone to use with the Android or Apple digital wallet apps or are afraid of what might happen if we lose our phone).

    Ultimately, there are pros and cons to each card, so research carefully. Thanks for the article.

    • Thanks for your excellent comment.

      Do you have the steps necessary to link PayPal and eBay to get the 1% cash back? Are the instructions online anywhere? How did you learn about it?

  • David,

    Try this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/auctions/PaypalPreferred-outside.

    I’m trying to remember how I learned about it. I applied for a PayPal Debit MasterCard because the bank checking account that I had opened didn’t have a debit card available for the very meager amount of money that I have. So I searched high and low for a debit card option that I could use to link to the bank account. I don’t think Serve existed at the time. The PayPal Debit MasterCard (not to be confused with the more expensive PayPal PrePaid MasterCard) has served me well.

    • I have the very PayPal Debit MasterCard you mention, and I just checked my account and I’m already getting 1.5% cash back. I don’t think I ever linked it to anything. If I do the eBay account linking thing, does that add an extra 1% to what I already have?

  • I should point out that the cash withdrawal with purchase option (e.g., buying a loaf of bread and 5 lbs of steak and asking for a $20 bill from the cashier’s register drawer to be withdrawn from your debit card account) is a PIN-based transaction only. But you can’t get the 1 % cash back with purchase with the PayPal Debit MasterCard if you’re doing a PIN transaction, it’s only available for signature based transactions or at least non-PIN based transactions (i.e., sometimes you can just swipe the Debit MasterCard like a regular credit card MasterCard and you don’t have to sign anything–that’s still considered a non-PIN based transaction and should count towards your 1 % cash back rewards).

    You can split the transaction up usually with separate orders. So you can tell the cashier that you’d like to buy the loaf of bread separately from the steak, pay for the bread using a PIN based transaction to get the $20 bill. Then separately pay for the more expensive steak with a signature based transaction to get the 1 % cash award, earning a higher reward than if you had done it with the cheaper bread).

    The 1 % rewards are totaled at the end of each calendar month and awarded some time after the first week of the next month, but I don’t think you earn any rewards during the first month after linking up). If I remember correctly, PayPal says on its website that you have to have a PayPal Premier or Business account open for 4 to 6 weeks before you can apply for a PayPal Debit MasterCard, but I don’t think I waited that long. I think I was using the Debit MasterCard within 6 weeks of upgrading to a Premier account, but I had the regular personal PayPal account for a long time beforehand and hadn’t really used it. It took me forever to figure out how to link the PayPal account to the eBay account, because I had never used eBay before. I hope the link helps

  • David,

    You’re getting 1.5 % cash rewards with signature purchases ???? You lucky dog!

    You can try to link to your your PP account to your eBay account, if you have one, but I don’t think you’re going to get anything extra by linking the two. This is eBay / PayPal we’re talking about here. One promotional offer per customer :-). Still, it’s better than what’s AMEX Serve / BlueBird / PrePaid / PrePaid @ Target are offering (i.e., nothing). It’s better than what a lot of regular credit cards are offering (only 1 %).

    I’m guessing that PP may have offered 1.5 % when banking interest rates were higher some years ago and PP could have made more money then on the interest rate float over a month, especially pre-Durbin Amendment, when there weren’t such tight caps on card swipe fees. If you’ve had the card for a while, you may been locked into 1.5 % cash rewards. Enjoy your cash rewards!

    • Yes, I’ve had the card forever — from the first moment it was ever offered — so maybe I’m grandfathered in or something. Now I really need to start using it again! SMILE!

  • One more thing: check to make sure that your card hasn’t expired, since you haven’t used it in a while. If it has, I’m pretty sure that PP will be happy to send you another one. After all, they know that they have serious competition in prepaid and digital wallet with AMEX/Wal-Mart, Google Wallet, Isis, Green Dot, Net Spend, etc.

  • Here’s a special silent one – I have a Serve card, and tried to sign up on impulse last night for a Bluebird card at Walmart. I purchased and loaded the card, but when I go to register it online, I can’t because I already have a Serve card. A call to customer service later, I’m told that the Bluebird card is active with my deposit, but that the only way I can register it is to cancel my Serve account. WTF?

    • That is really strange and it doesn’t make sense! You can either have a Serve account OR a Bluebird account, but not both? Do you feel they’re pushing you over to Bluebird instead of keeping serve? What happens if you use a different email address to sign up?

      • I just discovered this same situation only in reverse. I started with a Bluebird account and then tried to get a Serve. Upon registering for the Serve, the system balked at my phone number already being in the system. I called customer service and they couldn’t find that same # in the system although registration for the Serve was at a dead halt. However, she did state that you can only have Serve or Bluebird, but not both. I asked why I couldn’t have both and never got an answer. I used the same email address for both applications and that didn’t seem to matter. I can only deduct that the accts are phone number linked so if you have a home phone and cell, use different #’s and you might get by with getting both accts.

  • I tried to sign up for Bluebird online, and I was told I wasn’t eligible because I had was a Serve account member. I called the number on the website, and the Member Rep told me that they were actually part of the same “system.” She offered to close my Serve member account and immediately send me a Bluebird card. She explained they are part of the same “division” of Amex, and it’s one or another, but not both. She was very polite and told me she had received many calls from Serve Amex members who were confused and/or upset. I am still trying to decide which one of these no fee cards works for me. I think I’ll wait until the debit card-load fees are actually put in place to change. For now, it’s just easier for me to use my debit card to load my Serve, or use the back-up funding (like my old PP Debit Card) to make purchases. Once the fees kick-in, I think it will make more sense to switch over to Bluebird.

    • Thanks for the great information, Robert. I think it’s silly that AMEX believes Share and Bluebird “are the same thing” when they are not. Is an AMEX Gold Card the “same thing” as a Platinum card? You can have both of them, and a Blue Card, too, without problem on their proper system.

      I think you’re smart to wait a bit because the banks are saying Bluebird is really a bank — but it doesn’t have FDIC oversight and protections — and AMEX says it is not a bank, but a merchant service, and they are required to insure all monies 100%:

      http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/when-is-bank-regulation-really-bank-protectionism-1053727-1.html

      I do think Bluebird is a better forward-moving card and service, though. It’s basically a free checking account! I like the check deposit. I like the ability to bill pay. I hate the name of the card and I hate the design of the card. I like Serve better aesthetically, but practically, I think Bluebird will be hard to beat in the long run as a “financial institution” if the bankers don’t beat it down first and close it.

      • UPDATE:

        I just set up a Bluebird account with my Serve account still active. I added my wife as a subaccount on Bluebird just as I did on Serve. We could not use the same email addresses, but the account is set up and I’m waiting for my cards.

        Bluebird looks and feels a lot like Serve except I cannot deposit money using a credit card. Bluebird prefers direct deposits, but you can link a bank account. I could NOT link my current bank debit card because, I am guessing, it is because it is already linked on Serve.

        When my Bluebird cards arrive, I will likely cancel Serve and go with Bluebird. It is more “bank-like” than Serve and it looks and feels and is even designed to behave just like Serve.

  • UPDATE:

    I just deleted my bank debit card from my Serve account and immediately logged into Bluebird and was able to add the same bank debit card to my account. I can’t add any money via debit card yet until my actual Bluebird card arrives in the mail and I am able to activate it online.

  • Wow! Since you were able to set up both, I just tried to set up a Bluebird account again online and was told I couldn’t because of my Serve Account. I didn’t use the same email, I think it was based on my SSN. Weird how this works. I’m truly irritated at Amex now. You are right, I have an Amex Green and Hilton HHonors Amex and they didn’t care. Granted, they are used for business (not corporate/small business cards, but I do own my own company). I don’t know why they care what prepaid accounts I use. That said, I understand it’s a different market. That may have more to do with it. Now that I here that some are able to sign up with both and some are not, I’m .. well.. p***ed about it.

    • Do you get a specific error on the Bluebird side that mentions Serve? I was stopped two times during setup. First, when I tried to use the same email address I use on Serve. I changed that and everything was fine and the second was when I tried to add the debit card that I previously mentioned here.

      I know Bluebird requires a SSN for setup and Serve does not. You can either use your SSN (I think just the last four digits?) or linking your bank account to confirm your identity. I’m not sure which method I used on Serve.

      I can say that Bluebird is a more polished and, perhaps, meaner, version of Serve. The interface is exactly the same — down to that infuriating “waiting” animated clock-like icon — and the purpose of the site seems more thought out on the Bluebird side and when I say “meaner” I mean that Bluebird REALLY SUPER WANTS you to set up Direct Deposit like RIGHT NOW in order to use their service… and a debit card, while supported, isn’t really how they want you to behave. Not being able to load your account using a credit card is also not allowed on Bluebird — I’m sure the credit card companies put the kibosh on that because too many people were/are still gaming the system on Serve to get cash advances that were being charged as services and then they were taking the cash and running.

      I do get the sense that Bluebird is intended to, one day, replace Serve — which I find odd, because Serve is still offering their $25 for $25 promotion until December! I wonder if that money ploy is being used to reignite all the unused Serve accounts to then just make them all into Bluebird accounts in January?

  • Hmm.. I have only tried to “register” online for a card online first. I didn’t try to purchase one at wal-mart. I did not get the message because of my email, as I used a different email, but because of my SSN. I called CS again and was told no one can have both. I had to choose. It’s their company, they can do what they want. What was odd was when I mentioned being a member of their charge cards, they have no access. Makes me wonder how this works. Also makes me wonder because I had a Wal-Mart MC Debit forever ago and cancelled it when I didn’t need it. Perhaps this is less an Amex offering than a Wal-Mart offering with an Amex logo.

    • I did all my Bluebird registration online. No problem getting a card sent for me and my wife as a sub-account — and we have everything exactly the same as we did on Serve, including passwords, just to make everything easier to remember. Bluebird uses usernames for logins while Serve uses your email address.

      There is a firewall between Serve/Bluebird and the “regular” AMEX credit and charge cards. They’re on entirely different systems for some reason. AMEX proper has their own prepaid cards and such, so the Serve/Bluebird move is interesting. You can’t use any of the AMEX iOS apps to login to a Serve or Bluebird account. You have to use the specific apps for that.

      My sense is that Bluebird is more AMEX than Walmart. Though, the only way to load hard cash on your Bluebird card is to go to a Walmart store in person and do it. That said, I get the idea that Serve has been a testbed for AMEX going all-in and mainstream with prepaid and social media and mobile, and now that they’ve found some success, they’re going all in with Walmart as their bank “storefront.” AMEX wants to own the “free checking” niche and they’re using Bluebird to get there. I can’t wait to pay my AMEX Gold bill with my Bluebird account! SMILE!

      • You know what I just realized? The reason we can’t have both Serve and Bluebird is because AMEX is going to kill one if them. My bet us that all Serve accounts will be transitioned to Bluebird accounts. Bluebird advertising is everywhere. I can’t remember ever seeing a Serve Ad or promo video.

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  • This was very helpful! Thank you for posting so much information =) Please correct me if I am wrong: A sub account is just another card connect to the same account just with a different name on it ie; my husband? He would be able to have his checks as well as my own checks direct deposited into one account. So I guess what I am trying to say is it’s like a joint account… right? I’d really like to get an account but am trying to learn more about it before I dive into it. Thank you for the help in advanced.

    • Hi Ashley!

      Thanks for the comment!

      The subaccount is a slightly lesser account under the main account. I believe you could set up direct deposit for you both if you set it up in your account. Subaccounts cannot pay bills or deposit/add money to the account — you would do that through the main account. You can send your husband money, but I don’t think he can add any money from his side of the account. I know a subaccount cannot do the check deposit via smartphone camera. Only the main account holder can do that camera deposit and the check must be made out to the main account holder.

      • ahh thank you so much, that was what I needed to know. I have always liked “online bank accounts” because the ebanking is up to date (most of the time) and some will even send you texts so it is even easier to stay on top of a budget. Just out of curiosity does blue bird have that feature… i didn’t see it listed but may have over looked it.

        • Sorry it took me so long to reply to you. Hurricane Sandy knocked us out for three days and we’re slowly coming around again.

          I don’t think Bluebird automatically sends you SMS messages, but you can set up automatic emails.

          You can initiate SMS messages from your phone:

          You can also request balance and transaction history texts to your cell phone.

          Messages and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies by account and preferences. Text STOP to BBIRD (22473) to cancel. Text HELP to BBIRD (22473) for info.

  • UPDATE!

    The Bluebird cards arrived today! I was shocked they arrived 6 regular days after ordering. No PATH train or MTA Subway because of Hurricane Sandy today — but the USPS rides in to save a boring day!

    The Bluebird cards are ugly. They feel like those fake temporary membership cards you get in the mail. They have a flat look that is not exciting. The Serve cards are prettier and glossier and much more sophisticated looking. It’s good to have the Bluebird cards in hand, though, because you can’t add funds via debit card or do much of anything else without activating your “named” permanent card. We didn’t go the temporary card route by purchasing a Bluebird box at Walmart.

  • UPDATE:

    Bluebird is majorly sucking. On Oct. 31, during Halloween Sandy, we received an emergency email from Bluebird support that my wife’s account had been locked for “security reasons.” We decided to spend precious battery time in the middle of a power outage to call and find out what was happening. It turned out someone else was trying to login to her account and instead of locking THEM out, AMEX locked out my legitimate wife from her account! Madness! Terrible security. Why punish the innocent party by making them call in and go through a 15-minute security test when we aren’t the ones causing the login problems?

    Just now, we received another freaking email from Bluebird about the same issue! My wife’s account is locked for security reasons! She hasn’t tried to login to her account for days! I’ve been trying to reach AMEX support for 30 minutes. Lines into the Philippines tech support center on this Sunday are clearly not working. What a hassle!

    I’m thinking we will have to cancel our Bluebird account.

    • ugh not good, friend!! im glad you made it through Sandy and all is well. Thanks for replying to my comments. I am going to give blue bird a try and just have my husband get his own and not a sub. i hope its just a temporary issue and blue bird gets on top of the ball!

      • Good luck! My advice is to pick a really unique username that nobody could ever guess or mistake for their own. Then you’ll be in good shape. Let us know how it works out for you!

  • Pingback: Why I Canceled American Express Bluebird and Opened a Brokerage Account Instead | Go Inside Magazine

  • Lillian Boyington

    You had to use your precious battery time? For that? How sad.

    • We were calling in the pitch dark and the guy wanted to talk about Sandy. He wanted to know how we were and where we were and if anything was damaged… it was surreal… I told him the only thing we cared about with a dying phone battery was the emergency email from Bluebird about my wife’s account being locked… we had no idea what caused the email, and when we finally found out, we felt cheated for being forced to call in for nothing, really. It was re-locked a few days later in a repeat attempt that, again, had nothing to do with us.

      • Lillian Boyington

        Thinking… given the ‘security’ thing that most companies are acting on lately, it may have been interesting to deal with them in the first place, since they weren’t speaking with Janna personally.

  • Lillian –

    Janna was with me so she could have answered any questions they had. Under the ADA, I am allowed to interpret for her. As it stood, though, since she had a sub-account under my account, I was able to “manage” her account because it’s really my account.

    I wish you were posting these good questions on today’s article, and not the old one published on Oct. 9! SMILE!

  • I set up my account online and I’m waiting on my card to arrive. However I need the actual numbers off the front of the card to finish verifying some imformation on another account is it possiable to obtaine the number before the card aeeives??

    • I don’t think you can do anything until your actual card arrives unless you buy the temporary card for $5 from Walmart first — but since you’re already in process, I think you’ll just have to wait.

  • Please,how much is the daily limit on serve caard and how can i increase the daily limit

  • Pingback: Rise of the Flat Numbers: Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover It « Boles Blogs

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