Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for many

230

Amex stomps bluebird and serve

Amex seems to have swept through all Serve and Bluebird accounts to identify any that were being used to manufacture spend.  Identified account holders received emails today as follows:

Dear [your name here],

We are writing to let you know that we have observed unusual usage patterns on your American Express Serve Account. Because of this, effective immediately, you will no longer be able to add money to your Account.1 We have made this change in accordance with Section 15.d of our Consumer User Agreement, which you can view here.

Please be aware that you continue to have full access to the funds on your Account and can withdraw them at any time. Any applicable monthly fees continue to apply.

Once your balance reaches $0, please close your Account online via your Profile page accessible here. Scroll down to the Close Account section and click “Close Account.”

If you have any questions or would like to inquire further about this issue, you may write to us at the following address:

American Express
C/O Customer Relations 02-04-40
4315 S 2700 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84184-0440

Another technique bites the dust.  I guess yesterday’s post was prescient: Manufacturing Spend in 2016 and Beyond.

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Curious Customer

Is it possible to still use vanilla or other visa gift cards to load money to either Serve or BB?

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[…] 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: 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 […]

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[…] Note: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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: On January 8, 2015 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 […]

[…] Late last week, Amex delivered bad news to huge numbers of Bluebird and Serve account holders.  They shut down accounts due to “unusual usage patterns.”  I reported the news here:  Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend. […]

Tom

Bummer. Mine got cancelled too.
I had a spare unregistered redbird lying around that I figured I’d try to switch to just for some account management and the 5% cashback. After fully closing my Serve accounts, I tried to register that card (about 10 minutes after closure). No luck using same name/social with either same or different email addresses.

Anyone know if this means we’re banned from all Amex prepaid products?

Bill

Mine nor my wife received email, both accounts still working

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RAUL

Nice story

Mike

I don’t have much respect for the BB team…not just because of today’s big shutdown but for the way they handled a technical issue I had with my account awhile back.

I’ve had a BB account for nearly two years now, About a year ago, something happened to my account (and a few select other account holders based on what I later learned) that preventing me from using the Bill Pay feature of BB. When I first noticed the problem, I called BB reps and explained the situation. They wrote up a ticket and gave me the ticket number, saying they would forward to their technical team and it would be resolved in roughly 3-5 business days and I would receive an email about it at that time.

Well, that time came and went with no resolution and no email. I called again. The rep put me on hold to check with the technical team. When she came back on the line she told me they were still working on the problem but it would be resolved soon. I asked if I could speak with someone from the technical team. She didn’t want to at first (it was almost like it was not their policy to do so) but she put me on hold again and then brought in a 3rd line party from the technical team. After explaining the situation to the tech, he said it was a glitch affecting a limited number of users but they would have it resolved within 10 business days and I would get an email about it. He also created a new ticket and told me to just refer to that ticket number from this point forward. I even asked for and got his name just in case.

So I waited….and waited…and waited. After more than 3 weeks, still no bill pay and no email, I called again. I gave the rep the new ticket number. She put me on hold to check. But then she came back and said they had no record of that ticket number. I gave here the original ticket number. She checked. She said they had no record of that ticket number either. I then gave her the tech’s name. She said it was not possible to speak with anyone from the technical team. She said she could give me no information regarding my problem and to just wait until it was fixed.

It had already been nearly a month now and all I was getting was the run-around. I then asked to speak with a supervisor. I was put on hold again. On hold…for over 30 minutes. I almost hung up but I didn’t. Finally some lady (claiming she was a supervisor…maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t…who knows) came on the line. I again explained the whole situation and expressed my angst that I had several thousands of dollars in my account and for nearly a month I couldn’t use that money to pay any bills and I didn’t want to be hit with late fees.

Keep in mind…these were not CC bills…I used BB to pay my mortgage, my insurance, my lawn service, and several others.

This “supervisor” couldn’t have been less sympathetic and did not do anything or provide any further assistance to get me a legitimate status update. She basically just told me to sit tight and it would get resolved at some point but she gave me no time frame at all.

I then asked her if she could open up a new account for me that had the Bill Pay feature working and to move my current funds over to it. She said no that wouldn’t be possible. She said that all she could do was close the account and my funds would be returned to me in 2-3 weeks.

I asked again to speak to a technical team member and she refused. She just repeated over and over that my only options were to wait it out (with no estimation of a time frame to resolve) or close the account.

I repeated my displeasure with this situation, the amount of time that had already passed without a technical resolution (roughly a month now), the lack of transparency over getting valid, updated information and with the lack of viable options.

Just before I hung up she did mention I could transfer the funds sitting in my BB account into another bank account, with certain daily and monthly limitations. She said there was no fee to do so and the limits well exceeded the amount of funds I had in the account so at least I could get the money out. Why couldn’t she have mentioned that earlier? She just threw it out there at the end of our conversation after telling me repeatedly earlier there were only two options…wait or close account.

I would up doing that…moving the funds over to my bank checking account, zeroing out my BB account. I would check back from time to time for for several more months but the Bill Pay feature still did not work on my account.

Finally…after more than 3 months the Bill Pay feature was finally resolved on my account. I had to find out myself when I logged in and could finally get to that screen again (before, the link to the Bill Pay feature would not work at all). No email…again. Sadly, I finally did get the email stating the issue was resolved….about three more months after it was fixed (and nearly six months after I first reported the problem).

Top notch operation they have over their at BB. Not the brightest or the most helpful.

Lauren

Add me to the boot list. One account, never maxed out my loads monthly …. so sad.

[…] This morning Amex delivered bad news to huge numbers of Bluebird and Serve account holders.  They shut down accounts due to “unusual usage patterns on your American Express Serve Account.”  I reported the news here:  Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend. […]

Susan

I was a very moderate MSer with Bluebird and only had the one account. I used the account to write checks to vendors as well as using it for small purchases here and there. I also kept a balance on the account.
I think they developed an algorithm of some sort that sorted through the accounts. If they saw repeated deposits of the same amounts (200, 500, 999) and repeated credit card payees; then, I think those accounts were flagged and subsequently closed. What makes no sense to me are the people who managed three or more accounts and not all of them were closed… unless, of course, that shoe drops at a later date. I would be interested to hear about that… whose accounts were closed after the first mass emailing (which I think we all received around the same time – around 10:30 today, 1/8)…. and were some people notified later.
And no matter what people say, I also believe that continued writing about these things even as we know the situation is changing, is not necessarily good for the ‘hobby’.

JustSaying

2 of 3 alive……..all 3 similar usage patterns although the one shut down had more different payees though the same amount each month as the other two……….Is the Federal Reserve behind this? You laugh……..it seems not coincidental that various providers seem to be acting in concert…….

Joe

I’ve been lucky so far, have kept all 4. Keeping my fingers crossed we will see if it stays that way the next few days.

Steve

I got the wah-wah email for my Serve but not the one I manage for my mom, which I’ve tended to do less on (and no online loads from Fidelity). However, I went today to Family Dollar to unload a OneVanilla onto my mom’s Serve; initially it went through but then got a “suspected fraud” alert on the register and kicked back the $500 to the OV. That’s not a good sign.

G

It would be great if someone can create a survey so we can start collecting data to see if we can figure out what exactly prompted the shutdowns. From what I’ve seen so far, it seems a little random but if we have sufficient data, a pattern might emerge. Whaddya think?

Hellas67ea

I tried a load at rite aid in Penn and I got a fraud alert

Vicente

Used BB for purchases at WM. Wrote BB checks to pay babysitter. preschool, etc. Only used billpay to pay non-Amex CC like Chase etc. Didn’t matter, still shut down.

Spouse Serve used billpay to mail rent check, pay non-Amex CC. Also shutdown.

People that think it’s only really obvious circular MS that gets caught, are wrong.

wise2u

How long have you had that graphic sitting there waiting for this day?
I know you make money on your blog but with your main focus being MS with detailed how to instructions (sans circles and arrows) you and others who shout about the benefits of MS just hasten it’s demise. Discussions like these belong in the back pages of FT not in daily descriptive articles for the masses. I’m not saying it shut down because of your blog alone, but cumulative daily chatter about MS doesn’t help keep it going.

JL

One didn’t exactly need to be Nostradamus to see the writing on the wall. The loss of Costco, Fidelity, and others has put a lot of revenue pressure on Amex. Also, compare the one year stock price of Amex to Visa and MC and action clearly needed to be taken. Toss in the Redbird fiasco and it’s a miracle BB and Serve lasted as long as they did.

Paul

I got the email. My wife didn’t, but both cards were shut down. Before running off to walmart to do my possibly last load of my random assortment of gc’s, I tried doing an online load and got the message there for my wife’s account. And I was prevented from loading online from an Amex CC…

goodMXguy

Well. I got the Email too. Loading MS and CC founding. Unloading= Bill pay and ATM withdraw. I was not using too much the account, less than 2K per month in the most active months. Too bad Amex is taking such a drastic approach, I agree with others that adding other kinds of restrictions could have been a more civilized move.

[…] and moving back to Serve until last week. Haven’t even loaded 3 of 4 and, bam, they put the hit on most everyone more established (except of course Dan, he seems to be first to a deal and last […]

Nick

Did NOT get the email but can’t figure out why. . Must be volume based as others are indicating. I load the max online with CC, but do very little with VGCs… I just didn’t have time this year. But man, I didn’t even bother with bill pays the past 6 months – – just straight withdrawals to bank accounts. Weird.

Lauren

Le sigh. Now watch the Citi 100K after spending 10K offer pop back up…

Amy C

So far, no shutdown for me. I haven’t been loading it recently and when I did it was less than 2K a month. All billpay on the unload side. As I was looking through my email I noticed that they sent me an email 3 days ago with the subject line:

REMINDER: Don’t forget to reload your Bluebird® Account

Looks like they really did a deep analysis of their data and had several different messages for different customers.

WalmartLady

I received both messages. Don’t forget to reload and a few days later (today): shut down. However my second account is still holding. Liquidated 5k on it this month so far and every month prior going close to 3 years back. My second account did not receive Don’t forget to reload message.

Mona c

My husband and I got this email but my MIL did not. The only difference I can see is that my MIL’s account never did a billpay to amex.

Achy

I did bill pay several time and did not get an email
I think the trigger to the email is more volume driven (I haven’t done much and never maxed out the monthly limits)

Kat

Important question for anyone: once you’ve received this email are you banned for life? Can you open up a different serve product or reopen this one later down the road?

JL

Someone on FT tried that and they were banned from re-signing. It would be interesting if someone got a burner email address and tried to re-sign up.

Carl

Ok, what if you go in the store and buy a new TEMP serve card and IF they let you load it with at least ONE Visa GC AT THAT TIME, then the money is on it. They have to let you get the money back off it or it is stealing so you can clean at least one VGC. Thoughts on this?

Gaurav

I guess this is “Black Friday” for MS :).

I didn’t use Serve for normal expenses, just loading and paying cc’s but I did use the reserve account feature to stash cash for some upcoming expenses I have (I wish regular checking accounts offered these). Over five accounts I had anywhere from 3k to 10k. All five shut down today. Did make a quick Kate run to see if I could get a last couple in. No luck :(.

John

Unfortunately, I was one of the many who received the email this morning and have VGC to unload. So if my wife, who has never had a Bluebird account, opens one up today, can she load VGCs at Wal-mart? Or did AMEX stop allowing deposits with VGC?

andy

“So if my wife, who has never had a Bluebird account, opens one up today, can she load VGCs at Wal-mart? Or did AMEX stop allowing deposits with VGC?”

That’s the $500 question 🙂

I’d like to know too.

GlenGarry

Sure it wont work. They are stopping ppl from MSing on it.

andy

We don’t know that they’re targeting MS, or that MS is just collateral damage.

We also don’t know the details on their methods — if their only action is to target an account and only then prevent loads on that account, then accounts that haven’t been targeted yet can still get a round of loads (after which they’ll be targeted).

You could be right that it won’t work, but there is not evidence yet to back it.

Once my in-the-mail Staple’s GCs arrive, I’ll give it a try on the wife’s unaffected Serve account and report back.

Achy

Members on other boards that did not get a shut down email tried to reload today and it worked just fine.

So I am assuming the same would work for any “new” user who signs up today. Since they ask for your SSN when you open an account it is relatively easy to prevent banned people to get other Serve cards.

Gaurav

There is no evidence that there is a wholesale stoppage of reloading. I would apply for a one vip and try it. You have nothing to lose…

Jeff

The post yesterday got me thinking about the alternatives, but I hadn’t put much effort into it. I guess I will now. One of my 1VIP accts got shutdown, I haven’t maxed out the other yet this month, but the MS pattern is there, so I expect it’s just a matter of time. So sad, at least I nearly maxed out both 1VIP accts almost prior to this hammer drop.

Nick

AMEX lost Costco. AMEX might lose SPG. AMEX spent millions developing and implementing SERVE which will now become a failure. If our MS future is dim, then their’s as a credit card issuer sure doesn’t look a hell of a lot brighter. And even more cardholders will jump ship. Watch what happens when AMEX closes the $100/200 airline incidental fee reimbursement for gift cards (loophole well publicized at least twice this week on Boarding Area blogs).

JL

Also, AMEX lost the Fidelity CC account to US Bank. Pretty soon, I won’t have a AMEX-branded card anymore because all those cards will be Visa.

Ffmiles99

Follow

andy

On the “load side,” loaded “only” about $7000 of VGCs onto my Serve card in the last year.

On the “spend side,” I used it mainly to pay wife’s mortgage, but occasionally at Whole Foods in conjunction with an AMEX offer.

I received the shutdown message this morning too.

My question is — I set up one of these accounts in my wife’s name too, but never used that one (wasn’t hitting the $5K/month volume on mine, so no point). Can I now load my last VGCs onto her Serve account to liquidate them (I don’t care if they shut down her account _after_ I’ve done that)? Or do they have measures in place to stop VGC loads even for those whose accounts remain untouched?

Achy

I did not get an email either (I have 2 cards). I am trying to figure out what algorithm Amex must have used to select who to ax. This cannot be random.
I never used the card for buying anything so I would have been a perfect candidate to ax. My transactions are all in round numbers (e.g. +$2,000, -$2.000 bill-paying my credit card).
I’ll probably keep using it in small doses ($500 at a time). Small enough that if things go south it doesn’t hurt

Mike

Yes…it’s real. I went to WM at lunch to use Kate to unload $1500 of VGCs. I had not read or seen any of the blog posts yet. Sure enough when I tried to load the first $500 VGC it look like everything was ok like normal until the receipt said “debit not approved call authorizer”. Thinking it may have just been a glitch with the machine I tried again with a second $500 VGC. Same thing on the receipt. I then got worried something may be happening and I pulled up Greg’s blog and there was the article.

While I did pay back off some of my CC bills from BB, I also paid my mortgage, insurance, lawn service, and others from BB too. Very disappointed Amex took such abrupt action. They could have done other things to minimize or eliminate the MS part of it if that was their concern.

Achy

VGC would not work with Kate for transactions over $50

Peudonym

yes it does. metabank ones work just fine. you just can’t buy the cheap $4.95 vanilla ones.

Achy

I did not get an email either (I have 2 cards). I am trying to figure out what algorithm Amex must haveused to select who to ax. This cannot be random.
I never used the card for buying anything so I would have been a perfect candidate to ax. My transactions are all in round numbers (e.g. +$2,000, -$2.000 bill-paying my credit card).
I’ll probably keep using it in small doses ($500 at a time). Small enough that if things go south it doesn’t hurt

Bob

Any repercussions to having the account shutdown? I opened some with relative’s info(with their consent) ..but still

Gabe

No emails yet for my wife and I and I’m in the middle of working for that Southwest Companion Pass. Not a difficult goal, but I better get on it before the ax possibly comes down and it takes longer for me to get it. I know I’m probably going in the wrong direction by making things more noticeable and ramping up MS, but if I can make it out with the pass as my last hurrah, I’ll be happy.

Alex

Their email is as vague as it can be..

Peudonym

I’ve changed my name/email for this post because I have ZERO clue how I’m still alive…and 3/3 alive nonetheless. Bluebird, SoftServe, VIP Serve…ALL ALIVE. And I abused the shit out of the system. $5k/mo max out, bill paying credit cards, ATM withdrawls (though not nearly as much…but still did it), and sending money back and forth between Amex prepaid products. I’ve had Bluebird since it started. Wife had Bluebird since it started/switched to Serve. Mom had SoftServe for nearly 2 years now. All active.

I keep thinking why the hell I’m alive. After all, I’ve loaded $1.5k to soft serve the past 3 days, $1200 to Bluebird ($1k and $200) in the past 2 days and $1k to serve yesterday before work. What I also have done is consistently take advantage of Amex Offers…so there’s at least some “normal” spend on the card, but I never did any spend that wasn’t an Amex Offer. I also basically took off the month of DEC from loads because I was in Australia. Other than minimal DEC loads and Amex offers…I can’t fathom why I’m still alive. NOV reads like a slaughter of $200 VGC’s as I maximized the OM/OD deals hard that month. I’m the perfect candidate to be shut down, yet I’m spared. I’m gonna lay low the rest of the month and see what happens. Maybe I’ll eventually get the axe (not going to push it with more loads at WM this month). I’ll also like to see what people on FT are thinking…and I’ll slowly dip my feet back in the water.

I mean, I’ve somehow survived Go Bank as well….

SDO

Have you tried an actual reload, maybe with cash to not trigger anything?

kim

Did you buy something on the card in the last 7 days? 6/7 were shutdown for me. The only one alive was used this week.

Peudonym

Nope…only thing I’ve done in the last 7 days is do a $1k load on 2 cards, then $500 loads via CC each day on the soft Serve card. I have no clue why I wasn’t given the axe like everyone else.

All my reloads are done at WM via VGC’s like everyone else has been doing

Tony

For once I’m not part of the flock, no email from me, but I had cooled my jets on my MS last year, since I was traveling so much for work.. I guess I’ll just use one card a month (Have 6 cards) and I’ll do some ATM withdraws too

WalmartLady

Laughing at the army of newbies created partially by this blog now getting burned. LOL

Carl

What an a$$Hole comment. If you cannot contribute something positive, shut up.

WalmartLady

Laughing is positive. My balances are 0. My miles accounts have hundreds of thousands. Its been a great ride!

Mar

schadenfraude looks so unattractive on you

positve

I’ll pay 85% for VGC’s. How is that for positive?

Laura R

The ones holding 1000s of dollars worth of Visa GC now? :O

Laura R

Well don’t I look stupid now. I forgot that “my” BB was in my husband’s name. I thought I was safe since I didn’t get an email.

He just forwarded it to me. 🙁

So much for being conservative.

Joseph E

Same email and situations for me. I did try to diversify with loading and spending but apparently not enough.

Dee

Hubby’s got shut down today. My daughter’s and mine are okay so far. We’ll see.

It is my understanding that these products were created for the financially underserved – people who get paid with debit cards, e.g. those who work at KMart, WalMart, etc. It was a way for them to load their “paycheck” debit card to a checking account to pay their utilities, rent, etc. Most of us don’t fall into that category. I wonder if they will get shut down.

Miles Hustler

@Dee, what’s the difference between how your husbands account use, and you and your daughter? Did you spend money with serve with actual purchases rather than just feel pain? Did you do online loans with all 3 accounts? Did you access all 3 accounts from the same computer or phone?

Dee

I manage all three accounts the same way…

Load at Walmart & FD with Visa GCs. Pay mortgage, utilities, a few credit card bills, but no purchases. I think I did one Amex offer on my card, but not Hubby’s or my daughter’s.

I don’t think I maxed out any of them since switching from Redbird to Serve.

Yes, I log in from the same computer to manage all three.

My son and my ex have old Bluebirds they haven’t used in ages. I haven’t heard from them if they got shut down.

fivegirls

Heart dropped to my stomach when I got the email this morning. I have had this card for 3 1/2 years and use it to pay nearly all my bills. So bummed! Now I’ve got to figure out another way to spend $10,000 in the next 2 months . . .

Ken

MS isn’t dead, but it will cost more per $1,000 to liquidate. Just depends on if it’s worth it to you now.

Jonathan

Good for AmEx. I got a little taste of the MS game and can certainly understand why people are upset that it appears to be ending…but I honestly don’t see how anyone can defend MS as a sustainable practice. I’ve been using Plastiq for my minimum spends and I’m satisfied with that. It costs me a few bucks to get my miles, Plastiq makes a few bucks, everyone’s happy.

[…] I, like most of you, who like to have a simple way to meet credit card spending, got the e-mail from AMEX that my BlueBird account has been closed (if not, you will most likely). A most sad day indeed that I first learned about from Frequent Miler here on BoardingArea. […]

brian

I got the email from Amex about an hour before I got the email from Frequent Miler. It’s real and it stinks. I had a BB for myself and my wife and I’ve worked it hard every month for the last several years. The gravy train had to stop sometime. Would have been nice to have a little warning from Amex. And just when Staples had come out with the awesome $300 cards…

Kat

I am so glad to see this post! I was in the middle of writing up a comment regarding this happening to me this morning! I am so upset because I’ve been sitting on $3800 worth of Visa gift cards since the last time Office Max had them on sale–dreading going into Walmart and spending hours loading them to my Serve One VIP. Oh how I wish I would have done that last week! PLEASE HELP…how do I liquidate them now? What are my options? Thank you in advance for any and all advice!

Mike

Buy some MO, perhaps?

Lantean

i am thinking people got shut down who haven’t made a legit purchase with the card recently?
i was spared for now… i sometimes do use the card to make a purchase when there a good Amex offer… like yesterday I used it at Whole Foods, before I used it at Worst Buy or newegg.
maybe i’ll be in the second wave… oh well.

fivegirls

I often use my card at Walmart (which I believe is the original intent). And I pay my mortgage, utilities, and other bills with it every month. Shut down just the same. Perhaps it is how it is loaded ($200 or $500 increments up to the full $5000 limit every month?) that has flagged the accounts.

Tommy

I got shut down and I use it 100% legitimately for it’s intended purpose, to pay bills. I put just under $700 (and that’s it) per month to pay 2 car payments and then the remaining balance and I would use on a walmart purchase so it wouldn’t just sit there. I’ve been doing that nearly since it’s inception and still got shut down.

EKent

How did you get that $700 into Serve each month? Did you only use cash to give to a cashier to load at a register? If so, then your account should not have been terminated, but was a victim to the Amex hyper reaction. You can blame hyper gov. regulations for this. We need a new administration that is pro-free market instead of the atmosphere we’ve been suffering with the past 7 years. I’m independent and my vote is solely based on economy.

will s

ah yes, anything that goes wrong anywhere, blame the big guv’ment hyper-regulation, even if there’s absolutely no evidence for that….

tis the faux-head mentality. When in doubt, blame the “white” house.

by the way, for those who want to claim that the fight against ISIS has something to do with a crack-down on even the appearances of money laundering, then ask yourselves if that same guvment has the nerve to push, the require, to demand that the two leading sources of funding for ISIS crack down…..?

namely, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (the latter via isil oil exports) Nope, not gonna happen….. (esp. not with faux. et. al. following the bloody Saudi line)

so all this other chatter about Serve/Bluebird shutdown related to ms…. unlikely

Peudonym

Amex offers is the only possible reason I can think I’m still alive

LOLLIANNE

I am a walking testimony I’m here for a purpose

Daniel

For now, All my multiple BB cards are spared, maybe for the reasons you have stated.
I used all of them for some real spending b/c of Amex Offer.

ekent

Hyper gov regulations to blame. Amex enjoyed billions moving through their prepaid products over the last few years, but now that will die to a trickle.

Ken

And right after the Staples free GCs just shipped too.

Carl

Yeah, tell me about it! They took FOREVER to process and ship those things and now how the hell do I liquidate? The hard way by paying the CC bill? I did NOT want to do that!

Anyone know a good way to even come close to breakeven on liquidating the VGCs from Staples, lemme know. Mine are not even due to get here until next week.

Between this and NW Buxx changes, I still see a gummint conspiracy on money transfers!

Primo

How much money did Amex make allowing MS?

Carl

Ties this move by AMEX in with the recent changes to NW Buxx, and I strongly suspect some back door action by the US Gummint on these companies to clamp down on money transfers, etc. Not using SERVE as of the 6th to withdraw funds overseas, the change to NW Buxx to reduce how much you can load and now this…

It isn’t about MS at all, folks. I am NOT a conspiracy or tinfoil hat nut, but the pressure is ON from the gummint to cut down on money going to ISIS and many other things around the world and this is just part of it and we are getting the hit.

Folks like the fellow above who used his SERVE as it is supposed to be…he is just collateral damage.

Does anyone else see this angle? I worked for the Feds for 23 years and I am certain there is more to all of these recent actions than hits the eye.

ekent

You are correct. If anyone is an ms’r/points/cashback enthusiast they should be hoping for a completely new administration that has the balls to remove the stifling regulations and ML paranoid disillusions that are truly hindering honest business.

projectx

Right… because a more conservative administration would ease regulations on banking methods that could end up in the hands of terrorists. (rolls eyes)

Primo

Because businesses enjoy not making money off of their products. smh

Matthew

That makes the most sense of any theory/explanation I’ve heard all morning. I’ll bet you are right on the money (no pun intended).

Laura R

I’m sorry, but that email looks very fake. I would think if they were going to shut it down, they would just shut it down. Not ask you to please do it when your balance reaches zero.

But I see a couple comments here saying “this happened to me”…who knows.

I’m very conservative with MS and (for now) my BB account is safe and still active.

Laura R

Although….I did just read the T&C on the BB and it specifically says “manufacture spend”. Wow. It’s getting real now….

I knew this game could not last forever. I’m just glad I got to play for a few years.

BB

Uhm, have you seen the amount of people with shutdowns? And FM isn’t going to post something unless he gets it himself or proves out a rumor.

Laura R

Sorry. It was just my opinion. And since bad things always happen to me and I did not get the email, I was thinking/hoping it was not true.

LOLLIANNE

I don’t abuse my cards I put money to help pay bills and bought my kids clothes fir school I had $100 put on the domestic vanilla card and it was for bills but my kids needed stuff I got about 6 months to live victim gonna fight it like soldier and make it 99years.

Maora

I got it as well

Joe

Your Dumb

Carl

*You’re*, not Your, as in your comment, “Your dumb”

Grammar and spelling will get you every time.

Jason

Haven’t received the email yet. Fingers crossed.

JL

If you use Gmail, the Serve Email wound up in the Promotions folder.

tsidriver

Both my wife’s and my One VIP cards got axed today. Have only had the cards for a few months now. Have only ever loaded $500 One Vanilla’s @ FD with the free loads. Tried calling customer service and when I entered my card # my call was mysteriously dropped for “technical difficulties”. Called back and did not enter card # and got through…This is just bad business in my opinion. We are using ways that are technically within their rules. Once they find out they are not ripping us off like they do with other folks, they pull the plug. CC companies might as well just say “50,000 miles when you spend $5k, and don’t pay it off, and end up paying us interest, because if you don’t, and you find ways around it, we will shut it down”…Grrr

Jason

So credit card loads are still allowed, but not for people whose accounts were ‘shut down’ apparently?

I’ve used my Softserve to load $1,500 via CC every month for a long time. I have paid dozens of different bills — occasionally a credit card bill but the majority being other bills such as utilities and other expenses — and for some reason my account was among those killed.

I can handle not being able to load $1,500 a month via CC, but Amex should have changed the terms on the card to no longer allow online CC loads, not wrongly call people out for abusing the card.

Yes, many folks were milking this and using the Serve account primarily for MS. But many of us were using the card in a way that surely is consistent with how Amex wanted people to use it?! Heck, I even added a direct deposit to my Serve account recently — so I was not funding it solely thru CC loads.

Very irritating.

Skor

Nope, this is for all forms of loading. The superscript 1 at the end of sentence one points to this:
1This includes adding funds via Direct Deposit, cash loads, debit card loads, credit card loads, bank account loads, and P2P Receive Money transactions.

Andy

Were you shut down?

Jason

yes I was.

Ryan

Suggestion- Plastiq as new MS.

Mortgage, Assessments, payments to IRA, everything.

Looks like all the miles/points I earn from now on will have to be legit.

Kris

If you are fine with paying additional 2.5% fee (occasionally 1.5%)

Thomas

I use my serve to load with Chase Sapphire and then pay FlagStar mortgage and still got the email. Um…sorry for using your service as intended?!? =/

Jerrid

I’ve got the same situation. Yes I am in the points/miles game, but not one time in 2 years have I ever done true MS. I buy visa gift cards at Staples with my 5X rewards Chase card….load the cards onto my Serve, then pay my monthly bills as you would from any other checking account. I think I got caught up in the MS sting just because my balance on Serve drops near zero every month. Sucks to be “punished” for using a card as it was intended to be used!

Phil

This happened to me… looking back, I made a stupid mistake that I only did billpay to my other Amex account; easily picked up.

Carlos C.

Not really, I used it to pay mortgage, power bill, etc… same result.

steve

Same here, only paid mortgage and bills and they still got me.

Tom

I do bill pay to the same cards I use to load and I didn’t get shut down. I bet the shutdowns are based on volume, they just looked at people who loaded a lot and axed all of them. I probably did less than $10k total last year.

Dee

Hubby’s got shut down so far, but not my daughter’s or mine. I was pretty careful with all 3 accounts – payed mortgage and utilities and a few credit card bills, leaving some balance. I didn’t max out any of them. Maybe they haven’t gotten to all of us yet.

Shan

s

shaky02dd

Should be able to still use Serve for amex offers, at least. Just signed mine up for restaurant week.

…wow this change stinks.

HML

AMEX is asking that you close the account when the balance is zero.

will s

I’ll “raise” them one…. or several.

Won’t be the only amex product we’ll be closing …

(or using much, much less)

You’d have to pay me a LOT to ever, every trust Amex with anything in the future.

(and nooooo, don’t go giving me the faux-style b.s. that they’re only “enforcing” their t&c’s — the ones they changed 3 days ago)

Jay

Honestly, they probably don’t want you as a future customer anyway to make such a drastic move to close an account.

Chris W.

What about buying the temporary Serve cards (no fee) at my local drug store as a MS technique. I believe Renee at Renee’s points discussed that at one point?

DeJar

Well, that will end about 80% of all Bluebird usage.

Curtis

95+%!

Isaac

2/2 accounts down 🙁

Nice Chap

All 3 of mine accounts were shut. I have around 7.5k in GCs….can anyone suggest the best way to use those?? Thanks

Carl C

Don’t MS without a backup plan.

Nice Chap

Carl C …that was not a reply which is helping in the current situation. If you have a better suggestion to the problem then let me know.!!!

405# Club

I’ve been research that as well…you may have to front load some utilities (Insurance, Cell Phone, Gas, Energy, etc.) with these GCs

DavidNJ

USPS MO. $1K cost $1.25. Can only use two GC’s per MO. Example > Buy a $998.75 MO w/ two $500 GC’s. Swipe two GC’s for $500 each. $998.75 + $1.25 = $1K. Repeat.

Zach

I’m still “alive” but then again I’ve only had my BB account for 2 weeks. 1st (and only) load I’ve done was with a Vanilla Gift Card I received as a Christmas gift, just to test out the loading functionality. It only took about 5 minutes to complete 3 loads of $49, $49 and $41.99 (I had already spent some of the funds on the VGC elsewhere – it was a gift, after all!). The funds that were loaded were then used at Macy’s and Under Armour – perhaps that’s why I haven’t been kicked to the curb yet?

I purchased a $100 (non-vanilla) GC earlier this week to do some actual MS, glad I didn’t get a bigger card! I’ve checked 7 Walmart’s in my area (Orlando) this week and all of the machines are down, so we’ll see if I can eventually load my existing card or if I’ll just need to spend it otherwise.

NoonRadar

For the accts that got shut down, it would be helpful for people to indicate volume and patterns of MS with them, as to get a better idea of what kind of things was Amex targeting.

BB

Well, when it appears almost everyone is getting shut down (even non-WM load people), that will be tough to identify a pattern.

NoonRadar

True, if it turns out to be most, perhaps it would be easier to identify the volume and patterns of those not shut down yet. I’m guessing there will be at least some who did some moderate/light MS and didn’t get shut down. It being all computerized an all, whatever parameters Amex set as identifiers, I’m sure some didn’t fulfill them.

Nvtech

Mine and my wife’s account got shut. Now is the big problem to get rid of those Debit cards.
Seriously I am stuck. What are our options?

Jessica

Mine was shut down too – Not surprised because I have been maxing it out for years but I haven’t put anything at all on it this month. Also managed my mom’s and hers was shutdown too. I bit more shocking because it is fairly new and rarely used. Never used for CC loads. Just a few Walmart loads a month. Don’t see how that can be flagged as not legitimate use.

BB

Amex kills CB on GCs, Redbird, now Serve and Bluebird. 🙁 x infinity.

Jim

I received the same email this morning. I typically did no more than $1k/month, but it’d be $200/increments in 5 days and then a $1k payment. I can see how that’d be easily identifiable.

George

Both my account and my wife’s account was shut down….no sparing of the woman in our family.

Dustin

So what are our options for unloading remaining gift cards? Can you purchase money orders from Walmart MoneyCenter kiosk?

Levi

I always loaded mine online with the flex perks card. I only paid my bills… Not once put any into an account or withdrew. No manufactured spend ever. Still shut down. Sounds to me like they are trying to get rid of there own product.

[…] commenter over at TFM had the axe fall mid-load: http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.co…omment-1510982 Andyandy __________________ Check out my blog, […]

Nathan Drake

2 of 3 for me. The one I opened last month has not been shut down. I wonder if they will monitor cards now or did a one time sweep? Cause I was going to open another account this month.

Jennifer Malcome

Add me to the list. I only loaded at Walmart and only used to pay various bills and write checks. It’s a heartbreaker but it really was too good to last. I don’t suppose an email/phone call campaign would be of any use?

Gomie

both of my families accounts have been closed down. as soon as I saw the email I came here. I’m crying in side.

Randy

Just this morning I made a list of how many visa gift cards I needed and where to buy them in order to maximize opportunities. Guess I’ve got some free time now on the weekend.

Remember Kugler-Ross’s Stages of Grief. We’ll all come to acceptance – eventually.

Randy

Just this morning I made a list of how many visa gift cards I needed to maximize opportunities. Guess I’ve got some free time now on the weekend.

Remember Kugler-Ross’s Stages of Grief. We’ll all come to acceptance – eventually.

Carl C

3 VIP accounts shut down from using Tmobile debit loads.

O

My account is just four months old and I got shut down as well. I’m super confused because Yes, I loaded it with my Starwood Amex but I genuinely used it to pay bills too, not just deposit it into my checking account. AMEX is a little ridiculous for simply doing something their system ALLOWED us to do. I didn’t feel like I abused it in any way.

Jonathan

FWIW, I’ve rarely done walmart loads, and last time I did was probably about a year or more ago. Ive consistently done full CC load / CC bill pay and they seem to have had no problem with that. I think the trigger is walmart loads.

chimmy

I’ve never done a Walmart load and I still got shut down.

Lantean

so how did you load? only online?

chimmy

Yup, only online $1k per month spread over 5 days.

Lantean

interesting… i really wonder what patterns they were looking for when they shut down all these accounts.

Mel

I only had the card one month and loaded $4600 through Walmart with $300 Visa Gift Cards. I did not even make one payment from the account yet. I guess they don’t like money loaded with Visa Cards.

Venkat

My 2 cards got suspended as well.

Tommy Botello

I had the exact same thing happen to me but….GET THIS….

I 100% legitimately use my Bluebird card to ONLY pay mine and my wife’s car loan payments every month. Once a month, I load the BB card at Walmart with my debit card and I use the app to pay the payments. THAT’S IT! Every month it’s the exact same thing. Now, back when we could Vanilla cards at CVS with our cc’s, I would get the amount I needed in order to pay the 2 cars and the mortgage, but they would be able to see that I was paying through my account to go legit lenders to PAY MY BILLS. I never unloaded any funds through an ATM. I’ve never maxed out my BB limit. Maybe, if I had a few dollars left over on the card and I was shopping at Walmart, I would use the card to use whatever balance I had on it to pay for part of my purchase.

I actually used the card for what it was intended for!

WalmartLady

We finally did it! The last man standing is down. Things will become very elaborate as of now.

RW

Both family accounts shut down. Came here first to see if it happened to anyone else, and, as almost always, FM has the scoop.

There goes my $20/month of spending at Walmart. Take that Walmart!

sil

does this apply to the one VIP card?
I usually purchase 5k of debit cards per month to load onto VIP which I had for 2 months now.

Jason

Both of my VIP cards got the axe

Mike

thought I was special. I only got it on 1 serve so far. Guess I’ll run out and try to load my others.

fauxblogger

My account intact. Could be limited to online loaders.. I use SERVE for debit card (GC) swipe loads, for bill pay, and to fund Target Redbird for 5% discount for reselling. I do NOT use SERVE for online loads.

Jason

I never loaded online and still got shut down

Ian

i have not done online loading since they restricted it…still got shutdown.

JB

I’ve never used the online functionality and I was shutdown.

Eaton

Also noticed that Amex hasn’t sent the SPG points for last month. Not sure if that is related to MS on that account.

Geoff

My account: dead
Wife’s account: safe for now.
Not encouraging.

Aaron Nelson

Did all of your accounts get shut down?

Wow.
Hope you had already completed most of your loads for the month.

Look at it this way, at least you racked up all those miles for Necker Island *before* this happened.

FreeTravelGuys

Shutdown both my accounts.

Flying Xplorer

It’s amazing how long people were using it.

Denny

Wow, read your blog post from a tweet pushed to my phone, and assumed I wouldn’t get an email since I only moderately do manufactured spend with Bluebird – average $500 per week. So I was surprised I got the email as well. I didn’t even pay off Amex cards with the Bluebird to avoid any suspicion, and paid things such as house payment, wrote Bluebird checks etc.

I guess the positive thing is, I don’t have to go to WalMart anymore.

Andyandy (ThePointsNinja)

@Denny: Yes, indeed. That is the silver lining here! 2/2 dead for me:
http://thepointsninja.blogspot.com/2016/01/amex-is-on-bluebird-hunt-massive-wave.html

Obie

Big Ouch here just received the email & of course last night at Staples I picked up $1800 in $200 Visa’s. Any suggestions on unloading these? All suggestions are welcome :-).

Jason

You can send them to me, i’ll be glad to take them off your hands 😉

shoeie

Wonder if it will be possible to take a hiatus, say 6 months or so, and then get a new serve account?

Sheila

I do moderate manufactured spending and now Serve got shut down. Time to take a break.

OBC

iahphx says
This is very, very bad news for the MS community — and completely unexpected.

Not sure I would go that far as completely unexpected. Once redbird stopped taking debit loads, it was certainly possible/probable that bluebird and serve would follow. This has gone a little more extreme (but BB would be useless without debit loads anyway). So, bad but not too much of a surprise.

Allen

OUCH! I thought the e-mail I received was a joke; apparently not.

Net Netty

Hey, I remember the post to go from RedBird to BlueBird? Whats the next deal that we are looking to kill? Cant wait until the next deal killing maneuver. Its a shame that FM goals are different than MSers. He needs hits on his sites and CC apps so they dont care when deals get killed. Only that he keeps posting methods and that will continue to kill MS. Awesome

JohnnieD

Right in the middle of loading, my next to last card gave me ” Debit Not Accepted Call Authorizer”. Tried 2x and got email……….RIP

SDO

R.I.P. Serve & Bluebird. Gone too soon.

Paul

Got email and first thought was just me. Did they get all your accounts Frequent Miler?

Jason

Add me to the list, 2 accounts shutdown. Sad day indeed 🙁

DavidNJ

Went to WM and could not load before I read my e-mail shutting down my account. The Female cardholders in my family did not get the amex Serve e-mail. Will try and load those accounts later in the day. Thankfully I only have $1100 in GC’s.

ErinD

2 for 2 on my accounts. Glad I only have 2k in visa cards that are arriving this week and I already have other techniques in process for the last few years

iahphx

This is very, very bad news for the MS community — and completely unexpected.

What are the remaining options to unload gift cards?

Jason

Money orders? Usual spend?

shoeie

Ugh. Not only this, but I received a letter in yesterday’s mail from NW Buxx that they are beginning to more severely restrict loads onto that card (which was already pretty limited). Good thing I just unloaded my current crop of GC’s onto my various Serve accounts 2 days ago.

chimmy

As I mentioned in the other thread, my pattern consisted of the following:

Auto load $1,000 at the start of each month from my FIA AmEx in $200 increments each day from the first through the fifth of the month.
Withdraw $50 to one bank.
Pay bills until the remaining $950 is depleted (usually 3 to 4 bills).

No other usage. I’m very surprised I was shut down.

Ian

wow, just read the email and came here to see how widespread it was…time to find a new strategy.