A Prepaid Debit Card with Fewer Fees: American Express Bluebird Review

Bluebird CardAmerican Express, in cooperation with Walmart, created Bluebird, a prepaid debit card with almost no fees.

Like many banking alternatives, this one is aimed at people who are unhappy with their current banking options. But regular Walmart shoppers and those interested in earning rewards on your spending (and even paying your mortgage!) should pay attention here too.

What is Bluebird?

Bluebird is a prepaid credit card. It is an alternative for those without a traditional bank account or are tired of banks and their fees. Bluebird has almost no fees. It works almost like a checking account, which makes it a good substitution for many consumers.

How Does Bluebird Work?

With Bluebird, you have several options to load money onto the account, and you can use the account in many ways, like shopping at Walmart (they hope) and paying bills online. The game-changing feature here is that Bluebird doesn’t come with a bunch of fees.

Bluebird has no annual or monthly fee, no fees for loading money by direct deposit or bank account, and no fees for MoneyPass ATM usage if you are doing direct deposit.

Bluebird Fees and Fine Print

With Blubird, there are no monthly fees, no fees for direct deposit or loading money from a debit card. You can get cash for free at any Walmart or at an ATM in the MoneyPass network. 

You can also shop online with no fees and you can have checks associated with the account. It does cost $19.95 for 40 checks, but no additional fees to use them. 

What fees does Bluebird have? There is a $2.50 fee to use an out-of-network ATM plus any fees assessed by the ATM owner. Also, if you activate your account at Walmart, you’ll pay $5 to get started. Activate online and avoid this charge. 

Here’s a further breakdown of Bluebird fees.

How to Deposit Money to your Bluebird Amex

Depositing money into your Bluebird account is relatively easy. You have several options too. 

Direct Deposit

You can set up direct deposit in three easy steps:

  1. Log in to your Bluebird Account or use your Bluebird Mobile App. Click on “Add Funds”.
  2. Select “Set up Direct Deposit”. You’ll see your Bluebird Account number and Bank Routing number.
  3. Print out and complete the Bluebird Direct Deposit Form. Submit the form to your employer to process the request.

Cash at Walmart

This method is pretty simple. Go to a register at Walmart and tell them you want to add money to your account. You can add any amount between $1-$1,999. The funds will be ready to use in your Bluebird account immediately.

Debit Card Transfers

To add funds from a debit card, your debit card must be verified first. After that:

  1. Log in to your Bluebird Account or use your Bluebird Mobile App.
  2. Click on “Add Funds” and then “Add New Source”
  3. Provide your Debit Card information
  4. Verify your billing address

Mobile Check Capture

You can also use the Bluebird app to take a photo of a check to deposit money into your account. How do you do that?

  1. Open and log into the Bluebird App.
  2. Under Add Money, select “Add from a Check”.
  3. Sign the back of your check.
  4. Capture an image of the front of the check.
  5. Capture an image of the back of the check.
  6. Enter the amount of the check.
  7. Screen prompts will ask you to choose when you want your money. You can have funds in minutes for a fee or in 10 days for no fee.
  8. Confirm the deposit amount.

Note: If you selected Money in Minutes and your check is approved, you will then be prompted to write “VOID” on the front of your check and submit an additional picture. Do not write “VOID” until you are prompted in the app.

A Word of Caution with Bluebird

One of the complaints about Bluebird from users is a lag time when you load money to the account by direct deposit and mobile check capture. This has resulted in a disappointing experience by those users who apparently didn’t have as much of a wait time with other banking alternatives. Be sure to understand the terms before switching your finances over to Bluebird.

Using Your Bluebird Amex

  • When it comes to using your Bluebird card, there are some things you will need to know:
  • When making purchases in store, choose “credit”, not “debit” when choosing your card option. 
  • When using a gas station, paying at the pump can sometimes put a hold on your card for an estimated amount that is more than your actual purchase. To avoid this, pay for gas in advance inside. 
  • You can use ATMs for withdrawals. The maximum daily withdrawal is $750. There are no ATM fees when withdrawing from any MoneyPass ATM. 

Using Bluebird to Earn More Credit Card Rewards

Those into maximizing their credit card rewards have already picked up on a way to use Bluebird to their advantage. Since you can use your Bluebird account (for free) to pay your bills, and because you can (for free) load your Bluebird account with Vanilla prepaid reload cards, and because you can (for free) buy Vanilla prepaid reload cards at certain retailers with your cash back credit card, you can earn cash back credit card rewards for paying your mortgage. 

Alternatives to Bluebird

While Bluebird may be right for many people, it might not be perfect for everyone. If that’s the case, what other options are there besides traditional banking. Here’s a three good options to check out:

Capital One 360 Checking Account

I’ve been using Capital One 360 for years and love it! Its mobile app is the best in banking. Most of my online checking is done with this account. They have a huge ATM network too! 

Check out our full review of Captial One 360 checking here. 

Ally Interest Checking

Ally is one of the best online banking accounts available. Did you know you actually make interest on your balance with this checking account? No minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees either. 

TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking

TIAA has one of the best online checking accounts on the market. The introductory interest rate is super low at 1.21%. That’s a great deal. 

For more information on these and other online checking accounts, check this out.

Applying for a Bluebird Account

When you apply for a Bluebird account online (without first getting your debit card at Walmart), you are required to complete two screens of data. Screen one contains fields for name, address, email, and phone number. Screen two requires you to create a new user name, password, PIN, and security question, and also provide your SSN and date of birth. There is no hard credit inquiry. Once you are approved, your Bluebird card will be sent by mail.

So what do you think of Bluebird? If you are a user already, what can you share about your experience? How does Bluebird compare to other banking alternatives?

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Comments

  1. bkhan1900 says

    Rtaylor the same thing is happening with me, my employer did a direct deposit on monday evening and now its thursday, and still i have nothing in my account. i have bills to pay and feed my family.. all my coworkers have already received their pay, not me. I should have just took a paper check, on tuesday, I am so upset. I am going to contact the better business bureau and contact law enforcements in salt lake utah, this is crazy, They stole my money!!

  2. Bluebird is the best! I have not run into any direct deposit lag issues at all. MY money hit right on time (2 AM EST). I love all the perks of Bluebird.

  3. john ogle says

    This is unbelievable Iam so upset with this card was told it wouldn’t take more than 3 days for me to receive money on this card so called bank when I transferee from my capital one bank and they have been deducted the 2500.00 from capital one and now some people tell me Saturday others tell me Mon and some say Tuesday my son needs this money in collage, its a big crap

  4. I had the Serve Card and closed it to try the Bluebird card. The customer service is what I noticed from the start. Long wait times and broken English are just the start of the problems. The mobile deposit of checks takes over a week to post. The direct deposit which was sent from my employer on a Monday night has yet to post to my account and today is Friday. I called customer service and waited 17 minutes (Due to the success of the card) as the recording will tell you no matter what time you call. I spoke with the rep (in India) and I was told that the direct deposit can post as late as 2 P.M. and sometimes later.  American express who has teamed with Walmart are fleecing the people who have high hopes for a product  that has been certainly misrepresented at the least.

  5. Chris Kaiser says

    Worst customer service ever!!!!  I have been trying to get a hold of someone in account security for about a week.   I stay on the line for about two hours a day and never have spoken to a real person.  Mailbox is full, even when I did leave a message stating how important it was, noone called me back.  Horrible, horrible customer service… don’t waste your time or money.

  6. How in the world do I change my birthdate  on my account I guess I punched in the wrong one when setting up my account and i have been searching for 2 days everyone ive talked to on the customer service line seems to be really out to lunch.  Also about the ATM if ive read correctly you can not withdraw your own money unless you have a direct deposit set up?  Please forgive my spelling.

    • Philip Taylor says

      @Mirandax7 You can withdraw your own money at anytime. You will just have to pay a fee if you don’t have dd setup or if you are not using a network ATM. Not sure about the birthdate issue. I suggest you continue to call them.

      • @Philip Taylor I have tried using an atm actually several different ones I even called blue bird and they had no answer.  No matter which ATM i used i got an error message

  7. Money Life and More says

    I’m totally looking into that work around you’re talking about… and yes, it does sound much better than the Suze Orman card… sorry Suze!

  8. MileageUpdate says

    Can you get more than one BlueBird per person?

    • Philip Taylor says

      @MileageUpdate No, I don’t think so. They run your SSN when you register and they actually rejected my application because they thought I already had a card. Not that I actually do, but I thought it was instructive to share that they will reject you for that reason.