Bluebird takes flight and changes the game

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American Express’ new prepaid product, Bluebird, is now available and yes, it appears to be “all that”.  In the battle between banks for prepaid card supremacy, Bluebird has changed the game by making checking accounts unnecessary and by eliminating virtually all fees.  For points and miles collectors, Bluebird appears to have changed the game by opening the gates to a world of almost unlimited points and miles.

Getting Bluebird

The easiest way to get a Bluebird account is online via bluebird.com.  Click the “register now” button and when asked if you have a starter card, click “no”.  Signing up for a card is free and does not affect your credit score.  If you have an Amex Serve account, you are required to cancel that account before you can get a Bluebird account.image

 

Bluebird Features

Here are some of my favorite Bluebird features:

  • No fees.  No transaction fees, no load fees, no withdrawal fees, no bill pay fees, no foreign transaction fees, etc.  ATM fees may apply (see next bullet)
  • No fee MoneyPass ATMs.  For the no fee ATM option, you must setup direct deposit to your account.  Go to MoneyPass.com to find MoneyPass ATMs near you.  If you use a non-MoneyPass ATM, or if you don’t have direct depost, then you will be charged $2 per withdrawal (fee is waved until Nov 4, 2012).  You may withdraw up to $500 per day and up to $2000 per month.
  • Vanilla reloads.  Like the regular American Express Prepaid cards, the Bluebird can be loaded via Vanilla Reload cards.  You may load up to $1000 per day and up to $5000 per month.
  • Swipe reloads.  Another option for reloading Bluebird is to bring your card to a Walmart register.  American Express says to “simply present your Bluebird Card and cash (or other accepted tender type) at a participating retailer.”  I asked an Amex rep if Walmart would accept credit cards for payment and he said that yes, some Walmart stores do accept credit cards for swipe reloads.  There is no fee for a swipe reload.  Just like Vanilla Reload cards, you may load up to $1000 per day and up to $5000 per month.  Once I get my Bluebird card I’ll have to run over to Walmart to try this out!  UPDATE: Only debit cards work to for swipe reloads. Credit card swipe reloads do not work.
  • $10K balance limit. You can keep up to $10,000 on one account. This may be the answer to those looking to pay very large bills with a prepaid card.
  • Pay bills.  You can use Bluebird to pay bills either through the Bluebird website or the Bluebird mobile app.  Bluebird provides a list of available Payees.  If your payee is not listed, you can enter their name and address and a check will be sent.  There is no fee for this service.  Check payments are limited to $5000 per month.
  • Debit payments.  While I can’t find proof of this online, I asked an Amex rep if the Bluebird could be used as a debit card in situations where credit cards are not accepted.  The example I gave was someone who wanted to pay their property tax online.  He said that, yes, under those circumstances the card can be used as a debit card.  I believe that Amex prefers that we use the card as a credit card (since they receive higher merchant fees that way), but that it can be used as a debit card as well.  Of course, I look forward to testing this soon.  UPDATE: This does not seem to work
  • Send money.  Bluebird allows you to send money for free to other Bluebird cardholders.  You are limited to $2500 per transaction and $2500 per month.
  • Withdraw funds.  There is no fee to transfer money from Bluebird to a linked checking or savings account.  See the FAQ for details.
  • Check capture. The Bluebird mobile application can be used to take pictures of checks to deposit to your account.  Check capture is limited to $2000 per day and $10,000 per month.

 

There are a few not so good features:

  • Debit reloads.  You can setup a debit card to load your Bluebird account online.  You will be charged $2 per load and you are limited to $100 per day and $1000 per month.  In other words, you will be charged a minimum of 2% for loading via a debit card.  Thumbs down Amex.
  • Online Credit reloads – Not.  The older Amex Serve product allowed limited loading via credit cards.  Bluebird does not have this feature.  I was told by an Amex rep that customers said they didn’t want that option.
  • Direct deposit required for free ATM use.  MoneyPass ATMs are free only if a direct deposit has been received in the past 30 days. I would like Bluebird better if they didn’t have this requirement!  I wonder what types of transactions qualify as “direct deposit”?

 

What about points & miles?

While Bluebird doesn’t provide rewards directly, you can earn points and miles indirectly by using a points-earning card to load Bluebird.  There are three possible ways to do this (that I know of):

  1. Find a Walmart that allows you to load Bluebird with a credit card.  This may take some trial and error.
  2. Find a store that lets you buy Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card.  Office Depot stores are the best option I’ve found.  To see how incredibly lucrative this can be, please read “One card to rule them all.”  For help with finding an Office Depot near you that carries Vanilla Reload cards, please see “Where to buy Vanilla Reload Cards.”
  3. Walmart stores that don’t accept credit cards for reloads may accept debit cards instead.  If so, it would be worth trying a card like the SunTrust Delta debit card to see if it can be used to load the Bluebird via a “swipe reload” and earn miles.

 

Points for cash.  Points for bills.  Points for taxes.

If you succeed in finding a way to load Bluebird via a points-earning card, then your opportunities for earning points and miles appear to be virtually unlimited.  For example, here are some ways you can earn points & miles that are not available with a credit card alone:

  • Pay bills where the payee does not accept credit cards (e.g. mortgage, rent, etc.)
  • Pay federal taxes via debit (less than $4 per transaction)
  • Take out money via ATMs
  • Send money to friends
  • Withdraw money to your bank when you receive money from a friend
  • etc.

 

Be responsible.  Go slow.

American Express is always on the lookout for suspicious behavior. If a person adds money to Bluebird, and then withdraws it all (via ATM, bill pay, linked bank account, etc.), that would look suspicious.  American Express does not make money from these types of withdrawals, so with a pattern like that they’re not going to like you very much!  If you do too much of this, I believe American Express will close your account.

My recommendation is to make Amex happy by using the card often for regular credit transactions.  Use the various withdrawal and debit options in moderation.

More information

For more information about Bluebird, you can find the membership agreement here, and FAQs here.  Also, see these follow-up posts:

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luchex

Today I received this

Hello xxxxxxo,Adding funds to your Bluebird Account is easy. Now, Bluebird is adding another no-fee way to add funds online to your Account.Effective immediately, you can add funds to your Account from your debit card for no fee (previously $2.00 per transaction). Click here to learn more about adding funds with a debit card.You can review the updated fee chart by clicking here.Should you have any questions about this change, please visitBluebird.com or call 1-877-486-5990. Thank you for your Membership,The Bluebird TeamToday

That it means I no longer have to go to Walmart to load BB with my Vanillas GC?

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Pecola

Don’t get this card. It’s very bad. They can and will lock you out for no reason at all. Also, there is very little customer service. no email or postal mail, just toll free numbers that leave you on hold for hours.

jobiec

Sux so far! The worst customer services and slowest payroll direct deposit .

rxgeek

I’m planning on using Bluebird to pay back my casino markers. If you have a casino line of credit, you probably see the light bulbs going off. Anyone see any issues with this?

BLUEBIRD CARD SUCKS!!

Bluebird card SUCKS!!!! DO NOT EVER GET THIS CARD!! IT IS A COMPLETE SCAM!!! After depositing $200 on top of the $5 activation fee,you get “the run around” right off. I haven’t even used the card and they locked my card from me for no reason,saying it was a “security issue” so I call the “24 hour” customer service which has NOTHING!! To do with the card at all! It seems its a offshore call center. You get all these foreign people answering calls that WILL NOT HELP YOU!! They will only transfer calls,over and over!! Put you on 15-30 min. Holds. Then transfer you again,ONLY to have the line disconnected after waiting for an hr to OVER 2 hours!!! I have $200 on my card that I CANNOT GET BACK!! It’s been 2 weeks now and I still have no luck!! Spread the word to EVERYONE YOU KNOW that the bluebird cards AT WAL-MART are a COMPLETE SCAM!! I’ve even waited over 5 hrs!! “On hold” and NOTHING!! So please run away and DO NOT GET BLUEBIRD!! You have been warned!! Post this on your Facebook pages and whatever social media is out there! This definitely needs to be known!!

[…] in which he reported to American Express a large fraudulent charge that had appeared on his Bluebird account. American Express put the amount on an 8 day hold while they investigated.  That meant […]

Steven

I filed a complaint with the BBB.

There is no human to speak to at Bluebird. This is against PCI Complaint that you have to be able to speak to a human regarding your account/report lost or stolen.

Go here for info:

http://www.longislandfirearms.com/forum/topic/53307-bluebird-american-express-no-one-picks-up-call-center/

Bill Dimon

I need to meet the chase ink $5,000 spending requirement to get my 25,000 point bonus in the next 30 days. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can do this as my usual monthly bills won’t get it done. Thanks.

FrequentMiler

Bill Dimon: Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy Vanilla Reload cards at CVS with a credit card (usually limited to two cards at a time). You can buy them there, load to Bluebird, and then use Bluebird to pay your bills.

George

@bf, no. I have reloaded only 1,000 so far. My balance is $1,000.

FrequentMiler

George: There have been some reports of people getting bad Vanilla cards (see Vanilla scare). Could that be the problem here?

George

I have problems with reload Vanilla reload cards to Bluebird. I have successfully loaded $1000 three days ago. And since then I have failed many times. Isn’t the limit is $1000 reload per day?

bf

$1000/day, $5000/month are the limits. Have you hit the $5000/month limit?

Martin

Good point. Possible British Airways “Travel together” voucher…

Martin

I’m having a hard time understanding how the Vanilla reload cards are worthwhile even with a standard awards card. According to my calculations, $1,000 worth of Vanilla cards will cost you $1007.90. 1000 points when valued at $.02 per point would be worth $20. So you would basically be making $12 or 1.2% on this example. Is that worth the time and hassle ? I can understand the math with a 5X card, but not a 1X card. Am I missing something ?

FrequentMiler

Martin: You have it right. There are a few times (besides 5X) where it is clearly worth the hassle: 1) to help meet minimum spend requirements for new credit card sign-ups; and 2) to help meet big spend bonuses (for example, spend $30K on a Delta Reserve card and get 15K bonus miles AND 15K elite qualifying miles). If none of those situations apply, then it just depends on how badly you want to earn points. Many people will gladly pay .8 cents per point for SPG points, for example. Is it worth the effort? That’s up to each individual to decide.

Mike

I could never get anyone on the 800#
My email was put in wrong and they gave me the run around about resetting it. That’s bull

Harry @ PF Pro

I don’t think bluebird is that great unless you have the chase ink. Then it will def help you unload some of your vanilla cards instead of putting them all on amex prepaid cards.

If I go to OD and buy $1000(2 $500) worth of vanilla reload cards, don’t I have to pay $8(2 $3.95) in fees. On my regular cards where I get 1% cash back I’m making only $2 per $1k out of all this. Don’t think so.

Gonna wait a couple weeks and see if a beter offer for the ink plus comes out..

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Sergey

FrequentMiler: Can I order personal checks (since I know bank name, account number and routing number) for BB and use them to pay my bills (service man, plumber, etc)? I guess it *should* work, since BB is supposed to be a checking account alternative.

FrequentMiler

Sergey: That’s a great idea, but I don’t know if it would work. Amex says they are adding paper checks as a feature next year so a better bet is just to wait until then.

xina

FM, I ordered the bluebird card online and it’s been a week now. How long does it take to receive the card? Thanks!

DealsSeeker

I ordered the Bluebird online, received an email that I should call in to verify my identity, but I can’t get through! Anyone else having this problem?

FrequentMiler

DealsSeeker: I haven’t seen that issue before

xina: It took less than a week for me to get my card, but they could be going slower now that they’re in high demand.

Marie

Can I combine Vanilla reloads and Swipe reloads to $10,000 max per month? Or I can only load max $5000 per month by either Vanilla and/or Swipe?
Thanks!!!

Nick

so, I have no OD’s with Vanilla cards around where I live. I did get a BlueBird card, what are my best options?

Nick

Ok, I am trying to get started on the BlueBird/Serve cards (been reading a while, just can’t get my head wrapped around it). BlueBird in wifes name/Serve in my name. OD’s around me have no Vanilla cards left (DC area). I saw Amex Prepaids at my OD. I saw some Mio/Greendots at my Safeway as well. I was hoping to use the bluebird to pay for the mortgage/car payments.

FrequentMiler

Nick: you won’t be able to get points for loading Bluebird unless 1) you can find Vanilla Reload cards; or 2) you load at the Walmart register with a points earning debit card

Marie: No, you’re limited to $5K per month altogether

Frequent Miler

Steven Lu: No. I tried, but it didn’t work

Steven Lu

FrequentMIler:

Do you know if you can load up Multiple Gift Cards Visa/Amex onto the BlueBird card at walmart just like the Target Amex?

Thanks so much!!!

Bryan

@Brent post 107-
I had this same error, but it cleared up when I entered the 9 digit zip code for payments (leave out the dash). Still nervous to try it, gonna make sure I use that memo field.

Mary Kate

I just bought a $500 bean card and the mgr asked if I was doing it for points or for fraud. Ha ha I thought that was funny, I said “Well, points of course.” He said “the bad guys” use these cards.

Then when I got home hours later to reload it, I got error 29 and had to call in. The automated load didn’t work either, so then the CS rep at Van RN said “oh you can’t load onto the Bluebird card.” I asked if she could please try it because I swear I thought I did it last week. It worked. She didn’t speculate on why I got the invalid code number online or automated load on the phone.

FrequentMiler

Mary Kate: Great story. Thanks for sharing your experience with the reload card too. That could be very helpful for others.

Daniel

This is really exciting, especially being able to pay for bills that do not allow credit cards. What if you live in Manhattan, with no Walmarts near by, how would you go about reloading the Bluebird card?

FrequentMiler

Daniel: Manhattan residents have a big problem because Vanilla Reload cards aren’t available there either. Your best bet is to look for a backup plan.

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mo

Does your credit card company charge you a fee for cash advance for loading money onto bluebird?

FrequentMiler

Sam90802: I’m glad you’re excited about it!

mo: almost all credit cards charge a fee AND interest on cash advances. In general its best to avoid cash advances from credit cards

Sam90802

This is huge, particularly for those of us who have been unemployed for a while. I’m just getting back to work but my credit has suffered and my options have been greatly reduced…so thank you to the genius at AMEX for dreaming this one up!

PatMike

Ronald: – Are you loading directly from the Vanilla Reload site (https://www.vanillareload.com/) ??? If so, it should work.

Ronald

NB: Vanilla reload NOT working!!! Vanilla CSR Yvette claimed the reload cards are NOT for AE BB – ONLY for AE pre-paids!!!

smitty06

They are working. Many, many people have successfully loaded their BB and paid bills already.

[…] with a mile earning debit card and have been playing with it while ignoring my wife. Frequent Miler says that Bluebird “changes the game” and I agree with him that there is a lot of potential! However, I just hope that we can use Vanilla […]

PatMike

Not sure where else they are being advertised but Bluebird ads are all over CNN. I would think that’s not their target market. They are probably advertising on the reality shows, no doubt !

Chase is losing money with our Inks; Bluebird is losing money with us, but we are the most inexpensive way for them to advertise their brands.
Chase also wants the business market from Amex. With the Plus being a credit card, my guess is that many people (not us ! – LOL) will end up carrying a balance.
The frequent flyer blogosphere also has been great marketing for the Bluebird. For every one of us, there are many that will hear about it from us and use it in a profitable way for Amex/Walmart. Also, a lot of us have visited a Walmart this week. I know I did and I ended up buying a scooter for a grandson that I was going to buy at Toys R Us (with a giftcard I was going to get at Staples for 5X). Also got Halloween stuff and got a glimpse of the new Walmart food store. Pretty impressive.

Instead of looking at ourselves as Chase/Amex/Bluebird leeches, we should see ourselves as free marketers for these products.
Most of your readers are savvy, but many who hear about these deals through the blogs and blog readers will use them as the companies’ intended.

Blue Skye

data point:
called AmEx, got a very helpful CSR. there is no transaction/conversion fee for ATM withdrawals (aside from the usual fee the owner of the ATM may charge. usually $1.50 to $4.00).

the CSR also looked up the ATMs that would accept this card. He had a bit of trouble trying to find which exchange bank site/chart they used for foreign transactions but I am hoping that it won’t be too far off from OANDA or XE dot com.

Blue Skye

Off to New Zealand next month and was looking for a way to avoid a fee for cash withdrawal at ATMs. Thanks for that suggestion.

Blue Skye

I understand the part about no forex fees when you use the BB card int’l for a purchase. What I want to know (before diving into this) is if one can use the BB card at an int’l ATM to withdrawal cash, without having a 3% conversion fee? I cannot find anywhere on the BB site that mentions any ATM fees other than if one doesn’t use the MoneyPass ATM.

FrequentMiler

Blue Skye: There is no fee to use BB at international ATMs, but not all international ATMs will work. You can call Amex to ask where to find compatible ATMs based on where you will be traveling.

[…] many of you know about Blue Bird and how to load it with Vanilla Reload. The limitation with Blue Bird is that you can’t load with a credit card at Walmart. With […]

TK

How likely is it AMEX tracks if you use an Amex Bus. Gold CC to buy vanilla cards for the AMEX bluebird card? It’s probably harder for them to track with Chase since its two diff companies. Can they close accounts for that if you are legitimately making the purchases?

FrequentMiler

TK: I think it is unlikely that they would track that. They run their credit and prepaid divisions separately. But, I could be wrong 🙂

emily

does no forex fee mean that i can write a check in another currency for free? i live in canada, where atms are never free with a non-bank card, but i’d love to pay my rent this way with the check method.

FrequentMiler

emily: “no foreign exchange fee” means that when you use the card as a credit card internationally there is no extra fee (many cards charge 2.5% or 3%). I don’t know if you can use bill pay internationally. I doubt it.

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paul

Hi there, thank you so much for this post.
I tried to pay my citimortgage loans with bluebird card online. But I kept getting the error message about my account number. My account number ends with something like “-2”; it seems that bluebird sees it as incorrect. Do you have this problem? How to solve it? Thanks.

FrequentMiler

paul: I haven’t tried a real Bill Pay yet. It sounds like there are still some bugs for Amex to work out.

Dave Op: I’m amazed to hear that you don’t have any payments (or cash withdrawals?) that can’t be made via credit card. If that’s true then yeah maybe Bluebird isn’t for you.

Thanh P.: Yes the billpay feature is amazing, but I don’t believe it is a “loophole” to be closed. Amex intentionally wants this card to compete with traditional checking accounts. To do that, it needs this feature and they even plan to expand it next year with a heck writing capability (ie. you will be able to write checks yourself)

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jennifer

We just got those blue bird card we’ve withdrawn $278.00 and for some reason will no longer allow anymore ATM withdrawals!!!???? I read the daily spending limit is $500 a day. So wtt?

chuck

Here is a tidbit of interesting information. I discovered today that American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit cards earn 6% cash rebate at Wal-mart NEIGHBORHOOD grocery stores. This type of Wal-mart is different from the big-box discount department store locations and Sam’s. So if you have this type of store in your vacinity, purchase your Wal-mart gift cards there and then use them to purchase bird feeder packs if you think that might be a beneficial way of loading up your Bluebird account.

Indian Victim

Decades ago had a situation where a now bankrupt Fortune 1000 company was having me commute in to work via planes, hotels and rental cars and they were slow paying, so I had a big Sign & Travel balance. Then one day, the manager there said te company was growing so fast he was being promoted and he deligated management of my contract to a kid with one year experience who went on to use up all my good will (and AMEX line) without having secured any approvals and they wouldn’t cut a check knowing I did the work. I wound up going 120 days late and AMEX called in my whole balance. I tried to pay the $10K off about 6 years later but they wouldn’t agree to clear my credit –the debt was no longer colectable and I let it drop off my credit at 7.5 years rather than pay them $1 and reset the 7.5 year clock in the 6th year! If I now open a BB (or any other AMEX account) it would legally reactivate that nightmare here in the future…they could sue and get a 10 year judgment. No thanks. PS: that kid who knowingly ruined me like was a foreigner who (after being sacked) eventually became a VP at Oracle.

Curtis

Good to see that FM and Million Mile Secrets both were able to load up permanent cards today! I think I ordered one day behind you guys, so expecting to have mine tomorrow and do the same! Woohoo!

pas

Thats great news, FM, and John,
Is there a way to move the balance from Amex Prepaid to the bluebird?

John

Just loaded my bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards as well. No issues at all.

mw

How many bluebirds per person? Can I order a second one?

Frequent Miler

My permanent Bluebird came today and I loaded it with a Vanilla Reload card. No problem!

Charlie

Also a thought for bean enthusiasts: Assuming the credit card bank can’t see the actual transaction information, (only the total sale), it might make sense to either purchase another item or make one of your cards for an odd amount besides $500. If all of your OD transactions are divisible by $503.95 they are very easy to spot!

Charlie

Jason: I have a feeling AMEX would prefer to have an account with a balance of several thousand dollars loaded electronically over an account that gets a few hundred in cash loaded at Walmart every couple weeks. In fact it will be folks that carry larger balances that in effect subsidize smaller accounts. If low income people needed to OD on ice cream to stay alive, you might have a point!

jason

you guys are going to ruin this fee free card if you get your way. They will lock this card down or introduce fee’s all because you guys wanted to get some free miles. Stop trying to abuse and cheat the system. AMEX did a good thing for low income ppl by offering this card, and you rich ppl with your fancy cards are going to ruin it.

glen

Sil: So…. a CSR told you that you couldn’t load Vanilla onto Bluebird, but you haven’t actually tried loading onto the actual Bluebird card, correct?

Sil

Just want everyone to know you can not reload with the Vanilla Reload cards onto the Bluebird. I had to call Vanilla Reload customer service as I could not reload my $500 onto my AMEX prepaid . I had the code “70”. Found out I am short by 2 days for the $2500 limit per 28 days. Well, the CSR thought at first I had the AMEX bluebird and that was the reason I couldn’t reload.

Curtis

Hope that there is a way to do this besides ice cream in the end too. I’m in an area that has them in stock usually, but I’d like to have another method than that for when those go away.

ffmiles99

Good find! Would recommend saving the $5 by simply going to the website instead of purchasing from WM.

hsinaz

@FM: I just loaded 2.5K of ice cream (that I could get only because I happened to travel to an OD infested area) to my new AX prepaid for the first time. I have almost zero chance of getting more ice cream in the near future because they are not around in Phx. I need to drain the prepaid somehow back to my bank. What is the best way to do it? I do not have Serve. DW does. If I get BB, can I load it with this prepaid and then send a bill pay to DW/friend who will revert back? Also, would you suggest keeping the prepaid around if I cannot easily buy ice cream with my ink?

FrequentMiler

hsinaz: I don’t think you can move money from the prepaid to the Bluebird, but I will call Amex this coming week to find out for sure. In the meantime, the best option may be to find the cheapest ATM around (Costco charges $1.25, for example) and unload that way. There’s no reason not to keep the prepaid card around just in case.

Choi

I ve just signed up for a bluebird account and I think they are sending me the starter kit. anyhow, when logged in, I moved over to deposit button and scroll down to “cards”, it doesnt give me a vanilla option, just a debit option with $2 fee. how do you suppose to load vanilla card ??

FrequentMiler

Choi: Once you have the permanent Bluebird card, activate it, then go to Vanillareload.com to load the money from your reload card to the Bluebird card.

Irishmpk

I spoke directly with BB Customer Service today and they were adamant about the fact that Vanilla Reload was a viable source for funding the Blue Bird.

Irishmpk

Has anyone seen a “Feeder Pack” yet?? I am curious to know by what means we will be able to purchase these packs?? All I have seen at Walmart are the actual BB Starter Packs.

FrequentMiler

Irishmpk: I went to two Walmart stores today looking for feeder packs, but no luck. I don’t think they’ve been shipped to stores yet.

jj

i tried to use a vanilla reload on a temp bluebird from a walmart starter pack and it failed. called vanilla they said it would only work with feeder packs and that amex website was wrong. called amex and they said only the permanent blue could be loaded with vanilla reload.

fwiw

FrequentMiler

jj: Thanks for the info. Yeah, I didn’t realize that I was unclear about this point: you need the permanent version of the Bluebird card to reload it with Vanilla Reload cards.. I believe the Vanilla people to be wrong. We’ll see for sure once the permanent cards arrive in the mail.

frequent churner

@Mike — good info, I was reading it while licking a big block of salt.

Mike

I hope this isn’t true but I had an interesting discussion with the manager at the Framingham, MA Office Depot yesterday. I went in to do my monthly Vanilla Reload purchase and as I stared blankly at the gift card display wondering where they were he came over and asked if I needed help. I asked about the cards and he said they were out and sell out quickly. I’ve never had an issue before, so I was either lucky or they’ve had an increase in sales. He then proceeded to tell me people have been buying them to do “something” with credit card points, but he wasn’t exactly sure what, and that the credit card company would soon be putting a stop to it. Apparently this particular location receive lots of calls from Chase regarding the purchase of these cards. It sounded like Chase was trying to put some blame on OD for people taking advantage of these cards, but the manager said he told Chase as long as the shopper has a valid credit card, and ID he’s not going to stop them from buying a product in his store. Chase then indicated this is loophole, and they are actively working to close it. I hope it takes them awhile to do this but in the meantime grab the cards if you see them!

FrequentMiler

Mike: That’s interesting, but I’ve heard lots of strange stories like this in the past 5 months, yet the deal lives on (in most places). So, I wouldn’t risk Chase’s wrath by overdoing it right now just in case the cards get pulled. If they do get pulled, we’ll move on to the next best thing.

Larry L (In NYC)

@bwiflyer: “If you find a way to pay taxes with checks and get a benefit out of it in the form of miles or points, let us know.”
.
If you can load the BB card from a credit card (directly, or buying Vanilla reloads), the BB card can be used to pay anything (including taxes) by having them send a check, up to $5K per month. So, that’s potentially $60K and up to 300,000 UR points per year if you max out on Vanilla reloads at 5X, or 60,000 UR points at 1X.

AJH

FYI, the Vanilla reload option is still listed in the FAQs under “How do I deposit cash with a reload pack?” – https://bluebird.com/faqs/?linknav=us-Prepaid-Bluebird-Home-Faqs

AJH

@Marc: did you try loading the temporary card with Vanila? That isn’t supposed to work. Just curious

Marc

Just tried to load Vanilla onto new bluebird. FAIL.
Called them and they said they only take the feeder packs, not vanilla reloads. I looked back on the BB website to where it said it would take Vanilla, but I cant seem to find it. Did they take that part off?
So no Vanilla-no 5x.
Anyone else having this problem?

frequent churner

@B-Rad — you can still play the reload-it pack game, just use one of the non-nestpend pre-paid cards to do it. I’m doing this now by putting some legitimate spend on there to throw them a bone, and do periodic mortage payments and money order purchases at an obscure local pharmacy.

B-Rad

Thank you the info regarding netspend, a bummer, seemed too good to be true. Although, I did find something else that could be promising…I checked the vanilla reloads website to find other places where the are sold and found they are sold at savemart, aka as lucky grocery stores, where I live. Being a blue cash preferred amex guy, this seemed very lucrative. I went inside and wouldn’t you know it, there were about 25 vanilla reloads on the rack. Does anyone know if lucky earns 6% for blue cash preffered? Does lucky / save mart let you buy gift cards with amex? Any tried this before me, could be pretty sweet it if works. Could also help get around ink bold…

Ideas? Thoughts?

Mike

Let’s see what FM discovers in actual experience.
The $1 fee on $100 reload packs equates to 1%, so the net benefit of loading with Walmart GCs would still be 3.5% plus whatever reward you get for the initial credit card spend. Admittedly, this is getting farther away from the value of 5 UR points currently available on the Ink-vanilla route, but I think that is short-lived at this point, so very interested in finding another way to profitably load BB, as it holds so much potential for regular bill paying.

FrequentMiler

Mike: If Walmart really lets you buy feeder packs with gift cards then there’s plenty we can do with that. I’ll test that soon.

Michael

Spoke with an AMEX rep this morning at length and he said that at this time you can not load a walmart giftcard onto the bluebird directly. You could however (supposedly) use the walmart giftcard to purchase the re-load packs in a Walmart but this would seem to be not profitable because of the fees/small amounts.

Simmy

@Mike – FWIW my buddy and I called BB and they said they would not accept a walmart GC to fund BB. YMMV hopefully.

Mike

Thanks, FM!
I would do the experiment myself but I’m holding off on getting a BB until a profitable way to fund it is identified, other than vanillas, because any strategy that is reliant on OD continuing to sell vanillas on CCs is short-lived in my opinion.

Mike

@simmy – I like to keep things simple!
The strategy is to buy walmart gcs at the biggest possible discount (2% @ PJ, was 4% – just lowered to 2.5% @ TCB) using any credit card (presumably a reward card or one on which you are working on the minimum spend for a signon bonus). Then take the walmart GC to Walmart (I personally detest this step, as I find Walmarts pretty repulsive) and load the BB with the walmart GC. Then use the BB to pay your mortgage, bills etc. Even with the lower TCB rate, its still 4.5% plus whatever reward you get for the credit card spend – pretty good for paying your mortgage, bills, etc (and NO vanillas needed)! There may even be cheaper ways to buy the Walmart GCs – I’m sure FM will inform us if there is. The key to the whole strategy is whether Walmart will allow loading to the BB using walmart gift cards. FM should run that experiment ASAP!

FrequentMiler

Mike: Yes, of course I’ll test that once I get my Bluebird card in the mail. I’m not too keen about visiting Walmart either, but I’ll do it for you 🙂

Chetan

I called vanilla and they said that their Vanilla Reloadble Netowrk Card will not work w/ the BB.
Although Amex’s Term’s say otherwise ..http://ow.ly/eAcCD

Stephanie

I may have missed this but…

Can you for sure add money to the Bluebird card using a vanila reload card?

The post on Million Mile $ecrets made it look like doing this was not possible….

FrequentMiler

Stephanie: Yes, I’m sure you can add money using vanilla reload cards. I don’t understand MMS’ position on this. The ability to use Vanilla reload cards is very clearly spelled out in the public documentation for the Bluebird card. I also have confirmation from two different Amex reps.

frequent churner

@B-Rad — many have tried, most have gotten away with it for a few months, almost all had their accounts shut down. Stay away from any card marketed by Netspend / PayPal. Or, get it, load it up with $5k+ worth, buy money orders to clear it out and shred it once they close your account.

greek2me

It works, but only for small amounts over time or big amounts one time, as NetSpend has shut down almost everyone that has done more than a trivial amount of this.

B-Rad

After reading all the posts above, I think I have an experiment that may work (the post may be lengthy, but worth it) for those of us who don’t have the Ink Bold, Plus, etc.

I have an amex blue cash preferred card and buy lots of gc’s at my local safeway (grocery store) to maximize the 6% back, plus 2x fuel rewards. Because my office depot doesn’t have vanilla reloads, I starting looking at other places that vanila reloads are sold near me. There aren’t any within 20 miles, so I began to look at vanilla reload’s website and affiliates (mio, momentum, netspend, etc.) After looking at the mio and momentum locations near me, these seemed to be very inconvient (20+ miles to drive to), so I moved on to netspend. When I looked at these locations, I found that they actually carry Netspend prepaid cards at my local safeway (and many other nearby locations). It seems that Netspend works just like the bluebird. For example, you register online for the card, they send it to you, you go to safeway and buy a $500 reload pack for ~$5 and you reload your card that way. (I’m not sure if there are daily reload limits, fees, etc. because when I tried to call, I needed to have a card in hand to get to next level of options). Once the card is in hand, could it be loaded with these reload packs? I don’t see why not, but can’t confirm until I talk to a rep / get the card) Netspend is a visa / mastercard, so that could be helpful as well. Interesting note, when I was at my safeway, there were reload packs that could reload $20-1000 dollars, but said purchase with cash only. There were other temporary reload packs that would load $20-500 for a fee of ~$5, which could potentially be continuously loaded to pay all bills while earning ~5% on nearly all spending since the netspend is a debit card.

I hope I’m making sense. Has anyone else tried this before with a blue cash preffered? With netspend? Can netspend be reloaded with the reloads at the grocery stores? Can you buy these with reloads with a credit card?

I’m trying to come up with an alternative to ink bold for those of us who don’t / can’t have one or office depot is not an option.

Keep us posted if you have any info about this or have tried it out.

M. Jan Gradowitz

Besides BB, you can easily pay property taxes online with any CC but will pay a fee. House insurance by CC..no fee. Tell your morgage company to stop impounds. All DMV vehicle registrations online..no fee.. Also, water/garbage bills paid online with no fee, PGE bills by phone (CC) for $1.45 per month. Pest control by CC, no fee (phone to set up automatic). And of course satellite tv, cell phone and Internet for 5x thru ink. I’m gonna wait and see if this bird is all that 🙂 Thanks to all you brave souls for your experimentation!

Karla

Never mind – found the information in the FAQ’s:
“Visit http://www.VanillaReload.com or call 1-877-429-8140 to transfer your money from the Vanilla Reload Pack to your Bluebird Account. You will need to have both your Bluebird Card number and the Vanilla Reload PIN from the Network Card handy”

Karla

Okay, so I’m probably missing something here. But it seems like the only way to add funds with a vanilla reload is at a Walmart register. No link that I could see on my account online. Is that right? And would that mean the reloads would need to be purchased at Walmart?

Simmy

@Mike – can you use gc to buy gc from plastic jungle? Never tried that, there site says “credit card or paypal.”
But if so you can buy an amex gc through bigcrumbs for 1.4% (there could be some shipping/purchase fees under $10 but on a $1k gc you are getting $14 from bc) and then use the amex card to buy the walmart card from pj through tcb (which is 2.5% btw not 4%).
Just adding a layer! lol

bwiflyer

“LarryInNYC says:

This would work great for me if I can use it to send checks for tax payments since I’m self-employed and therefore send the government tens of thousands of dollars a year instead of having it withheld. But the secret is finding some way to charge the card at 5X (or, anyway, better than 1x if possible)”
If you find a way to pay taxes with checks and get a benefit out of it in the form of miles or points, let us know.

Jason S.

I am finding it difficult to believe that a direct CC reload at a Walmart register will be processed as a purchase, not a cash advance, if it is allowed in the first place (we’ll see). That said, I don’t see why Vanilla reload purchases and billpay to your credit card will raise flags. If you (could) charge a reload to a CC and pay that CC off from billpay, that might look interesting to the CC company, but even that is a stretch. The CC company still gets merchant fees and should be happy.

Also, Amex FR has to do with debt and your ability to repay. I’ve had one. I don’t think anyone will get a FR over BB. I believe it is in their CC terms, but not in BB’s.

Seems just like a bank account to me, and Amex is probably getting a cut of of the $3.95 Vanilla reload fee, merchant fees for purchases, interest on existing balances, other fees, and of course revenue from the inevitable unused and abandoned balances. Just because some people hit the jackpot, it doesn’t mean the casino is unprofitable.

I’m not advocating people go crazy with this, just don’t be afraid of the boogeyman under your bed.

Mike

Before we all get too down on BB, someone needs to check whether Walmart will allow Walmart gift cards to be used to load the BB. If they will, then the following strategy would be nearly as good as ice cream @ OD and would reduce some of the pressure on OD & Chase: Buy Walmart gcs through PlasticJungle (2% discount), linking through TopCashBack portal (4% cash back), using any CC presumably earning 1 UR point or some other CC reward and/or minimum spend). I’m sure FM will be putting this one at the top of his experiments list, as we are all anxious to know the results!!

vxmike

I’m also not seeing the benefits here for those unable/unwilling to go all-in with Vanilla. Not only do you risk being cancelled by Chase but also Bluebird. Amex isn’t generally a company that’s going to allow such shenanigans…I bet we’ll be seeing a ton more of the dreaded “FR” coming up. Amex has excellent safeguards in place to prevent this type of churning..for instance they just capped the Preferred Blue Cash 6% at grocery stores to $6K/year for those who were buying $500 prepaids at Kroger and other grocers.

This product is designed for poor/undocumented people unable to bank normally like the rest of us do. They aren’t going to allow thousands of people to effectively load it up with CC’s and cash out via checks. Is it worth getting blacklisted by Amex in addition to Chase??? I predict the “gamer” effect will be too large to remain sustainable just like I predict the Vanilla reload game will go for the same reason. Not very many people buy $500 prepaid cards, so I’m willing to be that that well over 50% of the Vanilla reloads at a national level are being purchased at OD using a Chase 5X card. No way it hasn’t been noticed.

Just called AMEX Bluebird to cancel my Serve. Was told you can do it online at Serve. They also said it can take up to 30 days to process cancelation. Until then you can’t get Bluebird Card.

Karen

@k20:

Could you tell us what gas station you see vanilla reload?

Niko

FM, please comment more on the benefits of BB in a scenario where Vanilla Reload is not an option to load BB and where CC is not an option to load BB. What advantages would there then be to have BB?

AJH

I’ve had a different experience with Vanilla reloads at OD. There are two OD’s within ~10 miles of my house. The closer OD has been out of VN reloads for the past 2-3 weeks, so I’ve driven to the further OD to pick them up. However, stopped by the closer OD today and they are back in stock (40+ reload cards on the rack, next to the Amex Prepaid cards). Promising sign, as it was looking like the OD would stop carrying them. Each store is obviously different, so YMMV.

Niko

If it’s possible to load the card with a CC (such as amex platinum) and earn points and then possible to deposit money from BB to checking account then that means you could then take the money from your checking account to pay your amex card. No money would be spent but points would be earned. Right?

k2o

@ James, if you need an interpreter for MM’s WM post, then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. 😉 to MM.

k2o

For the record, Vanilla reloads are available at several other places. If you don’t have an Ink for 5x, you might have an opportunity with 2x or 3x cards @ gas stations (yes,I’ve seen and bought them there). Other locations are noted on the Vanilla reload website as well.

SB

I didn’t see this in your post nor did I see it at Amex/BB FAQ page: Once you sign up the card will be sent to you in the mail. I thought the card you got from Walmart was your permanent card but that’s only a temporary card. Just sit tight once you sign up and they’ll be sending you a card in 10 business days.

I wasn’t sure about this so now I went and wasted $5 I didn’t need to; hopefully this will stop someone else from doing that.

Frequent Miler

pas: I’ll look into that.

Jana: you can be sure I’ll post updates!

Jesse O

Sorry guys, but there’s going to be absolutely no chance that Walmart will allow reload by CC. It’s just reality.

Vanilla Reload at OD seems to be the best bet, however it looks like that’s on the way out as well with OD ceasing to carry the product anymore.

ElTurk

Also, OD goers, don’t forget to factor in the price of gas. Small, yes, but it can add up.

bf

A major limitation is the difficulty in finding Vanilla Reload Network cards at OD. I found one card at a distant OD today, but when the store searched all the nearby stores for inventory, the result was zero. I guess the big Q is whether Walmart will accept CCs as a form of payment to load BB cards.

Christopher

Maybe with the permanent BB card, not the temporary. I just ordered a permanent card today so I can see if Walmart will allow CC swipe load at register.

Dave

FM, I forgot about paying bills, but the IB does cover a lot of the more expensive bills already (cable, phone). I guess BB can be used for car payments (which I don’t have), auto insurance, utilities.

pas

Waiting to receive the bluecard in the mail now, then a quick activation. But in the mean time, can I transfer money into the account from American Express Prepaid card and hopefully send out the first rent check payment?

Jana

I would love an update to see how this goes-I’m a late adopter for these kinds of miles earnings options 🙂

James

where can we go to figure out what marathon man was referring to?

Dave

I just checked my county’s property tax website. They only take Visa debit, which basically excludes using BB for this purpose for me. I just registered my Prepaid AMEX today, I think I’ll use that.

FrequentMiler

Dave: why not use Bluebird’s bill pay?

the feeder packs can only be purchased with cash or debit card. it doesn’t look like this is going to be a big deal for meeting CC spend

Dave

I find myself agreeing with Jason and ElTurk. Unless we can use CC to load at Wallyworld, I don’t see the how this is all that special. The only thing that would really help would be if someone can confirm that this can be used as a “debit” payment for property taxes.

frequent churner

This card will make use of Feeder packs: feedbluebird.com
.
Merchant locator link doesn’t work yet.

Vinh

Great post FM.

What are those vanilla reload cards at Safeway that LOOK like the OD vanilla reloads? Will they work with Bluebird?

FrequentMiler

Vinh: if they say Vanilla Reload card then they should work. I can’t promise you’ll be allowed to buy them with a credit card though. Different stores have different policies about that

Jason

There is no vanilla reload pack in OD nearby. CS said the pack won’t be restocked. CC reload is impossible in Walmart. CS rejected the transaction. They know the trick and ask for $$ only. What’s this BB good for?

caveman

I second ElTurk views. Unless Walmart accepts the use of mileage cards, we are stuck with vanilla reloads from OD.

ElTurk

@Jim – that would only be true if this card could be loaded with a credit card. There has not been any confirmation that such an avenue exists (sans OD Vanilla).

Jim

@ElTurk,This can help you with min spend on new CC’s, you can also spend you way to status.

ElTurk

I peruse a decent amount of points centered blogs/sites. I can say without equivocation that few are so entirely dependent on Chase Ink as FM. As someone who has near perfect credit but simply cannot get an Ink (I have only been with Chase for a few months and the recon rep told me that they wouldn’t give me a business card – even if I gave up a chunk of my credit – until I was with Chase for at least 6 months) I find any Ink reliant post rather useless.

Like other posters, I am also frustrated that this post relies on our ability to buy Vanilla reloads from OD – which not everyone can do – and stipulates that Walmart “might” allow reload by credit card, when no Walmart has ever been confirmed to do so.

So, it seems like what we have is basically a free checking account with free checks and inconvenient ATM situation.

IF there were a real, verifiable, universal method of putting money on this card by using a credit card, THEN this card would be incredible. But for a decent portion of people, there simply isn’t.

Stoughton

Dan – Fed requirement to combat laundering

Dan

Do they do a credit check? If not, why do they need my SSN?

greek2me

FAQ and T&C both say $5k/mo limit on the Cash Funding category includes Vanilla and swipe reloads at register combined. Given 1) too expensive to at 2% fee to do debit load of $1k/mo and 2) other loads do not earn pts
it seems to me this is effectively limited to $5k/mo max load.
Love to know if anyone sees anything I am missing in this?

FrequentMiler

greek2me: That’s how I read it too.

Sam_Goh

@FM – Thanks. I think the initial press release said that check writing wouldn’t be available till Q1 2013 so it is nice to see this working now.

Now to figure out if my local county will refund property taxes if double paid through escrow and me 🙂

FrequentMiler

Sam_Goh: I see the confusion. The way I understood the original press release is that next year we will be able to get paper checks that we can write ourselves to draw from the Bluebird account. The current feature is part of “bill pay” and checks are sent from Amex to whoever you specify.

Surface Interval

Couldn’t wait. Went to Walmart and picked one up at lunch today. Tried to load with AMEX, no dice, VISA, no dice. First tried at a register, then at customer service. Wound up parting with a $10 bill and netting a whopping $5 balance. Time to go ice cream shopping.

Possibly after registration, re-loading will work with a CC? I’ll find out in the next day or two.

Sam_Goh

@FM – Do you know if there are restrictions on the check writing capability? Do you just say pay XYZ at XYZ address? I currently am using Serve for loads so don’t want to cancel just yet but have some bills coming up to individual contractors that I would like to pay. This sounds promising!

FrequentMiler

Sam_Goh: the only restriction I know of is the $5K per month limit. Yes, I think you just enter in the biller’s name and address and then send them however much you want to pay them. I haven’t done it yet, though.

chuck

Well done, again!

frequent churner

@THEsocalledfan — we’re a small drop in the bucket and get lost in the noise. There’s people who run up a balance and pay interest, or aren’t privy to these tricks. If it was a big problem for them, FM would be losing his affiliate links.

Brent

Tried entering Wells fargo mortgage account# in bill pay but keep getting invalid account# message.

stacey

THanks for a great post! I registered online – do they mail the card out? No confirmation of that in the email I received…

THEsocalledfan

@Jim

I tend to agree. I actually sent a message to a couple friends of mine stating I can’t see how Chase stays in the 5X business much longer. So, as they say, get in while you can!

Mike

I signed up but I’ll hold off being excited until I find out that my local Walmart allows loading via CC. I’m already worried about spending too much on Vanilla cards at OD as it is. Trying to get enough Vanilla cards to pay for my mortgage would push me beyond my comfort zone.

Mike

@vadzim Just signed up without issue. The site did seem a little sluggish though.

Vadzim

Due to technical difficulties we are unable to process your request at the moment.
Please try again at a later time.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

Does anyone else get this when tries to sing up?

harvson3

Well done, nice summary, thanks FM.

DRSP

After playing around with the bill pay feature, I notice that credit card companies are included in the list of payees. It seems like a Perfect PPM to load up the account with a credit card then pay the bill from the account. Would this raise alarms and be grounds for account closure?

Preacher

Will I be able to buy money orders with this and it’s limited debit features, do you think?

FrequentMiler

Preacher: There’s no reason to buy money orders when the bill pay feature will send checks for free. I wouldn’t risk it.

DRSP: I noticed that too. I expect that it would work, but for me this card is too promising to risk on a transaction like that until I’ve seen others have success with it.

Curtis

This is a goldmine. Thanks FM! Was trying to figure out how we were going to pay off student loans and earn “real” miles (not Delta via SunTrust). Same with monthly mortgage, taxes, etc.

Jim

This makes me think we are going to Ink ourselves right out of the points and mile game? However, I’m in but slowly.

Jana

Where can I get a list of payees? I would like to pay my mortgage this way.

JetsFan

Thanks again FM. (I met you very briefly at the Seminars by the way). If I understand this all correctly, I can buy Visa debit cards from anywhere using any card and meet minimum spend (and earn some points) for only a $4.95 fee (roughly 1% of a $500 card), and then load them onto a Bluebird at Walmart and pay my mortgage (just for example) through Bluebird’s bill pay service. This is in addition, of course, to trying to get 5X at OD.

FrequentMiler

JetsFan: No, I’m not sure that would work. If you buy a Visa debit card you won’t get a PIN to use with it. I think that Walmart would most likely require a PIN (but I do plan to test this theory).

Jana: Once you log into your account, you can select the “Pay Bills” button and then search for payees. If your mortgage company isn’t listed, you can still pay by entering in the required info. Just FYI, CitiMortgage is in the list (that’s where my mortgage is).

redcat255

Just as an update, I called Serve. They said if you’ve closed your Serve account within the last 30 days, you must use the exact same information to register your Bluebird account as you used for your Serve account. I was using a different e-mail address, and that was causing the problem. If your SSN matches what you used for Serve, you must make sure every other piece of identifying information matches, including e-mail and phone number.

FrequentMiler

redcat255: Thanks for posting the key to getting your account! Just to repeat: if you had Serve before, make sure to cancel, and then use the exact same email address, phone number, etc in order to establish your Bluebird account.

jeff: There’s no reason to tempt fate by buying money orders with prepaid cards. With the Amex Prepaid I’d recommend ATMs and Amazon Payments. With Bluebird, many other options open up that are sanctioned by Amex

LarryInNYC

Can we slow down a bit for old folks like me? I just want to see if I follow.
.
I assume the value of this card is that you can earn parts when you “charge it up” with money, then use that money for non-points-earning activities like paying using the cards send-a-check functionality.
.
So that means the card is only valuable to the extent you earn points when charging it up. It sounds like the real value there is figuring out how to earn 5X points during the charging process. That is done by using the Ink Bold card in combination with in-store purchases of reload cards (Vanilla Reload) on which you will earn 5 points per dollar value of the card, less whatever the fee for purchasing the card is. Correct?
.
Otherwise, the best one can do (which is still okay) is one point per dollar added to the bluebird card, but only assuming you can figure a way to charge it from your points-earning credit card, and not a debit card or cash. Correct?
.
This would work great for me if I can use it to send checks for tax payments since I’m self-employed and therefore send the government tens of thousands of dollars a year instead of having it withheld. But the secret is finding some way to charge the card at 5X (or, anyway, better than 1x if possible).

FrequentMiler

LarryInNYC: Yes, you seem to get it. Even at 1X, this is a great opportunity for most people because you can now earn points for far more expenses.

Stevedealin

Unless I’m missing something, I’m not sure that at 1x it’s a great opportunity. If $500 reload cards cost $4.00 that’s $8 for $1,000 worth or roughly .8%. On a 1% cashback card that only nets you .2% in rewards or $2 on a $1,000 purchase.

FrequentMiler

Stevedealin: There are several 2% cash back cards, and cards like SPG where the points are each worth about 2 cents. Or, look at cards that offer big bonuses for big spend. For example, the Delta Reserve gives you 15K bonus miles (and elite qualifying miles) when you spend $30K, and again at $60K so you can earn miles and elite status quite cheaply.

redcat255

I’ve had my Serve account closed for a few days now, and I can’t sign up for Bluebird. Two family members are having the same problem. Any ideas? Or do I just need to bite the bullet and call?

Jim

I should bw able to buy beans with any CC at OD and load the bird.( like SPG)Am I right?

Christopher

Hi FM – If you use as Debit for paying for taxes and such, is a PIN required to process the transaction?

FrequentMiler

Christopher: No, a PIN is not needed when you pay federal taxes online (or on the phone) via debit card.

Jim: Bingo. Vanilla and Bluebird fees are low enough that anyone can play this game, not just Ink cardholders (although Inkers earn far more points).

eltex

Just a note here. This card is designed to compete directly with normal bank checking accounts. Therefore, it is possible that the large rent/mortgage/tax payments won’t raise a red flags. We will have to sit back and see how it unfolds.

Jesse O

“If you succeed in finding a way to load Bluebird via a points-earning card”

That’s a pretty big “if” there chief.

FrequentMiler

Jesse O: loading Bluebird via a points earning card is a small “if” for those of us lucky enough to live near a well stocked Office Depot. It’s a big “if” for others.

eltex: Very good point. Let’s hope Amex auditors see it that way too!

[…] Frequent Miler reviews the new American Express Bluebird prepaid card. […]

Sil

If I try using a credit card to load at Walmart, do I go to Customer service or any cash register?

[…] course, now that Bluebird is flying, that may be the best way to go.  This card sounds even better than the one I just got.  My mind […]

marathon man

FM, GREAT write up!! Thanks.
For those for whom this will work, go forth and prosper!!

However, I personally may need to pass since there are NO ODs near me and Vanillas are hard enough to come by if the sets of people I have in places where they have them are not available. (I have had them all work too much for me with ones needed to max out INKs, etc anyway lol)……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

As well, with WM, I have a little tip that everyone here needs to head and head well!: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

If you do a certain ‘other activity’ at WM (you know the activity I mean so let’s not say it) then you should be VERY careful about doing things there with other financial products such as this. Hard to explain right here and now, but for example, if one uses the WM MoneyCard, other PP cards or, now this BlueBird card at WM for things like loads and swipes, it becomes very much ‘noticed’ and it is very risky when they begin to see you co-mingle your visits with the ‘other activity’ you may already be doing a lot of there………………………………………………………………………………………………………

This could get you in deep trouble for reasons WM’s Loss/Preventions department has, and that we mileage people always question with little satisfaction in the end. Let’s just say I heard all that from a little bird and that one should tread very lightly when doing multiple/mixed financial transactions at WM. That said I think they’d be more inclined to allow a debit load than a CC one, but am curious to see what people find out. ……………………………………………………………………………

Good luck!

:)MM

FrequentMiler

marathon man: thanks for the timely tip!

Sil: go to any cash register

Eugene

No OD in phoenix so i think i will stick with Serve for now. Just have to endure the 2500 limit between 2 accounts.

RK

Can I buy AMEX/VISA prepaid card from OD and use the same for Loading Bluebird at Walmart?

hpewen

@FM: Do you think AMEX will offer a promotional bonus for ordering this card like they did with the original Prepaid card? I’m wondering if I should wait since I’m in no particular hurry. Your thoughts?

FrequentMiler

hpewen: It’s certainly possible that Amex will offer promotional bonuses for the Bluebird. If you don’t need one right away, then it can’t hurt to wait and see if that happens.

jeff

canceled serve online 5 hrs ago, still unable to order the BB. changing email wouldn’t work.
Thank you for
choosing Bluebird.
Sorry, but we cannot approve you for a Bluebird Account at this time because you have an existing Serve Account. If you have any questions, please contact us by calling Customer Service at 1-877-486-5990.

any tricks?

Jason74

Ordered. Hoping some utilities, car payments and others will work with this.

Ram

I am very eager to test if Chase SP would treat the swipe at walmart as a purchase or a cash advance. Will post results ASAP

Ram

You Da Man FM. Awesome post.
Do you think if I make a monthly 400$ car payment with this card cause Amex spy on my account?

FrequentMiler

Ram: That sounds reasonable to me. Only time will tell.

Steelsnow

So many interesting possibilities with this as it is now released… a lot of folks have property taxes around the corner, but can they get the card ‘seasoned’ enough that the payment won’t cause a big red flag…

Will be interesting to see if it can handle the larger payments such as rents and mortgages as well. Most of those are a thousand or more, payments that size have been an issue that many have reported for shutdowns on other PP cards.

Nice job to AMEX for an interesting product that will likely be popular.

jeff

sign up not working even after you close the SERVE and it has been hours. using different emails wouldn’t work either.

AK @PointsToPointsB

If ACH payments count as direct deposit, and if there is no minimum, then any “withdrawal” of funds via Amazon Payments or PayPal may show up as DD. I’ve already suggested this to FM, so I guess it’s an experiment for the laboratory.

jim6

Hmmm. Absent ability to load with CC, I don’t see a “game changer” here. Yes, fewer fees but not fundamentally different than using current crop of prepaid cards.

Someone care to tell me what I’m missing?

At least there will be pressure on the current prepaid bozos and get them to lower fees.

I’m still trying to avoid ODing on my ice cream runs.

Pearl

What are the alternatives to an employer direct deposit? Several people are asking about this. And you alluded to this in your post. Thanks for the help!

steven

This is eail i got from AME.

Hello XXXX,
Thank you for signing up for Bluebird! We are reviewing your request and will send you an e-mail to provide an update on your Bluebird Account status.
If you have any questions, please contact us by calling Customer Service at 1-877-486-5990.
Thanks,
Bluebird

puck

Enjoyed your talk in Chicago. Just bought my first vanilla reload cards at OD and funded them using Ink Bold. Should I load the money on Bluebird or AMEX prepaid or both?

FrequentMiler

puck: I’d recommend going right to Bluebird, but you can’t really go wrong either way.

Pearl: This might help: http://www.realmofprosperity.com/2010/01/how-to-fake-a-direct-deposit-and-avoid-bank-fees/

Sil

steven- i registered around 5 P.M PST and my account is open. Just need to wait for my card to activate.

Mark082

For those of you getting the “Enjoy Your Youth” quote, add the “/” to the DOB, and it should work.

N

If you close the Serve account, what happens to the existing balance in Serve?

FrequentMiler

N: Serve forces you to empty the account before you can close it. I sent my balance to my wife’s new Bluebird account. That worked flawlessly.

steven

FM: I have a feeling that vanilla reload from OD by using INK will be dead soon. If it happen, is there any other funding way to get the points?

stealph

Looking forward to the excitement! Congrats

steven

i just register bluebird online, but it said I need to wait for 48 hours to get the account ready. I have 3 AME prepaid cards. Anyone have same experience?

smitty06

Not excited to have any of my paycheck direct deposited onto a card. Any creative workarounds?

Ray

Seems really exciting…

Tony

Registration is still no go here after closing my Serve count couple of hours ago, same result even with a different browser. @FM, you are really lucky.
Will try registration again later.

Ray

Interesting!

Mike

I just recently bought my Bluebird, I had a similar experience to AJH.

I tried my Ink Bold and it didn’t work. It seems like debit and cash is the only way to purchase the card.

jeff

closed serve an hour ago, reopened new browser but still can’t sign up for the BB

timothy

closed serve 1 hour ago, reopened new browser and still can’t sign up for BB card

frequent churner

The feeder pack appears to be administered by Incomm, who are behind Vanilla packs.

frequent churner

…and the plot thickens. There’s also something called the Feeder Pack that’s coming out:
.
https://www.feedbluebird.com/birdFeeder-webapp/faq.html
.
Website still has missing links but looks like you can get $100 increments for $1 which isn’t a terribly high cost.

Sil

I will give it a try at Walmart when my card arrives. This afternoon, I bought 2 vanilla reloads for my AMEX prepaid card today without reading your post. I wish I had loaded $500 on the Bluebird instead, oh well….on another note, OD said they are required to charge 2 different transactions for my two $500 vanilla Reload cards. I couldn’t just pay for the $1000 and someodd dollar fees for one transaction.

Scott C

cool. looks like AMEX just took the world of mortgage and car payments for all us points nuts.

AJH

I just ventured into my Wal-Mart neighborhood market and found the new Bluebird display. Picked up two of the Bluebird account set up kits (one for me, one for wife) and headed to the register. The cashier said I was the first person to get one, then proceeded to call over 2 other co-workers who huddled around for first Bluebird transaction in their store (note – one lady had a 3-page instruction manual in hand). Scanned the first set up kit and asked me how much I wanted to load. I asked if I could load with a credit card… the lady flipped through her instructions… no indication if it was possible, so we gave it a whirl. Tried loading the full amount allowed ($500 plus the $5 account set up fee), swiped my Ink Plus credit card… no go! Bummer. The manager had to clear the transaction. Tried again with a nominal amount of cash…obviously no issue there. For the second kit, I tried using a debit card (with PIN). Worked without any issues. So it’s looking like credit card loads won’t work at this store, at least for the initial account set up kit. I’ll have to try again when I get the permanent card.

Two other notes– you can’t purchase any other items in the same transaction as the Bluebird setup kit. I had to pay for my daughter’s Hershey bar in a separate transaction. Also, can’t do two account setup kits in the same transaction.

FrequentMiler

AJH: Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I doubt that your Walmart’s registers will allow you to reload if they wouldn’t even allow the initial purchase, but its worth a try of course.

Sil

Can I deposit initial funding with my credit card at Walmart?

FrequentMiler

Sil: I expect that it depends on the particular Walmart. Want to give it a try?

Jimmy @TravelByPoints

@webazoidd, you have to add the back slash when entering your birth date.

Jimmy @TravelByPoints

Wow, it is probably time to buy Amex and WalMart stocks :D! Thanks, FM! This post will probably be honored again at next year’s #ChicagoSeminars!

Grant

@FM, here is another experiment. Can you use Walmart gift cards to load to Bluebird card?
.
I just closed my Serve card because it wasn’t letting me sign up. After a few minutes, I re-tried my application for bluebird and it went through. I guess this card will make my 2 AMEX prepaid reloadbale cards obsolete, we had some good times together 🙁
.
Any foreign transaction fees for this card? Consumer benefits?

FrequentMiler

Grant: Great idea. Yes, we’ll have to see if we can reload with Walmart gift cards. No foreign transaction fees. Same consumer benefits as the Amex prepaid cards.

pbailey19

Looks like you’ve already wrapped up “Post of the Year” just two days after the Chicago Seminars. This looks to be amazing, amazing news and after reading over the features, I think this one might be the Holy Grail of “Points for Mortgage Payments”. Thanks again for your fantastic blog – I’ll certainly share my experiences once I receive my Bluebird card.

webazoidd

“You have the following errors.
date of birth: Sorry, you have to be at least 18 to open a bluebird account (19 in Alabama or Nebraska). Enjoy your youth.”

FrequentMiler

webazoidd: Weird!

webazoidd

i tried registering but it says i’m too you. however, i’m over 18. weird.

TonyL

I was told by BB custom rep that Serv cancellation takes 24-hour to be refreshed to BB, so I’ll wait for 24-hour to retry BB registration.

blake

1) Could you generally write a post for those of us who do not (and perhaps cannot) have Business credit cards? I’m one of these people, and I know many others are also. What would you recommend that we use to reload a Bluebird card? Are there any consumer cards that would give a good bonus on Walmart reloads or Vanilla Reload cards? I haven’t seen anything on this topic…

+1

HikerT

I’m skeptical this will play out well for those who push the envelope if the anal types behind Serve are monitoring activity. I had loaded the minimum $250/month via CC for 3 months to my Serve account, then withdrew $750. Soon thereafter I was sent a nastygram telling me I had violated their T&C and my account would be cancelled if I did it again. I cancelled my Serve account proactively.

FrequentMiler

HikerT: Thanks for the data point regarding Serve. BlueBird definitely seems to have similar (or more likely, the same) technology behind it (the web site once you log in looks very similar).

TonyL: Interesting that they told you 24 hours since my account refreshed in less than a minute. Maybe I just got lucky!

Rick Ingersoll

The reason some of us “old timers” show we have Serve accounts is because of 2008 we joined the “Revolution Money Exchange”. That was bought by Serve. They are sending me my $84 balance, then I can close my Serve account and get a Bluebird account.

MidTierStatus

Sounds awesome! Can’t wait…

John K

Can you bill pay another CREDIT card with the bill pay option?

Ron

Can you get multiple Bird accounts in your name? I’d like to have ability to load up a few cards to pay big bills (like mortgage/taxes).

FrequentMiler

Ron: I think that you can only have one account (you can add up to 4 sub-accounts, but they are really just extra cards that you can manage under the same master account). Of course, couples can each get their own master account. Same with any children 18 or over.

John K: I suppose you could pay a credit card bill, but that might draw unwanted attention by Amex auditors. Tread carefully.

Rick Ingersoll: I had $10 in my Serve account so I setup a BlueBird account for my wife first, then I used Serve to send her $10. She successfully received the $10 into her BlueBird account. Then I was able to cancel Serve and order my BlueBird.

Noel

I’m thinking this is a great option to pay my rent. If I can get a check mailed to someone every month, that would be amazing. That should work, right?

FrequentMiler

Noel: Yes, it should work for paying your rent.

emt

This is phenomenal, on both AmEx’s part and FrequentMiler’s. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

I do have a couple of questions/requests.

1) Could you generally write a post for those of us who do not (and perhaps cannot) have Business credit cards? I’m one of these people, and I know many others are also. What would you recommend that we use to reload a Bluebird card? Are there any consumer cards that would give a good bonus on Walmart reloads or Vanilla Reload cards? I haven’t seen anything on this topic…

2) I’m aware that Citi counts many transactions as cash advances, rather than purchases. Do they do this with Vanilla Reload cards? What about Walmart reloads?
And, more importantly, do any of the other issuers do this? I’m thinking AmEx, Chase, Barclays, Bank of America especially.

Many thanks!

FrequentMiler

emt: Great questions.
.
1) First, you should know that most people can get business credit cards even if they don’t think they have a business. Please see “How to sign up for the Ink Bold” for more information. That being said, it is worth loading Bluebird with almost any rewards credit card since you can then use it at ATMs and to pay bills that you couldn’t normally pay by credit. So, if you’re working on a new card’s minimum spend for a signup bonus, use that. Or, if you’re trying to get a big spend bonus (which some cards offer), use that one. Or, simply use a card who’s points you highly value (SPG, any Ultimate Rewards card, etc.)
.
2) I’ve bought Vanilla reload cards with my Citibank cards and they were treated as a purchase, not a cash advance. I don’t know if the same will hold true with a Walmart reload. That’s something we’ll have to experiment with.

Stevedealin

I tried using different email addresses on signup and it gave me the message saying that I had an existing serve account. I canceled the account and it still gives me that message. I wonder how long after you cancel the serve account that it takes to clear that message..

FrequentMiler

Stevedealin: After I canceled my Serve account, I closed my browser, waited a minute, then tried again. It worked.

Yong

I don’t think you need to cancel your Serve account before signing up for this.

When I signed up, it complained when I tried to use the same email address as my Serve account, saying something to the effect of “the email address isn’t eligible”. But once I changed that, it was smooth sailing. I figured they’d do the check based on SSN, but that didn’t prevent my signup either.

So unless there’s something in the terms (which I haven’t found), it seems that as long as you use different email addresses, you should be able to keep both accounts.. right?

FrequentMiler

Yong: I’m surprised you were able to get the BlueBird without canceling your Serve account. When I tried to sign up, I first received the “email address isn’t eligible” message too. Then, I tried a different email address and at the end a message on the screen explicitly said that I couldn’t open the account while I had a Serve account open. I called Amex and they confirmed this.

JettyBoy

Post. of. the. year.

marZ

You’re the KING. Oh and Amex is cool too for having this product.

mommypoints

Woohoo! I think this really does open up some good opportunities…hopefully the Blue Bird likes me better than the other Amex prepaid!

MilesMaven

FrequentMiler <—– We <3 you

AK

Awesome post, FM. I’m still going to stand back as I’m working on Serve right now. As for Direct Deposit, check your milepoint conversations … I have an idea, but not sure if it will work with this. But I just found out that I have 7 MoneyPass ATMs within a mile, so this looks tempting 😀

The $10K balance seems useful for large bills (I’m juggling several Prepaids right now), but the $5K load limit per month is the limiting factor. It means that per month, it’s worth 2 Prepaids.

David

Would be interesting to plan MRs with 3-4 hr stops in IAH, as it’s been noted that the Houston area has an abundance of Vanilla reloads.

Thanh P.

But after thinking about this a bit, this Bluebird may serve less purpose than what I initially wanted it for.

Firstly, no online credit loading is BS. I think this would be the sole reason why I’d ponder on this before I cancel my Serve account. Serve account is very useful for me in unloading small prepaid Visa debit cards.

Secondly, this does not alleviate some of the issues NYC-ers like myself face. We don’t have access to vanilla reload cards, as well as Walmarts. Will be interesting to know what “participating retailers” include.

Are walmart purchases categorized as grocery by Amex anyway?

MileValue

I look forward to using this responsibly to help meet the ever-increasing minimum spends. Great work, FM.

Scuta

Isn’t it limited to 5K per month?

David

Wow, AMEX Prepaid is now obsolete after 6 months.

Why so many similar products from AMEX? Serve -> Prepaid -> Bluebird

Thanh P.

This is HUGE