If you read other miles and points blogs, you almost certainly have read something about the American Express Bluebird product that came out within the last week. However, if you haven’t seen those others posts (or skipped them because you had no clue what they were talking about), I’ll cover a few basics on why miles and points junkies care about this prepaid/reloadable Amex product, and I’ll point out why you may want to “stay in the nest” for a while instead of diving right into this card’s potential.

What is the Amex Bluebird?

The Amex Bluebird is a brand new prepaid product. Prepaid cards are neither credit nor debit cards, but instead are prepaid cards that have the money loaded on them up-front and then they are spent down and/or added to in the future. There are many prepaid cards out there, but people are touting the Bluebird as a “game changer” since it has many fewer fees and more potential uses than other prepaid cards on the market. The Bluebird is a joint offering with Walmart, and a starter pack can be purchased in Walmart for $5, or it can be ordered online for free. You can also reload the Bluebird at Walmart using cash or a debit card for no fee.  When going into my local Walmart, it was impossible to miss the Bluebird stand since it is directly in your path upon entering the store.

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The Bluebird is intended to be a competitor of check cashing services and it hopes to lure customers who are currently dealing with many fees from their checking accounts.  It is trying to position itself to somewhat replace the need for a checking account for some customers.

Why are you writing about a prepaid card that doesn’t earn miles or points?

Very good question. The reason this card is a hot item in the miles and points world is because the way you load money on the card can earn you miles and points. Additionally, you can then “spend” the money off of the card in ways that you can’t do so with other rewards cards. So, while the card itself is miles and points neutral, it is a very good conduit for earning rewards via other cards.

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Um, what does that mean? How can you load this card with money in a way that earns miles and points?

I am currently aware of two ways to earn points while loading money onto this card. First, you can use a debit card to load the card at a Walmart for no fee. There are a few mileage-earning debit cards out there. I currently don’t have a mileage-earning debit card since my US Airways Bank of America debit card stopped working last month, and it is no longer offered.

Many Visa and MasterCard gift cards now also have the ability to be used with a pin number (as of 4/1/2013), so this can be a very good way to load a BlueBird at Walmart via their Money Center kiosk.

The other way to load this card and earn miles and points is via a Vanilla reload pack purchased with a rewards earning credit card. 

Okay, that makes sense, but isn’t it too good to be true? Won’t Chase, Amex, etc. shut you down for this?

It does seem too good to be true, but it has been working with other prepaid cards for many months in this manner. I am very new into the world of actual reloadable prepaid cards myself (I was purchasing the $500 one-time use gift cards previously), because I don’t entirely trust it. I trust that it works, but I don’t think we know how far the limits can be pushed quite yet. I am in this game now, but on a conservative level. I’ve decided that around $1,000 – $1,500 per month is where I feel comfortable.. I do make sure to mix up the amounts so not every transaction rings in at $505.

I also won’t be shocked if one day we find that these prepaid/reloadable cards can no longer be purchased with a credit card. The Bluebird starter pack itself has to be purchased with cash or debit card, so it doesn’t seem to be a huge stretch that one day the same will be true for the other reloadable type products. I very much hope I am wrong about that, but this may be a limited time rodeo.

I also think that since the Bluebird product is brand new,  we don’t know yet what type of activity is going to trigger red flags for Amex. Specifically, there are some new ways to “spend” the money off of that card, that I am afraid may get folks shut down. For that reason, while I did purchase my Bluebird starter pack this week, I am not going to go crazy with it at all for a while. I will more or less be “sitting in the nest” and learning from others while doing some diverse and smaller transactions with the card. Thumbs up for those who are the pioneers with this sort of thing (All Hail “King of the Prepaid” Frequent Miler), but my family is just too darn busy to mess with being the guinea pig and dealing with fraud alerts, warnings, shut downs, problems, etc. If your family falls into the same category as mine then move slowly, watch, listen, and learn.

You mention there are new ways to spend the money off of the Bluebird. What do you mean?

In addition to being able to use it for everyday purchases like you would a credit card, you can also use the money on a Bluebird card to pay bills online such as your mortgage, your car payment, your electric bill, etc. without a fee. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities since traditionally those sorts of payments have been impossible to earn points on without paying a fee, and going through a third party online service. I have heard mention of some folks paying a credit card bill with this card…you may see where that is headed, and I would say tread very lightly. I will be sitting in the nest and watching how that one plays out, as it seems very risky in my book if you get a loop going there. You can also pull money out via an ATM. This isn’t unique to the Bluebird, but it can be a handy feature. There are fees for this if you don’t have a direct deposit set-up.

You can also transfer money from your Bluebird account to your checking or savings account. Again, this sounds like a “tread lightly” situation to me. There are lots of additional ways to spend this money as well, I recommend cruising around the Bluebird website for all the nitty gritty.

How much money can I load on a Bluebird?

There is a $1,000 daily limit and a $5,000 monthly limit for loading the Bluebird via a debit card at Walmart. There is also a $1,000 daily and $5,000 monthly limit using a Vanilla reload. A maximum of $10,000 can be on the Bluebird at any one time. You can see all the other various limits on the Bluebird site.  I had a problem with a “fraud hold” when I first loaded money on my Amex prepaid (not a Bluebird), and the solution was just to be patient for 24 hours and it resolved.

What if I lose the card? Does it have fraud protection?

Yes, but only if it is registered. If it isn’t registered than you are out any money that is spent off the card before you notified Amex. I have exchanged emails with a reader who is having all sorts of drama dealing with some fraudulent charges on an Amex prepaid, but I am pretty sure it is not on the Bluebird. I don’t know if the process is substantially different with the prepaid he has and the Bluebird, but I just wanted to mention that tidbit.

Does it have purchase protection?

Yes, it seems to cover items purchased with the card for 90 days if they are broken or stolen. More details can be found on the Bluebird website.

Are deposits FDIC insured?

It wasn’t at first – but this was introduced in March 2013.

Okay, so this sounds potentially very lucrative, but I’m not sure if it is worth it or not. What should I do next?

Like I mentioned, don’t feel the need to plunge out of the figurative nest head-first into the world of Bluebirds and prepaids. The Bluebird product is brand new, and if you want to just patiently watch and learn from others, then do that. You will probably save yourself some drama and frustration by learning from others’ mistakes before making your own. I will post some on the topic, but Million Mile Secrets, Gary Leff, and the King of Prepaids, Frequent Miler, also seem to be quite interested in Bluebird. I recommend keeping an eye on them, and especially Frequent Miler for Bluebird updates and experiments.

I do not think that this opportunity will be around forever. I do think that being conservative and cautious is better than going crazy with this. I do think that at least putting your toes in the gift card/prepaid world is a good thing.

If you want, you can order a Bluebird for free online today (probably a better plan than paying to get a starter pack at Walmart). If you do pay $5 and pick up a starter pack at your neighborhood Walmart you will get some high quality people-watching for free with your purchase.  You then have to register the one you get at Walmart online to get your “permanent” Bluebird.

I’m sure this doesn’t answer every question about the Bluebird, but it isn’t supposed to. My hope is this info just helps open a few eyes a little bit, as well as encourages some restraint and patience with this new world of miles and points opportunities. If you get the Bluebird, just try to make your spending patterns look as much like a normal person as possible to avoid raising suspicion.  Normal people have purchases of various sizes at various places.  Normally people have online bill pays to various payees for various amounts.  Normal people wouldn’t pull money off the card to their checking accounts or similar as soon as they put it on.  Normal people wouldn’t be pulling large amounts out of the ATM every day.  You get the idea.  I’m not going to go crazy with this, and I encourage others who don’t want to deal with potential headaches to do the same.

 

Posted by Mommy Points | 57 Comments

57 Responses to “Amex Bluebird is Out: Why You Should Possibly Stay in the Nest”

  1. Sil says:

    I wonder if one would receive miles for using the B of A Alaska Airlines debit card. I copied and pasted the T and C from the website.

    1 Earns miles on purchases only. Does not earn miles for ATM transactions, cash-back amounts at point of sale, or for federal, state or local tax payments, or similar payments to federal, state and local government agencies.

  2. misty says:

    HI,

    FYI ..I just tried to set up an account and was turned down because I have an
    American Express Serve Account (a prepaid card).

  3. Newman says:

    I’m in NYC, it has been a few months that I am not able to find any vanilla from OD now…

  4. MrChu says:

    Too risky and and too much time spent on tracking if you want to maximize your points. I’m on the sidelines for now….although my 21 year old can play this game as he doesn’t have much to lose and loads of time on his hands except he doesn’t have Ink cards to maximize earning potential!

  5. Tim2 says:

    Excellent, I’m glad you are taking the conservative stance, as am I. I think for now, I will stick with amex prepaid. Although bill pay is a huge game changer, I too want to see how this plays out

  6. Ki7roy says:

    Amex and Chase are two companies I wouldn’t want to play games with.

    Amex monitors and controls their accounts very tightly.

    Getting banned by Chase will cut you off from the biggest gravy train out there.

    I believe that the Ink game will end in tears for many.

    Office depot 5X = Chase paying you 5% cash back for a transaction they are only earning 2-2.5% on. Sooner or later, they will want to stop the bleeding. Killing 5X at office supply stores will kill one of their selling points for normal users, so they will likely stop the bleeding by banning the prepaid abusers.

    If you get banned by Amex and Chase, whose credit cards will you be churning?

    Proceed with extreme caution if you play this game.

  7. Robert says:

    I am attracted by the bill pay but I don’t have an Ink card. The prepaid game still scares me.

  8. Ernie says:

    How about useing a non Chase card to purchase the vanilla reload. Sure, it only earns 1 point, but if B of A shuts down my Alaska or Hawaiian card, no big deal

  9. mommypoints says:

    Sil, we will know for sure in about a month when statements close.
    misty, correct. You have to close that one if you want this one.
    Newman, I have heard that NYC is a very tough place to find Vanilla reloads. If you are in another city at some point I would do a OD visit.
    MrChu, I absolutely agree this isn’t for everyone.
    Tim2, sounds like we are on the same page here.
    Ki7roy, I absolutely agree about proceeding with caution as it is always possible that Chase will turn on some heavy office supply users in the future. Too conservative is better than too aggressive in my mind.
    Robert, waiting and watching a bit longer won’t hurt if you want to see how the bill pay plays out.

  10. mommypoints says:

    Ernie, that will work. Not as lucrative, but it is a way to earn 1x on some things you weren’t earning any points for. ;)

  11. frequent churner says:

    Allow me to share my experience, since I’ve been through all this before.
    .
    1) This card is not that revolutionary. Netspend has all the same features, and also allowed reloads from grocery store reload-it packs, which made it more flexible. There are other cards that allow various reloads to be used and have bill payment or PIN debit capabilities.
    .
    2) Paying your credit card bill or sending money to others frequently will almost certainly get someone’s account shut down. Happened to me with Netspend.
    .
    3) With the new prepaid cards I’m using, my strategy is to put some regular spending on there, pay mortgage, etc. bills, taxes and buy a money order at a drug store a few times a month. In other words, it looks like real spending and it makes the card company money. I’ve been doing it for 2 months now and have churned through 10k of manufactured spending.
    .
    We’ll see what tolerance AMEX has but the key is to not abuse any of the juicy features, and instead focus on making them money by doing $500+ in credit spending, and then mix in $2-3k worth of bill payments and MO purchases. I would avoid sending money to others or paying your CC with this. Especially if you plan to buy a reload pack with an AMEX card :)

  12. I agree that you dont need to jump in until there is confirmation that you earn. Until then its all speculation.

  13. Geoff says:

    How about using AMEX MR Gold or AMEX Delta Plat to buy debit card, load it onto BB, then pay utilities, mortgages, etc??
    Or even transfer BB balance to current bank account and keepp payments as they are?
    yeah it’s a few steps but paying a mortgage(and other usual fee charged bills) with NO fee AND getting points is HUGE.
    What am I missing?

  14. Rob P says:

    Great points, MP.

  15. Jim says:

    Don’t forget Chase has told us what the limit is on office supplies it’s $50,000 per year.And they can’t tell what you purchased.
    The BB is has been developed to be used as your new checking account, so go ahead and pay some bills. That’s what the program was intended for.I wouldn’t put money in and then take it out, but charge stuff pay bills that’s what they want you to do.
    The INK card is a business card many of us with “real” businesses charge 200k per year a few thousand per month will not even get noticed.And that’s the key I don’t think your office supplies should be 90% of your total purchases.So the amount of beans will be different for everyone based on your total purchases.However if you have a min spend to meet( like $2500 on a new Citi card)I would buy $2500 in beans and load the entire amount on my BB.And then pay some bills, and go on to my next min spend.

  16. Matt says:

    Great post. I appreciate your moderate, cautious approach. I agree. The best strategy, if you use BB, would be to have a healthy level of normal, everyday purchases on it.

  17. ddawg says:

    Does opening the bluebird affect your credit at all

  18. Cory says:

    I think I am with a lot of people commenting here. I hadn’t even heard of Bluebird until a few days ago. As a points obsessed, or rather enthused, person it has always annoyed me that my largest expense was something I couldn’t earn any points on (Mortgage). But, I just accepted it and moved on with my life. Now that I would have a way of earning points, and a lot of points at that, while paying my mortgage in some ways I’d feel like a fool not to.

    I have so far only dipped my toes into the gift card waters. I pay all of my gas expenses on Mobile or Shell gift cards, mostly because on those I am not paying an added fee for buying them. I have not yet bought a Vanilla Reload card. But, it is tempting.

  19. Jim says:

    @cory Use this with respect, however no need to be afraid of this product.They want you to put money on your BB and buy stuff and pay your bills. I think people will have trouble with “in and out ” money. Transferring the money to your checking account and ATM’s is reckless. Use this but don’t abuse this. Trust your gut feeling and you will use it wisely.

  20. Lively says:

    I like Jim’s idea. Just use it to meet min. spend…if I could just pay my mortgage each month with a credit card, I’d be happy. I know the beans are sold in OD, and 7-Eleven. What would it look like if you spent $1,000 at 7-Eleven…wouldn’t that throw up red flags?

  21. Tana says:

    I’m with you, MommyPoints. I just applied for an Ink – am planning on paying all house taxes at the end of the year – that will take care of the $10,000 spend. I may try to pay my car, 2nd mortgage and water bill with the Bluebird. Was thinking of putting around $2000 into Bluebird monthly ($1000 on Ink, $1000 on Starwood Amex). I know I am not maximizing Ink but want to tread lightly and I like accruing Starpoints for long Disneyworld trips at the Swan. Also will sign up for some other direct bill pays on the Ink and use sporadically. The Bluebird I will have around $400 or so left after paying bills to just use as a credit card. Hopefully this careful planning will keep me out of the spotlight :). And I will probably will not start until after the first of the year.
    I am also in Houston – just checked into the Office Depot near my house and they have TONS of Reloads. No one seems to play this lucrative game in Cypress.
    I liked your comment about the Walmart people watching – I hate going in there!

  22. I think once it gets confirmed you can go off to the races with it. But there is no sense jumping the gun. If they dont credit as a purchase then its a pointless exercise. I’d rather deal with Amex than with Netspend any day.

  23. Blake says:

    Am I the only one who sees a problem applying for IB/IP and in the process checking the box that affirms you will only use the card for businesses expenses? People seem to do this freely – am I missing something?

  24. Kathy says:

    If this has already been addresses, I apologize. I have some property taxes to pay. They can be paid online with a credit card but a fee would be charged. I can pay it with bluebird and have them send a check but county asks that checks are sent with the tax notice stub. I know that many people use their bill paying services through their banks so their payments stubs don’t necessarily get sent in for student loans, car payments, etc. Does this ever create a problem? I would want to make sure that my payment is getting credited to my account. I have never done it before. Thanks!

  25. Max says:

    Did you go to the Walmart at the corner of I-610 or somewhere else?

  26. Scott S says:

    @Mommypoints – if you order the Blubird card online (for free), there’s no need to purchase the starter pack.

    @Kathy – you could purchase a money order via Walmart with a miles earning debit card to pay the property taxes.

  27. Kathy says:

    Good idea Scott, unfortunately, I do not have any of the miles earning debit cards.

  28. LauraS. says:

    Thanks for the thorough explanation. I love reading Frequent Miler, but this momma bird is staying in the nest a little longer too!! ;)

  29. Neil says:

    Hi Mommypoints,
    I have a question that is related to this post about Chase Ink Plus. I was just approved for the card and I am somewhat cautious about using it. I am cautious because if I use the card for the cable/phone/internet/office supply store that are not technically related to my “business” Would I get audited and lose all my points or get my chase accounts closed? I don’t know what will happen to you if you don’t start the business you intended to but still using the biz card. Will there be any problems with that? Just wanted to get some perspectives from others who have been using Chase Ink Plus. Thank you!

  30. mommypoints says:

    frequent churner, thanks for sharing your experience!
    MileageUpdate, no question you will earn points with this, but to get 100% first hand confirmation with debit cards no harm in waiting a few more weeks.
    Geoff, you can use any card to buy the reload packs, but I wouldn’t just move it right to your checking account as that may raise some Amex red flags. Mix in some regular spending and do some bill pays from the Bluebird.
    Rob, thanks!
    Jim, sounds like you have a good strategy.
    Matt, I totally agree.
    ddawg, it is not reflected on your credit report. As it is an Amex product, I’m sure Amex can know that you have one.
    Cory, sounds like you already have your toes in the water, so just slowly do some small stuff with this and see if it works well for you!
    Jim, I agree those that are cycling money through will likely be some the ones with the biggest targets on their backs.
    Lively, I don’t plan to charge $1,000 at a gas station!
    Tana, I like your plan. And shhhhh about the reloads in the Houston area. ;)
    Blake, I’m sure you are not the only one.
    Kathy, I have not done that specifically, so perhaps others can better weigh-in on that one.
    Max, somewhere else.
    Scott, correct. I think online purchase is a better overall option for most. I just purchased it in store out of curiosity.
    Laura, ha ha. I love him, too, but I’m just a bit more cautious/boring with my own stuff. ;)
    Neil, almost every business I can think of requires phone/internet/office supplies. I can’t tell you exactly what to do in that situation, but I can tell you that my business certainly requires all of those things to operate. ;)

  31. gottoloveInk says:

    @Neil – go ahead and use it. As long as you put other stuff in it (regular/usual purchases) it should not be an issue. Been using 2 Inks for a while and i am almost maxing the 2nd for the OD purchases…bonus points (x4 for OD,phone,cable,internet)have posted with the monthly statement. Go ahead and don’t be afraid to use it. With this rate that this is being discussed all over the board, one should be afraid they won’t get the benefit of 5x at OD if they don’t rush, not the other way around. Don’t be scared by the negative posts.

  32. Blaine says:

    MP – thanks for the well written summary. Hoping my new Ink Bold finally arrives so I can get a few 5x gift cards before the damn Bluebird thing gets it shut down! :)

  33. JP says:

    Mommy Points… I really enjoy the fact that someone in this game has something better to do than spend hours figuring out how to bite the hand that feeds them. While many of us are enthusiastic about this great new hobby and the travel that we have, MOST people, including blog readers, aren’t quite so addicted.

    Many of these point hogs have MILLIONS of miles sitting around from these antics. More points than they can ever use.
    Most of the people that I know just want to save some money on a family trip. I think I can speak for many of your readers to say that if our goals are just a few family trips a year, there’s no need to spend huge amounts of time going to Walmart to load your prepaid with your Ink card. Gaming the system is not for everybody.

  34. Nick says:

    @JP

    “MOST people, including blog readers, aren’t quite so addicted.”

    disagree

    “Many of these point hogs have MILLIONS of miles sitting around from these antics. More points than they can ever use.”

    totally disagree

    “Most of the people that I know just want to save some money on a family trip.”

    disagree

    “Gaming the system is not for everybody.”

    A better way to make your point would have been,
    “Gaming the system is not for ME…” rather than to take it upon yourself to speak for everyone and erroneously assume that everyone agrees with you.

    I don’t understand how you can get so uptight over this post. I find it to be very good information. I have often wondered about how to pay my mortgage and earn points, and there was never a good way. Now there is finally a legitimate way!!! Be HAPPY, not frustrated!
    :)
    :)
    :)

  35. marathon man says:

    I like your write up and I too am sitting in the nest–in fact, not even in the nest yet, still in the egg! But what I must caution people on is this bit about paying mortgages:
    .
    Many banks (bofa being one) do not like partial payments on mortgages. Why? I dunno, but you need to check to see if your bank does. Also, many bill pay services (bluebird MAY be one of these–we do not know yet) take up to 10 days to send a ‘check’ to the place where you are paying your bill.
    .
    What does this mean? Well, say your mortgage payment is $1,700 a month. You can only pay up to $1000 today with this BB card, and you also need to go back tomorrow to pay the rest. (btw does that mean you still have $300 left for the day to pay something else and wont it look strange to Amex that you try to hit exactly $1000 each day?) Anyway you need to find out from your bank if they accept such things and you need to find out from BB how long it takes the payment/check to get to your mortgage company. For if it’s late (you could have paid today but it takes BB a week to send the money) then we all know how it goes.
    .
    I know when I tried to pay my property taxes with I think 3 different bank bill pays, there was a 10 day gap in there I had to account for. I finally gave up and decided it wasn’t so bad to write a check and drive to my town hall when I was home during its limited service hours, or use a stamp and mail it.
    .
    Just be careful on timing!
    .
    @Nick – If I read you right you have been concerned about gaming the system. Can you clarify what that means? To me it means anything people don’t understand but that involves creative steps to accomplish more than one goal for a discount but following the T&Cs to a point that may annoy the mind of the person who does not understand it and therefore says he or she would never do that. This system is no different than many others but I have argued elsewhere that it exposes so many other systems and processes many miles people already use that something probably WILL get shut down and changed while everybody has this thing already in their hands.

  36. Ernie says:

    Check the spending limits on the BB. The $1000 daily limit is for deposits, not spending

  37. JP says:

    Nick… sorry if I rubbed you wrong, but when I say “most people”, I mean the general population of miles/points holding credit cards, which is still nearly everybody that I personally know, and likely to be a general cross section of our national population. These cards are issued in large numbers, very few are involved in gaming the system. Case in point– there are many, many stories of us “converts” trying to tell our friends and family, and these efforts falling on deaf ears. The blogs are full of such stories.
    And, check Flyertalk if you don’t believe me that there are people with millions of points sitting in their accounts. That’s just a fact, too.

    However, it is a nice opportunity for some people to take advantage of. I never will believe that this is what the vast majority of people will be doing.

    Best of luck with your travels.

  38. asdfasdf says:

    Momma, I totally agree with you. The risk/reward is not there for me yet… I don’t want to get shut down or deal with problems over doing that much work and also paying fees on top of it…..

    Good luck to the brave and people with more time on their hands…

  39. MileValue says:

    I thought Mommy’s job was to push us out of the nest to see if we could fly! I’m more sanguine on Bluebird. I just paid my cc bill with a Bluebird. (Circular, huh? I wonder what the credit card bill was for. Hint: Ice Cream.)

  40. Jack says:

    @Tana – TONS of vanilla reloads in Houston? And three OD by the airport. Sweet. I need to start routing though there. LOL.

  41. Grandy says:

    I opened a Bluebird account online for free last month. Website was easy to negotiate, and signup was a breeze. I received a card in the mail in just 2 days, nice! Now for the bad part- I linked my checking account to my Bluebird account, and transferred $50, just to experiment. 4 1/2 days later, the funds are still not available in my Bluebird account! Bluebird holds on to your money for FIVE days, according to the terms and conditions. That’s a deal breaker for me! I’m closing my Bluebird account as soon as I get my $50 back.

  42. marenga910 says:

    I purchase the Bluebird card starter pack at Walmart. Last Saturday (one week ago today) I linked it to my checking account and transferred $100 to BB. The $100 was withdrawn from my checking this past Monday but today, five more days, the money still shows as pending in my BB account. So in reality it will at least 9 days before I can use my own money. A definite deal breaker. I will never transfer any money from my checking again. I will see if I can load it for free at Walmart and the money posts immediately but otherwise, I’m through with this card already.

  43. BILL says:

    BLUEBIRD = GARBAGE CARD. Here are four reasons NOT to get this card: 1) They intentionally delay, thereby floating your money for their financial gain, the transfer of funds from your bank account to a bluebird account, typical delay is 6-days–althougth the money comes out of your bank account much quicker, 2) Merchants know the balance on your card–sometimes it prints on your receipt! What a security nightmare, 3) while they will allow your paycheck to be electronically deposited, they will not allow you to use the same ACH transfer system to fund your bluebird account, 4) When you log into your account, they will show your decreasing balance, but they will not provide a transaction history for days and days. Another security nightmare if someone has identified how much money is available on your card (see “2″ above) and starts drawing money out. GET A SECURED VISA card instead through someone like Capital One and this way you have a real credit card and it will help your credit rating.

  44. Kim says:

    Worse customer service ever. I used my card when we checked into a hotel and they “held” $100 for incidentals. That’s fine except its been 2 weeks since we’ve checked out and although the hotel has put the credit through, bluebird can’t find it. I’ve been on the phone for 3hrs and 4 min, not including the 32 minutes I was on hold for a rep to even answer the phone. She has added up my transactions 10 times (each of which has taken her 10-15 min each time) and for some reason it’s clear to see that my acct is $100 short but she can’t understand it. AMEX, shame on you for allowing such shotty business practices to soil your name. This is officially just a “play” card for my daughters allowance. I am turning my direct deposit off immediately and anyone who reads this should avoid this card at all costs!

  45. Mark says:

    Total garbage! I got this for my wife with a couple hundred bucks so she could use it to buy clothes. Total pain signing up online, waiting for a “permanent” card (that is flimsy). THE CARD DOES NOT WORK ANYWHERE!!! We can’t use it to make internet purchases, and it doesn’t work at the ATM. We tried to call Amex but couldn’t wait on hold forever. I am furious.

  46. Marty says:

    Bluebird American Express customer service is a joke!!! I received my new card in the mail and when i went to activate it online my account got locked so it told me to call customer service and when i did i sat on hold for over 30 minutes waiting for an available agent and still no agent. I also signed up for direct deposit for this card at my work and now since my account is locked i wont be able to get my paycheck. Also there is no way to email anyone on the bluebird.com website to me this is a joke and i will be going back to my walmartmoneycard asap and i will be telling everyone i know to stay away from bluebird! I dont have unlimited minutes on my cell phone so i cant sit on hold forever waiting to talk to a customer service agent if there even is one LOL!!!!!

  47. Marty says:

    I might have to get ahold of the better business bureau and tell them about bluebird american express practices and useless customer service!!!!!

  48. Grandy says:

    Update to my post from Nov 15th:
    My deposited money was finally available NINE days later. Instead of going to an ATM to get my money back, I just made a purchase from Amazon (after realizing than so many other online retailers don’t accept American Express!). Although the Amazon transaction funds were deducted from my Bluebird account immediately, it took several more days for the transaction to show up on bluebird.com. What a shoddy operation.

  49. Randy Johnson says:

    Horrible, Horrible, Horrible, do not get this card. They have not cst support. I have had the card for 3 weeks and have had to call in 4 times. Each time is over an hour. This current time is going on 3 hour hold/transfers. There is no online/email support. All I need to do is transfer a few bucks to someone’s account from time to time. I have two debit cards linked which says it right ways, nope usually takes days. Now the account is frozen for some freaking reason and regular cst service cannot answer any question so you need to speak to the “super secret squirrel” person who keeps you on hold forever. As soon as I get the card unlocked I am transferring all of the money out and going back to taking my happy butt back to the store for a manual money gram. I feel very sorry for those of you who seriously consider these clowns for your primary money card. They are not even FDIC backed. I was only doing a couple of hundred at a time, I have read that people are actually having things like tax returns and direct deposit sent there. DO NOT do that, trust me. Go to a freaking bank people, it’s not that bad for that kind of stuff.

  50. D. Johnson says:

    Same experiences as your other contributors here.
    Signed up last month and put $122.00 on Bluebird through a Walmart clerk with a ‘boxed’ preprinted card. Box claimed I could do ‘all’ bill pays and reload card for #1.00 at any clerk and any Walmart.

    Tried card at a series of 5 stores and ‘quick stop’ gas station locations. Only one store and the ’7-Eleven’ gas station uses would pass the card.
    Tried to reload the card, and that failed for five days, many tries.
    Customer service number took hours of waiting and many tries, constantly lied to about delays in loading, limited uses of the Walmart preprinted card(not embossed nor personalized) and the 5 day holds on bank account transfers.
    No one at Bluebird ever told the truth, they all had to be caught by my careful reading, guessing, and interpolating of maximum possible fraud and dishonesty possible in the ‘box’ printed ads and ‘TV ads’ as claimed by Am Ex to be offered.
    They claimed at the C.S. that the cards could be charged at four retailers, yet after hours of driving to those stores, not even one would accept a charging with cash of these cards. Walmart is the ONLY store accepting charging cards in Oklahoma.
    I nearly lost a late paid storage space with this.
    These cards do not allow repeated bill paying- you can only setup one time payments(not admitted by the customer service nor Walmart employees).
    The reloading of cards is NOT available by all Walmart store register clerks as promised on the box, on TV in ads, and by C.S.
    Limited numbers of Walmart stores have a ‘Money Center’ where the cards can be charged.
    The accounts do ‘lock up’ for unexplained reasons, and are routinely refused as store transaction cards for purchases at most retailers- sometimes 4-5 attempts are required for each use.
    The promise of ‘Vanilla card’ recharges at the un-stated $4.95 added cost is not even available in Oklahoma and some other states as the Am Ex products are not recognized by most retailers. One reason is the recent $100 million dollar fines paid out on the recently failed prior ‘Bluebird’ card account setup at Am Ex where the admission to a lack of customer service was the third largest fines ever issued by regulators of this card type. The old accounts were being repaid and cancelled as the new ‘Bluebird’ story was being installed at the massive numbers of Walmart stores.
    Every conversation with customer service gets a differing set of promises, with much dishonesty and a near total lack of honorable true detailing of the cards liabilities and limitations. Only ‘push promotion’ sales gimmickry statements are made by the customer services rep.s- truth is ‘out-the-window’ at Bluebird, Walmart, and the C.S.
    I wasted hours at Walmarts trying to put money on the ‘Bluebird’, without success except one time only at a WM ‘Money Center’.

    A shame for Walmart and Am Ex to have such a shoddy product to replace a same-named product which formerly failed for similar reasoning.
    They apparently do have our money in there credit balances somewhere, however, and it does them well, or they would not take the money into the accounts.
    These could be very good cards if the truth was the bottom line in the printed ‘box’ ads and at C.S., or, if the transactions were recorded in real time as promised in the ads.

    New news to me here is the lack of FDIC insurance for future repeated failure. This industry is actively changing conditions, and our accounts will change with those changes in regulations.
    Even the personalized cards mailed out after ‘boxed’ cards carry the limits I have described above.

    C.S. tried to get me to transfer several hundred dollars to this new card, and refused to admit it would be locked up for the ’5 day’ hold when I described my need for an emergency payment required on the same days payout. They had no regrets upon C.S. attempted resolution on multiple calls over hours of complaint.
    Sincerely, D. Johnson

  51. shannon w says:

    i lost my bluebird card before i got a chance to get registered.. am i screwed out of my money now? i cant get thru to them on the phone, and i havent registered so i cant go online.. they have put a lock on my card. what does this mean?

  52. Ellen Newton Hausler says:

    Don’t forget that a toll free number is not free when using a cell phone and you will likely pay to hear six or seven songs before your call is answered. You keep on paying to hear customer service talk in an unclear accent about why they can’t help you.

  53. Matt rushton says:

    DON’T GET A BLUE BIRD. they have so many bugs in their system it decline for no reason. Twice I have had atm transactions not deaspense money but come out of the account. Blue bird customer service tells me all kinds of reasons why it happened but say they can’t fix it for 10 to 45 days and won’t supply a credit line in tell the investigation is complete. But again they tell me why it happened the same day so why do they need 45 days to investigate

  54. Candy Coated says:

    I’m starting to think this card is useless! I ordered some of the free checks and recently used one to pay my car note. Turns out the Honda Finance system “could not locate the account” and reversed my payment. Extremely frustrating!!! Fortunately, when I called Bluebird, the rep immediately stopped the check and freed up my funds so that I could withdraw the money to make car payment. God help me, but I was not kind to him at all. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I needed those funds freed up NOW!!!! Then I just called to find out what was going on. Nothing against India, but when I hear, “May I know your name?” I hang up and keep trying until I can get a halfway decent westernized dialect. The 3rd rep I got on the line explained that “the merchant is probably not in the Bluebird network.” Well, why the hell don’t you say that when you send somebody these worthless checks?!?! (Actually, they probably did send it in the fine print that nobody ever reads.) I only got this card because my roommate uses their service and wanted the convenience of transferring the rent money over to me. And since he pays dependably, I suppose I’ll keep it open for his convenience. Otherwise, I would’ve long cut up this shyte and burned these ghetto-arse checks!!!

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