Poll: Which Prepaid AMEX Card Do You Use? A Recap Of All The Different Options

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Update 04/14: Tomorrow will be the last day to load Serve cards from Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards online.

——————————————————————————

Update 03/15: Another one bites the dust…

From https://www.serve.com/help/#add-money-5
“Starting April 16, 2015 you will only be able to use an American Express® Card if you want to load your account with a credit card. Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards will no longer be supported after April 16.”

AMEX issued cards don’t earn miles on Serve loads (though they do count towards signup bonus threshold spending). However other banks that issue AMEX cards (like the Citi AA AMEX and the Fidelity AMEX) do award miles and should still work after 04/16.

Softcard itself is ceasing operations 03/31.

I’m still sitting pretty and taking full advantage of several Target REDcards for now, but like everything else, it too shall pass.
——————————————————————————

Originally posted on 12/21/14:

[poll id=”7″]

AMEX’s array of prepaid cards make it easy to generate spend on your credit cards. However you can only have one prepaid card as they track it by your social security number.  You will have to empty out the funds and cancel your prepaid card to switch to another prepaid card product.
There is no credit check to get a prepaid card, but you do need to provide your social security number.

Here’s the rundown of the options:

Bluebird:
-Getting it: You can get a Bluebird card on Bluebird.com for free.
-Fees: There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can’t load Bluebird online from a credit card. You can load $200 per day up to $1,000 per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online. There are some debit cards that still award miles for purchases.
-In-store loading: You can load Bluebird from select gift cards at WalMart ATMs or with WalMart cashiers for free. The limits are $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month per Bluebird card. In other words you can buy Visa gift cards from grocery stores or from Staples or Office Max (buy with Ink Plus or Ink Cash and earn 5 points per dollar) and then use them to add funds to Bluebird in WalMart stores. The pin is the last 4 digits of the card number. On some gift cards when loading with a cashier you’ll need to press cancel on the pin pad after swiping the card and then click to change the payment method from credit to debit.
Note that ATMs are often are broken (though you can call WalMart corporate to complain about that) and in some stores cashiers won’t load gift cards to fund Bluebird.
You can also load funds via Vanilla Reloads, but it can difficult to find stores that will sell those with a credit card and they are being discontinued effective 04/01/15.
Cashing out: You can get a free checkbook to write checks from your Bluebird account or you can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Bluebird send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Bluebird for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday and you can take advantage of 2x savings catcher on WalMart purchases.

REDCard AMEX:
-Getting it: You can currently only get a REDCard AMEX at these select Target stores. You can only purchase 1 REDCard per day per social, but if you have other people’s social security numbers then you can buy a REDCard for each of them on the same day. Once you have a REDCard any Target store in the nation can load funds to it.
The nearest Target selling REDCards to NYC is apparently in Aberdeen, MD. You can also use 9K Avios to fly round-trip to Baltimore, Boston, or Pittsburgh to pick some up.
The card sold in-store is only a temporary card. You must register the account online and then you will be sent a permanent card in the mail. Once you activate the permanent card you will unlock full usage of the card.
-Fees: In some markets there is a $5 purchase fee while in other markets there is no purchase fee. There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can’t load REDCard online from a credit card. You can load $200 per day up to $1,000 per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
In-store loading: You can fund REDCard from any credit card or gift card with any Target cashier for free. When you first purchase the REDCard you can load it with $500. Once you get your permanent card the limits are $1,000 per transaction, $2,500 per day, and $5,000 per month per REDCard.  You can load as many REDCards as you want, though you’ll probably need to call your credit card company to unfreeze your card when they freeze it due to suspicious activity.
Cashing out:  You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have REDCard send anyone a check for free. You can also make free withdrawals at Target ATM machines.
-Other benefits: 5% off everything you buy from Target with the card, free shipping on all Target.com orders, and an additional 30 days to return items to Target. REDCard does not qualify for AMEX Offers.

 

REDCard makes life easy:

chase3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

target3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve:
-Getting it: You can get a Serve card on Serve.com for free.
-Fees: There is a $1/month fee that is waived if you add $500 to your account that month. It’s also waived for residents of NY, TX, and VT even without loading $500.
-Online loading: You can load $200 per day and up to $1,000/month to Serve online from a credit card with no fees. Note that some banks consider loads to Serve to be a cash advance. With Chase for example it will actually go into a pending state as a cash advance but it will post as a purchase that will earn miles with no fees. You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through. Loads from Barclaycard should be safe as well.  Loads from AMEX cards will not earn points, though they do count for signup thresholds.
You can also load $200 per day up to $1,000/month per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
In-store loading: Identical to Bluebird.
Cashing out: You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Serve send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Serve for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday.

Serve with Softcard:
-Getting it: You must apply for Serve with Softcard in the Softcard app.
-Fees: There are no monthly fees.
-Online loading: You can load $500 per day and up to $1,500/month to Serve with Softcard online from a credit card with no fees. Note that some banks consider loads to Serve to be a cash advance. With Chase for example it will actually go into a pending state as a cash advance but it will post as a purchase that will earn miles with no fees. You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through. Loads from Barclaycard should be safe as well. Loads from AMEX cards will not earn points, though they do count for signup thresholds.
You can also load $500 per day up to $1,500/month per month online with a debit card, though gift cards won’t work online.
In-store loading: Identical to Bluebird.
Cashing out: You can transfer funds to your checking account, pay off your credit card bill, or have Serve send anyone a check for free.
-Other benefits: You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Serve for AMEX Offers like Twitter and Small Business Saturday. You can also take advantage of numerous Softcard promotions.

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194 Comments on "Poll: Which Prepaid AMEX Card Do You Use? A Recap Of All The Different Options"

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hersh

With serve. Can you add 4 AU’s without SSN?

Dan

@hersh:
Yes.

Eli Willner

Be careful with Serve subsidiary cards. They don’t work overseas – contrary to Amex’s marketing claims – and no one at Amex seems inclined to acknowledge the problem or do anything about it. Amex customer service (seems to be based in the Philippines) flat-out lies about the issue. They are clueless!

yehuda

i can vote for both serve and redcard! :)

Dan

@Eli Willner:
Why would you ever want to use it overseas?

@yehuda:
How so?
Spouses and kids can vote for themselves…

Zalmy

serve for me and my wife

David

Red bird!!! From a ms standpoint it is the most lucrative by far. Nothing else can do 5k a month.

allen

Is it safe to transfer funds to my checking account? will it raise red flag to Amex? thanks

yehuda

@Dan: true, forgot they are different ssn and 1 per person

David R

You wrote regarding Buebird, “You (and up to 4 free additional users) can use Bluebird for AMEX Offers like Twitter”. There was no response when I tweeted #AmexWalmart while my Twitter was synced to any of my Bluebird family account cards.

mike

must i provide SSN when buying a temp RedBird in Target?

EL

I have a redbird and a serve (for me and my spouse). I can’t choose two options, though!

mike

Do I have to close my Bluebird or Serve to open RedBird? thanks

Anonymous

Can the temporary redbird be reloaded in stores as well?

Eli

Cute post!
Voting not working on mobile site

Stephen

Just loaded $1,000 to Serve within the last from my Barclays Hawaiian Airlines Card and it already posted as 36,000 miles earned this cycle. Worked like a charm. I always do a test pirchase first just to be sure which I did.

serve guy

My wife used serve with SC with multiple Chase cards NP. I just got serve with SC and got hit witha cash advance on a freedom. Anyone else have issues

Dave

Dan,
So the best route for an INK card is purchase VGC from Staples & unload at target?

Dan

@David:
Erm, that’s debatable.

But it is really easy.

@allen:
Safe.

@David R:
Try from another Twitter account.

@mike:
Yes.

@EL:
Have your spouse vote from their phone?

@mike:
Read the post please.

@Anonymous:
Once you register you can load $1,000 onto the temporary card.

But that $1,000 comes out of the $5,000 monthly cap, so you’ll still need to make 2 more trips to Target that month.

@Eli:
So switch to the desktop site?

@Stephen:
Well done.
Though I’m not a fan of Hawaiian miles.

@serve guy:
I’m assuming it’s just a pending cash advance, that’s normal as I wrote in the post.

When it actually posts it should be a purchase.

@Dave:
You can do that.
Though I’d use the Visa GCs to buy money orders from other stores and just use a credit card to load RC at Target.

Sruly

If you buy red card out of state can it be funded at a target that is not yet selling red cards?

yehuda

Can I use serve then cancel mid-month open right away Redcard same month?

Dan

@Sruly:
Read the post please.

@yehuda:
Sure!

pacy

Can I guess what credit card the pics are from???lol is it the Chase Ink? lol

Chuck

@dan With serve How do you transfer to a bank account? Don’t see that option

Chuck

@dan Also Amex Starwood cards work to load on serve w/o a ca fee

Dan

@Chuck:
Click on Settings and then withdraw funds.

@Chuck:
AMEX cards don’t earn points for online loads to Serve.

nechama

There is no account fee with Serve if you have direct deposit. I direct deposit 50 cents a month into my serve account and am not charge

Elaine

@Dan AMEX cards don’t earn points for online loads to Serve.

What about using AMEX cards with the red card for MS and not to meet a threshold?

Dan

@nechama:
Why have Serve if you’re not going to at least do the $1,000 in free online funding per month?

@Elaine:
All cards earn purchase points for REDCard loads.

Dave

Do you need to vary your loads with target? Like does the credit card you’re loading onto it appear suspicious if you keep doing 500, 1000, etc?

Dan

@Dave:
You can if you want, I wouldn’t say you “need” to.

Chuck

@dan thank you!

jasmine

You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through

What does that mean?

Al

Is the advantage of a RC compared to Bluebird that you can load $5k per month free of charge compared to the fees incurred loading GCs to BB? I’ve kept my BB so far because WalMart is very close to me whereas Target is a 20 minute drive. Thanks.

chana k

Dan, great roundup!
For various family members I manage 2 RB, a BB and a Serve.
‘cashing out’: You said in the post that they’ll send a check to anyone for anything. I would put more emphasis on these cards’ ability to pay bills directly. I know many here are young and don’t have too many mature bills ( mortgage, insurance, loans, utilities, etc) but from your computer they’ll send a check to anyone for anything.

chana k

@Al: I’ve switched to RB because Target is much closer than WalMart to me. :)

Dan, Great roundup!

RedBirdy

Was at 2 target stores, and they didn’t allow a load using a gift card. They said any card qualifies so long as it has your name on it

Dan

@jasmine:
Every card has a credit limit and cash advance limit.

You can only fund Serve from a Chase card that has a cash advance limit that is equal to or exceeds the amount you want to find.

@Al:
The advantage is there’s no need to deal with GCs if you don’t want to.

@chana k:
Thanks.
And true.

@chana k:
Thanks.

@RedBirdy:
Their screen only says that you can’t use Target gift cards. I’d push harder, that’s not a real rule.

Don

Can someone else buy a red card with my social security number and if not can they use they’re own social security number and still have me using it ?!

Dan

@Don:
Please read the post.

YouTube

^ 98 people should be banned from reading Dan’s Deals.

Stevey

Dan, correct me if I’m wrong but I purchase visa gift cards from staples with a chase ink which gets me 5 times plus 1% back and then load them onto RC, wouldn’t that be more effective than swiping my cc directly to load the RC?

Sam

Dan,

Thank you for the info round up. But I have a serve card and I do not seem to have the ability to transfer the funds to a checking account. I don’t think serve has the option.

Dan

@YouTube:
Lol.

@Stevey:
You would be even better off taking those gift cards and buying money orders and then using credit cards to fund redcard.

@Sam:
Click on Settings and then withdraw funds.
Or call Serve.

Anonymous

@Dan: I saw your post. But it didn’t even allow me to put in the 500 because it was more than the cash deposit amount

Anonymous

@Dan: my mistake. Didn’t read it thoroughly …

Rachel

Dan, I sure hope you are right about those pending cash advance turning into a purchase. I’ve been nervous to load serve via chase because of that. If I get charged any fees I’ll transfer them to you! Thanks for the roundup!

Anonymous

@Dan: I have two kids in Israel and thought it would be a good way to give them money to spend without having to send cash. The primary card works there, the subsidiary ones don’t. No rhyme or reason!

euphoriumus

Curious- the redcard pic u showed has a new cardmembe bonus of 70000 points what’s that about and how can I get it? And what’s the university a credit card load?

euphoriumus

And happy chanukah!

euphoriumus

I think used to be able to load gc to serve at dollAR store? No more?

casualchurner

@euphoriumus: The bonus was probably from a chase INK card that he used to load RC. During promos they can give up to 70K bonus for a $5K threshold.

lost momey

Be careful not to buy visa gift cards and load it by family dollar the transaction doesn’t always go thru and there is no one to talk to about getting it back I lost over a thousand dollars that way 2 months ago and in still trying to get the money back

Jason Smith

You can also buy a target redcard on ebay for around $30. Since it is only the temporary card and they are going to send you anew one with a new number, you shouldn’t have a problem with someone stealing your card information.

eli

dan.how do you use 9K Avios to fly round-trip to Baltimore, Boston, or Pittsburgh when i put in the dates from ny to Baltimore it gives me 12.5k and not 9k thanksss

Z

@Dan Any Ideas on how to get the Serve with Softcard account without an android or windows phone?

Jay

@Don: There’s a difference between “they’re” and “their”.

Iz

@lost momey:I’d like to contact you, as I had the same problem.

yy

@Anonymous: Off topic, but the best way I’ve found to get money to kids in Israel is to open a brokerage account with associated checking account at Charles Schwab. You don’t have to actually make any investments, but cash deposited in the brokerage account will automatically go to the checking account. My daughter uses her Schwab ATM card at ATMs and for store purchases with no fees. This works all over the place, not just Israel. You can link your existing checking account elsewhere to the brokerage account and to online transfers. One caveat: there’s a hold on deposits before they can be withdrawn.

yy

@eli: I’m not Dan, but I just tried LGA to BWI for random dates in February and got 9000 Avios + $11. Lots of availability on US Air. Are you doing this from ba.com, logging in, and saying book with Avios?

BArry

Loading Serve (or bluebird) in NJ at Walmart is impossible. The machines don’t exist or don’t work. The people are the dumbest found on earth – but won’t load manually for you.
I’m sitting on 5K cards right now that I’m slowly using up via evolve and generally spending (they work at costco as they accept any debit with a pin).

but the churn thing really doesn’t work in NJ. I was hoping to rack of millions of miles on my 2 ink cards. So much hassle thus far – haven’t tried the money order route, but I have a day job too.

Geshmak

Dan – I already have serve. In order to get serve with softcard do I need to cancel my existing account and re-apply?

Dan's the man

Dan, I recently closed my Serve card and applied for a Serve SoftCard card. It only let me load $500 with a credit card. I haven’t received the physical card yet. Is that why it isn’t letting me load the $1,500? thanks!

Dan's the man

@lost momey: It happened to me once. If it happens you just need to tell the cashier right away to let you swipe your debit card again to put the money back on the card. I did this and the money was available right away.

Anonymous

@Dan: where do you get cheap money orders?

eli

thankssssssssssssssss

Moishe

Serve has an option of .backup funding’ if the source of money doesnt have enough fund. can i use my credit card as this backup? Then you can… then you can…

Josh

Anyway to get Softcard on a prepaid Verizon plan (android 4G)?

Shoshana

Been reading your notes to sound very interesting I’m not sure if I understood u correctly you loading money to the records from credit card to get the “points ” without actually using the money and then when the bill comes you just cash the money back and pay the credit card?

Jason Smith

@ Barry, I don’t know where in NJ you are referring to, but the Walmart in Edison, NJ has an ATM machine which works most of the time. The Walmart in Freehold, NJ has an ATM and it was working both times I was there (I generally am not down in the Lakewood/Freehold area). The Walmart in Kearney, NJ has an ATM which has never worked any of the 9 times I have been there.

HelpMe

Why would someone use an Ink card to load RB?

Ez

Target in Canada has it’s own RedCard but it isn’t made by amex…. Do you think it works the same way?

Dan

@Rachel:
Lol, no problem.

@Anonymous:
Serve has 2.7% Forex fee.
Not a good idea anyway.

@eli:
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/32467

@Z:
Go into a Verizon store and use a display phone ;)

@Geshmak:
Yes.

@Dan’s the man:
Of course.

@Shoshana:
Indeed.

@HelpMe:
Because they cash out the 50K office supply gift cards in other manners?

@Ez:
No.

Iz

@Dan: I used a Visa GC at Family Dollar yesterday, and it was charged but didn’t load my Serve card. What do you recommend? This once happened in the past (with a MC GC), and FD claims they refunded it, but it hasn’t appeared on the GC yet (this was 2 months ago). What’s the most productive way to go about this? Thanks!

Avi

Hey Dan my dad was able to get me a card from a store in Baltimore but never activated it, they let him walk out with it. Do i need to activate it in a store before registering it Online? If so would a store in NY activate it if I have the card?

jeff

Why am I unable to see the option to move my money to my bank account on Serve?

Also it is not letting me transfer more than $200

Dan

@Iz:
There’s a reason I didn’t include them in this post…
Write to your state’s attorney general online. They always get quick responses.

@Avi:
You need to activate it in-store.
As the post says, any store in the US can do that. They just need to follow the prompts from their system.

@jeff:
Do you have your permanent card activated yet?

Iz

@Dan: Yes, I noticed that you didn’t include it. However, it would be beneficial to many people if you would specifically caution against using them. Thanks for all your great advice.

Ryan

I have a prepaid red card, if I load it up in store with a Mastercard, do I still get miles for the amount that I put on the red card? Sorry for being a newbie and not fully understanding the post after reading it. Thanks!

Anonymous

@Dan:

I purchased an activated temporary redcard on ebay already loaded with $1. Can I still load another $499 on that card, or do you only get one load with the temporary card?

Dave

@Ryan, no.

Mordy

What are the largest denomination of Visa (or any brand) gift cards available at Office Supply stores (that give 5x points) these days? I have only been able to find $200, but a year or two ago I remember buying $500 cards. Thanks.

Iz

@Dave: Dan, Do you agree with Dave?

CtownBin

@Iz:
@Dan:
@Losing Momey:

I’m not sure why you are all having such a hard time with Family Dollar loads, and why it wasn’t included in the post. I have had great success loading there, it is WAY faster and easier than Wal-Mart. It is true, there is a $999 limit per day per store, TOTAL of ALL customers, so it obviously depends on if your area has a lot of churners.
The issue of money not loading correctly that you described is what happens when someone goes over the limit. It is well-documented on the flyertalk thread, as well as DDF, and has an easy solution- so there is NO reason to caution against Family Dollar loading. When it happens, simply ask to have the transaction reversed, and the system should prompt you to RE-SWIPE the GC (This part is important). It’s not that hard and the funds are there instantly. After the fact, I’d recommend going back to the store, with the GC, and having them look up the transaction, by date and time- there should be a surplus in their system and they should still be able to do the refund.

Iz

Yes, they are friendly (as a general rule) and relatively quick (though they do need to have a manager insert his code), but this problem has happened to me twice, although the 2nd time I was careful with the limits. I wish I would’ve known about the instant refund idea…
Re going back to the store, in my experience it hasn’t worked; I had to deal with the corporate office. They were nice enough, but no success with the refund. I’ve now disputed the charges. Who knows how long that will take…

CtownBin

@Mordy:
There’s a reason for this- since then, the $500 ones have been pulled. Office Depot now carries them again, but they don’t allow them for purchase with a CC if it’s a variable load amount. So, $200 is now the largest denomination you can get.

AJ

@CtownBin: I’ve gotten variable – up to $500 GC’s at Stop & Shop in NJ with a CC.

Anonymous

@Dan:
Hawaiian miles are useful when you convert them at X1.5 to HHonors.
Thant makes his 36K Hawaiian 54K HHonors.

salomon

@Dan:
@dan:
“You need to have the cash advance limit on your card exceed the amount of funding in order for the transaction to go through”
So i have a chase ink with a 3600 cash advance limit;
how can i use it to load a serve?
thnx

Bobov-45

@Dan, two Target card questions;
1; Is it safe to give Target your SS number in light of recent hack?
2; Do the Staples $200 Visa MetaBank cards load onto Redcard? (It would save me a trip to Walmart)

Eli

Do you think it would be a risk if I register a lot of redcards (10+) to different relatives of mine but have them all shipped to my address?

YY

Anyone know if I can use OneVanilla prepaid visa cards to load onto Bluebird and Serve at wallmart stores ?

CtownBin

@YY:
No, OV stopped working at Wal-Mart a few months back. But, you can load your Serve (not Bluebird) at Family Dollar using OV.

Iz

@CtownBin: If you go to FD, please read above posts, and be forewarned…

Don

@Eli:

Don’t do it. I have 9 redcards and I started off putting my address instead of my relatives address. Almost everytime Amex required verification of ID and address. It is annoying and risky to have to explain why the address on the relatives utility bill and your address does not match. Although the registration page says “where do you want the card to be sent to” amex is really looking for the appliers permanent address. In short send the redcard to your relative and have them mail them to you. I would also not use the same phone number, email address on each application. You get unlimited phone numbers and email addresses through gmail.com. It worked by adding adding a “.” (gmail does not read . or +) to one of my gmail address when applying but subsequently it stopped working.

AJ

Is loading with 1 CC and then paying it off the next day with the RedBird a terrible idea? Have heard mixed opinions.

Don

I would not risk it. But I would like to hear other opinions. I payoff other credit cards and ask the cc company for a credit refund. It takes longer but it is much safer. The goal is to make the circle as convoluted as possible but at the same time as quick as possible.

Q

BB at wm max 4 swipes total per transaction?
Where is self service at Edison store located?
Cs could do 4 max swipes inc bb, so 600 max
And said only one transaction allowed
Same store said they can’t help wm.com re Dixie
And why is mo better than bb?
Mo red flag at bank

Serve Question

If I have serve and get 4 additional card holders, does that mean I can do $5k per month ($1k per card)? Or is it same $1k per month total?

Iz

@Serve Question: Subaccounts can not add money. So the total is 1000.

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