Bluebird is an alternative banking option offered by Walmart and American Express. A Bluebird account enables users to accept direct deposits, make online bill payments, write checks, withdraw cash, pay with card swipes, and manage funds just like a traditional bank account, but it is actually just a card services account through American Express. This makes it appealing for users who require banking services but do not wish to use or would not qualify for traditional bank accounts.
Bluebird only has one service tier that includes all of its services. In addition to standard banking features, Bluebird accounts offer mobile check deposit, sub-accounts for family members, a SetAside account for savings, money transfer between Bluebird users, and all of the basic value-added services that American Express offers (roadside assistance, purchase protection, entertainment deals, etc.).
Bluebird Fee Breakdown
Bluebird does not charge any activation, monthly, annual, or per-transaction fees. Users can reload their Bluebird accounts for free via direct deposit, bank transfer, debit card, cash deposit at Walmart, mobile check deposit, and sending a check via mail. Reloading with a cash reload pack will be subject to charges from the cash reload pack service. Bluebird users can withdraw cash for free from MoneyPass ATMs but will be charged $2.50 per withdrawal at ATMs outside of the MoneyPass network. Bluebird does not charge any other fees. The full list of Bluebird fees and account limits can be seen here.
Bluebird Account Fees
At a glance
Location: New York City
Issuer: American Express
Phone number: 1 (877) 486-5990
Featured User Reviews
I’ve had my Bluebird card for a couple of months. I am currently haveing my paycheck direct deposited to it after having an overdraft issue with my checking account.
The ONLY issue I have had so far was that I used it at the Gas pump to pay for gas once. BIG Mistake!!!! They set aside $100 to cover the the purchase as an “authorization”. I about blew a gasket considering I was going out of town for the weekend!. I called and vented, which the CSR calmly allowed, then he explained what happened. He then REMOVED the hold! Excellent(although I had threatened to cancel the card if it couldn’t be fixed).
So, here’s what I recommend:
1. DO NOT waste $5 buying a started kit at Walmart & adding money. Go to www.bluebird.com & sign up there. You will save $5 & you will know if it will be approved or not.
2. DO NOT preauthorize Gas at the pump. They will hold $100 if you do! Pay for the gas by withdrawing cash from an atm(my local gas station has a money pass atm) or just prepay for a specific amount(yes, it makes filling up harder, but well worth saving yourself the aggrevation).
3.DO NOT use their app to deposit checks. It takes at LEAST a week. Not worth the wait.
4. DO ceate subaccounts & get cards for your kids. My son loves the fact that he has his own card(he’s 16). He uses it to pay for his XBox live & other things that I would have to take care of for him. He just gives me the money & I load it to my card & transfer it to his subaccount(evidently you can’t load funds with a subaccount card from what I have experienced).
I was also able to get 100 of their checks free(I think that offer is done). The checks require you to pre-authorize them. I LOVE that feature. I have tried for years to get banks to allow me to notate on my on-line banking that I wrote a check & have those funds set aside to cover it so I don’t bounce & have to pay an overdraft fee. The banks always ask “Why would you want that?” This is a great way to manage your money & make sure you don’t overdraw! & if your checks get stolen they are useless because AmEx will not honor any check that wasn’t preauthorized.
-Anonymous, Credit Karma
I have been using Bluebird for a year and the only downfall, other than Amex isn’t accepted everywhere, is their customer service. Its based in India which isn’t the problem, its that everytime I need to call them, I have to wait on hold forever for very simple things. As I type this, I have been on hold off and on for an hour and a half trying to get a replacement card ordered. It so frustrating to waste such time on something so simple. They always say it will be a brief hold of 5 minutes which turns into 30. PLEASE do something to fix this!
Terra Knipp, NerdWallet
What other reviewers are saying
Bluebird currently has over 100 complaints on Ripoff Report, and these complaints seem to have been posted at a steady clip since the service’s launch. Common themes among complainant include poor customer service, fund holds, account freezes, fraud resolution issues, and problems with account setup or management. These complaints have been filed in relatively equal proportion to one another, indicating that there is no significant issue that most customers will encounter. Bluebird representatives have not responded to any of these complaints.
The Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau does not maintain a separate profile for Bluebird, and it’s unclear whether the BBB routes complaints regarding Bluebird to its Walmart profile, its American Express profile, or both. As a general overview, Walmart has been accredited since 1990 and has an “A+” rating with the BBB, while American Express has been accredited since 1948 and has an “A” rating. The two companies combine for over 5,000 complaints in the last three years, but, again, it’s unclear how many of these are related to Bluebird.
Bluebird is showing an overall rating of 2.2 out of 5 stars on Credit Karma, a rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars on CardHub, and a 4 out of 5 rating on Get.com. Some of these reviews appear to contain slightly outdated information and may only be reviewing the Bluebird card rather than the overall account. CreditCardForum also gave Bluebird a generally positive review.
From a pricing perspective, Bluebird is a rare banking alternative that can compete with traditional bank accounts. The service replicates most of the necessary features of a checking or savings account but is almost completely free to open and to use. It also does not require a credit check before activation, which gives it the same accessibility as prepaid cards without all of the extra fees.
Bluebird does lose points, however, when it comes to its service and support. Bluebird accounts are serviced by American Express, but the company’s reputation for excellent cardholder service does not appear to have been extended to Bluebird users. The potential for a negative experience with frozen funds, fraud, or customer support holds this card back from being a strong banking option for everyone. As it stands, Bluebird is a useful and affordable option when compared to most other banking alternatives, but you should still expect service quality to vary.
Have you used a Bluebird account? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below: