Posted by William Charles on November 21, 2019
Manufactured Spending

Published on November 21st, 2019 | by William Charles

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New Round Of American Express Serve & Bluebird Shutdowns

In the last couple of days I’ve heard from a few readers that American Express has shut down their Serve/Bluebird accounts. This is the third wave of shut downs this year (May, October). I’m somewhat surprised we are seeing such a small gap between the last round of shut downs, but maybe American Express is just being more proactive about this now.



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JB San Diego
JB San Diego

I am not familiar with those cards, but I am assuming the shutdown is for the card only and not the Amx account?

raekwon
raekwon

Correct. These are prepaid cards that have no connection to actual American Express credit/charge accounts.

Barry
Barry

It’s for people who do manufacture spending – there’s always a possibility of your account getting shut down from that.

Dayn_Perrys_Vape
Dayn_Perrys_Vape

I got my first shutdown, but it was only one BlueBird card. My other BlueBird is still good, both Serves are still good. All were being used roughly equally.

They cited agreement clause 22d as the reason for shutdown, which is just the entire section on cancellation/suspension. I’d gotten my monthly statement on the 17th for the account shutdown. I got my monthly statement for my other BlueBird card one hour after the shutdown email – same timespan between statement and shutdown has passed without issue.

I started using Serve/BlueBird just days before the May shutdowns. Maxed out all 4 several months, I’ve used them a bit less in the last couple of months.

Nelson
Nelson

Which one (Serve/Bluebird) is easier or better for MS? I only have BB

Brian
Brian

Do emails accompany this round of shutdowns?

Dayn_Perrys_Vape
Dayn_Perrys_Vape

I got an email, yes.

USB
USB

I have the same question – they send out emails to notify the shutdown, right?

Also, what happens to the balance if you get shutdown. Do they send a check or something?

Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts

Shutdown only blocks new loads, otherwise card works normally, although not sure what happens after a longer time period. Best to pull funds out immediately.

USB
USB

I read somewhere people get multiple cards together but don’t activate them all at once. I assume they activate one by one after each shut down. Didn’t understand the logic. Wouldn’t you be banned at least for few months? If anyone can shed some light on this technique ….

Joe
Joe

My first shutdown (May) only blocked new loads and I was able to withdraw normally. My second shutdown (October wave) was a full fledged suspension of my accounts. I couldn’t log in online, couldn’t even call their 800 number. Just got an email that said my account was terminated and they would mail me a check, which they did about a week later.

I haven’t heard many DPs of similar vitriol and banishment from them so I’m starting to believe this harsher form of shutdown was related to a load where I had an incorrect pin 2x on one card.

mark
mark

The balance is sent to FBI

Blue
Blue

My two ones that have been hit continuously since the last wave are still kicking.

Samosa
Samosa

Here we go again.

LC
LC

amex wants to shut down everything, except still make you pay $550 annual fees on their platinum cards for diminishing benefits.

Pointz
Pointz

crappy card at best now

Nick
Nick

Perhaps if American Express spent less time focusing on shutdowns and bonus clawbacks and more on the products and service they offer their performance and reputation might actually improve.

HChris
HChris

Nah, that would be too easy.

Michael
Michael

In other words, you want more freebies and less costs until all of American Express goes out of business. Seems legit.

Stew
Stew

American Express has some of the worst credit card reward programs than subprime credit card companies. Cannot touch JP.

Joe
Joe

You forgot about step 3!! The ??? come before the PROFIT

Michael
Michael

Not trying to defend AMEX here, but you’re looking at it from your personal perspective as a churner. Churners are in the minority of AMEX customers, but are likely the most costly. AMEX is a business that exists to make a profit, not to cater to the whims of churners/”gamers”. Shutdowns/clawbacks aren’t a problem for your average AMEX customer, and I’d argue that if you asked 100 random AMEX customers if they’d ever been affected by either, you’d get either 100 no’s or 100 confused looks.

DP
DP

American Express annual operating income for 2018 was $8.122B. Say a customer was improperly credited 50,000 MR points valued at 1 cent per point. 10,000 “evil” customers each “stealing” $500/yr (so 5mil total), is only 0.06% of their profits. The numbers don’t lie. Now check this out… For 2019, the *retired* CEO was paid over 23.7mil. Another 17.3mil for the active CEO. Over 41mil between those 2 alone.

Joe
Joe

I applaud you research, but here’s what you’re missing- some dopey community college software development grad (like myself) got a job with Amex, learned about credit card hacking from a seatmate on an airplane, found r/churning, ran a query to identify us, told his boss “I have a great idea to save us $5mm this year!” and his boss told his boss who said “Great! That’ll make our division look awesome compared to the 3rd floor- let’s do it!”

It has nothing to do with the company’s overall profit. Everything is siloed and the division who made these decisions may be entirely funded by how much fat they can cut off the hog.

Also- complaining about CEO pay… 🙁

OyVey
OyVey

Who are you kidding, them catering to abuse behavior isn’t somehow going to make their business more profitable. You play the game you expect to get burned on occasion, especially if you swim in the deep end of the pool.

DP
DP

I’m with you, Nick. Not once did you say they should go out of business by throwing free money around. The fact remains that ANY/EVERY company has opportunities to improve their products/services. And in doing so, can “amazingly” generate more profit for them. An example would be clarifying the referral rules and process…so no one is accused of a violation…that was never expressly forbidden in the terms. Could have fixed the whole issue with 2 lines of code like a YEAR ago. It’s 100% on *them* for letting it snowball. It’s on the company to properly enforce their own rules as they intend. It’s flat out wrong and quite PETTY of them to go after customers like 8mon after the fact — for their own errors. An example of a potential service improvement would simply be not LYING to customers. If you’ve chatted with or called customer service 10 times, you’ve undoubtedly been lied to at least 3+ times and that’s probably too low of a number. I was told I am not eligible for the Platinum business bonus because I got the Platinum personal bonus. lol That’s just 1 example. The whole concept of “churning” only exists because companies don’t properly value & service their customers — which causes them to seek alternatives. They could invent all kinds of incentives to have you only do business with Amex. Like if you don’t have any other credit accounts added to your credit report in 1yr, you get all annual fees refunded and a +25% bonus on all MR points earned via spend.

Frogger
Frogger

I own a lot of their stock. Up 100 percent since I bought right after they lost Costco. They are doing great.

YoniPDX

LOL own COST but not AMEX also up from $100ish to dancing around $300 since 2016 – Costco CS rocks but customer base is mostly Gen X/Boomers and has an eventual date of diminishing returns and members.

Found as my girls head off to school we are spending less on food, consumables – but Costco has been amazingly resilient vs Amazon, Walmart, Google Express, target, Boxed etc.

Guy who buys stuff
Guy who buys stuff

Maybe they should just go ahead shut everyone down and find another business to be in since they clearly don’t like the customer demographic their product attracts.

Dayn_Perrys_Vape
Dayn_Perrys_Vape

It’s not intended for MS’ers. MS behavior costs them money, would be extremely easy to detect, and they’re getting better at shutting us down.

I’m sure they have plenty of people using the product as intended, as a checking account replacement, paying their monthly fees or load fees and making the product profitable for Amex.

You’ve got to just chalk this up as part of the game – it’s entirely fair on their end.

DP
DP

The *retired* CEO received over 23.7mil in 2019. Who costs Amex more money? Him? Or all of the people who were shut down? I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Dayn_Perrys_Vape
Dayn_Perrys_Vape

Which one provides any value to the company? Lmao. We literally just leech. No one using BlueBird/Serve for MS ever pays a dime to Amex, they all exploit that having a $0 balance at statement close waives the monthly fee, and use the free reload cards at free reload locations. What an absurd comparison.

Joe
Joe

Speak for yourself! I left enough money in my Serve account to cover the monthly fees…

Did NOT save me from getting shutdown 🙁 Two thumbs down.

Bill
Bill

Amex is a bank. They make money off me for every day that I have a balance in my account by lending that money out to others. And they don’t even pay me interest.

Dayn_Perrys_Vape
Dayn_Perrys_Vape

Why on earth would you leave a balance in a bluebird/serve account you use for MS?

DP SUCKS
DP SUCKS

This is ridiculously poor logic. The CEO’s salary is utterly irrelevant.

alex
alex

Dammm! Re-signup still a no-no

Juicyjosh
Juicyjosh

My BB situation is a lil different. Not shutdown formally, no email received. I’ve had 5 rolling. Would use 2 for 2 months (end of one month, beginning of next) and do 10k per month. Close both and open 2 more. This time around I closed one but could not open a new one. Been getting the unable to open new account message. Still have 4 up and running with only one activated. Assuming that will be my first shutdown but hasn’t happened yet.

Russ
Russ

I’ve read about that… there were a couple very long threads on r/churning back in April/May with DPs of people rolling like you and hitting some kind of limit. It’s as though they have a counter for total prepaid cards on your social and once you hit the limit you can’t open any more. The limit used to be 1 a few years ago (back in the redbird days), so still having 4 on hand is pretty good. Treat them well and hopefully they’ll last you a while.

Ben
Ben

I thought AMEX sold the prepaid a while ago, they’re still involved?

raekwon
raekwon

American Express sold their prepaid business to Incomm, but the cards are still processed through the Amex network.

Ben
Ben

Gotcha!!

BlissfulApathy
BlissfulApathy

Guess they don’t care (yet?) about bank churners, as I haven’t been disabled. Wish I could use it for MS but I guess I learned about the art a few years too late. 🙁

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