American Express has a reputation for being a high-end credit card issuer, with its exclusive Black Card and classy business charge cards. Walmart has a reputation for catering to the common man and woman. So I was intrigued when I heard that the two companies were combining forces to create a new prepaid debit card.
Earlier this week, the companies announced the Bluebird card: “a new alternative to debit and checking accounts.” According to the press release, “Bluebird addresses the need for an affordable, transparent way to manage everyday finances, with premium features, no minimum balance, monthly, or overdraft fees.”
It is based on a 2011 pilot program. The two companies used feedback from customers disgruntled with the high fees that can come along with traditional checking accounts and debit services.
With Bluebird, “the only fees consumers will ever pay are clear, transparent and within their control, such as out-of-network ATM withdrawals for a consumer that does not have direct deposit.” I poked around the terms and this appears to be true — no cost for a replacement card, inactive account, foreign exchange purchases, electronic bill pay, most forms of adding money and withdrawing at in-network ATMs. The only fees you really have to pay are $2 for funding it via a debit card and $2 if you withdraw or get declined at non-network ATMs. There are insurance benefits that most credit cards have, and American Express says it will add more features to Bluebird next year, such as more ways to deposit money and check-writing capabilities.
One other unusual and exciting feature is that it features a “digital wallet,” which includes person-to-person payments and the ability to control sub-accounts (such as those for your kids) directly from your phone.
I like the idea of a card that is as straightforward as possible. And because it works like a debit card that requires you to fund it upfront, you have to use it wisely. It seems like the fees really are decent compared to some other prepaid cards. Want to try it? Order it online for free or buy a set-up kit at Wal-Mart for $5.
What do you think — would you ever use Bluebird? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. I hope you’ll also enjoy reading my list of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!
1. Debt and the Girl uses a real-life example of buying a car to show why having a good credit score is so valuable.
2. Little Miss Money Bags explains why it’s so important for her to always have her finances in order. She makes a compelling point — why bring unnecessary stress upon yourself?
3. My Dollar Plan shares some of the smartest ways to handle a financial windfall.
4. We’ve heard people talk about how expensive it is to have kids, but Dinks Finance shows how much it costs to fall in love and get married.
5. Money Smart Life reveals two aggressive ways to pay down debt: the siege and the assault.
6. Young Adult Money lists five steps you can take to improve your finances and set yourself up for success.
7. Ready For Zero examines the ins and outs of a credit report with direct input from a vice president of Experian — one of the big three credit bureaus.
8. We’ve all been there. 20$s Money shares some of the times he made poor choices with money and what he has learned from them.
9. The Money Principle explains why comparing your budget to others is a really awful idea.
10. A guest post on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff explains why many pro athletes go broke and how we can learn from their mistakes.