Leave it to American Express to make things more confusing in an already-crowded market by providing two extremely similar choices for individuals who’re trying to find an alternative to a conventional checking account. They’re the American Express Serve prepaid card and the Bluebird account – both which are surely wonderful choices.
But, if you were left to choose one of the 2, you may have difficulty determining the functions that separate them.
I have broken down the vital elements of the 2 accounts to help sway your choice process.
|Card||American Express Bluebird||American Express Serve|
|Monthly fee||$0||$1 ($0 in NY, TX, VT), waived with regular monthly direct deposit, $500 load or link to Isis mobile wallet|
|Unique fund reloads||Mail in checks||Free for money reload at CVS, Family Dollar and choose 7-Eleven establishments, AND fee-free reload by charge card (cash loan fees might apply)|
|ATM access||$0 at MoneyPass ATMs with direct deposits, $2 at MoneyPass ATMs (no surcharge without direct deposit), $2 at all other ATMs (surcharges could apply)||$0 at all MoneyPass ATMs, $2 at all other ATMs (additional charges may use)|
|Unique ways to spending||Ability to write checks||Link to Isis mobile wallet for offers|
Monthly fees are outright turnoffs. You hate them. I dislike them. But with prepaid cards, monthly charges are frequently inescapable, which is why it’s so rejuvenating to see that American Express offers consumer-friendly cost policies.
The Bluebird account does not charge any month-to-month charge at all – a very preferable trait.
Meanwhile, the Serve card carries a regular monthly charge of $1 per month (totally free in NY, TX and VT), which can be waived with any direct deposit or $500 loaded into the account per month. However, the best means to prevent the fee is by connecting the Serve card to the Isis mobile wallet app. It’s the no-brainer choice because the app is complimentary and you simply have to link the card to it to stay clear of the regular monthly cost for great!
Despite the simple fee-waiver on the Serve card, Bluebird wins this competition a little because there’s no possibility of a month-to-month cost.
You are getting a pre-paid card because you need a monetary account to carry out transactions. Basically, you’ll be investing. So, you are clearly considering just how much its going to cost to refill your pre-paid account.
For both Bluebird and Serve, it’s free to reload the account by direct deposit, debit card, checking account, cost savings account, mobile check deposit and at Walmart. Cash-reload packs are available for both accounts, but the cost will certainly differ by retailer.
However, take note of the distinct reload choices offered by each account.
Bluebird only: Mail in checks.
Serve only: Free money reload at CVS, Family Dollar and taking part 7-Eleven location AND fee-free reload by credit card (keep an eye out for cash advance charges!).
The Serve card takes the cake on this aspect due to the capability to refill cash money at more sellers – a much higher convenience than mailing in check.
Regardless of exactly what sort of account you have, you wish to know that you can access your money whenever you want to, ideally free of charge. Who wants to fork over a few dollars each time you withdraw cash money? You certainly don’t want to.
Both accounts have a relationship with the MoneyPass ATM network (24,000 ATMs nationwide including Walmart and other major merchants) however the Serve card has the better fee policy.
Bluebird: Money withdrawals are free at MoneyPass ATMs just if you got a direct deposit within the last 30 days. Otherwise, they cost $2 each at MoneyPass ATMs (no surcharge) and $2 at all other ATMs (possible surcharge, too).
Serve: Money withdrawals are free at all MoneyPass ATMs. All other withdrawals cost $2 each (additional charge possible).
When it pertains to the friendlier ATM access policy, I ‘d take the Serve card without a doubt.
Can you imagine being charged each time that you utilized your card to spend for something? Lots of prepaid cards impose such a transaction cost. Luckily, you will not deal with those charges with either of these American Express accounts. In addition, external bank transfers and online bill pay are free.
Interestingly enough, both accounts have devices to assist you regulate spending. They’ve Reserve accounts that permit you to allocate funds for a certain function. And, they let you develop sub-accounts for others. You’ll want these devices if budgeting is a financial top priority.
Despite their equal footing up until now, there are special functions that set them apart. Strangely, one account enhances the “dying” trend, while the other account attempts to introduce a new financial age.
Bluebird: You can compose paper checks, if you still occur to be part of the shrinking consumer group that still uses this medium of financial payment.
Serve: You can connect the card to the Isis mobile wallet to get different offers on purchases. For instance, from March through December 2014, you get $1 back on each purchase of $1 or more at select business when tap-to-pay with Isis (connecteded to the Serve card) is utilized for the purchase.
It’s tough to select a clear victor in this classification, so I’ll state that they come out even.
Verdict: American Express Serve
For the better all-around prepaid choice, American Express Serve is the way to go. The month-to-month charge is exceptionally simple to waive (just connect the card to Isis – you do not even need to use Isis if you do not wish to!), however the less expensive reload choices and ATM access are the vital differentiators that make Serve much better than Bluebird.
The sole reason that I’d advise the Bluebird account above the Serve card is if you want to write paper checks. If you haven’t composed a check in the previous three months go with the Serve card instead.
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