Is Bluebird® by American Express Prepaid Card Right For You?

amex bluebird

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.

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.
  • 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 Read: Bluebird® 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, 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 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.

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 two ways to add money to your Bluebird® account by check: either mail it in or use mobile check deposit. 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 the register using cash. The minimum deposit is $1, and the maximum is $1,999. 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.

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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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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>