Bluebird lands. Questions answered


Last week, in the post “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game,” I described a new product from American Express that has some terrific features both for people looking for a no-cost checking alternative, and for points & mile collectors.

Just like the older American Express Prepaid cards that I wrote about in “One card to rule them all,” the Bluebird card can be reloaded with Vanilla Reload cards.  This is important because some stores allow Vanilla Reload cards to be bought with credit cards.  In other words, it is possible to get points and miles from loading Bluebird.  Once loaded, Bluebird can be used like a credit card, or as an ATM card for cash withdrawals, or to pay bills, or to send money to friends.

Bluebird arrives

I ordered my Bluebird card last week (Tuesday) and it arrived yesterday (Monday).  With my Bluebird in-hand I was able to run experiments.  Some of the experiments were doable from home, but for the others I rushed out to a couple of Walmart stores in the area….

Load via Vanilla:  Some people questioned whether Bluebird could really be loaded with Vanilla Reload cards.  In fact, some American Express reps even told customers that they could not be used that way.  However, online documentation was clear that Vanilla Reload cards could be used.  So, the first thing I did after activating my card was to load $500 from a Vanilla Reload card to my Bluebird.  No problem.  Result: SUCCESS

Load via credit card in-store:  The online documentation makes it clear that in-store reloads (“swipe reloads”) require cash or debit card, but an American Express rep I talked with said that “some stores” allow credit cards.  I tried at a register in one store, and at a reload ATM in another store.  No luck. Result: FAIL

Load via gift card in-store:  I didn’t think this had much chance of working, but I had a Walmart gift card sitting around, so it was worth a try.  At a register in one store, and at a reload ATM in another store, I tried to reload Bluebird with a Walmart gift card. No luck. Result: FAIL

Load via bank gift card: I thought this one had a chance of working since online documentation said that debit cards could be used for swipe reloads.  I brought along two Visa gift cards, both with the word “debit” in the bottom corner. I tried one at a register in the first store and the other at a reload ATM in the second store. No dice.  The register told me to select “credit” and then rejected the whole idea.  The ATM machine asked for my PIN.  I tried 0000, but the machine ultimately told me (in a distressingly loud voice) “card not accepted.” Result: FAIL

Load via true debit card in-store: I fully expected a debit load to work, but since I was at the register anyway, I tried it just to be sure.  Using a real debit card (my Mio, actually), I successfully loaded $200 to my Bluebird.  The good news is that neither Walmart nor Amex charges a fee for this.  So, for people with mile earning debit cards (e.g. Suntrust Delta card, BOA Alaska Airlines card, UFB Direct Airline Rewards checking) this might be a great alternative to buying Money Orders.  Since I don’t yet have any of those cards, I’ll have to rely on readers to try this out and let me know if miles are earned when loading Bluebird.  Result: SUCCESS

Manage card with One great thing about the older Amex Prepaid cards is that it is possible to monitor your account(s) via  I tried to add my Bluebird to my Mint account, but it didn’t work.  Hopefully will fix this soon.  Result: FAIL

Manage card with iPhone App: I installed the Bluebird by American Express app.  It’s very easy to use; it allows you to pay bills; send and receive money from others; deposit money via check, bank account, or debit card; and view your transactions and balance.  I was happy to find that the app existed and that it seemed to work, at least for the basic functions I tried.  Result: SUCCESS

Next Up

There are still many things yet to be discovered about Bluebird:

  • Do points-earning debit cards earn points when loading Bluebird at the register?
  • Where, besides Office Depot, can people buy Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card?
  • What about Bluebird Feeder Packs – will we be able to buy those with a credit card?  Where can we buy them?
  • Can we make debit payments with Bluebird (to pay taxes, for example)?
  • Do transfers from PayPal or Amazon Payments count as direct deposits for free ATM use?

Have you tried Bluebird yet?  Have you learned anything worth sharing?  Comment below.


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[…] Bluebird lands. Questions answered […]

Maria N Ros

Good night Mr. Miller
I’m new on this game and wants to pay most of my home bills with these two prepaid cards, the server on my husband name and the Bluebird in my name, also requested 3 more for my kids. is the Bluebird and American Server still a good option? I also carry and business Gold American Express and a Chase Ink Business Plus. just learning about point and rewards. Can I uses my kids cards to pay other bills. total bills over 15,000 at month including rental prop. would that raise flag with american express. have not started anything yet. I don’t really find recent information on these two prepaid card
Thank you


From reading all the great posts, I can’t help but wonder if overall the bb card is a reliable form of payment in place of a credit card? I would hope to use the card specifically at Costco…
Any advise?

[…] Bluebird lands. Questions answered […]

great post

thank you


aegt: yes, way too much spam! It’s out of control


too many spam comment getting through your filter lately!?

Stephen M

Hi, I want to apply for the Lufthansa card that expires at the end of June but I just got a Barclays US Airways on 03/01/2013. My present credit score is 743. In your expert opinion should I apply​? Thanks, StephenM


Stephen M: Is the US Airways card your only Barclays card? If so, you might have trouble getting approved as they seem to want to see at least 6 months of activity before approving more cards. They don’t seem to be very consistent though. If you don’t have too many recent credit card applications, you have a reasonably good chance of getting auto approved. If you do have lots of recent applications I think there’s a very good chance of getting turned down.


I’ve just encountered my first problem with BB after using it successfully, (both my wife and I have a card), to pay our bills, college tuition etc. Combined, we have spent about $15,000 per month. We use the card for charges and bill payment and deposit using VR and debit. Last Friday my account was declined when i tried to use it at Costco. Saturday I logged on and I got a dialogue box that indicated I needed to call customer service and offered a toll-free number. I called and spoke to a rep who would tell me nothing except that I needed to speak to protection services and offered to transfer me. When she did I got a recording that told me the mailbox was full. I called back and went through the same process to get again, no result, so I asked for a supervisor. The supervisor could only tell me that I would have to call back Monday when the office was open. He would not even say what may lead to an account being locked out. I’ll let you know what happens.


I am in the same situation as you (to contact the #).
I am told that they need to verify my identity, so they asked to fax SS# or W2.
i did that, and within 10 minutes, my bb works…

However, i am in much smaller scale, only paying mortgage, and view bills…under $4000.
but comparable to my spending usage (merely under $200), the % is off balance…

but i am back in with BB, actually just re open another one for my wife after closing her Serve few months ago.

just an FYI with my experience.


Thanks @Chris. Just called and sat on hold for 10 minutes but with the same outcome. I spoke to their fraud department, she specifically said she looked at my transaction history and saw no reason for the “flag”. Asked authentication questions but nothing further. Just odd that my account and my wife’s were flagged for investigation. Onward we go for as long as it lasts!


@Smitty06, could you post a current list for us or email one to me if you don’t want it out for everyone to see?


Please describe step by step how you added BB as a checking account on your Paypal and Amazon payments a counts. Also please tell us why you did that, meaning what you planed on achieving taking that approach. And lastly could you give us an update on it? Thanks a bunch

francis underwood

Kevin Spacey is awesome watch Season 1 Episode one right
here no download required


Can you clarify for me on this?
I believe i am reading at MMS that you can load bluebird via debit card for 5k/month, $1k load max daily. but if i look at the Faq limit, it sounds like $1k limit/month for debit card.

I am planning to open a debit card that give mile rewards, but if for 1k, it may not be cost efficient.

and if the answer is 5k monthly, this 5k is on top of 5k vanilla reload limit right? so total you can do 10k.



CHRIS: online debit card loads are limited to $1K per month & $100 per day, but in-person “swipe reloads” are limited to $1K per day & $5K per month. Unfortunately, Vanilla Reloads are in the same bucket as swipe reloads, so you can only do $5K total across both Vanilla Reloads and Swipe reloads.


FM: will you receive miles by using debit card to fund BB?
interested to open alaska airline by bofa..but sounds like it will not earn miles…am i correct?


CHRIS: Yes. Million Mile Secrets has the details here:


Biggles209: great story. Good luck with the next try!


My first ever visit to a Walmart was to try using $50 MasterCard Gift Cards to load Bluebird. The Customer Service Manager was enthused by the project. We tried several ways to get the MC accepted, but were stymied by the lack of a PIN. She then suggested that I buy a Walmart Gift Card with the MCs as she was sure that the Walmart card would work to load Bluebird. I had a $200 Walmart card in seconds, but we could not get it to load Bluebird. After 5 minutes or so, she decided to cash out the Walmart card – which required a manager. A cashier was also interested in what was going in, so in the end we had three employees all trying things out. All three, especially the manager, were trying to get a reload from the Walmart card to go though – they really believed that it should work. In the end, they decided to go the cash route. This required several calls for POS system codes, but finally worked. I handed back the cash, and got the Bluebird loaded. Given their attitude, I’m certainly going to try other options, starting with an eGift card.