Say Goodbye to Serve, Hello to Prepaid REDcard

A final transaction of American Express Serve has been completed. Now, it’s time to close Serve and register Target Prepaid REDcard (AKA Redbird.) The transaction was a withdrawal of a remaining balance from Serve account to my bank account. In Serve, it was completed within 24 hours. However, in my bank account, it was pending for a few days. It might have been OK to close Serve account in this period, but I took precaution of waiting for the transaction to complete in both accounts.

After I chose a reason for closing an account from a drop-down list and wrote about Redbird in a box below, I successfully closed Serve account. They gave me a sad (crying) face.

Serve closed

Let’s move on to Redbird’s registration. I typed temporary card number and security code and my date of birth. And then my name, address, SSN, email address, etc. I did it within minutes after closing Serve account, but I was able to register Redbird. No information of a person who bought a temp card was necessary. (I bought the temp card on eBay. Click here to see details.) After verifying the email, the registration was completed.

redbird registration complete

Now, I can add money to the temp card, up to $1500 and use it at Target stores. Everything was done as I learned from FrequentMiler’s Blog. However, I overlooked one thing. It’s that I can’t link a debit card or a bank account until I receive and activate a permanent card. It’s 19th of December today, and it will take 7 to 10 business days for the permanent card to arrive. So, I can’t reload online with a debit card this month. I might be able to do a few reloads, but not full of 5 times (5 days.)

loading temp redbird

Tomorrow, I will go to Target store and reload with credit, debit, and Visa GCs.



MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload Pack will end

I received an email today. It is from American Express Serve.


We are writing to inform you of a change to the terms and conditions of your American Express Serve® Account. Please review the change below:

Beginning February 1, 2015, MoneyPak® will no longer be available for purchase. Beginning April 1, 2015, Vanilla® Reload PIN will no longer be available to purchase. However, you can still easily add cash* to your Serve® Account directly at the register using Vanilla® Reload Swipe Load.

You can still add money to your account in many other convenient ways including Direct Deposit and free cash reloads at the register at 27,000 CVS/pharmacy®, Family Dollar®, Walmart® and participating 7-ELEVEN® locations. Click here to learn more.

You can review this change in the Consumer User Agreement here.
Thank You,

The American Express Serve Team

MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload PIN are reload packs. You purchase and add money to them at stores. And then you can reload your prepaid cards online. These products have existed for a long time, and they are also well-known that they are used for frauds and scams by crooks, especially MoneyPak. I believe they will stop selling their products due to such activities by crooks, not manufactured spending.

These changes won’t be any impact on me because I simply don’t buy them. Since they charge lower fees than Visa/MasterCard/AmEx GCs do, they are better items for MS. But I just can’t find stores that allow to use credit cards for purchases. Besides, I will close Serve account in a few days in order to register Redbird.

As the email says, it seems that you can still add money by using Vanilla Reload Swipe Load even after April 1, 2015. As far as I know, a store that currently use VR Swipe Load is Family Dollar. They don’t sell VR PIN since they started using VR Swipe Load. The question is “Will the stores currently selling VR PIN be using VR Swipe Load after or by April 1, 2015?”

And the point is that whether stores will allow to use debit cards for reloads or not. I have visited 8 Family Dollar stores in my neighborhood and tried to use Visa GCs for reloading Serve. Half of them allowed, and the other half refused and said “Cash Only.” From this example, when other stores start using VR Swipe Load, you will need to make sure if your local stores allow to swipe not only cards to be loaded, but also cards to pay.

However, I don’t really care now. Again, I will close Serve and open Redbird soon. Redbird can be reloaded only at Target stores. My last transaction of Serve (withdrawing the remaining balance to my bank account) was completed. But I don’t see the same transaction in my bank account yet. Just in case, I will wait until this transaction shows up in my bank account.

Temporary Prepaid REDcard arrived, Closing Serve Account

temporary prepaid redcard packageI received my eBay order today. It is a temporary version of Target Prepaid REDcard (AKA Redbird.) In the package, there is a temp card and folded paper written of cardholder agreement. A card number and a security code of temp card are covered with tape. With the numbers, you can register for a permanent card.

temporary prepaid redcard

But first, I have to close Serve account because AmEx doesn’t allow to have both cards at the same time.

Before closing the account, take advantage of Serve for the last time. Redbird can’t connect to Amex Offer. Redeem all offers you are interested while you have Serve. And, remember you have to make sure that statement credit is posted.

Use another advantage of Serve, $200 x 5 online reloads with credit card. It will be the last online-reload with credit card, which is very easy and comfortable MS that AmEx officially allows. Reload online $1000 with debit card as well. I think I will be able to reload another $1000 to Redbird in the same month. So, it may be the total $2000 reload online with debit card only this month.

When you close an account, you need to make the balance down to zero. It will be easily done by paying bills and withdrawing to bank account. But, remember it takes days for these transactions to complete.

When I order a temp card on eBay, I had already done 0nline-reloads and Amex Offers, but there was one pending transaction that I canceled the order at It took more than a week to be cleared. After it had been cleared, I withdrew the remaining balance to my bank account. Now, I am waiting for that transaction to complete.

Check and double-check all of these. Close an account by clicking “Close Account” located at the all the way bottom in Profile page when everything is good. Otherwise, you can’t close. You will see this page.

closing serve

Target MasterCard Gift Card is similar to Vanilla Visa Gift Card, But….

My order at arrived. It’s Target MasterCard gift card. When I placed the order, there were no purchase fee, and somehow REDcard 5% discount was applied (see detail here.) The back of the package says almost the same as one from Target Visa gift card.

Select any 4 digit PIN at first use………………………………………..Card issued by the Bancorp Bank…………………………..For card information, the Cardholder Agreement, refunds, or to request a replacement card, call 1-800-698-4952 or visit…………………………………

The only difference is that “pursuant to license by MasterCard International.” instead of “pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.” I can check the balance, reset PIN, and assign ZIP code in the same website,

You can do the same things in the websites, and, for Target Visa or MasterCard GCs, and vice verse. It means that all those cards, Vanilla, One Vanilla, Target Visa and MasterCard GCs, have all the same features.

So, I thought I could reload American Express Serve with these gift cards at Family Dollar. But, it failed. After I swiped the card and entered PIN, a PIN pad said, “invalid card number.” I tried another card, but it was the same result. Only a week ago, I loaded with Target Visa GCs at Family Dollar. So, unless POS system has changed since them, the problem is it’s MasterCard.

target mastercard gift card at family dollar

Well, now I need to spend all GCs by purchasing. When I visit Walmart, I will try to use the card at Walmart ATM. I don’t think it will accept it, but it is worth a try.

Unloading Prepaid Card – Walmart MoneyCard by Green Dot

I had my Walmart MoneyCard Preferred shut down by Green Dot because they don’t like the way I used it. I can’t reload or pay bills anymore. All I can do is spend the remaining balance. Just before the shut-down, I set up bill pays that could unload almost all the balance. However, they were canceled. So, I need to unload over $2500 by purchasing.

Unloading Visa or MasterCard prepaid cards is easy. Since they have the feature of debit card, you can use at ATM and get cash back at register. But the fastest way to unload is reload BlueBird or Serve with them.

unloading walmart moneycardYou can reload up to $1000 per day and choose any amount (minimum $20.) I went to Walmart twice and made two reloads to finish the Walmart MoneyCard. There is a transfer to Chime card between two reloads. At that time, I found a lot of new Chime offers. I reload Chime card so I can redeem new offers. Chime doesn’t charge a reload fee. As long as I know, the debit card that Chime charges a reload fee is PayPal Business Debit card. I have tested all other debit cards I have (Mango, PayPal Prepaid, Walmart MoneyCard, and Chase,) and none of them are charged a reload fee. (see details here.)

Anyway, my Walmart MoneyCard is completely dead now. It has no money in it, and it can’t be added any money, either. The last transaction (reloading my Serve card at Walmart) is like a funeral for Walmart MoneyCard. So, I chose Walmart for its funeral as a courtesy.

American Express Serve $25 Bonus offer & $10 Good Faith Credit

serve get 25 back aug 15 sep 13I received two credits from Serve recently. One is $25, and the other is $10. As for $25, a short description says, “Thanks for Using Your Card.” And here is an email I received earlier. I needed to make 5 transactions of $10 or more to receive the credit. I started using my Serve card on Aug 27th. I believed that was the transaction#1. And I would need 4 more transactions, and I was thinking where to use. But two days later, somehow I already received the $25-credit. I check my transactions since Aug 16th. I made six bill pays and 2 regular purchases. One of them is the purchase of gift cards at Bed Bath and Beyond. The purchase was for Amex Offer “$5 back on $25 or more purchase.” I wasn’t sure if this transaction was eligible for another offer. So I didn’t count as one of five transactions for the new offer. However, the credit was posted, that means I didn’t have to do anything for the new offer. It seems that only regular bill pays meet the requirements to receive the credit.

serve credit 25 10

The other credit is $10 and was posted on Aug 27th. It is described as Good Faith Credit. I had no idea what this credit is for until I received this email today.

At American Express, we are committed to providing you with the best American Express Serve® Account experience possible. We recently fell short on this commitment and experienced an error related to an offer you added to your Serve card. We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about this error and how we’ve resolved it.

We offered you a one-time $10 statement credit when you used your enrolled Card to spend a total of $200 or more on American Express Gift Cards. Although you were able to enroll in this offer, your American Express Gift Card order was declined, and you were not able to receive the $10 credit.

To correct this error, we have issued a $10 statement credit to your American Express Serve Account. We would like to offer our sincere apology that you were unable to redeem the offer.

If you have any questions, please call us at 1‑800‑954‑0559 to speak to an American Express Serve Customer Care Professional.

We truly value your membership and will continue working to ensure you have a positive American Express Serve Account experience.


The American Express Serve Team

I remember this. There was Amex Offer, but you couldn’t redeem. I actually synced the offer and tried to make a purchase of AmEx GC. The transaction was declined because they don’t take prepaid or gift cards as payment. (see details here) No big deal, I didn’t care much about it, but American Express took it seriously and resolved generously. American Express issues lots of useful offers and takes good care of their customers.

Chime Card Reviews

chime cardChime Card is Reloadable Prepaid Debit Card that has a logo of Visa on it. Since it is a debit card, you can withdraw cash at ATM and get cash back with a purchase where available. But, the main feature of the card is that you can earn Instant Cash Back when you make qualifying purchases with the card.

Chime Offer

There are two types of rewards you can earn with Chime card, Earned Credit and Store Credit. Earned Credit is just like Amex Offer. Spend a certain amount at certain store and you will get certain amount credit. This type of offers looks like a left picture. One thing that is different from Amex Offer is you don’t need to sync with offers. As long as you use the card for a purchase that costs more than a requirement, you will get the credit. Store Credit has no minimum requirement and looks like a right picture. No matter how much you spend you will earn the credit. If you spend less than the amount they offer, you will receive the same amount of credit as you spend. The remaining balance of credit is kept for the next purchase.

chime offer earn creditchime offer store credit

How to Add Money

There are three ways to add money to Chime card.

  • Debit Card – $100 $200 per day
  • Bank Transfer – $200 per day
  • Direct Deposit

None of them is charged a fee. Some debit cards are charged up to 3% as a reload fee. Click here to see more details about charges. If you have a reward/point earning debit card, use it. You can do it online or with a mobile app. Money is available in no time. For example, PayPal Business Debit MasterCard offers 1% cash back for every purchase. Transferring money to Chime account is treated as a purchase in PayPal statement. So, you can earn 1% cash back every time you add money to the card.

A limit of $100 per day seems a little, but all Chime offers are mostly less than $50 (e.g., spend $35, get $5). And I have never seen an offer more than $100. When you find a good offer and don’t have enough money in the card. No problem. You can use the internet or smartphone to add money in a minute.


They charge a fee for the following transactions

  • Domestic Cash Withdrawal Fee: $2.50 per transaction
  • ATM Balance Inquiry Fee: $0.50 per transaction
  • Account Maintenance Fee: $5.00 per month ONLY AFTER 180 consecutive days of no purchases, withdrawals, or deposits on your account.
  • International Transaction Fee: 3% of the total purchase amount
  • International Cash Withdrawal Fee*: $2.50 + 3% of the total withdrawal amount
  • Check Refund Fee: $5.00 per check issued
  • Express Card Replacement Fee: $25.00 per card issued

As long as you use the card for redeeming Chime offers, you won’t get charged any fees. $5 for maintenance fee is avoidable. Any transaction you made waives the fee for 180 days. It is hard to get charged!

What Else?

On the back of the card, at the bottom, it says:

This card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A Inc.

It reminds me of something. The Bancorp Bank also issues Visa gift cards. Vanilla, OneVanilla, and Target Visa gift cards are all issued by the same bank. Since Walmart updated POS system, these gift cards can’t be used for reloading American Express BlueBird, Serve, or other reloadable prepaid cards (see details here.) Apparently, the problem is that these gift cards can’t be registered (or attached your name and billing address) because of their feature. However, Chime card is personalized. Your name and address are surely attached to the card so you can make online orders. And your name is also on the card. There is nothing shady to use the card for reloading BlueBird/Serve at Walmart.

So, I went to Walmart Kiosk and added $100 to my Serve card with Chime card. The transaction went through, and here is how it looks like in Chime history.

walmart swipe reload with chime card

This is great! When I add money to Chime with PayPal debit card, I got 1% cash back from PayPal. But you can bring money back to PayPal through Serve and Bank account. You can load Serve or Bluebird with PayPal debit card directly, in the same way, at Walmart, but this transaction is a PIN-used purchase which PayPal doesn’t offer 1% cash back.

I also shopped at grocery stores. I used self-checkout cashiers and got $50 (Pathmark) and $80 (Stop and Shop) cash back. ($50 and $80 are the maximum amounts for cash back allowed by self-checkout cashiers)

Aside from Chime Offer, the card can also be used for manufactured spending if you have a point/reward earning debit card. I wrote “there is nothing shady” earlier, but I think you should do these kinds of things moderately. Check all Chime Offers every week and redeem them from time to time, and reload BlueBird/Serve between these transactions.The history of Chime card shouldn’t be only Walmart and Debit Card Transfer.


Chime Offer is very good for money savings. You can see new offers every week. Each offer has a limited number, but it doesn’t fly away so quickly at least for now. As long as you use the card for redeeming Chime Offers, you won’t get charged any fee if you make any transaction within 180 days. If you add money to the card with point/reward earning debit cards, you can boost up the earning by reloading BlueBird/Serve or get cash back at registers.

You can only apply the card online. Please click here to get started.

American Express Serve Reviews

American Express Serve is Reloadable Prepaid card that has exclusive features. By using full of these features, you can save money when shopping and use it for manufactured spending. First off, these are some unique features for loading Serve.

Load with Credit Card

You can load Serve with your credit card. It can only be done online. First, you have to choose a credit card and link to your Serve account. You can link only one credit card. You can change credit cards, but you need to remove the current card and then link another card. The limit is $200 a day, $1000 a month.

Load with Debit Card

The rule is the same as credit card’s. Only one debit card can link to Serve account and limit $200 a day, $1000 a month. If you have a point earning debit card, use it. As for me, I have PayPal Business Debit MasterCard that offer unlimited 1% cash back on purchases. Every month, I earn $10 cash back by loading $1000 to Serve with PayPal debit card.

Load with Visa/MasterCard Gift Card

Visa/MasterCard gift cards have a feature of debit card. You can load Serve with debit cards at Walmart ATM. As long as gift cards have PIN, you can use them at Walmart ATM for loading Serve. Limit is $1000 a day. I’m not sure about monthly limit, but combined with all types of loads should be less than $10,000. You can consolidate all Visa/MasterCard gift cards you purchase at the time of promotions, to meet requirement of sign-up bonus, etc. I can use my PayPal debit card for loading at Walmart, but PayPal doesn’t offer cash back for PIN purchase (transaction as a debit card). So, there is no meaning to use regular debit cards for loading at Walmart ATM.

These are not all the ways to load Serve, but the useful ways for manufactured spending. Once you load Serve, you have many ways to unload it.

Transfer to your bank account

With your bank account linked to Serve, you can transfer money between them. It is not only adding money to Serve, but also withdraw money from Serve to your bank account.

Pay Bills

You can pay bills of your credit cards linked to Serve account, used for purchase of Visa/MasterCard GCs, etc.

Please note that you should avoid unloading right after you load Serve. American Express may close your account if the transactions obviously show that you use Serve for manufactured spending. For example, load $1000 with a credit card and then pay exact $1000 credit card’s bill. Leave the money in Serve account for a while then unload it. More favorably, you should use some money in the account for regular purchases. Unlike reward credit cards, you can’t earn cash back or travel points through regular purchases, but Serve can sync with Amex Offer.

Save Money by Amex Offer

Serve is an eligible to sync with Amex Offer, and BlueBird is not. BlueBird is another American Express reloadable prepaid card, which has very similar features of Serve. You can’t have both of them. You have to choose one between them. If you change your mind, you can switch them, but you need to close the current account and then open another. I chose Serve over BlueBird because of Amex Offer. You can earn statement credit by using the card at certain stores. For example:

Get a one-time $10 statement credit by using your connected Card to spend a total of $50 or more in-store and online at The Sports Authority by 8/31/2014

There are always many offers, and new offers frequently keep adding. If you are not interested in any items in the store, but they sell other store’s gift card, buy a gift card to get statement credit.

About Fees

There is no fee when you do anything described above. They charge $1 as monthly maintenance fee, but you can waive the fee by loading $500 or more. So, I believe that no one is ever worried about it.


American Express Serve is a must for manufactured spending. Online load with credit and debit cards are very convenient. Plus, loading with Visa/MasterCard GCs at Walmart ATM makes it possible to create more manufactured spending. Amex Offer helps you unload Serve and makes it less obvious what you are doing (using for manufactured spending) and gives you savings at the same time.

The features on this post are key features that I think it is useful and important. Of course, there are more features that is general or may be useful to you. Please visit for full information.

Amex Offer amazon already $20 back for $20+ Purchase

Get a one-time $20 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $20 or more online at by 8/31/2014

amazon e gift card email deliveryI received this offer in July 2014. I purchased $20 Amazon E-Gift Card with AmEx  card synced with this offer (Blue Cash Preferred). Usually, AmEx sends a confirmation email (picture below) in a minute, but I didn’t receive one this time.

amex offer staple confirmation email

I wondered e-gift card might not have been eligible for the offer. So, I logged in my AmEx account to double-check its terms and conditions. Then I noticed that $20 had been already credited to my account. ^^

I purchased the e-gift card on July 10th, and the credit was posted on the next day. Since amazon gift cards are eligible items for this offer, just buy a $20 gift card for a future purchase if you don’t find anything you want right now.

amex offer amazon $20 back on $20

Another great offer became available at the same time. It’s for

Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $100 or more on qualifying purchases online at by 7/31/2014

I purchased $100 Sears gift card with the card. For this purchase, I received a confirmation email (2nd picture) right after the check-out. Please note that Staples offer is valid online only, and e-gift cards are not eligible items.

And today, I see another offer added. It’s for BestBuy. (sync up with Serve, too)

Get a one-time $25 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $250 or more at Best Buy by 9/2/2014

What generous offers! Thank you, American Express!

Fee or Error? Being Charged $3.95 on Every Walmart Swipe Reload

On June 15th, 2014, I reloaded my Serve with 3 Visa gift cards at Walmart. I have been doing many times, and it seemed there was no problem to complete 3 reloads. The receipts show the exact amount I loaded. At a glance of them, I couldn’t see any problem, but when I logged in Serve account and saw the transaction history, I noticed there was something wrong. The amount of each reload is $3.95 less. I checked the receipts carefully. Although the amount of the debit load is correct, the beginning balance and the ending balance don’t match each other. The beginning balance on all three receipts is somehow $3.95 less.

serve 3.95 glitch

As soon as I got home, I searched on the internet. Instantly, it was a hit. There were many people experiencing the same problem. Something in common was that they happened recently and only to Serve, not BlueBird. In terms of time and place, it probably happened at random.

Someone’s post on flyertalk forum says “It was probably a glitch only affecting on Serve. Wait for the next few days to see if it is just a glitch or a new policy.” I was convinced by this post, and I just waited.

I have been waiting for a few days, but there is no change in my Serve account. I went back to the forum and continued to read pages. On page 5, I found the resolution. I should have read this page on the first day. It had been already resolved 4 days before.

There is a link in the forum and visited blog post. As it says, I called the number on the back of the card and spoke to an account manager. In a few minutes, $3.95 x 3 was credited to my Serve account. It shows up as Good Faith Credit.

serve glitch credited

If you recently reload your Serve at Walmart, you should double check if there is a hidden deduction of $3.95 for each reload.