No More Bluebird Debit Card Online Load Fees

by on October 4, 2013 · 30 comments

in Amex Bluebird, Debit Cards, Prepaid/ Reloads

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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.

The Bluebird from American Express is a checking account/debit card alternative with a lot of great features that can save you money and earn points in the process. You don’t undergo a credit check when you apply for it, and from your Bluebird account you can do everything from paying bills and sending money to others to writing checks and withdrawing cash from ATM’s.

Bluebird has eliminated the debit load fee.

Bluebird has eliminated the debit load fee.

There are several ways to fund your Bluebird account including direct deposit, cash deposit refills at Walmart, by buying Vanilla Reloads cards that some merchants (like CVS and 711) allow you to purchase with a points-earning credit card, but you can also fund it using a debit. However, many gift cards like the Visa Vanilla, now function as debit cards with PIN’s (though they do not work at ATM’s). They can be loaded with anywhere from $20-500 each and have a one-time $4.95 load fee.

That’s interesting because while you can use them to load Bluebird accounts at Walmart Money centers up to $1,000 per day, and $5,000 per month, up until now, Bluebird would charge you $2 per transaction when you used a debit card to load Bluebird online. However, it looks like Bluebird has removed that fee for online debit card loads. You are still limited to loading $100 per transaction and per day up to $1,000 per month, but at least you can do this without paying $2 each time, and there’s 1,000 more points to earn per month in the process (all you pay is $9.90 in fees for the gift cards) and is convenient for those folks who don’t have a Walmart nearby.

So while you might max out your Bluebird loads each month with $500 in Vanilla Reloads that you purchase using a points-earning credit card, you can now add another $1,000 to your loading capability by purchasing a gift card that has a PIN and then using it to load your Bluebird account like you would with any other debit card.

While this won’t alter my Bluebird strategy drastically, it’s good to have an option to add another $1,000 to my Bluebird account per month and to be able to do so without having to visit a Walmart or worry about whether my CVS is going to accept my credit card to purchase Vanilla Reloads.

For more information on Bluebird, check out these posts:

Bluebird From American Express – The Basics
Maximizing American Express Bluebird FAQ’s
Maximizing Prepaid / Reloadable and Reload Cards For Points And Miles – Choosing Which Credit Card To Use
Maximizing Visa Prepaid Gift Cards
Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards For Points and Miles

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.

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  • JD

    Tried this with my SunTrust debit card and got this message: “”The automatic money transfer from your SunTrust account to your Bluebird account scheduled for 10/4/2013 in the amount of $100.00 was unsuccessful.” Got the same message when attempted with my wife’s card on her account.

  • hdawg

    wouldn’t this be a bad idea using gift cards, since Amex will see multiple card changes per month and possibly shut down your bluebird

  • LSN

    I just tried this with my chase visa gift card and got messages saying that my address doesnt match the address they have on file, except it does. I called bluebird and after speaking with a series of incredibly stupid people, haven’t figured out the problem. Any ideas?

  • Lea

    I had the same address issue with the chase gift/debit card, I called chase an thy added my address. I was able to link my card, but then the transfer failed anyway! I called bluebird they said it does not work on gift card type cards. Any ideas?

  • bobsinh

    some banks wont process the transaction and as chase is a bank it may not work. Also try registering the card online, that may solve the issue.

  • Gh

    Has anyone used a prepaid debit to load online (such as the vanilla cards that are not reloads)?

  • Kiooooly

    BlueBird froze my account for adding a prepaid debit card. I played dumb but I got a stern talking-to over the phone before they would unfreeze it.

  • Jan

    I saw this a few days ago and did some research. I found that your name has to be on the debit card and people had their accounts shut without warning when attempting this without their name on the debit card (with gift cards, in particular).

  • Jerry

    A couple of months back I was able to buy VRs with a credit card at 7 11, no problem. Then a week or so later , they told me cash only. I think 7 11 is no longer an option , isn`t that correct ??

  • Ben Price

    I don’t get the whole Walmart angle. Why not just load your Bluebird online via

  • sleighter

    This doesn’t work with gift cards as you have to have a billing address that matches that of the debit card.

  • Nevafazeme

    Not everyone has VRs readily accessible in their area, so buying gift cards may be their next best option.

  • Marvin le Android

    Also, the Chase Visa gift cards are free right now, so you save the $8 in Vanilla fees per $1K. May not seem like much, but ($8×5)x12=$480/yr. That’s a few nice suppers.

  • Kiooooly

    Chase gift cards were discontinued on 9/20. It is unknown whether they will be offered again in the future.

  • ROB

    you mean in 20th century?

  • Yankees

    No more chase gift card, they have discontinued the product.

  • buckyball

    my transaction using chase GC was unsuccessful too. did you manage to get around this?

  • slider34

    Mine would not work (got the error about address not matching). I even called Chase, got the gift card to match the address on my bluebird account but got a different error.

    So no go for me and since I only have $1,000 left to unload thought it would save a trip to WalMart as I hate going there. Guess not…


    Is Office Depot 5x points for Vanilla Reloads no longer an option? The prior posts on this site regarding maximizing points using mile-earning cards is not as relevant anymore… it seems like the only places are CVS and maybe 7/11. What is the most current way to maximize mile earnings through VR/Bluebird?

  • abcde

    i.e. which card/store combination is best to use for VR?

  • beebz

    I was successful in loading online with my BofA Alaska Airlines debit card. So this’ll be an extra free 500 miles / month. I will also try with my UFB Direct debit card to earn American miles.

  • avery66

    Anyone having problems finding Vanilla Reloads at CVS’s where you have been able to find them in the past? West Hollywood CVS has always been a reliable VR resource, and they haven’t had any in several weeks. Another miles maximizer blogger based in PA said that he is having the same problem and that he spoke with the assistant mgr at his CVS and he told him that CVS is rolling out a new policy, and that they will not be getting any cards until the new policy is implemented.

  • Randy

    So when I try to use a Mastercard Gift card at my online Bluebird account, it has my address. Since my address doesn’t match the card’s address – it won’t go through. I dont see an address anywhere on the card that I might plug in. Any tips?

  • Randy

    I withdraw the question. I hadn’t REGISTERED my card, only gotten a pin on the phone. Once I registered it – I was good to go. Thanks for being there though!

  • Paul

    This post is highly misleading, as not only does loading prepaid debit cards to your Bluebird account violate the terms of service at Bluebird, it also will get your account locked very quickly. The author should revise the post accordingly.

  • JM

    This is amazing. Living in Korea and playing this game means that I don’t have as many opportunities to manufacture spend, and this allows me to finish off some of those minimum spends for a few cards. Just learned about this – yesterday, a day after I used Google Wallet to pay a 2.9% fee to manufacture. Better late than never though!

  • GDMP

    Bluebird FAQs are listing Green Dot MoneyPaks as a way to load the card, has anyone tried yet? Would be great, they are much easier to find at grocery stores and get 6% using AMEX Blue.

  • Guy

    Does loading Bluebird from a debit card online (on Bluebird’s website) earn debit card points? I loaded Bluebird using my UFB Direct debit card, but the transactions were coded as something like “DBT CRD,” not “POS Debit” (point of sale debit). As far as I know it’s only POS Debit transactions that earn points.

  • Wendy

    The problem is they will punish you for using their features. I tried to link my checking account to my Bluebird and got a week-long headache for trying to use this feature.

  • Wendy

    In my case, my name is on my debit card. I am the only person on my checking account, and Bluebird screwed me for trying to use the feature.

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