Posted by Chuck on January 8, 2016
Manufactured Spending

Published on January 8th, 2016 | by Chuck

106

RIP: The End of Serve & Bluebird & SoftServe for Manufactured Spend + What’s Left

RIP Bluebird/Serve

Serve and SoftServe and Bluebird cardholders just got an email sent out stating that they can no longer add funds to the prepaid card due to unusual usage patterns.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 11.00.17 AM

The email was sent out to anyone who has been manufacturing spend on the card. Those who have not used it at all (or used it sparingly, presumably) did not get any such email.

For the most part, both those who did just online loads or just in-store loads or both – all got the shutdown email. And even those who have not used it recently. Newer accounts have not (yet?) gotten shutdown for the most part.

This will affect both loading in store at Walmart, Rite Aid, etc, and loading online with a credit or debit card, or even loading online with a bank account. This is what I got when trying to do a credit card load and a bank account load (initiated from the Serve account):

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 11.02.28 AM

Questions

  • Can I load funds with a credit card or debit card? No.
  • Can I load funds with a bank account (load initiated from my prepaid card)? No.
  • Can I load funds at Walmart, Rite Aid, etc? No.
  • Can we still use the card for purchases, bill payments, or withdrawals? Yes, it’s pretty clear in the email that way and I tested it out as well.
  • Can we still send money between Serve/Bluebird accounts? Yes, this works (both ways).
  • Can we still use the card for Amex Offers? Yes, no reason why that won’t work. The only hurdle is getting funds on the card to be able to make the purchase.
  • Can we still ACH-push money from a bank account onto the prepaid card? Unknown. If it works, it will be very useful for Amex Offers.
  • Will Amex eventually shut down the account completely or can I use it for Amex Offers indefinitely? Unkown. It doesn’t sound like they are shutting it down soon, but they do say: “Once your balance reaches $0, please close your Account online via your Profile page accessible here. Scroll down to the Close Account section and click “Close Account.”
  • Can I close this account and open another one? Unknown. If this works, it would be very useful for the sake of Amex Offers since we’d be able to load funds in non-MS ways and keep using the cards for Amex Offers. It would also be useful for the 5% off at Target for those who don’t have/want a Target credit or debit REDcard.

What’s Left?

How to liquidate Visa and Mastercard debit/gift cards now?

  • The GoBank card. It does have a $3k monthly limit though (see more here and here), and at some points in time, they were shutting down accounts as well for heavy usage.
  • There may be other prepaid cards that can be loaded in Walmart.
  • Kmart bill-pay.
  • Buy money orders.
  • Spend it down with regular purchases.

Definitely a huge hit for the hobby. It was fun while it lasted.

RIP Bluebird/Serve



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Michael B
Michael B

Always knew this day would come, but I figured WM would put the hammer on loading VGCs first. This officially end my days of MS, which sucks because I just got the WF 5% card about a month ago. Other methods are just too much work or not available in my area. Mr. Serve, goodbye old friend.

SP
SP

Does anyone think this will impact their individual relationship with AMEX? In terms of being approved for future Amex charge and credit cards?

David
David

Somehow I never received such email. I have it set it on auto reload and pay bills with it.

Jeff
Jeff

In order to avoid the $8.95 GoBank monthly fee, does loading it up via VISA gift card avoid that fee contrary to the government or payroll direct deposit requirement?

Kent C
Kent C

No. You still pay the fee and risk shutdown loading with GC. Like Amex they reviewed who was loading gift cards and shut down those people to.

Dan
Dan

From what I’ve seen, most people who have been shut down have done online loads. Seems to be fewer shutdowns from people who haven’t done online loads. Just an observation though.

SP
SP

Just to add a data point, no online loads from me and shut down.

Mukesh
Mukesh

No online loads from me as well and shut down 🙁

Sandra
Sandra

no online loads from me either and still shut down

Chris
Chris

I fail to see how loading money online would make them want to shut you down unless its from paypal debit or softserve/3rd party amex reloads. Last 6 months i’ve used it only to billpay utilities since they want to charge $5 fee for CC/debit yet I got shutdown anyways.

David
David

can you tell me more about Gobank card do you have a post about it? how do you load the debit card?

Kent C
Kent C

They shut down people for loading gift cards way before Amex did so. There is an $8.95 fee per month and $3k/month max. They want your social security number too. May be a hard pull.

hg1776
hg1776

Doing the lords work

chris
chris

I never did online load, still got shutdown letter.
It is in promotion folder of your gmail, if you use gmail.

The Value Traveler (@ValueTravelerOz)

hehe thats not much of a promotion.

John
John

Dan,

I have not done any online loads and I too received the email.I was, however, doing $4k-5k/mo in visa gifr card loads at family dollar.

Mark
Mark

Have 2 Serve accounts – mine and my wife’s. Both were used for MS exactly the same way. Just one Serve account was shutdown today.

All of the load activity was done at Walmart via Kate, or Customer Service.

Paid normal bills similar to any checking account bill pay.

I’m waiting for the cancellation on the remaining account.

JamaicanReefer
JamaicanReefer

JamaicanReefer’s decline started yesterday when he was rejected for 2 BoA cards, Alaska and Virgin while having only 2 cards in possession (Alaska and Cash Rewards). Spoke with the credit analyst: Too many inquiries and a card currently in possession. Today, accounts shut down. The end of an era has come yet again, even bigger than the end of VR era. The king is dead. Long live the King!

Ben
Ben

It seems like most of SoftServe accounts were terminated? Mine was terminated even though I’ve only done online reloads with Freedom and pay off my bills to other cc.

thershope
thershope

Only question i am worried about is, does this affect our relation with Amex Credit Card and MR Points.?

Steve
Steve

Shouldn’t. They seem to be separate.

Mark Zhang
Mark Zhang

So frustrating… I have only used it for several months. Basically what I did was (1) Amex-issued card loads online, (2) quite a lot of bill pays, (3) withdrawal of some of the remaining balance. I only loaded roughly 600 in the past two months, not even to the top limit, and have been making bill pays a lot… But anyway, I got this email and now seeking to test ACH push to it and see if it could work.

If (I have to wait till probably next week to see the results) test deposits could work, can it be considered a sign of ACH working?

I tried to link Serve to Ally, Discover and Alliant in the past, but all attempts failed due to the fact that Serve does not allow ACH pulls. All the three marked Serve as not verifiable. I am trying Google Wallet at the moment.

Josh m
Josh m

Mine is still active, just loaded $200 this morning, I do occasionally make actual purchases with the card (not all bill pay) so maybe that has helped me out.

sheila
sheila

Gobank is notorious for shutting down accounts too. I just do a few hundreds a month and was surprised when it was forced to close. Wasted my time.

Alonso
Alonso

Yes, from everything I’ve read about GoBank I’d be very cautious of doing any MS activity with their product.

The same applies to PayPal.

Ellen
Ellen

Very true, won’t go to GoBank for MS activities.

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