Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve

Updated: 6/25//2016

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: As of 10/13/15 the Target REDcard (REDbird) can only be loaded with cash in-store at Target. Gift cards and/or debit cards no longer work to load REDcard so it is no longer useful for increasing spend and thus has been removed from this guide.

Note 5/10/2016: Rite Aid no longer allows debit cards to be used for reloading prepaid cards.

Bluebird and Serve…  These are prepaid reloadable American Express cards intended to be viable fee-free checking account alternatives.  Even better, they are both good choices for those who primarily want to earn miles and points.  The problem is… each person can have only one.  So, which is best?

UPDATE 6/25/2016: At some point recently Amex started allowing people to sign up for multiple cards. It is now possible for one person to signup for Bluebird, Serve, and REDbird (the Target Prepaid REDcard).

The answer to “which card is best?” depends upon your personal situation.  No single card is better than all others for everyone.  However, depending upon your situation, there is almost certainly a best card for you.  In this guide, I’ll give you the information you need to decide which card is best for you.

amex bluebird serve guide



Both Bluebird and Serve run on the same technology platform and they therefore have a lot in common.  They are both prepaid reloadable American Express cards.  This means that, unlike credit cards, you need to load money to these cards before you can use them (although, another option is to setup linked backup funding sources).  Once money is loaded, these cards can be used like American Express credit cards to make purchases, or can be used at ATMs for cash withdrawals, or can be used like a bank account to pay bills.


Bluebird was formed from a collaboration between American Express and Walmart. Even though Serve predated Bluebird, Bluebird was the first prepaid card to be a realistic fee-free checking account alternative.  And, at the time of this writing, Bluebird continues to be the only Amex prepaid product that offers a checkbook for writing checks yourself.  One of my earliest posts about Bluebird can be found here: Bluebird takes flight and changes the game.


Serve has been around quite a while and it has changed a lot over time, mostly for the better. At one point American Express discontinued the singular version of Serve and launched four new versions. While each version shares common features, they are all unique and different in their own ways. In this guide I will talk about Serve as a singular product (highlighting features that are common across all versions), however you can see all of the differences between each type in the Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is best?

One of the features that makes all versions of Serve stand out above Bluebird and REDbird is that they can be loaded online via credit card, up to $1000 per month. (The discontinued Softcard version of Serve allows $1,500 per month.) Unfortunately, as of April 16th 2015, they only accept Amex credit cards for those loads.  Amex cards issued by American Express do not earn rewards when used this way, but Amex cards issued by other banks do earn rewards. To find the best Amex cards to use for this purpose, please see: Best options for Serve online loads.

Which is best for you?

Please read through the comparison tables below to identify the differences between cards that matter the most to you.  For simplicity, though, here are my quick recommendations.

  • If you want to maximize credit card spend and savings opportunities, regardless of the complexities involved, then get Serve.
  • If you find yourself often in or near Walmart, Rite Aid, Dollar General, or Family Dollar, regardless of whether you actually shop at those locations, get Serve.
  • If you want to use Vanilla brand Visa gift cards to reload your prepaid card in-store, get Serve.
  • If you frequently shop at Walmart, and you’re interested in occasional Walmart discounts, get Bluebird.
  • If you need the ability to write your own checks, get Bluebird.

Comparison Tables

The following tables show both cards side by side.  Notable advantages are marked with green backgrounds.  Notable negatives are marked with red backgrounds.

How to get the card



Order online



Buy temp card in-store




Various Stores

Temp card fee


$0 to $5

Monthly fee


Varies per flavor.

How to reload



Direct deposit



Deposit check (with smart phone app)



Online debit (not gift cards)

Up to $1K / month

Up to $1K / month

Online credit


Up to $1K / month

Amex cards only.

In-store kiosk



In-store debit (including gift cards with PINs)


Walmart, Family Dollar, Rite-Aid, Dollar General

In-store debit w/ Vanilla Visa gift card



Family Dollar, Rite-Aid, and Dollar General

In-store credit



Via reload cards

Vanilla Reload

Vanilla Reload, Money-Pak, ReloadIt

In-store + reload card limits

$5000 per month

$5000 per month

If you’re reading this page, you probably want to find the card that is best for earning credit card rewards.  There are several ways this can happen:

  • Online debit loads: Use a rewards earning debit card or a debit card that is reloadable with a credit card.  Increasingly, both options are difficult or impossible to find, so this option is of very limited use to most people.  You cannot use gift cards as debit cards for online loads.
  • Online credit loads (Serve only): This is a great way to earn rewards easily and automatically, but Serve is now limited to Amex credit card loads only.  Please see: Best options for Serve online loads.
  • In-store debit: Unless you are lucky enough to have a debit card that earns rewards, the trick here is to use your rewards credit card to buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards with PINs, and use those as debit cards to reload your prepaid card.  See: Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards and Beginner’s guide to buying & liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards
  • Reload cards: Vanilla Reload cards and Greendot MoneyPaks are cards that can be bought at various stores, and then money from those cards can be transferred to prepaid reloadable cards online or, increasingly common, at the register.  It is becoming increasingly difficult, but not impossible, to find stores that allow reload cards to be purchased with a credit card.
Scheduled Loads

American Express used to make it very easy to schedule loads from various funding sources, however they have now seemingly removed that option from their website. Fortunately there is still a way to do this. To schedule a load, simply log-in to your Bluebird or Serve account and click the appropriate link below.

Note: This will only work if you already have a funding source linked to the account. Make sure to link one before trying or you will simply be redirected to the settings page.

How to save money with each card



Wal-mart promos



Small biz Saturday



Amex Offers



As you can see above, both of these cards provide opportunity for saving money. Wal-mart promos have been few and far between lately, so the greatest value comes from Amex Offers on these cards. Note that both cards are also eligible for Small Business Saturday, but in 2015 that promotion didn’t offer any credits like in past years.

How to use card funds



Foreign exchange fee?



Fee free ATM

Money Pass

Money Pass

Other ATMs



Free online bill pay



Write your own checks



Withdraw to linked bank account



Send money to others



Both Bluebird & Serve offer easy access to your money once its loaded.  In fact, with both cards, you can simply transfer the money to your bank account or even use the online bill pay function to send a check to yourself, for free.  A couple of notable differences though are as follows:

  • All versions of Serve charge foreign exchange fees so they’re poor choices for using outside of the United States.
  • Bluebird offers checkbooks with which you can write your own checks.

For additional information about fees and limits please see: Bluebird & Serve. A Comparison Chart of Amex Prepaid Debit Alternatives.

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Hi Greg! Love the blog and appreciate what you’re doing here to educate 🙂 Do you know if its possible to load bluebird with a vanilla mcgc? Or is that also a no go like the vanilla vgc? Thanks!!


Has BB and Serve been sold to Incomm already which reduces or stops Shutdowns now?

Also if changed with Incomm as new owner can I reapply I’d shutdown for BB AND Serve in the past?


All the Dollar General and Family Dollar stores in my area started turning down reloads of Serve with Vanilla Visa gift cards last month. The card machine issues the message “Do not honor”. Anyone else seeing that? Seems like a change of policy by those stores.


Hello! I’ve recently started using a Serve card for manufacture spend, but every time I reload it with my VISA gift card, there is a $3.95 fee. My colleague who told me about this said there never used to be a fee–am I doing something wrong, or have the rules changed?


Where are you reloading ?
Walmart has no fee


I’ve been reloading at Family Dollar, I haven’t tried Walmart yet. Is there a specific Serve card that is better than another? I have the basic blue one. Should I have a different one?


Green Serve is Free to reload at Walmart and Family Dollar.
Bluebird is also free at Walmart
Bluebird and serve are both Amex Products.
You can have a max 5 reloads.
Maybe you want to get 1 Green Serve + 4 Bluebirds
Reload Bluebird at Walmart at Money center ( not the register because they limit you $500 ) . When reloading at Money Center, do in $1500 ( $500 x 3 ) , $1000 ( $500×2) , or $500. Max Reload $2K/ day per card / per SS# ) If you do more than $2K , you might get shut down quickly.


I have a amex serve and Bluebird card.
Can I transfer money between cards?

[…] The complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, and Serve […]


My one VIP serve just got an email saying “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. We have made this change in accordance with Section 15.d of our Consumer User Agreement.

GUESS RIP SERVE………is this the last/new wave of Shutdowns?


Sounds like AMEX is trying to clean the house before selling prepaid biz


I got the same emails also today, 2 weeks after i wrote the above post on october 12 …. i


On bluebird website, say you can have upto 4 cards.
I had 2 Bluebirds, One VIP and Green serve. I decided to get 2 more bluebirds.
I bought 2 cards at Walmart starter kit $5, then loaded a VGC $495 onto each new Bluebird card.
When i tried to register the cards online, they would not register. Bluebird site wont tell you if you entered info wrong, Either it says it cant approve you at this time, or, your application is being processed, but then it can still decline, but wont inform you by email.
So, both my cards will not register. I called customer service. They told me Im only allowed 4 Amex prepaid altogether, and OneVIP and Green serve count as 2 cards. In order to register any more cards, I have to cancel 2 old cards. So I cancelled 2 cards, but im still having trouble registering the 2 new cards. My money is stuck on them $495 on the 2 new cards.
Any ideas how to get the money off? Customer service arent helpful at this stage.

[…] For more about Serve, see: Complete guide to the many flavors of Serve. Which is Best?  And you can find information about both cards here: Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve. […]

[…] Use the gift cards as debit cards to transfer their value onto  prepaid products such as Serve, Bluebird, or REDbird […]


Very very new to all this. So….
A) what is a vanilla gift card?
B) to add money to my serve account, does it HAVE to be a visa, Mc gift card? Or can you use any store gift card (Ie: mom buys kids a Walmart gift card, can that card be used to add money into serve?

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve. […]

Jeffrey m

I have been a Serve customer for nearly five years and although I found this card to be very helpful, at times it can be a bit of a headache as their customer service team is hardly serviceable when attempting to fix any current problem you may have with your account. To be honest in those 5 years i have called countless times and NOT ONCE have they EVER fixed the problem right then and there. I have ALWAYs had to wait it out.

THat being said I use my original or Old Blue American Express Serve card for my hotel stays which if anyone has tried this you’ll know that serve holds an additional 15% of whatever addition amount (or “incidentals”) the hotel has authorize your card not to mention as part of a new program they have decided to hold these funds EVEN AFTER THE HOTEL HAS PROCESSED PAY MENTION for 30 days from the original 7-10 business days from the original original 3-5 business days. Yes you heard that correct, serve now holds any authorizations from hotels, rent a car or restaurants for 30 days before releasing any funds not charged by those businesses. This surely can add up, as I at times stay in hotels weeks at a time for treatment at near hospitals. When hotels hold $50/day for incidentals which turns in to $57.50/day because of the additional %15 Serve holds on top multiplied by, let’s say 7 days having to now wait 30 DAYS for those funds to be released is downright robbery. Imagine the interest Serve is collecting on all of those unnecessary weeks of holds.

Jeffrey m

Excuse the typos…damn cell phone “auto correct” isn’t always correct.


Hi Greg,
Very Nice blog. I am very new to all this and i am sorry if this has been asked several times before. I did read most of the comments, but it appears things are changing very rapidly.
I just got a couple cards and i have to spend 5K in the next 3 months. I already over paid some of my utilities / ezpass etc. but managed around 2K spend so far. have anoter 3K to go. I also applied for and received a new Bluebird card. What are your recommendations for making an additional 3K spend? Appreciate your response.


Hi, is it really as easy as depositing money online to your Serve account (limited a 1000 a month i see) with an AMEX credit card hit your sign up bonus? Delta is offering an AMEX card with a 50,000 miles sign up bonus after spending $1000, so if i get this right i could just spend a thousand on my serve account and get the bonus? Do you know if there are any fees involved? Thanks for all the great info!


but you could buy vanilla gift cards with your AMEX and then load them to the serve -> bank account right? I have a few minimum spends on my AMEX i want to meet.. and i’ve been out of the game for a while 🙁


I have my BB but shut down for loading long back. Sometime I transfer fund from my wife’s account to keep it alive. Can I get Serve card while keeping BB alive?

I have access to buy reloadit with CC, can you think of any way to recycle it?

Thanks in advance for any tip.


“Account Now” – which card is this?

gary Hassin

Hi Greg:
Thanks for the great info-site-use it a lot!
I just got a Hilton Amex for the 100K bonus-but having a hard time doing minimum spend so i ordered a Serve and thought I’d load 1K per month-but Amex told me this will count as a cash advance at 20+% interest! Also I’ve heard elsewhere that even if it’s considered a purchase the Amex card won’t consider it as part of minimum spend. All true?? Thanks

gary Hassin

Thanks Greg-yes I confirmed that with Amex. So I suppose I could still do the 1K/month to build up a few miles-though as you know Hilton Miles are not that great any more! Guess I’ll have pay my taxes with fee for Minimum..

Faith Sea

What’s up with this glich in my account.


I’m unsure about the loading limits on Bluebird (Copied below). Can I only load 200 per day and 1000 per month? I seem to read on the forums about people loading much more.

Debit Card(s) (in aggregate)
Up to $200 per transaction
$200 per day; and
$1,000 per month*

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve. […]


is this still happening

“This Feature is Currently Unavailable
Looks like you also have another American Express Prepaid Account. Customers with more than one Account are unable to send money while we make improvements to our site. ”

i wanna know before i sign up for bluebird again, cause last time i had both neither would allow me to send money thanks

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve. […]

Patty couch

I just activated my bluebird and serve card but both feature do not allow to load with mobile check deposit,will it take few days for me to use the mobile deposit features or could the problem be that I have both cards ?


Hi im new to all this. I want to manufacture spend about 2K in Visa cards for the new chase sapphire reserve?. Does serve / bluebird still work ? I know some current accounts are frozen, but if I sign up a new account can I load vanilla visas? And any idea of vanilla visas will code as a CA on chase sapphire reserve?

Russell Tomoum

So Greg, is there or is there not a way to upload gift cards into BlueBird (or Serve). I am totally lost now. I tried calling several Walmarts in MA and they all said they neither have the kiosks nor accept gift cards to fund BlueBirds. I am stuck here. Is there an exit you are aware of?

Thank you so much.


You are not able yo get cash back off card… Which sucks. On Long island it seems like finding a money pass atm is like finding Waldo!! PS Walmart arms charge you!! Otherwise great card!!




Can you withdraw money from Walmart at the cashiers?


Most BB card is no longer working


is it still possible to load gift card at walmart cashier, at my local, cashier tried it but cas was not approved.


Has anyone had issues loading bluebird with visa debit cards? Or mastercards?

Brenda Clark

I have lost my Bluebird card. I have forgot my user D and password. I do not have the number on the card. What should do to get my card replaced?


This is a super informative blog-thank you. I’m deciding which is best for me Bluebird or Serve. I am a personal shopper for a global shopping network so I easily spend $3-4K per month (not manufactured, just real spend, but it’s other people’s money) I’ve been learning about MS so I can best understand how to capture cash-back and rewards points from my personal shopping spending. Unfortunately I don’t really travel but do like to convert all the points I accrue into department store gift cards wherever possible, for myself or just churn back into cash when I use them to shop for other people-. I’ve learned quite a bit here-I plan to subscribe to the blog.


Hey Anne, This personal shopper job sounds great. Any more info on that?


What is your experience on being shut down on Serve and then waiting a bit and applying for Bluebird?


The article states “The problem is… each person can have only one.”.

I just signed up online for a OneVip & Bluebird in a 1-4 day time frame between both requests and received both cards by mail.


What’s the best way to use credit cards to pay mortgages ? Or what service can I use to pay with credit cards to earn points



Just to post another data point here, it appears that Family Dollar has discontinued all Serve loads (at least in the Boston area). I successfully loaded $500 from Vanilla gift card to my Serve on Monday, but upon visiting the same store on Wednesday I was told that the company had discontinued Serve loads. Another store I visited gave the same story, and had removed all the Serve loading cards from the rack.


I’m moving to Boston in a month. In what stores have you had any success in loading GCs? Thanks!


I’ve had Netspend VISA debit card for 9 years. No deposit or ATM fees. Monthly fee of less than $10. Overdraft fee is $12.
I’ve used this card everywhere and not had any problems.


anyone know how to fix this

“This Feature is Currently Unavailable
Looks like you also have another American Express Prepaid Account. Customers with more than one Account are unable to send money while we make improvements to our site. ”

i have a serve for years now but a month ago i got a bluebird because bluebird wasnt on this list of cards i can’t have

“Can I have more than one American Express Serve Account?

No, you can only have one American Express Serve Account from the family of American Express Serve Prepaid Debit Cards, including:

American Express Serve
American Express Serve FREE Reloads
American Express Serve Cash Back
OneVIP™ from American Express Serve
Jackson Hewitt Serve Card
Intuit Serve Card”

unless i misunderstood that anyways if having both serve and bluebird isn’t allow then why let people sign up for them?


I only had one transaction on the AMEX Serve card. Made a purchase on a credit card, and somehow (by accident and I have no idea how the computer system/s would even allow this), the return was placed on the AMEX Serve Card by mistake (not the credit card).

Result: Card was closed. Account locked. (I am locked)

AMEX SERVE Call Center:
All calls are handled in the Philippines. All calls to the Philippine call centers result in negative value. No one allowed to discuss. Request to speak to management, all stonewalled or put on hold for over an hour. Promises of management call backs were empty, never happened.

AMEX Support Forum:
Posted on the forum a few times. One response to call the call center. *UGG*

AMEX Customer Service Center:
Call center stated to write a physical letter to the UT address. Over a moth since the letter was mailed. No update. No one at AMEX (including Serve) can locate the letter.

No one will speak about the situation. Local US based AMEX must direct to the Philippine call center.
Calls result in forwards, delays, disconnects, … nothing but huge wastes of time.


Try AMEX pages on Twitter or FB. Have had success reaching management / decision makers (American, non-Philippines) through social media liaisons who helped me cut through all the red-tape.


Just tried to load serve at rite aid with us Bank giftcard. Rejected by the system. Cashier said they changed the restrictions recently and you can’t load with debit cards. Cash only. It wasn’t just the cashier saying it. I read the message on the POS terminal. Not much she could do. Hoping FD/711/DG can process pin gift cards!! Or my MS days may be over.


@Bryan, the Rite Aid loads died a while ago, and Serve/Bluebird are pretty much dead as well, there are other ways to MS besides Rite Aid and Serve, keep checking the blogs 🙂


Are we still able to load Vanilla card in Family Dollar? Is that really $500 daily limit per store?


I mean first come first loading in the store….


I am confused. Is it still viable right now to sign up for a new serve card, buy a prepaid gift card, and load that gift card (at rite aid or other store) to the serve card?

Shirley Dunlap

I have BB and Serve accounts but am unable to send money to other BB users at present any idea how long before this is corrected?


May be the others were cancelled by AMEX?


Will online loading of Serve with an Amex card (SPG) cause cash advance fees?


Excellent! Thanks!


FM or anyone,
Can one send $ from BB to Serve or vice versa? or, that can be done only between BB or Serve. TIA


I tried, to transfer from one to the other, and it doesnt allow you to send money to ‘the card holder with the same name’


I had a Bluebird for many years that was shutdown in January. I closed it in February and I just applied for a Serve and was denied. I have never had a Serve account before. Just a data point for everyone.



I believe most of us who has BB closed would not get Server. I had 2 of them which never received email about closing but I could not load at Kate even with cash. I closed it and applied for Server but both got denied even with different email address.


I’ve stopped MS after Redbird went away. I do have an old SERVE card. Can someone please share a link or explain the new process? Seems to be a lot of outdated info. Thank you in advance.

Jason N

How are people doing multiple transactions for so much money at one time. At multiple Walmart locations, I’m being told I can only load $200 per day max with a visa gift card. Sure enough the FAQ section of Bluebird, supports this. Am I missing something?

The aggregate amount of funds you may add to the Account from your Debit Card may not exceed $200 per transaction, $200 per day, and $1,000 per month, subject to additional limits in circumstances in which we have not verified all of the identity and other personal information you have provided, and further subject to the Spend Money limits set forth in Section 18.b.


Then how have 5 different Walmarts all said the same thing? All cashiers at Walmart have said only $200 per day. The FAQ I posted doesn’t say online load does it?


Not sure which Walmart stores you went. I load $500 each card and usually loaded 2 cards.


I have a simple test to find out your BB or Server no longer working at Walmart. I had 2 BB and never got email notice from AMEX but I could not load to BB at Walmart. I even called AMEX and they told me my BB is OK. What I did was load $1 by cash at Kate and both cards did not work so I cancel both of them. By the way, if you get cancel you will not get approve again.


so, did you know why your BB didn’t work at walmart? did amex cancel your acct, or glitch with amex system?


I believe AMEX cancel my accounts. I am 100% sure there were no glitches since at that time my son BB still worked. The last check for sure I loaded $1 for each card and none worked. The error message is the same as other reported

Churn Urn

Anyone have issues with loading staples visa gift card at walmart or rite aid? I tried today and had issues with the load. I have One VIP Serve.


Are you sure your AMEX Server is still working.


So based on the note from jan 8, theres no way to load those visa gift cards from staples into bluebird??? if thats true its very bad…


Why do I have to go all the way to walmart to reload this card there isn’t any other place where I can reload closer suggestions please I’m in Las Vegas


I am new to the game, and have never had a BB or Serve. I’m wanting to meet a min spending quickly and am thinking about doing $2k in MS via serve. I was hoping to buy a temporary Serve at WM and load several VGC. Is it possible to use a temporary card to load either at register or money center express?


There seems to be a $3.74 fee for loading via debit card/GCs at Kate or at Customer Service or cashiers for the Serve and One VIP Serve. Do you know if this is the case for Bluebird as well? I’m wondering if I should switch to Bluebird to avoid the $3.74 fee…or is this a case-by-case thing?? I live in NYC.


Hi Greg,

My question was is there a fee for loading the Bluebird at Wal-mart. The link only talks about Serve fees, not Bluebird fees.

Wanda S

I have had a bluebird card going on 3 years. It is by far the best prepaid card there is. There is no fee when you load it at Wal-Mart I always use the self serve kiosk or ATM it gives you the option for bluebird transaction. The ONLY down fall I ever encountered was if you have a sub account the only way to add money to it is through the primary card even though the sub account has it’s own card. Aside from that I have had no problems. Very good customer service. No long waits listening to elevator music or worse dealing with only a cyborg.


how much can you safely load to serve via familydollar or dollargeneral per day?
is there a maximum FD & DG will allow per transaction (split tender) or per day?


No you are allowed .give the cashier 500.00 at a time , it’s 500.00 per transaction , so if u are loading 1500.00 give her 500.00 in 3 different transaction. By the way that is for any loading station , or store .
Good luck.

Tom Johnson

I am more interested in the girl making 6-7% on savings and checking accounts.


Vanilla from CVS at RiteAid for me so I don’t have to drive to Walmart……….slower but better………


One BB still work as 2/5 and the other 2 not working and I loaded at the same machine at Walmart same day, using cashiers had same issue. Call them up, she said the card should be OK and I tried again still not working. Buying MO at Walmart is still OK. My friend bought MO at Post Office is OK too.


Only one BB got the email to close accounts but 2 of 3 remain still can’t load at Walmart with cashiers or machine. Call AMEX they said it should be fine but still not work. The strange was it went through until the receipt came out with an error


Same type of thing here. Have several Serve accounts, only one got shut down. But haven’t been able to load any others at Rite Aid or any Walmarts in the area (and I used to load all the cards at all the Walmarts in the area successfully). And like Hoang, loads appeared to go through and then the receipt came out with an error. Should I assume that I can no longer load these cards because the loading capabilities have been shut down, even though they didn’t receive the shutdown email?


No its because you are only allowed to have 1 active serve card,or by bird.

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve […]


I just loaded my BB today @ Walmart with 2 $500 VISA GC & it worked just fine. My local Walmart does have a load limit of $1100 a day and I haven’t tried a cashier to see if I can work my way around that… Too scared I guess 🙁 I did run into a problem last time I bought a VISA GC @ Dillon’s. My CC flagged the purchase because, as I found out later, it was over my set purchase limit and the customer service guy said I had to buy GC with a debit card but when I snuck through the line later I bought them just fine with my Chase CC…go figure


Widespread reports of inability to load BBs (the few still open) with VGCs at WM.


Who has tried Rite Aid?

Wicked Gringo

“The problem is… each person can have only one.”

The Bluebird sign up page has this…
“Have a Serve or Prepaid REDcard Account? Users with more than one Account are unable to send and request money from other users and deposit money by check through our app while we make improvements to our site.”

Sounds like you can have multiple accounts.

I have a Serve account that was hit with the loading limitations, but it still open. I tried signing up for Bluebird before closing the Serve and it let me register. Makes me wonder if something else has changed


Loaded 2k Vanilla Visa onto Serve today (1.15.16) without any problems.


I have been able to load at FD but tonight they denied me unless I used cash. She said manager said no to loads unless I’m using cash. My question==is there a general manager over all the area FD or would it be safe to try another one that’s about 6 miles from this one? I’ve done all the loads at one FD and $500 a day –Mon-Tues, Weds and $900 last week. My Serve card should be fine as it’s a new one. I have $700 more to load from Visa Rebate cards.


I been using family dollar and reloading my serve with vanilla visa gift cards all the time till last week. I tried doing it at the one I usually go to and it said suspected fraud and then on the cashiers screen it went on to show that I was trying to use vanilla gift card. I went on to other FD trying to do it and had the same result.
Any input on what to do?


What bank was the visa debit card issued by?


I didn’t receive email. Yesterday I tried to load $500 VGC to my BB thru WM cashier and it failed. Sign!


Thanks for all the great info here. This seems to be the most upto-date post anywhere in the Internet on this topic. I am quite new to this whole game and I only recently got my Chase Ink Plus card approved (which is what led me to this site).
Have a bunch of questions:
(1) If I get a new Serve account now, will I be allowed to load the Serve account using Staples gift cards or has that facility been discontinued after Jan 8th?
(2) If I just use my Serve account to load staples visa gift cards and then spend it only on purchases (No ATM withdrawals or Bill Pay), would that still be considered manufactured spending (I just want to use my Ink to get 5X rewards on all purchases)
(3) If even with the current scenario, buying a Serve card makes sense, which Serve card will be better suited to my purpose.

Thanks for helping out!


Thanks a ton! I’ll try out the Serve then! 🙂


Go to dashboard they are an AMX PARTNER . I’M SORRY go to WWW RELOADIT .COM
You will see , safest way to reload

[…] those who are unfamiliar, Amex Serve (like Bluebird and the aforementioned Red Card a.k.a. Redbird) are prepaid debit products issued by […]

John Bgod

Was able to load BB as of 8:30PM eastern time on Jan 8. I haven’t gotten an email yet saying the account is down.


It will be curious to be how many credit card accounts AMEX will lose as blowback for the shutdowns……….folks who see less worthy AMEX offers combined with no MS opportunities will be more discerning about how many fees they will tolerate from AMEX……certainly the right reaction is not to throw the baby out with the bath water but there will be some trimming going on……….AMEX is going to be getting a new CEO when all the dust settles from the negative Wall Street sentiment so there is the possibility that much more will change with them………


So they are closing all accounts or just those that are used for MS/converting Rebates to cash?

Guess we better load quick.


Three cards opened in Oct 2015 got shut down but two in Nov 2015 are still alive. All cards are max out monthly with $500 and $200 loading in WM as well as the regular utility, loan, and bill payments. I was told there will be the 2nd closure coming in couple weeks. Be well-prepared, everyone!


I loaded them at FD and it’s free load and no fees in TX I loaded $200 then loaded $100 then loaded another $100 not sure if you can load 3 visa cards to serve on one transaction.


Thanks. Where did you load the visa cards to your Serve? Did it cost you anything to load?


Hi, I just found that the gas station in my area are selling the prepaid card, mostly vanilla. I am wondering if I can buy those cards with my credit card and load them to my serve card? Will the prepaid card have the 4 digits pin? What is the difference between the VGC and prepaid card? Thank you!


Hello, I am super new to the whole MC game. Bought 2 $1000 amex cards on my 2% cash back credit card, with no fees (ie potential $40 dollar profit, less fees to convert to cash). That said, and given all the options and recent changes, what is the best way for me to convert these two cards into cash? Serve or bluebird? How do I load them (at walmart?), and in what amounts? Appreciate the help in advance.


Spouse still has a Redbird, didn’t convert that. Thinking about converting it to BB and loading the last $1k of Staples GC’s I have from the past few weeks. Would be interesting to see if conversion possible and if letter gets generated for that


I just converted my Staples rebates to Visa cards at Staples –purchase $300 and get a $20 rebate so it will be a small MM after fees but it did allow me to convert $900 and I loaded $500 on Thursday to Serve and then loaded another $400 today to Serve. I just opened up the account so I don’t think they will shut me down before I get all of my loads on it. I have $3400 coming in Visa (pin) rebate cards from LG so will load them spreading it out over a few months and then use it for very small transactions in stores to make it look good. I already did one bill pay for a partial on property taxes so will see how that goes.



I’m new to this field. I need to meet minimum spending limit of $5000. Which is the best way at this moment? I tried to read a lots of forums and blogs but couldn’t get the information.



I understand there’s no single best way. I’m just wondering serve and bluebird still working or not since I can’t find correct information on that. I will only load like 1k or less in a month. Thanks


I have $200, and 2 $100 visa prepaid cards can I tell the cashier at FD that I want to load $400 on my serve card or should I do 3 different transactions? I loaded cards yesterday for the first time and I did them in 3 different transactions.


I havent received a notice about closure today… although I dont load $5000 a month on our cards… I just started learning how to MS. I have been loading $2000 on both cards though.. maybe they are closing those that max out the monthly spend (?) I will keep and eye on it and see what happens.


I used my serve legitimately with cc loads and actual bills, but my account still got closed.


What is happening with the money that is in the accounts. Are they transferring to your linked account or sending out checks. Geez I loaded yesterday for my first time but no notices for me yet. Hopefully I can get more loaded before they close mine.


They just don’t allow loads. Can still unload.

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


I received this e-mail and called them. Ended up talking to a supervisor, who was apologetic, said he didn’t know of specific information to give me about why, and noted that this happened to many people today. He told me that I can open another Serve account if I close this one and wait 30 days until the closure becomes “permanent.” He said that there is no “black mark” against me personally, and thus I could open up another Serve account. I have no idea if this information is accurate, or whether having a new Serve account will help me (since they could just close that one as well).


I just got an email from Amex that my Serve card was terminated due to unusual usage patterns. I burned off 5K in VGC at Walmart 49.99 at a time so that might have been it, but it’s something to watch for. Luckily I don’t have any extra gift cards right now and we still have my wife’s Serve account.


I just received the same email from American Express regarding my Bluebird account being closed for unusual activity. I have been loading $5000 per month at Walmart for a while now in $500 increments. I guess all good things come to an end…


Completely new to Serve but have the registered green Serve card now and no fees in TX.
I am planning on purchasing Staples Visa Cards–$300 in store and get $20 Visa rewards card so it would be Free.

What is the easiest store to load at? FD? CVS or Walmart?

Do I do it as a Debit and do I just hand them the Serve card and tell them I want to load $300 on it? Then slide the Visa GC and choose pay with debit?

Hoping for an answer tomorrow morning before I head out to make my purchases.


Thank You! I managed to figure it out today and it worked great. Loaded $500 at FD. The cashier had no idea how to do it. It took her a few minutes of trying to figure out what to do. I asked her if I could use a few cards to pay for it and she didn’t know that answer so I did it in 3 different transactions. 1 $200 visa, 1 $200 Visa, 1 $100 Visa. Could I have just said put 500 on it and then swiped all 3 cards all in one transaction? I took the safe road. Another question it’s $500 a day load at FD can you go to another FD or stop in later and do more? I had over $1,000 worth of Staples rebate cards that I converted to Visa cards at Staples using their promotion this week. I’m not exactly sure how much I can load in a day and then load in a month on the Green Serve card that I just opened. It would seem that information would be easy to find on their website once logged in but I haven’t found it yet. I’m thinking 2,500 a day and 5K a month but not sure.


Sandy it’s great to see fresh blood here on the site and as a longstanding disciple of the most holy MS’er I recommend you do a deep dive on the resources page this weekend. Guaranteed to be an intellectual treat!


Thanks I will. I have been playing the credit card game for years but a different game. Borrowing from 1 at 0% interest and putting it into savings and checking accounts at 6% to 7% and then paying the credit card back with their own money!! I’ve never really done this tho so it’s new and the game of Money keeps changing so I am looking forward to a new chapter. I’m still getting 3% in a checking account so that would actually be a 4% with 1% from CC company.

Thanks for all the help!!


Are there certain VGCs that cannot be used at Wal-Mart? Read that some could and some could not… Tried today using a PIN enabled one, it didn’t work. Any other suggestions? I do have a Serve. But can I use a CC to load the pre-paid Vanilla Visa Debit? Thought it said it had to be loaded with cash only.


I’ve been enjoying success with loading my OneVanilla prepaid cards onto my Serve card at Family Dollar. The $500/day limit is annoying, but it’s the best option I have at the moment.

My method at Family Dollar is the standard one, I think: bring the Vanilla Reload card (the one that’s not supposed to leave the store) up to the register, then swipe my Serve card followed by my OneVanilla card. The Vanilla Reload card says there’s the $3.95 reload fee, but I’m never charged that fee. I just ask for $500 to be loaded to Serve, and the entire amount goes through just fine.

Just curious: what would I have to do “wrong” or different to get charged that $3.95 reload fee?


Bizarre feature at Rite Aid is the screen has “Free Serve Reloads” and “Serve Reloads” further down the menu. If you take the free option it is free. If you take the option further down is comes up with a $3.95 fee…….you have to tell the cashier to cancel and start over and pick the right option……….


This may be an easy question: if I have a Bluebird Family Account with 2 cards, does each card have the monthly $5000 limit, or is the entire “family unit” limited to $5000 total?


I had problems loading a serve card (switched from target prepaid red card in December 2015) with vanilla prepaid debit card today (Jan 5, 2016) at rite aid. Anyone else have any problems recently? Hopefully just a glitch.


I loaded a couple this past weekend


Thanks, I’ll try another rite aid on the way home.


I had the same issue today, ak.

1st time I’ve had it – Rite Aid wanted to charge $3.95 for the reload… I didn’t push…

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve […]


Can the temporary Bluebird card be purchased and loaded with a single Visa Gift Card (Debit card by Metabank purchased from Staples)? or by multiple Visa Gift Cards to have the initial load up to the $500 max limit?


How many times can I reload a temporary Bluebird card? Is it only once?


Any body try to load serve with CITI Thank you preferred? Is it counted as cash advance?


I have a new FIA Amex. It is not allowing me to link my card with Serve. Is anybody having that problem?

[…] Complete guide to Bluebird and Serve […]


Happy Holidays, y’all!

Loaded $2500 in VGCs to Serve One VIP yesterday at Walmart via Kate… went back today to load $2500 more. Getting “DEBIT NOT APPROVED” from Kate and cashier. Anyone experiencing the same thing?


I got the same error just yesterday. It looks like my Walmart made some change so that debit is no longer allowed for large loads at kiosk or cashier. I DID, however, have success liquidating my Vanilla VGC at the kiosk in increments of $49.99. Fifty dollars must be the cut off for the new restriction.

Sucks to basically have to do the kiosk process TEN TIMES for a $500 Vanilla card, but at least it still works.



Thank you for all your wonderful tips and guides.I went to FD to load 4 $100 gc yesterday. 3 were declined. Manager said a person went in before me to load $1000. FD is far from home. Thank you for updating this article. I went to rite aid in my neighborhood today and successful ly loaded the remaining 3 cards. I wonder except people like us, who would load $1000. Who are amex’s customers?


Great info but have a question.
I am about $8k short of Amex sky miles spending this year from getting a MQM bonus. The bluebird and serve seem to have low monthly limits for loading via debt cards any ideas for a one time fix? Thank you


Bluebird was giving me back a certain percent on purchases. I have noticed that I am not getting these any more. Does anyone know anything about this? TIA

Eric Moore

With regards to Chelsey’s comments on December 7 about Account holders who have registered their accounts before Auguest 5, 2015 having Access to the Free Cash Reload Network, does anyone have any further info on this?

I have the Blue Serve card and I am just confused about Free Cash Reloads. I see advertisements for it in the Serve app etc. I did register my account before August 5, 2015

I’m a bit disappointed in all the recent changes with Serve.


Brad Meyer

No. 🙁


Can Bluebird be loaded with Amex gift cards? Amex is currently offering fee free gift card purchase with Amex cards..


Long time reader here. I was currently using the RedCard to pay my mortgage and HOA fees which summed up to about $1900. I was purchasing with my Ink Plus at Staples and buying the $200 Visa Gift Cards and taking the $6.95 hit (blue ones are Metabank right?). If I understand this correctly, Amex Serve has Bill Pay, so I can basically do what I was doing before which the minor tweak that I’d be loading at Wal Mart Money Centers correct?


Thanks so much for the response! I noticed you put Rite-Aid in the reload category for Serve. Are there money centers the same as Wal-Mart or are the loading processes different? If they are, would you mind summarizing the differences?


I dont understand the benefit of manufacturing points. In order to get points on your credit card and put money into cards like Serve, the main option seems to be to buy prepaid cards. but they cost money (6.95 for $200) and by the time you purchased enough cards for points for a flight, you basically have paid the same amount or close to it in those additional fees.


Whats the Lowest Fee VGC that is pin-enabled, that can be ordered online AND IC CUSTOMIZABLE with my name on it?


I am curious. If I were to load $1k on via my PayPal Business debit to earn 1%, could I then go in the store and load another $1k via PPBD and earn 1%?


If I don’t plan on doing manufactured spending on a regular basis, am I right in assuming that Bluebird is a better option for me since there are no monthly fees?


Ah. Ok. So, if I set up an account, but then don’t end up adding any funds to it for a few months, there’s no possibility of a fee until then? At which it can be avoided by monthly $500 credit loads?


Can someone tell me what to do when my funds are on hold from swiping my card at a gas pump??

Lisa C.

American Express Serve has shutdown the ability to add funds via any type of gift card.

“Debit/American Express® Credit Card — add money from your debit or credit card (cash advance fees may apply for credit card loads; check with your credit card issuer for details). Please note: Gift cards cannot be used to add money.”


Does the Chase debit card that is connected to my bank account earn UR points for loads to Serve?


Thanks for the replies. I had no idea there were other versions of the Serve card. I have the New Blue version which doesn’t have free reloads, great!

With already having a Serve account, can I apply or transfer to another version of Serve? The One VIP seems attractive…



Hi. I recently loaded money, (cash) on my Serve card at Family Dollar. I was under the impression it was FREE to load money on the Serve card at Family Dollar. The cashier scanned a Vanilla reload card which cost me $3.95

Did I do something wrong or did I get screwed over by being charged?


Account holders who activated and registered their Serve Account before August 5, 2015, have access to the Free Cash Reload network.

Eric Moore

Hi. Need some info on something with my Serve card. I have been under the impression that I can reload my Serve card for FREE at Family Dollar. Well, it turned out that it cost me $3.95 for a Vanilla Reload card. How can it be marketed that Family Dollar has free reloads but doesn’t seem to be the case.

Any info would be great!


Consider that the newbie tax….

Free reloads don’t involve Vanilla reload cards purchases. You use other-funded debit cards. Still costs money.

Howeve, If your FD sells Vanila Reloads, and you can pay with a CC, you just found MS nirvana.


Hi… I went and tried the vanilla card reload at a family dollar to a serve-

1st recharge for 500 – Success
2nd recharge for 499.99 – Came up as suspected fraud and the receipt has approved on bottom and has suspected fraud on top. The money was debited and the store guys knew nothing and they could not do anything. I called vanilla and they said i need to wait 7 days and see. But is this something you guys have heard of and what should i do in this case.


To add.. The funds for second transaction was not credited to my serve. Also.. i asked family dollar to reverse the charge and they pointed the fact that the receipt shows non refundable.


Cam I get 2 cards for 1 account?


Yes, you can get more cards as authorized users. Authorized users can spend the money but can’t load it to the account, and they use the same limit/balance as the primary account holder.


I am new to MS and want to make sure I am doing it right. I can get a $200-$300 Mastercard (metabank issued) and go to walmart. Swipe my one vip serve card and then tell the cashier that I want to load it with a debit card, then swipe the MC gift card, use the last 4 digits as pin. Is this all correct? Where does the “press the back button” come into play? Thanks everyone!


Hello. Anybody know of an issue going on with trying to load the Serve (ONE Vip) card at Walmart? I tried two different Visa Gift Cards at two different Walmarts in our town, and when I tried loading it from a cashiers station, I see a Approval message on my screen (where I swipe and enter a pin), but quickly there is a print out from the cashier that says ‘Debit Not Approved Call Authorizer’. I just bought the Gift Cards at Staples today.


Actually.. after alittle more looking around.. I recognized that message from another post, but it related to maximum load for the month… In looking back in my account, I see that I have already loaded $5000, so that is where the message is coming from. So I guess I will wait until months end and give it another try.. thanks!


I bought an American Express bluebird temporary card at Walmart and loaded $20 on to it, as I tried to make a purchase online it said that my card was unauthorized. Can anyone help with this.


You have wait for the hard card to do online.purchases. It happen to me.


Be careful with this card. I had a Serve account for about 3 years. On Thursday, 11/12 I received 2 emails from Amex Serve telling me that my account had been locked due to possible fraud. I called as soon as I saw the emails, about 7:00pm. Since then I have called 10 times…a combination of customer service and fraud protection. I cannot speak to a supervisor. A supervisor was supposed to call within 48 hours. To date (Sunday night, 11/15) no one has called. No one can tell me why it was closed. I have no idea if someone used my card fraudulently. I can’t access my account. I have no idea if or when I am getting my money back (there was about $900 on the card). I have tweeted. I have called the executive offices. No one is willing to help.


I know it’s been many years, but were you ever able to pull your money out? I’ve got 10 Serve cards between my wife and I and all of them are locked, likely from inactivity.


I had a question about loading $1,000 per month on Serve using another AMEX credit card. If I do that, does the AMEX credit card not charge me cash advance fee (which can be up to 3% subject to a minimum of up to $10)?

Thanks in advance from those who have done it before!


[…] Complete guide to Bluebird, REDcard, and Serve […]



I told her that I would probably use them for purchases which was true. Were you asked this too?

[…] ended, particularly by well-known bloggers such as by The Frequent Miler, who explains in his blog post the differences between Amex’s prepaid card products. In case you missed out on the news because […]

John K

I recently got a report from a friend that when they went to their local FD the other day to load a VV onto their serve card, that the $3.95 fee wasn’t waived as usual. They left, figuring it was an employee error. They came back and tried the next day with a different employee and the same thing happened. They tried running the transaction and the fee did not drop off, so the card was declined ($503.95 on a $500 GC). Eventually, they loaded $496.05 and it went through and pulled the full $500 off the card. Checked the relevant thread on FT this morning and found another person reporting the same issue. Anyone else having issues at this time?


And Moneypak? Vanilla reload?


Can anyone confirm if you do/do not receive points rewards for loading Serve with USB FlexPerks *Amex*?



Am I understanding correctly that you can load with a Reloadit or MoneyPak “online” 5k per month?


Can you give us the basics of how this works? Loading in store for me (as I’m sure it is for others) is not worth the hassle, so I’m intrigued by loading that much online.


Yes you can.

@HC, it is one prepaid Amex account per SSN/person. Some of us use more then one due to having them registered under family/friends names and use them with their permission.


I had had blubird and serve, and I have redcard now. Can I reopen serve after closing redcard?