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Walmart and American Express Introduce Bluebird – An Alternative to Debit and Checking Accounts

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BluebirdThe banking landscape is changing, and free checking accounts are becoming harder and harder to find. In an attempt to capture those customers who may feel that they need to unbank or seek an alternative to traditional banking which is becoming more and more expensive, Walmart has partnered with American Express to offer a new card, billed as an alternative to debit and checking accounts, called “Bluebird.”

Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth, American Express states, “Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products. It allows them to easily and safely move, manage, and spend their money. In an era where it is increasingly ‘expensive to be poor,’ we have worked with Wamart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today”

Bluebird’s Features

Bluebird offers plenty of features attractive to those who want to save money and those who use technology to manage their banking. Features include:

Deposit Flexibility: Deposit money through a variety of means such as using cash at a Walmart cash register, remote check capture through the Bluebird mobile app, payroll direct deposit, or by linking checking, saving, or debit card accounts to your Bluebird account.

Mobile Wallet Capabilities
: Bluebird can also serve as a mobile wallet, which lets the users make person-to-person payments, have sub-accounts for friends and family that the users can control with their smartphone, and includes a mobile app.

Worldwide Acceptance: Bluebird can be used anywhere that American Express is accepted.

Credit Card Benefits: Bluebird also offers benefits traditionally offered with a credit card such as roadside assistance, purchase protection, global assist services, and fraud protection.

Free ATM Withdrawl: If Bluebird customers have signed up for direct payroll deposit, they can withdraw their money at MoneyPass ATMs for free.

Bluebird’s Fees

Bluebird is currently only charging a few fees:

If the customer is not enrolled in payroll direct deposit, they will have to pay a $2 ATM fee for withdrawing money each time, even if they are using a MoneyPass ATM.

Withdrawing from an out of network ATM is also $2 each time, in addition to the ATM operator fees that may be charged.

How to Sign Up for Bluebird

Customers can sign up at bluebird.com, or they can buy a starter kit at Walmart for $5. (If the customer opts for the starter kit, they can use it immediately at that particular Walmart visit, but they must finish their registration at bluebird.com to get all of the card’s benefits.

Changes in the Future

Bluebird is planning changes for early 2013 including additional features such as adding check writing capabilities. Bluebird’s site states that as of December 8, 2012, all current Bluebird accounts will be closed. Customers will have the ability to transfer their account to the new Bluebird when it launches in early 2013, or they can opt for a refund on their remaining balance.

While Bluebird seems like a winning option for American Express, Walmart and the consumer (as long as they don’t withdraw money from the ATM too frequently and accrue fees), clearly this is still a program in progress. If you are thinking of signing up, you may want to wait until the new Bluebird launches in 2013.

{ 10 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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10 Responses to “Walmart and American Express Introduce Bluebird – An Alternative to Debit and Checking Accounts”

  1. Christian L. says:

    Melissa,
    Thanks for the rundown on Bluebird. I take it the major selling point for this account is that there’s no credit check on consumers.

    Interested to see how membership explodes for this.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  2. Rob says:

    I read that the “kit” at Wal-Mart is $5, but no word about the cost of online signup. What comes with the kit? What do the cards look like? Any other hidden fees?

  3. DAVID says:

    Walmart AMEX Bluebird card is a complete rip off!!! They charge $5 for the starter kit and then once you load money and you go somewhere to use the card, The card cannot be read therefore accepted but yet money is missing from the card and the website does not show where money was spent, Good luck trying to get in touch with customer service over a 30 minute wait to speak to someone in India who cant do anything for you nor understands the problem, this card is a complete scam!!! BEWARE

  4. Keisha says:

    Called to check my balance on payday. My money wasn’t in my account. Called customer service that was most likely outsourced to India or some small town filled with poverty!!! They told me that my direct deposit won’t be posted until 3 PM EST!!!!! Which maybe 12am midnight their time!!!! This is ridiculous! NoONe TOLD ME THIS! IT’S NOT EVEN POSTED ON THE WEBSITE OR ANY FINE PRINT!!!!!!!

    • johnny boy says:

      curious if your direct deposits post right at 3pm? or sometime after? i have my first one hitting tomorrow and after hearing all the issues with bluebird, im having a heart attack!

    • Daniel says:

      I’m wondering too.. did it post at 3pm? I’m in the same boat right now. my money was supposed to be in today, it’s 10am eastern time and my balance is 0.. should I be worried or did yours post as they said?

  5. Ruth says:

    A complete rip off. No wonder you cant get a refund.

  6. BILL says:

    BLUEBIRD = GARBAGE CARD. Here are four reasons NOT to get this card: 1) They intentionally delay, thereby floating your money for their financial gain, the transfer of funds from your bank account to a bluebird account, typical delay is 6-days–althougth the money comes out of your bank account much quicker, 2) Merchants know the balance on your card–sometimes it prints on your receipt! What a security nightmare, 3) while they will allow your paycheck to be electronically deposited, they will not allow you to use the same ACH transfer system to fund your bluebird account, 4) When you log into your account, they will show your decreasing balance, but they will not provide a transaction history for days and days. Another security nightmare if someone has identified how much money is available on your card (see “2″ above) and starts drawing money out. GET A SECURED VISA card instead through someone like Capital One and this way you have a real credit card and it will help your credit rating.

  7. Shelly says:

    Bluebird is SHIT!!! They say my check will be credited on a certain day, it is not!!! All I hear is “Im Sorry” Really??? WTF!!! This is complete Bullshit!!!

  8. Jessica says:

    me and my husband have been looking into this card they say its amazing compared to banking is it? we have considered changing banks because if we overdraw our account we get a ridiculous recurring overdraw charge each day it remains overdrawn which is costing us a fortune should we get the bluebird card yes or no? btw his paycheck is done by direct diposit


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