Amex Serve Shutdown Dilemma: Pay Fees for Amex Offers or Close & Move On?

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bluebird serve shutdown amex offers

Serve Amex Offers Dilemma

I have a bit of a dilemma. Like many of you, my wife and I were caught in the shutdown waves of Bluebird/Serve cards. My Softcard Serve was shutdown during the first wave and my wife’s One VIP Serve was shutdown in the second wave. Actually, these cards aren’t truly shutdown. The accounts remain open, however no new money can be loaded to them.

Since the shutdowns, I have left both accounts open, because I figure they might be worth keeping to cash out through Amex Offers. Both accounts have four subaccounts, meaning combined they are eligible for 10 Amex Offers.

My total balances are as follows:

  • Softcard Serve: $759.25 including subaccounts
  • One VIP Serve: $796 including subaccounts.

Paying the Monthly Fees

The main issue I am now running into is monthly fees. (Bluebird doesn’t have a monthly fee so the decision is a bit easier.) Both of these Serve cards have monthly fees that can be waived through loads or direct deposits. While I haven’t tried a direct deposit, I don’t believe it would work since adding new money to the account is blocked. (If someone has a data point let us know.) I also can’t load the cards at Walmart, etc., so basically I am now getting hit with a monthly fee.

The monthly fee on the One VIP card is only $1. Not bad. Unfortunately as of January, 2016 the Softcard Serve has a $4.95 monthly fee and I am now paying it. The question now becomes when it makes sense to close the account to avoid the fee.

Considerations

When deciding whether or not to close the accounts, I have to make a few considerations.

  • Will we see any good Amex Offers which can be loaded via Twitter or the Serve app?
  • Are those offers going to be worth taking advantage of on all of my cards. (I have many normal Amex cards I can use and some offers I don’t want to do 40+ times.)
  • Will the savings on the Amex Offers make up for the monthly fees?
  • Does it make sense to strand $1,500 in these accounts while I wait for good offers to cash them out.

My Probable Strategy

I have been playing the Amex Offers game for a long time and have noticed that the frequency and quality of offers ramps up towards the 4th quarter. For that reason I think I will try to keep these cards open through the end of the year or until the money runs out whichever comes first.

That means that I will probably pay a total of ~$72 in fees for 2016 between the two Serve accounts. Luckily I have already saved that via the Carrabba’s Amex Offer. All 10 of those cards received a $10 credit meaning I am pretty much already in the green for the year. I could still buy gift cards with the Petco offer as well and have enough money for one or two more before the funds run out.

Conclusion

I think the $1 monthly fee makes the One VIP card a no-brainer to keep, but I’ll admit that the $5 fee on the Softcard Serve stings a bit considering that card used to be free. Still, I think keeping these cards until the funds are cashed in via Amex Offers makes sense in the long term. What do you think? Have you kept your Serve/Bluebird accounts alive to cash in offers? Let us know in the comments!


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Can’t speak for the other flavors, but the regular Serve has no fees if you maintain a $0 balance. Since I had 3 Serve accounts shut down I keep a balance in one account and $0 in others and I pay $1/month in fees total. BTW when I say $0 balance, that goes for the sub accounts as well.

    • I still use my Serve card and setup a direct deposit to it in January. No monthly fees since I have the deposit setup. I also have an allotment from my checking account going to a sub account. Since the ” shutdown” the only inconvenience is not being able to load at Walmart or CVS. All automatic deposits work great.

  2. I cashed out Bluebird and Serve as soon as the GC loads were shut down. I guess I could have kept them open for the AMEX offers, but I felt that if they wouldn’t let me play my game, I didn’t want to play theirs. So I took my toys and went home.

  3. I was hanging in there waiting for Amex Offers as well.
    Decided to withdraw all the money though a few days ago.
    Just didn’t seem worth it, especially as I have enough other
    Amex cards that get most of the good offers. So no more
    Serve for me. The upside is one less thing to keep track of 🙂

  4. Both my Serves, money removed and accounts closed.

    We can always find another deal…

    70 cents gets me a MO, so Good By Serve…

  5. My account remains open with a $0 balance. After using the AT&T offer somehow my AT&T account did not correctly change my auto pay card on file and AT&T charged my monthly bill to my Serve card, which then used my backup funding of my SPG card to actually let the charge go through. What?! So while I will not earn SPG points on any charges, I figure if there’s ever a decent Amex offer, I’ll just use my Serve and the backup SPG funding will kick in. No monthly fee because my balance remains at $0! But sadly no decent offers have shown up for that card yet this year, so not sure why I’m bothering.

  6. I got the blue Serve card online for free more than a year ago. I then did an address change to my postal drop box. I use this card for charges where I prefer to not give out my residential address. Since it is not a credit card, this second address does not appear on my credit profile. I add money for free at CVS. Recently I set up a link from my credit union checking account to transfer money for free to the Serve card. It worked. Maybe they will waive the $1 a month fee?

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