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Update: You can no longer purchase Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card and Vanilla Reloads are no longer available in Office Depot.

Since its introduction last year, the Amex Bluebird card – a reloadable card that is hybrid credit card-debit card-checking account – has been one of the most powerful tools in every points collector’s aresenal thanks to the ability to purchase Vanilla Reloads using points-earning credit cards and load the amount from the Vanilla Reload directly onto the Bluebird card then use those funds to pay bills and expenses that you can’t usually use credit cards for such as mortgage and car payments.

However, there are a few limits to the Bluebird’s usefulness including being able to spend just $10,000 a month using its Bill Pay feature (only $5,000 to unregistered payees), only $2,500 per transaction and per month with its Send Money feature, and the fact that you’re limited to loading $5,000 per month onto the card using Vanilla Reloads.

However, a couple months ago, Bluebird added a couple new features that increase its usefulness including the ability for account holders to get actual physical check books.

These checks come in books of 50 ($19.94 + $5.94 shipping) or 100 ($26.94 + $6.94 shipping) usually. But until the end of the day today, May 21, 2013, you can actually get one free book (of either 50 or 100 checks – so just go for the 100 book) and only pay shipping.

You order these books by logging into your account, clicking on the “My Account” tab and then selecting “Order Checks.”

Bluebird checks

With Bluebird, you are limited to spending $100,000 per year including via these new checks and your total account balance is limited to $100,000 (when first launched it only used to be $10,000), although keep in mind that funds added by methods other than check by mail and direct deposit are still capped at $10,000 of your balance.

There is a little bit of a process to writing a check from Bluebird which includes pre-authorizing the amount online in your account and getting an authorization code which you need to write onto the check itself. When you spend $2,000 or more that authorization can take about 2 business days, so you need to plan ahead in some cases.

Still these checks are useful tools for most of us since instead of using the card’s Bill Pay function, you can now also just write the check yourself for whatever bill you are paying.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.