Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card Review

(4 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

amex bluebird
Bluebird Prepaid Card

A prepaid debit card is a convenient way to make purchases or pay bills, but many of them come with high fees.

American Express partners with Walmart to offer the Bluebird by American Express card, which gives you easy access to your cash without all the extra cost.

You can use your Bluebird by American Express card virtually anywhere American Express is accepted, and you have free ATM access at more than 24,000 MoneyPass locations worldwide.

Sending and receiving money is hassle-free, and you can even enroll in direct deposit to get your paycheck up to two days faster.

Besides that, your Bluebird by American Express account comes with some built-in features that are designed to make managing your finances a breeze.

Bluebird by AMEX Card Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Good for people who want a simplified checking account with little to no fees
  • No credit check - easy approval
  • No foreign transactions fee
  • $0 annual fee
  • Offers simple account management tools and services
  • Surcharge if you make a withdrawal at a non-MoneyPass ATM
  • Every transaction has a spending limit
  • AMEX may not be accepted at every merchant

Main Features of the Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card

The Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card isn't a checking account, but it has many of the same features. The biggest difference between the two is the fee structure, and we’ve outlined the best reasons to consider a Bluebird account below:

No monthly fee

American Express doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees for Bluebird members.

No activation fee

Activating a new Bluebird account is always 100% fee-free.

No foreign transaction fee

If you’re using your card to make an international purchase, you don’t have to worry about paying an extra fee to complete the transaction.

Simple account management

The Bluebird mobile app allows you to track your card balance, pay bills and add money to your account on the go.

Bluebird2Walmart Money Transfer Powered by Ria

One of the coolest perks of the Bluebird card is the ability to transfer money directly from your Bluebird account to anyone, for pick-up at any Walmart location in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

In order to use Bluebird2Walmart by Ria, you must be a registered Bluebird account-holder and have an activated card. Once you've completed these steps, you're good to start transferring money to anyone, as long as they are over the age of 18.

The best part of the Bluebird2Walmart Money Transfer is that the person you're sending money to does not need to have a Bluebird account to receive the money. They simply just have to go to the Walmart location you're sending the funds to, and pick it up with a valid ID.

Bluebird2Walmart Money Transfer Powered by Ria Fees & Limits

Withdrawal Amount Fee
Send up to $50 $4
Send $50.01 - $1000 $8
Send $1000.01 - $2,500 $16

Mobile check deposit

Adding money to your Bluebird by American Express card is a snap with mobile check deposit.

All you have to do is download the Bluebird mobile app, take a picture of the check with your smartphone and voila--you’re done.

Bill pay

You can use your Bluebird by American Express card to pay your bills each month with no added fee. Bluebird checks are also available free of charge.

Direct deposit

If your employer offers direct deposit, you can have your paycheck added to your Bluebird by American Express card automatically every payday. Best of all, there’s no charge to set it up.

Family account access

Once you’ve got a Bluebird account, you can link up to four more cards for your family members. You can set limits on spending and ATM access, which is great if you have teens on the account.

American Express Serve vs. Bluebird

Bluebird by American Express American Express Serve®
Card Price $0 Online Up to $5 in retail $0 Online Up to $3.95 in retail locations
Monthly Fee (No fee in TX, NY, VT) $0 $1 - or - $0 when you Direct Deposit $500+x
Cash Reloads $0 (cash reloads only available at Walmart) Up to $3.95 (fee varies by retailer)
Direct Deposit $0 $0
Mobile Check Deposit $0 $0
Add Money from a Bank Account $0 $0
ATM Withdrawals $0 at MoneyPass® ATMs $2.50 at non-MoneyPass ATMs.‡ ATM operator fees may apply. $0 at MoneyPass® ATMs $2.50 at non-MoneyPass ATMs.‡ ATM operator fees may apply.
Online Bill Pay $0 $0
Send and Receive Money $0 $0
Set Aside Money in Reserve - $0
Subaccounts - $0
Card Replacement $0 $0
24/7 Customer Service - $0
Purchase Protection† on Eligible Purchases - $0
Foreign Transactions $0 2.7% after conversion to US Dollars

Also ReadBluebird by American Express Stands as the Better American Express Prepaid Option

Getting Started With Bluebird by American Express

There are a three different ways to open a Bluebird by American Express prepaid debit card account.

First, you can purchase a Bluebird Account Set Up Kit at your local Walmart store. The kit costs $5, and it includes a temporary card that you can start using right away.

To complete the activation, you’ll just have to register for an account at Bluebird.com, which is free.

With the temporary Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card you can add up to $500, and you'll receive your permanent card within seven to 10 business days after you register online.

If you want to bypass the $5 Set Up Kit fee, you can visit Bluebird.com or download the Bluebird mobile app to register for a new account. The only downside is that you’ll have to wait for your permanent card to be mailed.

Adding Money to Your Bluebird Account

You’ve got several ways to add money to your Bluebird card, and American Express doesn’t charge any fees to do so. Altogether, you can add up to $100,000 a year to your Bluebird account using these methods:

Direct Deposit

The most convenient way to add money to your Bluebird by American Express card is through direct deposit.

You can set up direct deposit for your paycheck or any federal payments you receive as long as you’ve activated your permanent card. Federal payments that can be added via direct deposit include:

  • Tax refunds
  • Social Security benefits
  • Civil service retirement benefits
  • VA benefits
  • Worker’s compensation

Depending on how your employer’s payroll system works, you can get paid up to two days faster when you sign up for direct deposit. Just keep in mind that it can take up to two pay cycles for the direct deposit to kick in.

Bank Account/Debit Card Transfer

If you have a checking or savings account, you can add money to your Bluebird account via wire transfer. Be aware, however, that your bank may charge a fee for that service.

It can also take a few days for a transfer to complete so this is probably not your best bet if you need the money fast. You’re limited to $2,000 in checking or savings account transfers each month.

Using a debit card that’s linked to your checking account is likely to be the better choice if you want to avoid a fee.

To add money using a debit card, you can either link it to your Bluebird account online or through the Bluebird mobile app or refill at the register next time you’re at Walmart.

You can refill your Bluebird account at Walmart for free, and at thousands of other locations for a small fee. Here's a list of some of the most popular refilling locations.

Retailers That Refill Bluebird Accounts

Retailers Fee To Add Funds
CVS Pharmacy® Up to $3.95
Walgreens® Up to $3.95
Walmart Free
Duane Reade® Up to $3.95
Money Center Kiosks Free
Dollar General® Up to $3.95
Participating 7-Eleven® locations Up to $3.95

The fee to add cash to your account at establishments other than Walmart varies by location --  however the fee will always be $3.95 or less.

Any time you add funds using a debit card, they’re available in your Bluebird account immediately. You can add up to $1,000 a month using a debit card.

Check Deposit

There are three ways to add money to your Bluebird account by check: either mail it in, use mobile check deposit, or cash your check at Walmart.

When depositing a check by mobile check deposit, there is no fee if you choose to receive your "Money in Days" -- however if you choose "Money in Minutes", then you will be charged a fee of either 1% or 5% of the check amount (minimum fee $5), depending on the check type.

If you cash your check at your local Walmart, you can ask for the proceeds to be directly deposited into your Bluebird account.

If you’re using the Bluebird mobile app, you can deposit up to $2,000 per day and up to $10,000 per month.

If you have a check for more than $2,000, you’ll need to send it snail mail.

Cash Deposit

You can also add money to your card at any Walmart register using cash. The minimum deposit is $1, and the maximum is $1,999.

Note: If you're purchasing a Temporary Card, you can add between $1 and $500.

The most you can add in cash per day in a Walmart store is $2,500, and you can’t load more than $5,000 in cash to the card each month.

You can deposit cash into your Bluebird account at any of the other retailers we listed above. Every retailer may have their own requirements set for how much you can deposit, as well as the additional fees associated with it.

Spending With Your Bluebird by American Express Card

As mentioned earlier, the Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card can be used just about anywhere American Express is accepted.

You can spend up to $100,000 per year with the card, and each transaction type has its own spending limit.

  • Merchant transactions - Up to $15,000 per month
  • Bill payments - Up to $15,000 per month
  • Send money to friends and family - Up to $2,500 per month
  • ATM withdrawals - $750 per day
  • Walmart cash withdrawal - Up to $900 per day; Up to $2,900 for tax refunds received via direct deposit

For bill payments, send money transactions, ATM withdrawals and cash withdrawals at Walmart stores, you’re limited to $15,000 in combined spending per month.

Other Card Highlights

Before we round out the Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Card review, there are a few more things you need to know. To wrap things up, here’s the dish on the rest of the card’s fees and perks.

Card Fees

The Bluebird by American Express card is virtually fee-free, with a couple of exceptions.

There’s a $2.50 surcharge that applies if you use the card to make a withdrawal at a non-MoneyPass ATM.

If you’re doing a cash pickup at a Walmart store, you’ll pay between $3 and $9, depending on how much you’re withdrawing.

Money Management Tools

In addition to the Bluebird mobile app, you can also manage your account more effectively with the Insights feature. This allows you to categorize and track your spending to help make budgeting a little easier.

If you’re trying to save money for a specific goal, like a summer vacation, you can create SetAside accounts linked to your Bluebird by American Express card.

You can set up automatic or one-time transfers to these accounts online or through the Bluebird mobile app at no charge.

Card Protections

The Bluebird by American Express card protects you in more ways than one.

For example, you’re covered if someone steals your card and uses it to make fraudulent purchases. If you buy something, it’s protected against theft or damage for the first 90 days.

Bluebird members have complimentary access to the American Express roadside assistance hotline, which can come in handy if your car breaks down.

If you’re traveling more than 100 miles from home, you can dial into the Global Assist hotline should something go wrong.

Shopping and Entertainment Discounts

When you open a Bluebird account, you’ll have access to Amex Offers.

This program allows you to save when you shop selected brands or dine at participating merchants, either in the form of an upfront discount or an account credit.

You can also take advantage of deals on tickets to the hottest sporting, music and entertainment events.

Final Verdict

Bluebird by American Express and Walmart is a must-have if you’re looking for a debit card that functions like a checking account without all the added fees.

Compared to other prepaid cards on the market, this one is hands-down one of the best deals around based on the cost.

If we had to point out a potential downside, it’s that American Express may not be accepted at every merchant.

If you’re worried about getting declined, you may want to consider a prepaid debit card issued by Visa or MasterCard instead.

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Ask a Question

kim_groomes
Thursday, 12 Apr 2018 7:25 PM
<p>I love the card. I absolutely NEVER had a problem with this card. I don't like using my debit card attached to my bank online, as unwanted charges has happened, and this was my reasoning to purchasing this card. I purchased bluebird online. Got the card within a week and have used it for 2 years. I love the fact I can send money to my son who also has a bluebird card for free. If you load your funds up at Walmart the transaction is free and funds are available immediately. Many people get online and bash products that they have not read the fine black and white print on..READ some of the instructions and warnings and you can avoid a pitfall if the card doesn't meet your needs. I shop with it online, have reserved hotel rooms. I only had one hold with my first check deposit and once again I knew it would be on hold, just like the regular bank does, as that is a security feature to make sure they are not getting a dummy check, and that is absolute protocol...Again some people should read the fine print first.</p>
milestonex
Friday, 23 Feb 2018 12:04 AM
<p>"Bluebird" is the WORST prepaid card account to ever have. If you ever have an issue with a charge what so ever.. You call customer service and you get an out of USA representative in the Philippines. And you get nothing but RUDE people. And if you've made a charge that ever has to be returned to you. Your so out of luck with them. Also they don't understand ENGLISH that well, and alway's over talk the card client. In result, you get no redemption or satisfaction to a claim what so ever. The "Bluebird" company is a JOKE.. I don't recommend them to anyone, and it's like just throwing your money away if you use them..</p><p>If you really need a prepaid card.. The advice I'll give you is to locate and sign up with one, that's based in the USA.. And just in case you have any issue's with it.. That you make sure you get a company, that offers representative's from the USA.. That you will get a rep that UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH....</p>
MyBankTracker
Wednesday, 23 Aug 2017 9:29 PM
<p>Note that American Express Bluebird is not a credit card. It does come with a prepaid debit card. The maximum spending limit on this prepaid debit card (merchant and online transactions) is a total of $15,000 per month.</p>
gustavoarchilaii
Tuesday, 15 Aug 2017 5:52 PM
<p>How much can you spend per credit card transaction?</p>
Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017 2:08 AM
<p>I got the Bluebird card as a way to purchase whatever needed such as gas and anything for work as needed when needed from a employer . My advice stay away from Bluebird money card" because it will strand you when you need it most and people a 100 times stay we don't honor American Express, and services for this card ever one who works for this card acts retarded" and I am not just saying this being mean. ask a question and their mouth opens wide with this weird glare in their eyes "Just don't do it because it is walmart service and everyone knows walmart made their trillions and now they are just a ripping off everyone they can because they have enough money to pay the law or what ever they want to do and get away with it.<br>Yesterday was the 2nd time I have been in a walmrt in 5 years and the last time.</p>
Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 3:18 AM
<p>why isn't my card loading when I want to put money on it?</p>
disqus_rOu7CIuM6h
Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 8:10 AM
<p>Best card on the market. Easy access to balance upon purchase. Controlled spending. Thank you Amex. </p>
MyBankTracker
Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017 5:32 PM
<p>You'll have to deposit the tax refund into the account first. You can then withdraw up to $750 per day at an ATM.</p><p>For the Cash Pickup feature through Walmart, you can get up to $2,900 from your tax refund.</p>
jessicajanedoster
Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 10:19 PM
<p>how much could you take out getting income tax from a bluebird card right off????<br></p>