Posted by Chuck on January 4, 2017
Manufactured Spending

Published on January 4th, 2017 | by Chuck

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Another Wave of Serve & Bluebird Shutdowns

Today there was another wave of shutdowns on Amex’s prepaid cards Serve and Bluebird, according to this Reddit thread.

For those keeping track, this is shutdown wave #5 by my count, the last one being in August 2016 (although I might be missing one).

For newer members to the hobby, Serve and Bluebird cards were an easy way to liquidate Visa/MC gift cards by using them to load these prepaid cards at Walmart. Sadly, one year ago, Amex began shutting down the accounts of those who used these cards to manufacture spend. The second wave of shutdowns came in March, the third in May, and the fourth in August. 

The moral of the story is that it wasn’t a one-time purge; rather, Amex intends to continue shutting down these prepaid cards for ‘abuse’. Time to move on.

Once banned, you can not get the an Amex prepaid card again. Some people like getting the card under a different SSN (e.g. a spouse) and using it for a few months for old time’s sake.

It’s still possible to load other prepaid cards or buy money orders with Visa/MC gift cards, but it’s not always easy to find a vendor or a card which allows it.



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Credit
Credit

Yeah. Amex bans you. You can’t get a new card after the shutdown.

Jay
Jay

“Time to move on”
Not really…I’d disagree with that, especially if you still have a clean SSN that you can use (friend/SO maybe?).

As some posters on the same reddit thread that you’ve linked to have already pointed out, you should be safe and dry by ‘churning’ Serves:
Open new Serve accounts (you can have up to 5 separate Serve products per SSN now) when you have stockpiled enough GCs to load. Continually max out the limits on each Serve card until your GC stockpile has been fully depleted. Close all of your new Serve accounts (preferably within a month since opening, to minimize risk). Rinse and repeat.

It’s also quite well-known that very new Serve accounts (i.e. just a few weeks old) do not get shutdown during a shutdown ‘wave’, even if they’ve already been hit hard since they were opened. Therefore, if you want your SSN to stay off the blacklist, don’t let any Serve account that you’ve MSed with just lounge around and age for months. They don’t age well.

Frugal Nellie
Frugal Nellie

Thank you!!!

Jim
Jim

How are you able to get up to 5 separate serve products per ssn? I have a VIP serve that hasn’t been shut down (was able to do an online amex reload this morning). Tried to open another serve and got the message

“Unfortunately we cannot approve you for an American Express Serve® Account right now”

No more than one?

Laura Wilson

How do I get my money

FP
FP

Log in and withdraw like usual

Kent C
Kent C

Assuming they don’t find out what you are doing eventually and take it to another level, like blacklisting you from any Amex accounts, credit cards included. You must “think” your safe although others shouldn’t be so naiive to blindly follow your advice. Not judging your resourcefulness though. Did a quarter million of gift cards over a couple years myself before being shutdown.

Tory
Tory

I don’t believe that’s a risk. Amex’ main purpose in purging Serve-abusers is avoidance of ties to money laundering; they want no part in that and fear the legal scrutiny. But they’re happy to let us keep using their credit, paying interest, fees, etc.

To me, this is the only reasonable explanation why Amex hasn’t blacklisted Serve abusers from credit cards – it would have been a trivial port of names/SSNs. But MSing doesn’t piss them off that much. The Serve purges are hunting for money launderers and the MSers are just collateral damage.

Tim
Tim

@ Jay or @ DOC:

Does anyone know if you open 5 oneVIPs and only use 1, will the 4 dormant accounts incur the $1 per month fee?

Jay
Jay

Yes, they are completely separate accounts just like bank/cc accounts.

If you don’t live in a state where the monthly fee is waived, don’t open too many at once if you know that you won’t be able to use them all.

borntobehermit
borntobehermit

What if you DD $500 for each dormant accounts to avoid fees and nothing else, do the still risk to be closed down?

Justin
Justin

Yea got hit today with my Serve, but not Bluebird. Hopefully they only do this every 6 months or so

Captainsave
Captainsave

They got both my accounts. 🙁

Suzy
Suzy

Bluebird (mine & hubby) shut down today.

James
James

How soon can you re-open serve after voluntarily closing it?

fauxblogger
fauxblogger

I closed OneVIP Serve at 10A on 1/3/7, opened new OneVIP (same SSN) immediately, then at 5:30P received load shutdown notice on the account I closed at 10A. I cut this Serve churn way too close. Keep in mind cannot close Serve until $0.00 balance AND all in-process disbursements have posted to/ cleared destination accounts.

dan
dan

faux, so do u think the new vip acct applied on the same day will be good or can load…guess u won’t know till receiving the new card?

Ed
Ed

Can I get a Serve card if I still have a RB and without having to close it?

jnrfalcon
jnrfalcon

I got reports saying that their Serve can still draw fund from backup funding source even after loading shut down. The particular source was able to link to his ATT card when it was still possible and so basically he can get infinite 3x TYP by just using Serve anywhere.

My mann
My mann

Me too:(

Nick
Nick

To confirm, those who load using those gift/rebate cards are being banned, or is it those who “abuse” the system and do it a lot?

Ed
Ed

Can I get a Serve if I have a RB without having to close it?

Allen
Allen

Article mentions other prepaid cards that can still be loaded with GC’s. I’m not familiar with any. Can somebody point me in the right direction?

Been preserving my Serve for DD bank bonus purposes, so the hit it hard and close Serve strategy prob isn’t worth it in my case..

Jason
Jason

My BB and serve live well, loads $1000 from PPBDC per month, used for bill pay such as CC, mortgage, auto loan, utility but never deposit money back to bank account. Never swipe the card. Just add money and bill pay.

My other family member’s BB and serve are OK too, only use to add money then send all funds to my account. No shut down, have accounts since last August.

Recon Scott
Recon Scott

I wish I knew the rules on BB/Serve shutdown. My BB and wife’s serve are still alive (I think). I regularly MS of $1000-$1500 / mo to meet min spends on CCs by buying $500 VGCs at WTM and then loading them to the BB/Serve at WMT. I then I use the BB/Serves for small purchases like lunch or coffee machine at work — generally small purchases under $10. Every 6 weeks or so, I’ll empty all but $100 into bank account and then start over.

I suppose this is considered proper use of the cards by AMEX?

Matt
Matt

Is there a current wiki somewhere that lists the different MS options one has with serve? I have a OneVIP account that I keep losing $1/mo on, but don’t want to cancel it. Is the flow Buy GC > load to Serve at Family Dollar? Load online? at Post office? -Thanks

Jason
Jason

Load online

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