Walmart and American Express have agreed to pay me a large amount of money to review their new “Bluebird” American Express card. Not really, we were actually walking through Walmart yesterday for our weekly torture when I saw their kiosk. My wife had heard of it before and suggested I review it… so here we go.
Traditionally, American Express caters to people with money with their charge cards. However, they seem to be opening up their clientele with this latest trip into Walmart (not saying people in Walmart don’t have money!). They are partnering to offer the Bluebird “Checking and Debit Alternative” prepaid card.
At first glance, it ‘s much like a debit card without normal bank requirements. There’s no minimum balance, monthly fees, or other pesky fees that come with some checking accounts. You load it with money via direct deposit, online transfer, ATM or even at Walmart stores.
All you need to apply is an address, phone number, and an email address. The most interesting part – they don’t require a social security number which seems like a very purposeful move.
In addition, you can get cash from the card at Walmart and any “Moneypass” ATMs for free if you direct deposit your checks into the account. If you don’t direct deposit a regular check into the account, there’s a $2 fee. I did a quick check and there were ~40 MoneyPass ATM locations within ten miles of my house so they aren’t just forcing you to go into Walmart.
How I would use it:
To teach kids how to handle money
American Express makes it easy to use the Bluebird as a family share card. You can have subaccounts and transfer money between all of the accounts without fees. You can also easily monitor everything and pay bills online; this could be a good way to teach kids how to manage money without worrying about them maxing out your credit card!
As an alternative to traditional checking account
The Bluebird card is also a great alternative for people who are underbanked and can’t meet the normal banking requirements because they don’t require a credit check. That makes it a great option for the 10 million Americans who don’t have a bank account.
As a replacement for a credit card
Are you one of the three types of people who shouldn’t use a credit card? If so, the Bluebird might just be right for you. You can only spend money you have but unfortunately it won’t help you “establish credit”.
Also, one of the best features of the Bluebird card is they don’t even allow overdrafts! That’s right, they won’t “let” you do it and then charge you a $30 fee, they just deny the purchase! That’s revolutionary!
Check out their promo video for more information on it. Overall, I give it an A+.