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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.
Like many of you, I was one of the Amex Bluebird customers that received an email yesterday, which stated:
“We are writing to inform you that we are making a change to your Bluebird Account for added security.
The Bluebird Member Agreement has been modified to reflect an update to the amount of funds that can be added to your Bluebird Account from a linked checking or savings account. Effective immediately, the limit for this type of transaction has been reduced from $10,000.00 to $2,000.00 total per month.
You can review this update in the Bluebird Member Agreement by clicking here.
Thank you for your membership,
I got a lot of frantic emails, but to me, this is not an issue at all. Per the FAQ and terms of Bluebird, you can still load up to $1,000 a day and $5,000 a month using cash or Vanilla Reloads. The restriction in the email is only related to funding Bluebird from a linked external checking or savings account, which I suppose could be useful for topping up your account to pay a mortgage (if you can’t buy or load enough Vanillas), but really shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Direct deposit is not affected by this change, so if you want to avoid fees or top up your account directly from your pay check, you can still continue doing so up to $100,000 in direct deposit funds per year.
If anything, this notice should serve as a reminder that programs can and will change the rules as they see fit. Could Bluebird decide to stop allowing Vanilla Reloads tomorrow? Yes. In fact, my local CVS manager told me that their main issue was that people who steal credit cards would buy a ton of Vanilla Reloads before the card was shut off and then turn them into cash via other ways. While we may think that “people are onto us”, in reality companies like Amex and CVS are more worried about being complicit in money laundering and thus potentially being linked to illegal activity than they are being milked by savvy points junkies. Well, the latter may still be a concern, so that’s why you should get in while the getting is good, but be prepared to alter your strategy as needed. For example buying loads and loads of Vanilla reloads to load onto Bluebird in the future might not be a great plan if Bluebird ever decides to stop taking them. Just giving some food for thought!
FYI the Bluebird FAQ’s, here are the limits on Bluebird accounts:
|Total Account Balance||$100,000|
|Total Account Balance
(exclusive of Direct Deposit and Check by Mail)
|Total Add Funds Transactions||$100,000 per year|
|*Total Add Funds Transactions
(exclusive of Direct Deposit and Check by Mail)
|Up to $10,000 per month|
|Direct Deposit||$100,000 per year|
|Check by Mail||$100,000 per year|
|Checking or Savings Account||Up to $2,000 per month*|
|*Debit Card(s) (in aggregate)||Up to $100 per transaction
$100 per day; and
$1,000 per month*
|Cash (includes Swipe Reload and InComm Vanilla Reload Packs)||$1,000 per day
$5,000 per month
|*Bluebird-to-Bluebird Receive Money Transactions||Up to $10,000 per month*|
|Add Checks with Mobile App||$2,000 per day
$10,000 per month
|Total Spend Money Transactions||$100,000 per year|
|Total Spend Money Transactions (other than via Bluebird Checks)||$10,000 per month|
|Merchant Transactions||$10,000 per month|
|Pay Bills||$10,000 per month
($5,000 per month in the case of non-registered payees)
|Send Money Transactions||$2,500 per transaction
$2,500 per month
|ATM Withdrawals||3 ATM Withdrawals per day
$500 per day
$2,000 per month
|Bluebird Checks||Subject to Total Account Balance and Add Money Limits|
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