Bye Bye Bluebird

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I finally did it. I closed my Bluebird. And I joined ISIS.

No, not that ISIS. And no, DansDeals hasn’t been hacked Domino’s Pizza style by Islamic terrorists (though I love the person that made the Ninja Turtle connection).

I got an NFC SIM card from Verizon (you can get one in-store or order one over the phone for free) which allowed me to finally signup for the (unfortunately named) ISIS wallet app.

The ISIS wallet is a method of paying for items via NFC technology.  You can add your credit card to it to make payments with your phone. And you can signup for an AMEX Serve prepaid card in the app.

If you have Verizon and signup for ISIS and apply for an AMEX Serve card in the app by 07/31 you’ll get $25.  MY $25 credit showed up within minutes of opening a Serve card in the ISIS app. If you have AT&T you’ll get $15.  If you have T-Mobile there is no signup bonus. If you have Sprint you’re out of luck, ISIS doesn’t work with Sprint.

iPhones don’t have NFC and will require a special NFC case that you can buy from your carrier to work with ISIS.

You will also get $1 back every time you buy something $1 or more with your Serve card via the ISIS wallet. That offer is valid up to 50 times per month until 12/31/14, so a potential $300 can be had like that.

Serve vs. Bluebird:

Serve is a prepaid card from AMEX that is awfully similar to Bluebird. So similar that AMEX only allows you to have one of them.  If you have a Bluebird card you’ll have to first have a zero balance and then call to have it closed before you can get a Serve card.

Both Bluebird and Serve can be loaded at Walmart with gift cards like the ones sold by Staples. The limits are the same, $2,500 per day and $5,000 of loading per month in-store.

But Serve can also be loaded at Family Dollar with $500 of Vanilla gift cards per day. Vanilla gift cards are sold at CVS with a credit card. Some 7-Eleven’s allow credit cards to buy Vanilla gift or debit cards as well and they qualify for 5.5 points per dollar with Chase Freedom this quarter.

And Serve can be loaded online directly with your credit card and debit card as long as your name is on them.  More on the limits for that below, but that’s easy free miles there!

Just like with Bluebird, loading gift cards online is a big no-no. You have to do that in stores.

Serve has a 2.7% foreign exchange fee. Bluebird has no foreign exchange fees.

Note that while Bluebird gives free checks that you can use to cash out your account balance, Serve has no checks. Instead you can pay off your bills and credit cards with your account balance.

However Serve allows you to withdraw cash ($750 per day and $2,000 per month) from a MoneyPass ATM for free. With Bluebird that would incur a $2 charge unless you have a direct deposit going to your Bluebird card.

You don’t need ISIS to signup for Serve but there are several advantage to doing that:
1. While Bluebird has no fees, Serve has a $1/month fee. That fee doesn’t apply if you live in NY, TX, or VT. It doesn’t apply if you have direct deposit. It doesn’t apply if you load $500 to it that month.
But for everyone else there’s also no fee for Serve as long as you keep a virtual Serve card in your ISIS wallet.

2. The regular Serve card allows you to load $200 per day online from a debit card and $200 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,000 per month of loading.
However Serve with ISIS allows you to load $500 per day online from a debit card and $500 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,500 per month of loading.
Don’t load Serve with an AMEX online as you won’t earn points for that.

I don’t have a physical Serve card yet, I just have the virtual card in my app now. It let me load $400 on the first day with my credit card and another $100 on the second day with a credit card. Once I activate my physical Serve card I’ll be able to load the full amounts.

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156 Comments On "Bye Bye Bluebird"

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The title made it look a little scary…..


This post made my heart race! I thought I was about to be stuck with all my VGC until I read more.


Thanks for the humor relief. Totally needed that.


Lol you’d think they’d rename it! I just got mine on AT&T and am using it to pay off my tablet with Tmobile. I spoke with amex and they said there is no problem with splitting up purchases! I did 10 on Thursday and got 10 $1 credits back on sunday


That text scared the hell out of me.


The main difference between serve and Bluebird is that serve has international transaction fees and Bluebird does not, so if you are planning to use it for withdrawals out of the country Bluebird makes a lot more sense

Heart Attack!!

Wow!! that was a very misleading title I thought you meant it was C”V!! gone forever!


Does it work on a Blackberry? Yes I am one of the last people in the states that has a Blackberry (and a new one Q10!).


Some who get your tweets don’t have internet access on their phones. When they see Bye Bye Bluebird, they are sure to get scared thats it’s over. Thanks for all the great deals but please try to keep this in mind.


Got the twitter text mesage of this post and almost had a heart attack. You gotta be careful. 😉


@Dan- Been meaning to ask you – (Sorry if this has been covered already)-
Been using the Staples Visa $200 gidft card with Bluebird, load @ Walmart etc. My Staples store (in Maryland) now has MCard (up to $500)GC’s, and Amex $200 GC’s.(they’re frequently outta the $200 Visa). Will either of those work as well with Bluebird load at Walmart?
Thx so much for all your useful info.


I thought the bluebird scam was over after the new cvs policy about vanilla?


when you say load to your seve with a credit card you mean charge your card and it will be considered an actual chargee not cash advance? will this allow you to bypass the gift card?


@Dan I got $15 immediately upon signing up through Isis with AT&T and I got another $15 when I added money from my debit card online.


Add me to the list of heart attack victims. LOL! B”h bluebird works fine for me. Is there a real reason to switch? I get my gift cards from staples and earn the 5X points and 1% back. Can those same gift cards be used on serve?

miriam leah

Are you charged with a cash advance fee if you are charging $400.00 and $100.00 from a credit card and then transferring it to Serve?


My loud gasp in public when I got the text scared those around me!
Do you know if NFC will come to iPhone w/o the special case?


Wow. That tile scared me at first.


@dan, you scared the heck out of me too


So you can just charge a non-amex credit card and get points straight up?


Clever headline. Everyone is going to click here to find out how much time they have left to use their Bluebird account. Well played!


Eh, there’s always money orders.

Happy to oblige.


Time to join the 21st century 😉

Will do.

Never heard of $500 GCs at Staples.
But AMEX won’t work.

Not sure why you though that.

Only Vanilla Reload and Serve Reload at CVS died with that.

Correct, up to $1,500 per month.


Those same GCs work on Serve ($5,000 per month) and you can load $1,500 per month from your credit card and $1,500 per month from your debit card online for free.

@miriam leah:
There is no cash advance fee, it posts as a purchase.

Older iPhones will always need an NFC case.
My hunch is that iPhone 6 may not have NFC either but frankly I have no idea.

Keeping you on your toes.


Seems like it was a bit too clever for most folks tastes.


Is the $5,000 limit which exists on bluebird same for amex serve as well?




What would the difference be between charging 1500 month to serve or amazon payments? is it basically the same thing?


@Dan I had Serve before and you told me to switch to bluebird!


@Dan You wrote that you won’t get points for loading with an Amex, maybe clarify that it would count towards a spend threshold?


Why can’t you do both?

Serve only started working at Walmart in the past few months.

Why lose out on the purchase points?
There are other methods to meet a threshold with AMEX without losing out on the purchase points.


Wow! Dan, you almost made me part of a 10 car chain accident! I almost lost my balance reading the text massage! Whooa! The chills I got! I was in middle of driving and pulled in to the shoulders to read it on the website. Wow! What a nice title! You’re mega! Keep going!

Iphone 6

Iphone 6 is expected to have NFC, as per some parts that were recently leaked.


@Dan: Agreed, thought you would do it for people who are not so savvy when it comes to MS.


What do you mean by “pay off your bills and credit cards with your account balance”? How does that work?



@Iphone 6:
Good to know, guess we’ll see.
I think they said the same thing for the past couple iPhones as well, no?

Perhaps, but I’m not one to suggest passing up on points.

You go to billpay and pay off a listed bill (like a credit card, mortgage, etc) or they can pay an unlisted bill as well, they’ll just send out a check.


If i understand correctly, if i have the iphone i need a new sim card as well as the nfc attachment from at&t which is my provider and then i get the $15?
2) gc’s that dont have name on them wouldn;t be qualified for a debot card for 1500 monthly cuz it doesn’t have name on it?


1. Correct.

2. Using a card without your name on it online can cause your Serve or Bluebird account to be frozen or shut down.
Though they’ll typically give you a warning.


1) If i dont want to get shut down or warning i should just stick to the $1500 cc monthly limit?
2) can you load the 1500 on the serve app or only online?


If you load $1,500 to your Serve via credit card charge that avoids the $1 monthly fee?

Does the $1,500 credit card load reduce the regular $5,000 per month load limit?


Dan, can we please be super clear on this:
IF we load a serve account via a credit card, such as Visa Ink, it will not be booked as a cash-advance?


I thought you have to wait 30 days or so after closing BB in order to open Serve. Did you close BB and open Serve all on the same date?


1. Yes. Or find a debit card with your name on it that gives rewards.

2. From the ISIS app it redirects you to the Serve website to add funds.

1. Catch-22.
There is no $1 fee if you have a $1,500 limit as the $1,500 limit is only for people who signed up in the ISIS app.
And if you signed up via the ISIS app there are no Serve monthly fees.

2. No. The $1,500 online credit card load, $1,500 online debit card load, and $5,000 in-store load are all separate, so a potential $8,000 per month.

Correct, there have been zero reports of any cash advance fees for Serve loads.
However if you’re nervous just call your credit card and have them set the cash advance limit to $0. Not a bad idea in general.

I did it the next day without issue. I’ve read of people doing it via the ISIS app the same day as well.


Agreed, I did just to be sure!


Is there an option to order paper checks?

I use bluebird checks extensively.


I have a few questions I’d like to reiterate because Serve is very new to me:
1) Will I be able to go to Walgreens and buy a vanilla gift card and then walk next door to the Family Dollar and load up my new Serve card there?

2)Are there any gift cards that cannot be used like Amex, US Bank or Vanilla?

3)Am I able to pay bills (including credit card bills) like Bluebird?

Lastly thank you for the heads up about Serve.


When I tried to get a serve card thru ISIS it said that there was a error because i already have a bluebird card. Is there any way around this?


As the post says, Serve has no check ordering option.

1. If Walgreens will sell it on a cc, sure.
2. AMEX GCs can’t be loaded onto any BB/Serve.
3. Sure.

As the post says, you need to close Bluebird first.


so I have BB now has 0.00 balance how is best way to proceed on getting serve?


Call to close your BB account and then apply for Serve in the ISIS app.


So regular Visa GCs (bought from Staples) can be loaded at Family Dollar?


Thanks, I have a android phone, where do I get the ISIS app ?


Is there any option on serve to transfer balance to checking acoount?



Links are in the post.

Yes, just like with Bluebird.
Though personally I’d go easy with the feature.


I just called chase to ask them to lower my cash advance to 0 and they said no, after I persisted the supervisor said she can lower it only by 20%.
Any advice? HUCA?


I personally dont see any issue with the “lack of” checks on serve. You are able to send a check to anyone using the serve website and they just mail it. It doesnt have to be a business. You can send it to anyone, it takes about 3-4 business days to arrive so you just need to plan accordingly if its an important timely payment.
Also, just to clarify, CMIIW, in my experience and from data points i have seen, you can load 500 from a Gift card only if its 1 single $500 Gift Card. You cannot load two $200 GC’s and one $100 GC all in the same day. Even if you went to three different family dollars. The register declines more than one debit swipe to a single account in any day.


Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 & S5 phones are NFC capable. Is there something I’m missing?


Yes sprint is not participating in ISIS


Does bb have to be closed for 30 days before signing up for serve?
P. S. You scared the heck out of me!
Thanks for everything!


I’m confused do I need ISIS to signup for serve? Why cant I just signup for serve on their website? I do not have Verizon.



No, but dont just sign up on the website, buy they temporary card first in Family Dollar and simultaneously load a Gift Card. Then register it on


@Anonymous what am I gaining? at family Dollar have to pay for the card.


Dollar Tree is buying Family Dollar for 8.5 Billion, i heard it on the news yesterday, i wonder how this will affect everything…


First Lebron joins Al Qaeda, now Dan joins ISIS… what’s next?

Are there any cheap workarounds to get NFC on an iPhone? I would certainly not come out ahead if I have to buy the case Verizon is offering for $60.

Dan's the man

Dan, could you discuss how to properly switch from Bluebird to Serve? I know that you need to closed your BlueBird before openeing Serve but I heard some people had problems opening Serve if the Amex system still thinks they have Bluebird. Any info/advice would be appreciated!

Dan's the man

Don’t use Amex credit cards to load Serve online. I heard Amex cards, don’t count as a cash advance, but don’t earn points from loading serve online. All other cards (Chase, Citi, etc do earn points).


Sorry, I’m confused – I have Sprint so what exactly do I have to do in order for this to work for me?

Am I missing Something?

Dan, you write that “Both Bluebird and Serve can be loaded at Walmart with gift cards like the ones sold by Staples. The limits are the same, $2,500 per day and $5,000 of loading per month in-store.:” Isn’t the daily deposit limit on Bluebird 1k, not 2.5k?


It doesn’t really matter as its a purchase.


ISIS has more benefits as I wrote in the post.
You don’t need Verizon for ISIS.

@Dan’s the man:
I don’t have any further info other than it was painless for me.

@Dan’s the man:

Sprint isn’t compatible with ISIS.

@Am I missing Something?:
Been 2.5K for some time now.


Are there any good options for someone that does not live near a FDO or WM?


Serve lets you fund online with your CC.


Is there a max amount that can be loaded onto serve? I’m wondering if I can seed the account every month and then have them pay my kids tuition from the account when the balance gets high enough.




So even if I don’t have Verizon the best is to get ISIS from playstore then from that app apply for serve? is that correct?


verizon only works with ISIS if it is a 4G phone, NOT A 3G

David R

If you buy Serve at Office Max instead of through ISIS, can you pay with a credit card? If so, the 2515 UR points you could earn with Ink are more valuable than the maximum of $25 with Verizon.


This has nothing to do with Verizon exclusively. It just won’t work with Sprint.

Correct as VZW 3G phones have no SIM.

@David R:
The permanent advantages of Serve with ISIS are written in the post.


Serve website says: “Use Direct Deposit, link your debit card, credit card,2 or bank account, add checks using your mobile phone,3 and load cash for free across 27,500 CVS/pharmacy®, Family Dollar®, Walmart®, and participating 7-ELEVEN® locations.” Why can’t I buy vanilla GC at CVS with credit card and loads the Vanilla GC at CVS?


CVS only takes cash to load Serve.


@what?: @Dan:
I don’t think this is true- I am currently using a Verizon iPhone 4, which of course does not have a SIM. ISIS works no problem. Also, CMIIW, even 4G Verizon phones only have a SIM for international roaming and LTE- one can take out the SIM and the phone will work perfectly, wouldn’t ISIS continue to work as well?

ari f

What’s the best way to “cash out” the 50 $1 payments per month? What’s an easy way to make 50 $1 payments?

David R

@Dan: Can one get the advantages of ISIS by signing up for Serve elsewhere and then linking it to ISIS later?


@Ari: did you split the transactions at the store? or was it online payment?

WalMart Money Orders

Some “activist” WalMart Money Center managers don’t follow the store’s own rules. Now some will make you fill out a form for any multiple transactions adding up to $3K or more (like multiple money orders), even if it’s not for cash. Though the form clearly says otherwise (says only for cash transactions). So, from now on, we’re back down to below $3K. Just means more visits to WalMart.


so I have prepaid phone which run over Verizon towers on 3g will this ISIS work getting serve there? how do I know it is linked correctly?


The pessimist in me thinks this post should be titled “Bye Bye Serve”…


@David R:

Doubt it.

I don’t have sustainability concerns about Serve.
FD reloads, perhaps. But Serve isn’t going anywhere.


So for me its useless through ISIS should i just go serve direct?


Do you know you can get ISIS from Metro PCS?


Hi Dan fyi isis is going to change there name soon.


I have an iPhone 5 and just ordered the case from Verizon which will take a few days to arrive. I downloaded the Isis app but it wouldn’t let me sign up for an account. I want to cancel bb and open serve. Do I have to wait until the case comes to do that? I guess I will miss the deadline for the $25 sign up bonus.


can you use this app with iphone 4 – no sim card.


when paying bills on serve, can you set the date you want to pay or will it automatically be 2-3 days later?


Can you pay your mortgage with this feature? Or is it just mainly for purchases?


Don’t see a T-Mobile Case thats ISIS for iPhones? Makes sense?


sprint users – can still do on line, no phone app?

will it pay individuals, like plumber? will serve mail a check like bill bay?

locations to load card in nyc?



With Bluebird, when a person soliciting for a worthy charity comes to my door, I can handwrite a BlueBird check and hand it to the individual.

What do you do (with Serve) in this situation? These visitors do not like to wait several days for a check….some are not from this country.

I prefer not to use cash for personal reasons.



hey dan the whole advantage of this isis is i dont have to run to cvs anymore. could get to the threshold from my computer (and easier than amazon payments)?thanks


So any good ideas for something I want alot of that costs $1?


Can 2 phones be linked to a single Serve card/account?



Good point.
Though FD is what I’m most worried about.


Any idea if I had an ISIS account when on verizon but have since switched to sprint if I can still access / use my account for some of these purposes?


How long does it take for payment to be issued electronically or by check? And is there a cost to the recipient for the electronic transfer? Curious if I could juggle the loads enough to pay big expenses such as mortgage and tuition and biggest cs while still keeping up with cash flow. Would love a tutorial on this!


ccs not cs


I had the serve before and i just closed it and respond it thrue isis and got $50 credit (im with T-Mobile).
Anyway the game now is better.
You can transfer funds from serve to bluebird that way you can still write out a check to you self you simply need a second person to have the bluebird and have them request money from your serve just write out a check and deposit it. I’v been doing this for several months now with my wife’s bluebird and it works perfect


S1: ince when is impossible to load vanilla to bluebird online?
2: its it still possible to buy VR at CVs with cc?


if i can find a way to buy vanilla reloads with a cc, can i still load it online to my bluebird?


Can someone help me to get a ISIS account with a iPhone 5 for T Mobile?


ISIS Doesn’t work if you phone is rooted


Will I need the physical card to load gift cards at Walmart as I do on BB or is there a method with ISIS at Walmart?


I just tried to load a GC at a FD in Brklyn and was told by the cashier that they no longer take cc payments for Serve / cash only!!!

ari F

does the Serve card also work for syncing with Amex Offers? (like $10 off $50 at Lowes for example)


I got the ISIS case for my iPhone 5S, and I tried signing up for serve thru the app, but I got an error, and now I don’t see that option anymore. Anyone else experiencing that?


If I add funds to my new ISIS Serve account via Barclays Arrival card, will Barclays charge me a cash advance fee? Will I earn miles/points?


@Chaim: I had that issue too. How do you sign up for Serve through the ISIS app if the link screws up the first time?


@Carrie: I figured it out. You find it through clicking Add a Card.


@Dan stated “However Serve with ISIS allows you to load $500 per day online from a debit card and $500 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,500 per month of loading.” I called Serve and two reps stated that the limits are $200/day and $1000/mo for debit cards and credit cards, doesn’t matter if you have Serve with ISIS or not. I can’t find the 500/1500 higher limits anywhere. Please provide a link. Thx.


Thanks for all of the free coffees!


Does anyone know how you add to serve with credit card in the ISIS app? The default is my bank account and I can’t figure out how to switch the funding source in the ISIS app.


I opened a serve account through Isis like you wrote and received $50 credit “compliments of isis” thanks a lot!!!


Just tried loading 500, serve wouldn’t allow it. I signed up through the isis app. Anyone have the same issue? What’s the workaround?


@Yhalps, Serve with ISIS allows you to load only $500 total onto your temporary virtual acct by credit card and/or bank debit card. Once you receive and activate the permanent physical card, you can load $500/day with credit card + $500/day with bank debit card. Per Dan, the overall limit is $1500/mo with credit card, $1500/mo with bank debit card.


@mm thank you


Newbie question: Must I go to a ATM at Walmart to load a Visa Gift Card into a Serve account of can I go to a similar ATM anywhere?


now get the isis verizon case for only $30 at verzon wbsite. orig. $70



hi, maybe u can help me.
just bought VGC $200.00 at staples and for some reason i cannot load my bluebird card with it at walmart. i have registered the card and set the pin. the card was issued by metabank. thanks if you can help. please e-mail me.


I called around and finally found a Verizon Wireless store in Marina Del Rey, CA that had the case in stock for my iPhone 5C (it’s the same one on the Verizon website for $69). I was pleasantly surprised that it rang up for $30+tax despite the $69 price on the label. It’s a bit bulky and adds about 1/2 inch to length. Once inside the case, the phone is charged using a micro USB cord, not lightning. The adaptor/cord comes with the case along with a jack extender. It’s not an elegant solution and I probably won’t use the case normally (other than to set up the account and get my $1s).


It now says on serve that if u add money with a credit card u might be charged a cash advance fee by ur bank.

mo k

When accessing serve via isis to add funds I only see options to add variations of 25 50 100 or 200. Can I do multiple amounts to equal 500? And I didn’t see anywhere that the limit would be 1500. Can someone show me?

mo k

And I got hit with a cash advance charge. Has anyone else had that issue?


@mo k:
With which card?

mo k

Chase ink cash.

mo k

I put my cash advance to $1. Since then it won’t let me add funds with that card for any amount over $1


Nobody has reported being charged a cash advance fee for a serve load.

Did you try calling and seeing if there’s a fraud hold?

mo k

Not yet. And why won’t it let me put in more than $1 since I set the limit to 1


You were right. Don’t know why they let the$1 through in the meantime. Thanks Dan!

Dan G

So if I get this right- I can go and buy 10x $500 Vanilla gift cards for $5,050. Then I can go once a day for ten days and load all those cards onto Serve, via Family Dollar (no other way right). Then I can take out $2k via the ATM, and $3k to pay bills.

I have an Amex so I can’t load using that.

David Goldenberg

Is this considered a charge on my credit card or a cash advance?


Any ideas on how to maximize the 50 $1 credits per month?


will this app work on a blackberry bold 9930 ?


@Dan G: You can add these to your card at WM, up to $2500/day – same as the BlueBird.


@<a href=";

haha…i was in state of shock and fear for 20sec…recovering now!




So . . when I go to WalMart to load my Serve card, can I do it at an ATM, or do I need to do it through a cashier?


For the record, ISIS/Softcard has a rootchecker, those with rooted phones will get message saying “this phone has been rooted, softcard is not supported”. This just means that you’ll have to jump through some hoops to get it working, Xposed Framework and ISIS Root Bypass Module….


I am new to all of this. Can you give step by step instructions
To getting a serve card & what the benefits are? I have a verizon
iPhone. Thanks so much


I am having the same problem my cash advance is set to $100 and I can’t add $200 to my serve account since it comes up as a cash advance which I assume I will start getting fees for.anybody else have this problem

Josh Rothberger

will serve send a check to my landlord for rent just like bluebird? thanx


FYI. CVS in LA serves Serve now.


Sorry not sure where to post my comment, tried loading my serve card at family dollar with gcs and got denied as a fraud alert help?

Green Dot

can i purchase a green dot card from cvs and load that from my computer through the greendot web site?

Green Dot

if i purchase 5 $500 vanilla gcs can i load my serve in walmart in one transaction of 2,500?


Don’t signup for a serve card until you have Softcard installed and working.

I jumped the gun and first got a serve card while i waited for my nfc sim card that never came (so I went to T-mobile and got it on the spot – for $10).

I then linked them. NOw my upload limits are the regular serve, not higher (200 per day , not 500 )

Nice amex guy told me that only way to fix it is to close my current account and reapply thorugh softcard.



I’m kind new to this. So can someone please tell me in a nutshell what I need to do to rack up all the points on my cc? I think I get the gc, load it with my cc, and pay my cc bill with the gc. Or deposit my gc into my checking account and pay my cc bill from there.




I went to Family Dollar yesterday to load my Serve card with a “debit” card. I was told that they have changed their policy and don’t allow debit card loads anymore. I did do this twice before though and it worked. So I didn’t really trust the cashier, so I called Family Dollar 866-377-6420 to check. Well it seems that he was right – as of monday no more debit card loads at family dollar 🙁 now what?!


Now its called SOFTCARD so it wont get confused with ISIS-the bad guys…