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.