Amex Announces Small Change to Bluebird & Serve

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bluebird serve international atm

Bluebird/Serve International ATM Change

American Express Bluebird and Serve have sent out notices announcing a small change. Despite the rather serious title, “Important Change to Your American Express Bluebird® Account” only one little used feature is being tweaked.

As of January 6, 2016 (today) you will no longer be able to withdraw money from your card at ATMs located outside of the United States. Below are the messages being sent out to cardholders of both types of cards.

Bluebird Announcement

We are writing to inform you of a change to the terms and conditions of your American Express Bluebird® Account:

International ATM:
Beginning January 6, 2016, you will no longer be able to withdraw money using your Bluebird Card at ATMs outside of the United States.

You can still enjoy free ATM withdrawals when using an in-network MoneyPass® ATM nationwide. You can find one of the more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs using the link below. Withdrawals at non-MoneyPass ATMs have a $2.50 American Express Bluebird fee, and ATM operator fees may also apply.

Serve Announcement

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

International ATM:
Beginning January 6, 2016 you will no longer be able to withdraw money using yourServe Card at ATMs outside of the United States.

You can still enjoy free ATM withdrawals when using an in-network MoneyPass® ATM nationwide. You can find one of the more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs using the link below. Withdrawals at non-MoneyPass ATMs have a $2.50 American Express Serve fee, and ATM operator fees may also apply.

Analysis

This really isn’t a big deal for me since I have never used my Bluebird/Serve card at any ATM. I do suspect that the core demographic for these products does use ATMs, so this change may affect some, but probably not many people. (Update: Apparently more people used this feature than I thought according to the comments.)

As is said in the announcement, you can still withdraw money in the U.S. at MoneyPass ATMs free of charge and at other ATMs for a fee. If you need ATM access abroad, do yourself a favor and find a bank that gives free ATM withdrawals both in the U.S. and internationally. It will save you a lot of money!


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27 COMMENTS

  1. Any recommendations on banks that have free use internationally. Closest I could find was BofA’s partnership with BNP Paribas (Paris) so there’s just a 1% conversion fee but no flat $ usage fees.

  2. This is a deal breaker for me as one of the main reasons I have my Bluebird account is visiting countries like Brazil were card cloning is out of control. Whenever I visited there, I would do an immediate transfer from my bank debit card onto my BB card via my phone, then pull out funds from the ATM.

    • Totally agree. This is fairly devastating considering I’m currently abroad and have been relying on the card. It feels way safer to dump a couple hundred onto the bluebird card via smartphone app before stepping up to what might be a shady ATM. I don’t want to expose my primary bank account, but I guess now I’ll have to. Kind of shocking that there was no forewarning for this.

  3. Interesting comment you make in your analysis section “This really isn’t a big deal since I have never used my Bluebird/Serve card at any ATM”. Are you writing this blog for yourself or for your readers? You bloggers are a funny bunch because if it affects you, then its headline news bashing the airline or hotel chain or other company but since “you” don’t use Bluebird for ATM this isn’t a big deal?

    This caused me to immediately sign up for a Fidelity ATM and I’m having a card shipped to me asap. My Bluebird account will now be closed because of this as “I” used the international ATM feature all the time and it was the best deal going….you should change the headline of this article from “small change” to small change could mean big changes for some.

    • You make a fair point that I should have clarified that I was talking about how it would affect me in that statement. Of course your “comment” leaves out the next sentence. ” I do suspect that the core demographic for these products does use ATMs, so this change may affect some, but probably not many people.” So I did say it would affect some and thus wrote about it and covered it to inform readers as I always do.

      Also, I am not one of “You Bloggers”. I am Shawn and my work stands on its own. http://milestomemories.boardingarea.com/trolls-you-bloggers/ Thanks for commenting Lars!

    • You opened and maintained a BB account for the sole purposes of international ATM withdraws? Not sure why else you’d close an Amex fee-free product (if dormant) that is a great tool to facilitate churning and MS.

      • Exactly what I was thinking man. BB after the death of RedBird is still a powerful card. Seems like a waste to shut down BB just cuz of this new update. I guess those people dont really do MS or AMEX Sync with it then…

  4. Blocking international ATM use for my SERVE card is an absolute disaster, a stupid move on the part of American Express. I live in a border town, and from my billing address I can SEE THE FENCE between the USA and Mexico. Because I have family, friends and clients in both countries I cross frequently. If I map my week properly, I only need to visit ATM’s within the Moneypass network on the US side but sometimes I do not plan well, or something comes up and I need extra pesos instead of waiting 4-5 hours to cross the border I’ll use an international ATM. Great feature, exchange rates were generous and fees reasonable. Because I have direct deposit my monthly $1 fee is waived. The ONLY revenue Serve gets from me are those international ATM fees. Until now. “Real” credit and debit cards allow you to call customer service and select a check box that says you will be travelling or using international ATM’s. Serve does not. Outsourced customer service gives the standard bogus “security” excuse but seriously, if a card cannot be used that’s not SECURE. It’s worthless. I’ve also had trouble using the card with online orders through certain merchants, but I don’t know whose fault is that. Serve says you can still use the card internationally but that’s not true if you’re connecting from a foreign IP address. Ugh.

  5. I was wondering if anyone has tried this option? (I am not sure if this is a US thing or not) Make a small purchase at an international store (i.e. walmart canada) using the bluebird card as a debit and selecting cash back?

    • My mom lives outside the USA, and I just transferred money to her account, so she could use it to purchase something, as they don’t let us get money .let you know if this work.

  6. This new Amex move has proved to be a disaster to me. I travel to mexixo with frequency and the fact that I couldn’t withdraw money and just to clarify I never received any notice. My life was in danger with no money in a not well known area walking kilometers because I didn’t have money to pay for a cab. Additionally, all the inconveniences this has generated for people like me.
    This opinion article about this being a minor change, nope it’s a humongous disastrous change.

    Please Amex bring it back.

  7. I must say Shawn I like your articles but on this one you could not be more wrong!
    This “little change” has completely uprooted my life!!!!!!
    I was relying on ATM withdrawals and living happily overseas until this change.
    You might say “oh what’s the big deal just get another bank account” but it’s not that simple-in my situation I can’t.

  8. The unique feature of Bluebird cash withdrawals from ATM outside the US was a BIG thing. It did not charge like almost all other banks do. It was a wonderful feature and a very important feature that was eliminated. When the Bluebird card is used for transactions there were no foreign fees for transactions unlike most other credit cards and bank cards. I am not sure if that has changed too. I am sorry to see this lovely feature of being able to withdraw cash internationally taken away.

  9. American Express is more limited for both purchases and ATM’s abroad unlike Visa and Mastercard.
    options to replace Serve and Blue Bird prepaid:
    1. Capital one 360 checking, no foreign transaction fees and I think no more then 1% “Matercard fees” on Atm transactions but I never noticed this on my statement.
    2. Kaiku Visa Prepaid, $3 a month maintenance fee but waived with $750 loaded each month and $3 out of network ATM fee, but no foreign transaction fees. but you can only withdrawal $200 per day.
    3. Mango Visa Prepaid, $3 dollar a month maintenance fee non waive-able, $2 ATM Fee and 2% foreign transaction fee added to both purchases and foreign ATM withdrawals. but 6% interest savings account on up to $5000 dollars. I have withdrawn over $300 dollars at one time with this card.
    I have used all three in Brazil without any problems with the exception of Mango because it was Mango Master when I used it in Brazil.

  10. The bluebird website still advertises $0 foreign transaction fees. Does this mean they reinstated it? Does anyone know?

  11. Wish I saw this before today! I just purchased and loaded a bluebird card solely so that my son could use it as an ATM card while on a school trip to China. The print information at the store indicated ‘no foreign transaction fee’ and ‘can be used at out of network atms’….and the only way I knew it existed was an article online that said it’s a top choice for accessing funds abroad. Aurgh!

    • So sad how this big companies, try to attract people, once we all fly to them like flies to a lickety lickety sweet card. They then change the rules, we are stuck like a fish on a hook. Unable to pull out. It was a great feature that Amex just dropped like a hot potato.

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