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New American Express Bluebird Card – Huge Potential Points Earning

by on October 25, 2012 · 90 comments

in American Express, Bluebird

Update: Office Depot no longer sells Vanilla Reload or American Express Prepaid cards.

American Express launched a new checking/debit alternative called Bluebird and it presents some super exciting opportunities to rack up points, as I learned while sitting in on Frequent Miler‘s keynote speech at the Chicago Seminars. First take a look at the video below where I explain just what’s so exciting about this card and why it can help you rack up multiple points with every dollar you spend – even on purchases and expenditures that you can’t ordinarily use a credit card for (think mortgage, homeowners fees, rent, insurance, etc)- and then find the rest of the details explained below.

Here is the link to register for a Bluebird card online.

You can also get a temporary Bluebird card by heading to a Walmart location that carries a starter kit for $5 that you can fund with up to $500 using a debit card and that you then register online at Bluebird.com to get a permanent card within 10 business days. Might as well take the short cut and just register online in the first place.

Getting a card doesn’t affect your credit. One thing to note: If you have an Amex Serve card you will have to cancel it in order to get a Bluebird.

Among the things that set Bluebird apart and mean it might just be one of the best options out there for earning points:

1. It doesn’t carry any of the usual fees that prepaid cards have. There are no transaction fees, load fees, ATM fees are waived when you set up a direct deposit and use a MoneyPass ATM, no foreign transaction fees and most importantly no bill-pay fees.

2. It works like an ATM card. This means you can do things with it that you can’t do with a credit card – or at least do them while incurring lower fees than you would with a credit card. It also means you can put money on the card then withdraw it as cash without an ATM fee (assuming the conditions above) and then use that to pay for whatever you want. You can withdraw up to $500 and $2,000 per month this way.

3. You can load up to $10,000 on it. Many other cards similar to Bluebird only let you have limits that are much lower, like around the $2,500 mark, but being able to put $10,000 on this one all at once means you can take care of all your expenses with it or use it for some big charges.

3. You can use Vanilla Reloads just like with Amex prepaid cards. You can load up to $1,000 per 24-hour period and up to $5,000 per month using Vanilla Reloads – which you can get at an office store using your Ink Bold or Ink Plus card and earn 5x points on them, so you’re already earning a points bonus.

4. You can load it up at a Walmart by using a miles earning debit card.

5. Use it to pay bills…to anyone! One of the pitfalls of points-earning cards is that you can’t always use them to pay certain kinds of bills like mortgage, car or utilities, or if you can, you can incur large fees. Bluebird has a bill pay service, though, where you can either choose from a list of pre-established merchants/payees, OR you can add a payee of your own and order a check to be cut from your account and mailed directly to them. That means you could just send a check to a friend if you needed to without paying a fee. That means you can take care of all your monthly bills from here, and you can even do it from the mobile app. Check payments are limited to $5,000 per month.

6. You can use it as a debit card. Though it’s designed to be used as a checking/debit alternative, you can use the Bluebird card as a debit card with transactions that accept the one but not the other, like certain mortgage or rental companies, or to pay taxes so you get hit with lower fees (like $3-4 rather than 2-3% of the transaction) than you would using a credit card.

7. Transfer money to other cardholders. Bluebird cardholders can transfer up to $2,500 per month (and per transaction) to other cardholders for free.

8. You can link it to a checking or savings account (not to a debit card), so if you receive money or you want to use value on your Bluebird to pay off a credit card, you can withdraw the funds to your checking account then pay your statement from there – though I would be careful with this since it’s the kind of activity that raises a red flag.

Just a couple things to note. If you want to use a debit card to reload your Bluebird, you are limited to $100 per day and $1,000 per month, and you are charged $2 per load if you do it online. The ability to reload – even small amounts – by credit card online as you can with the Serve card is not available, so fingers crossed that Vanilla Reloads remain a viable option here.

Maximizing Points
A prepaid card isn’t the intuitive choice for racking up points, but there are a few ways to do so with Bluebird.

The most lucrative loading method has to be Vanilla Reloads. You can buy these prepaid reload cards in varying values for $3.95 plus their face value at many office supply stores…which means that if you purchase them using an Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you’ll earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar you spend on them and then any bonuses you earn above that are gravy. I just hope this option lasts!.

Even if a Walmart won’t do a credit card swipe refill, they can do it with a debit card, so if you still have a points-earning or cash back debit card like the SunTrust Delta one, the Perkstreet Financial 2% Cash Back card or the Bank of America Alaska Airlines debit card, you could rack up miles that way, just beware the funding limits noted above and the $2 per transaction fee. Update: PerkStreet Financial will be closing permanently and ceasing all business operations on September 26, 2013.

If you don’t have an Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you can also just buy Vanilla Reloads with whatever other points-earning card you want like the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex or the Sapphire Preferred. Sure, you’ll only be earning 1-2 points per dollar, but remember, you can use this card to pay for things like your mortgage, utilities and even to issue checks to other individuals, so by using the Bluebird card, you’re opening up a world of points-earning possibilities.

As I mention in the video, I’m still waiting on my permanent card to arrive so I can use my Vanilla Reloads on it, but when I do, I’ll really start digging into the card and all the ways you can maximize your earning by using it.

I don’t have my permananent card yet, but I’ll be blogging about maximizing the Bluebird card once I do!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • http://twitter.com/Mileage_Update Mileage Update

    The only downside I see is the cap of 5k / monthly for loading from Vanilla

  • Guest

    Would this be considered a chip and pin card when traveling internationally?

  • http://www.almostwitty.com/ almostwitty

    I don’t see anything on the Bluebird card site that indicates that you can earn miles…

  • evodad

    So if I’m reading this correctly, it would work like below:

    An example of $2K /mo spend on mortgage, you can use your ink bold or ink plus to purchase vanilla reloads and get 5x points or 10,000 points per month just by using the ink to load the bluebird and then paying your normal bills from the bluebird with a check.

    Isn’t it quite possible that this may lead to getting kicked out of the points program if it appears your taking advantage? If not, I’d easily be able to rack up 10-15k points per month using this method, which would definitely be incentive to sign up for an ink card.

  • I Can See for Miles

    One thing should be clarified: The Points Guy (whose work is immensely helpful and appreciated) writes that Vanilla Reload cards can be purchased at an office store, which nets the greatest gains because of the 5x bonus offered on several of the Chase Ink cards. As of now, however, the only office store that stocks these cards is Office Depot. Many pockets of the country don’t have an Office Depot nearby, and there are many reports now of Office Depot stores being out of Vanilla Reload cards and/or deciding no longer to stock them. The three nearest Office Depots to me (none closer than an hour and 15 minutes away) are all out of them, and at least one will no longer be stocking them. I was very excited about the 5x potential, but unless another chain such as Staples or OfficeMax stocks them, it seems the 5x opportunity is and will continue to close fast.

  • Guest

    In doing deeper research, can you explore the possibility of using the Bluebird card to make student loan payments? That is by far my biggest expenditure each month and it would be great to earn miles on the payments without the exorbitant fees charged by ChargeSmart :)

  • Jeff

    Good luck finding the Vanilla reloads if you don’t live near an Office Depot! Pretty much leaves New Yorkers out of all these deals.

  • FrequentMiler

    Thanks for the shout-out in your video to my Chicago Seminars talk. If readers are interested in learning more about Bluebird they can see my post “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game” http://boardingarea.com/blogs/frequentmiler/2012/10/16/bluebird-takes-flight-and-changes-the-game/

  • evodad

    So the down side of this is you can earn 1-2 points per dollar for transactions that you can’t traditionally pay for with a credit card by purchasing vanilla reloads at retailers other than office depot. For me that’s still an extra 2-3k points per month, obviously nowhere near as lucrative as 10-15k but also not a small amount

  • Benitana

    I’m not sure I’d say the Vanilla Card is offered at “many office supply stores”. As far as office supply, it’s ONLY at Office Depot and that’s only if 1) there is a store near you and 2) that store has stock.

    (It’s offered other places but not at 5X)

  • mike

    why pay bills just buy the cards reload them and then then take out the cash at atm and keep doing it overe and over sgain on the side on a monthly basis

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HO5YBKQDADRY64ZTOB6ZU5RS3A tri_sports

    Am I missing something here? Why not buy the Vanilla Reloads on the ink card, load up the Bluebird card, and then close the loop using the Bluebird card to pay off the ink card?

  • joe

    That’s what I would like to know!!

  • El Turk

    Way to post this a week after it has been covered in detail by FM and MMS.

  • El Turk

    Because Amex would close your acocunt

  • fordjam

    Can you reload with Amex Gift Cards?

  • Josinei

    Simple as that :-)

  • thepointsguy

    That will likely trigger money laundering red flags and get your account shut down

  • thepointsguy

    Not to my knowledge

  • thepointsguy

    We all have different readerships so just because they wrote about it first doesn’t mean the information still isn’t valuable

  • thepointsguy

    You can do that

  • Anonynmous

    way to troll

  • Drapes97

    Can you clarify…will the Bluebird be easier to use for rental cars, etc. than an actual prepaid debit card? For example, I used a prepaid debit card a couple of weeks ago. Up front, they pended around $170 and when I returned the car, they pulled the pend and only charged the actual $60 that the car was. Would there still be a large pend of money up front with the Bluebird card?

  • Drapes97

    Nevermind, I went through the FAQ (which I should have done first) and found that the answer is no.

  • Sarah_C

    Why?

  • Mindray

    Just curious…

    Couldn’t you just buy Vanilla Reloads, load up the BlueBird card, withdraw the money to your bank checking account without having to buy a single thing. Obviously that would raise some red flags, but is that not possible?

  • MileHunter

    Re: You comment below, there is no $2 fee for using your debit card to load directly to your Blue Bird Card at Walmart. It is simply treated as a purchase which you could pay for by debit card or cash but not credit card at Walmart. The $2 fee only applies when you load online on bluebird portal using your debit card.

    “Even if a Walmart won’t do a credit card swipe refill, they can do it with a debit card, so if you still have a points-earning or cash back debit card like the SunTrust Delta one, the Perkstreet Financial 2% Cash Back card or the Bank of America Alaska Airlines debit card, you could rack up miles that way, just beware the funding limits noted above and the $2 per transaction fee.”

  • wanttoknow

    Can load up to $1,000 per 24-hour period and up to $5,000 per month using Vanilla Reloads.

    I am new to this and not sure how the Vanilla Reloads works, but can I load $5000 (since it cost $3.95 per load) using Ink Bold or Ink Plus and load to Bluebird Card $1000 every 24 hours? Thanks for helping.

  • THEsocalledfan

    One error: doesn’t cost a dime to reload from Walmart with a debit card. $2 fee is only if doing it on-line.

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  • Jake_PB

    TPG, thank you for so much sage advice! I’ve ordered my bluebird card and my new Ink Plus is on it’s way too! My question – Will Chase treat the purchase of a Vanilla Reload card as a cash advance, or is it treated like any other Office Depot purchase?

  • Luke

    Do you know if the Direct Deposit must be set-up through an employer or can you set up an automatic deposit from a checking/savings account?

  • http://twitter.com/mckdebbie1 Deborah McKee

    The Bluebird card itself doesn’t offer a point structure on spend does it?

  • Ram Kashyap

    Hope not your screen name is sarcastic. The video explains quite clearly that you will have to earn re loadable or visa gift cards with mile/point earning card and use them to feed this bluebird which you should then use for daily spending or bill pays. Sorry to say that you did not miss something, you just missed everything.

  • RP

    No.

  • BryanB

    I got this message when trying to sign up:

    “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.”

  • Eric

    Yes, as mentioned in the post: “One thing to note: If you have an Amex Serve card you will have to cancel it in order to get a Bluebird.”

  • Rick

    A couple observations:

    1. I didn’t know what a ‘Vanilla Reload’ was. This post helped, if anyone else is in the same boat as me. http://boardingarea.com/blogs/frequentmiler/2012/06/22/where-to-buy-vanilla-reload-cards/.

    2. OfficeMax doesn’t carry them (at least my local one doesn’t).

  • dsssp

    student loans can be paid via the free bill pay feature. If the payee is not listed, you can create any customize payee… you can do bill pay to ANY one.

  • Jeff

    I discovered this a while back except I am using the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card to buy Visa Gift cards from the grocery store. I would then use the Visa gift cards for what ever I needed to buy. Cash back on the amex blue cash preferred is currently 6%.

  • http://twitter.com/allanak Allan Klein

    Sounds brilliant but you’d probably somehow ruin it for the rest of us :)
    Some quick math: $1000 per reload once per day * $3.95 fee per card…30 days in a month, $30k @ 5x points = 150k points for $118.50 in fees.

  • MiamiMike2

    Sounds like we could take it to a whole other level if they start selling vanilla reloads at Office Max due to the 10% Amex OPEN Savings.

  • Bajkonyr

    I got very exited about it around 6 month ago. Did my extensive research and here is my conclusion.
    This thing will work only for 20-30% if not less of all of us. The reason is that Office Depot, the only seller of the Vanilla card, starts to either ban them or do not accept credit cards as a payment. In my case it’s NYC, all the stores around here never have them and on top of it they stopped accepting credit cards to buy the Vanilla.
    Another point is using debit cards at Walmart to refill Bluebird. There is absolutely no point of doing this!!! First of all, one earns much less points by using debit cards instead of credit cards. The max one gets is 1 points from Delta debit card (let alone americanair and Alaska Air).
    Second one’s account will most likely be banned for doing the loophole of paying credit card with the bluebird (and again it’s in case if and only if you can find Office Depot with Vanilla) !!!!

  • KMan

    The vanilla reloads have a restriction of 5000$ per month..is that not correct?

  • Eric

    Yes, as it says in point #3 in the post, “You can load up to $1,000 per 24-hour period and up to $5,000 per month using Vanilla Reloads”.

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  • Patrick

    The MAX limit of $10,000…? You can put on up to $5,000 per month and have a TOTAL of $10,000 at any one time? Is that correct?
    Thanks

  • slomichael

    I don’t have a 5% Ink Card, I do have the Freedom Card with this quarter 5% promo at Best Buy or Kohls. Does Best Buy or Kohls offer the same card that you can transfer to Bluebird?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dborn Dan Borntrager

    Just bought $5,000 worth. Hope this thing works!

  • pls tell me

    Is this card better than the old prepaid amex… i don’t mean as far as fees, there were a lot of horror stories of funds taking weeks to arrive on card and people being over charged at gas stations and the refund amnt getting to them slowly, not being able to log in on their online account and getting very bad customer service from their reps in India…..please please, if you have this card, tell me about your experience so far!!!

  • Keith Gainey

    When you go to the Blue Bird website, it doesn’t mention anything about a points program. Where are you seeing this info?

  • Totalgeek

    Maybe good for points but read my review on the card and how their customer service works. Don’t use this card if you plan on using the mobile app to deposit your checks or if you plan on calling customer service. http://www.reviewsbyageek.com/american-express-bluebird-alternative-to-checking-not-there-yet/

  • Msgirl1981

    Well we waiting on the Blue Bird card to come in also but not completely understanding all this because on most prepaid cards they say that it helps your credit score go up but this one does saying anything about helping your credit. That’s what we need a card to help our credit go up.Missing something here??

  • Russellcurnew

    the bluebird card is not what its hyped up to be. first it is not FDIC back, you cant get cash back, and you cant dump your card meaning take all your money off you card at walmart, DO NOT GET THIS CARD

  • Nam

    Simple, spend 30 percent of your credit line then pay off the balance at the end of every month. Thus your score will go up. Do this with multiple cards.

  • Nam

    Watch the video again carefully.

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  • Dave

    I went to Walgreen and C VS and am unable to buy Vanilla with my credit card

  • BLUEBIRD 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!!

  • Frank

    I haven’t had any problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/russellsmith16 Russell Smith

    There is nothing wrong with this card at all it is WAY better that the greendot cards, it costs less to re-load, it has more re-load locations than the green dot cards, it has many more features than the other cards, it has a smart phone app, it is just all around a better card than all of the rest of them, it does not (suck) perhaps you need to learn how to read MORON!!!

  • hiall

    your bluebird account limit is 10,000 per month. 3.95 is per card with a the vr it is 500 max per card, so you shouldn’t be paying that much fee per month.

  • hiall

    if you pay back your credit card bill would that not count towards your credit score

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  • Adam Rice49

    this same exact thing happened to me….be wary and do your research

  • Krys

    It’s been difficult using this card because a lot of merchants don’t accept Amex. This causes serious inconvenience because I have to hunt down a no fee ATM to make a withdrawal to pay certain bills (ex. daycare, car note) or load funds to an alternate card to make online or over the phone payments. But the icing in the cake for me is the fact that even thought I have direct deposit, I always get my finds later than anyone else at my company because there appears to be no rhyme or reason to when the funds will be added to my account. I hate having to wait until almost noon for my paycheck! This card is too much of a headache. I’m closing my account and using a card with a visa logo to avoid these headaches.

  • Janellmcinroe1

    Does bluebird let you rent cars? I’ve had trouble finding rental car places that accept pre-paid debit cards. Thanks.

  • Nor_cal_boy_98

    Yea, all prepaid cards have similar issues. If you go to a Gas Station, they’ll pre-auth on a pre-paid card a pretty large amount to make sure you have a high enough balance available. The problem is they don’t release that auth for days, so that amount on the card becomes unavailable. I think they’re similar issues when used for Hotels and other services. So don’t expect these cards to be used like a normal credit card. You could run into issues.

  • Coahmusic

    clearly you work for the company. bogus.

  • Renirourke

    has anyone heard of buying a vanilla reload card, then putting $125 onit, then taking it into disneyworld and getting a 3 day park hopper ticket in exchange. We’re from Canada, and some guy named Alex on craigslist claims that all we have to do is go to cvs pharmacy when we get into Orlando, buy a vaniila reload cardw/$125 credit on it, take it next morning to disneyworld and receive a 3 day park hopper for that price. Which is under half price of a normal 3 day park hopper. I know nothing about this. Need some info if anyone has tried this?

  • Delmaksis241

    So far, I haven’t been using the Bluebird card for long and what I found disturbing about it is that you can’t change your email address. I have tried dealing with customer service, numerous times, just to be told that once you enter an email address you cannot change it. Therefore, if your email address is about to change, you will be out of luck!!! I’m also concern that everyone I spoke with had an accent and couldn’t understand fully what I was saying. I think I better ride on the side of caution with this card. Also, many years ago more merchants didn’t take American Express. Not sure if it’s the same now. I’ll see.

  • Tesama

    same problem , Have $1K in account and cannot get it out . Called the ARABS and they know less than I do . What a ripoff !

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  • chrome

    as long as I breath from my lips – AMEX will never get my business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KimCook51 Kimberly Cook

    Does anyone know of a prepaid card that can accept payments, I am an Avon Rep and would like to accept credit cards but I only use prepaid cards and so far I have not been able to find a card that can accept payments.

  • huh??

    I’m a little confused about how this works. My understanding is that most credit card companies only give rewards on eligable purchases and they don’t consider reloadable or prepaid cards eligable purchases. They consider it some kind of cash equivelant. Am I wrong about that?

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  • iris97

    Oddly, not available in my state (VT)

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  • mimi bass

    here is a piece of advance wawa is one of the free surcharge. i use it all the time with my bluebird, and it never takes out a fee. once you get the hang of the card its easy to use and its nice to have if you wanna put a little money away for a rainy day.

  • Mia Gideon

    I agree, Russell…I love my bluebird card

  • Liz

    How do you get it to quit locking?

  • C.H. Hawk

    I thought you breathed from your lungs?

  • jerome

    only thing I dont like about the card are the limits…..You can only pull $500.00 a day out of an atm with only three atm transactions a day. So say you go and pull a twenty here and there three times, and just so happens you need cash a fourth your screwed till the next day and if you need more than 500.00 in cash your screwed till the next day they need to change this….If it was unlimited it would be a very good card to have.

  • Noah

    Eh, it’s all part of the same system.

  • steelponycowboy

    I’ve had my Blue Bird card since it first came out at Walmart. I use it mainly for online purchases but I have never had a problem with it. Money deposited at a Walmart is INSTANTLY available on the card, I’ve called customer service and the people I’ve talked to sound like regular Americans and service has been fast and friendly. They treat you just like a regular AmEX customer. Never had a problem with a refund and most refunds have posted to the card in two business days and one time same day. Fees are non existent and I have never been charged any fee. Loging in online is not a problem and it never has been for me. So in the last nearly 2 years or so, I have had not problems or bad experiences and I run maybe $2000 a month thru this card

  • steelponycowboy

    I don’t think you will find a pre-paid card that will assist in increasing your credit score or rating. They don’t report to the credit bureaus unless somehow you rip them off or defraud them and they aren’t credit. The key word is Credit and the only way thats going to happen is with a real credit card. The only cards that I know of for people with bad credit are the secured credit cards which some people might confuse with pre-pay cards

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