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Bluebird Prepaid Card Review: Free Services, Perks

May 20, 2019
Banking, Checking Accounts, Prepaid Debit Cards
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Bluebird Prepaid Debit Card

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Bluebird, offered by American Express, is a prepaid debit card with virtually no fees. It functions almost like a checking account, making it a useful substitute for consumers who don’t have a bank account. Even if you have a bank account, Bluebird’s family-friendly money management tools may be appealing.

Bluebird card: The bottom line

  • No monthly or purchase transaction fees, and several free ways to add money to the card.
  • Extensive, free ATM network.
  • Comes with valuable perks and services, such as spending alerts and family subaccounts, from American Express.

» Get details on prepaid debit card fees, limits and more

Here are more details about Bluebird’s fees and services.

General fees

5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 / 5.0

  • Free if you open account online or via mobile.
  • No monthly or inactivity fees.
  • More than 24,000 free MoneyPass ATMs.
  • Most methods of adding cash are free.
  • Most methods of withdrawing cash involve fees.

If you’re careful, you can use Bluebird without paying any fees. There are ways to load, spend and withdraw cash for free. You can also open an account online or via a mobile device, write preauthorized checks, make bill payments, manage accounts and more. But unless you use an in-network ATM, you’ll pay to withdraw cash.

Purchases and withdrawals

4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 / 5.0

  • Bluebird can be used almost anywhere that American Express is accepted.
  • No fees to spend your money.
  • Free withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs.
  • Check-writing and bill pay are free. (You will pay for a set of checks.)
  • No way to get cash back with a debit purchase at merchants.
  • Out-of-network ATM fee of $2.50.
  • MoneyPass ATMs are the only way to get cash for free.

Some prepaid debit cards charge you to spend your own money, but not Bluebird. Keep in mind that you’ll be charged for withdrawing cash anywhere but a MoneyPass ATM, and you can’t get cash back with purchases. You can withdraw up to $750 per day from ATMs. For larger sums, you can withdraw up to $2,900 in cash at a Walmart, for a $3 to $9 fee.


5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 / 5.0

  • $0 to add cash at Walmart registers.
  • $0 to add money through a linked debit card.
  • $0 to add cash via direct deposit.
  • $0 for mobile check capture by Ingo Money — can take 10 days to clear unless you pay a fee for same-day.

  • Can’t link a bank account to Bluebird to directly transfer money.
  • Steep fee of 1% to 5% to have mobile checks cleared the same day.
  • Most methods of adding cash to your Bluebird card are free. At a Walmart register, you can add up to $1,999 per day for free, and the money will be available immediately. You can also load checks worth up to $2,500 on the card via the Bluebird mobile app. There is no fee, but checks take 10 business days to clear unless you pay for same-day service.

    » Want more options? Check out our list of the best prepaid debit cards

    Other services

    4.5 stars out of 5
    4.5 / 5.0

  • Families can share one Bluebird account.
  • 24/7 customer service.
  • Includes emergency roadside assistance, purchase protection, shopping and entertainment offers.
  • Several free ways to check your balance, including the website, mobile app, calling and texting.
  • Goal-oriented saving options.

  • American Express is less widely accepted at merchants than Visa or Mastercard.
  • Bluebird can be a helpful tool for parents teaching kids about budgeting. The primary member can open and fund up to four sub-accounts, each with its own card and spending limits. If you’re interested in saving, Bluebird also lets you set money aside in separate accounts, which are FDIC-insured like the card balance. Just add the money back to your card if you want to spend it.

    » Looking for a separate savings account? See our picks for high-interest savings accounts

    Many free services, some limits

    Bluebird is not a bank account, but it can function as a reasonable, low-priced substitute. To get the card, register for a Bluebird account online, download the free app at an app store, or buy a $5 starter kit with a temporary card at a Walmart store. (Keep in mind that funds on the temporary card aren’t insured by the FDIC.) The main thing to check is if most merchants you shop at accept American Express.

    » Research more before you leap: Here are some other economical prepaid card options.

    Ratings methodology

    NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each category: general account fees, transactions and funds access, reloads and other services. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include fees, ATM access, reload options, breadth of merchant acceptance, account features and limits, user-facing tech and customer service. Several Nerds contribute to prepaid debit card ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.