Round 2! Amex Is Shutting Down Many More Serve/Bluebird Accounts Today :(

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bluebird serve shutdowns march 2016

Bluebird Serve Shutdowns Round 2

Back on January 8, American Express sent shockwaves through the miles and points world when they shutdown many people’s Bluebird and Serve cards including mine. Some of these cards had been open for years, but it didn’t matter. American Express made it very clear that they had changed their terms to prevent manufacturing spend with these cards.

Since then we haven’t heard of any more shutdowns. It seems that American Express ran a report of some sort, shutdown the accounts in one batch and then moved on. Well, moved on until today. Apparently many many people who survived the first wave of shutdowns have received a notice today informing them that their accounts are basically shutdown. My wife was among them despite not having done much with her card in the past few months.

Here is the letter being sent out:

Dear ___________,

We are writing to let you know that we have observed unusual usage patterns on your American Express Serve Account. Because of this, effective immediately, you will no longer be able to add money to your Account.1 We have made this change in accordance with Section 15.d of our Consumer User Agreement, which you can view here.

Please be aware that you still have full access to the funds on your Account and can withdraw them at any time. Any applicable monthly fees continue to apply.

If you would like to close your Account, you may do so online via your Profile page here. Then, scroll down to the Close Account section and click “Close Account.”

If you have any questions or would like to inquire further about this issue, you may write to us at the following address:

American Express
C/O Customer Relations 02-04-40
4315 S 2700 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84184-0440

Thanks,

The American Express Serve Team

While this is slightly different than the letter sent to customers in January, it is essentially the same.

What to Do

Thankfully American Express actually doesn’t close your account and still lets you have access to your money. (You just can’t load any new funds.) If you have any money on your card, it is probably best to clear it out and close your account. If you have any Amex Offers loaded to the card, then consider redeeming those before closing.

Conclusion

After the first wave of shutdowns, I started to lie low with the one remaining Serve in my family and even it was shutdown today. I now consider Bluebird/Serve as not being a truly viable or reliable way to MS going into the future. More waves of shutdowns are bound to happen as American Express has made it clear they don’t want to deal with this behavior.

Was your account shutdown today? What sorts of activities had you done with it? Let us know in the comments!

HT: Rene’s PointsReddit and my wife’s sad email


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30 COMMENTS

  1. Lost my 3 Serves in the Jan purge, but I had a family member that I’d been holding out of ‘the game’ to see how Serve would play post-Jan. Guess I’ll get that One-VIP Serve card now and MAX IT OUT until it’s shutdown. No reason to play it safe now.

    • Reply to my own comment…:)

      Yesterday I opened the new One-VIP card I mentioned in above post, so AMEX is still allowing new account openings. What I think I’m going to do is max it out for only 2 months (Mar/Apr), then immediately close it. Wait at least 30 days and/or right after the next round of shutdowns, which might be May 6-ish, then try to re-apply for a new card again (or maybe do a BB instead).

      Perhaps I can fly under the radar this way for a while. Worth a shot, got nothin’ to lose….

  2. Got the email this morning. I was loading visa metabank GC $300-$600 at a time. About $2,400k a month, but used it to pay bills.
    They haven’t shut my wife’s bluebird yet.

  3. Had the old Soft Serve. Made it through first wave in Jan. Been adding $500 three times per month since Dec. Used maybe 2 times at grocery store. Had been using direct deposit 1x per month. Obviously didn’t help. Don’t see myself doing any MS going forward.

  4. Just got two new cards to replace two that were shut down. I guess will need to play it safe and actually do some “spend” on the cards. The problem is… how much is enough to stay alive?

    And if AmEx doesn’t want people to use these cards to pay bills, why not just turn off the feature?

    • think that accts didn’t pay bills still got shutdown. if survived this round and that the next round (seems to be about 2 months apart) is true, wonder that one should close the acct shortly then re-open after the next wave?

    • I never used billpay. I used it for regular purchases. I just kept building a balance figuring when I really needed the cash I’d chance it and withdraw. Still got shutdown. Card was opened in Dec.

      • All you did was load your card with VGCs and used it for regular purchases? That makes no sense whatsoever.

        So basically loading with VGCs is the common denominator for everyone getting shut down?

    • SDO, curious to your “replace” reference. I’ve been wondering if that would be possible, that is, were you able to get new cards within your family for those who had been shut down? (using same SS #?)

      Concur with you too, that it’s a crap shoot on knowing what is “legitimate” bill pay, vs. getting tarred as engaging in ms.

  5. My mom just opened Serve about a month ago and it is still safe-probably too new to be targeted. I suspect this gives me 2 months to MS on it before it gets caught in the next round of closures.

  6. Both my wife and I have not been shut down yet on either wave. I’ve been loading it w/ both cash and gift card so maybe that plays a part? I’ve also been immidiately paying a bill within seconds of the load to the serve.

  7. I got the stake through the heart last time, my wife got it this round. Of course, this happened while I’m waiting for my cards to arrive from my AOR. Bluebird was my only MS, so meeting minimum spend should prove interesting. The way of things, I guess.

  8. This 2nd wave of shutdown is applied to those cards applied after Nov 2015. The cards applied after Jan 2016 would be a bit safe. However, the cards eventually would get closed if being max out monthly.

  9. All accounts had been open since at least August of 2015.

    First round:

    Serve#1 – Shut down. Was my primary method for loading gc’s. Also maxed out $1k/mo online cc loads.
    Serve#2 – Shut down. Used as a secondary option for loading gc’s. Also maxed out $1k/mo online cc loads.
    Serve#3 – Shut down. Did not load gc’s. I did max out $1k/mo online cc loads.
    Serve#4 – Active. Did not load gc’s. I did max out $1k/mo online cc loads.
    Serve#5 – Active. Did not load gc’s or online cc loads (used it primarily for amex offers)

    Second round:

    Serve#4 – Still active. Loaded 3 of the Staples VGC to it last week (first time ever using for loading gc’s). Still do $1k/mo online cc loads.
    Serve#5 – Active. Didn’t load gc’s or online cc loads.

    It makes sense that one account survived the first round but as others have noted, there’s not a a consistent rhyme or reason for why some are closed and others aren’t. Case in point, #3 and #4 had the exact same usage and yet one of them survived not just one, but both rounds thus far.

    I expect Serve#4 to be killed next (maybe I have a few weeks?) and perhaps Serve#5 with zero activity will still be around as a method for liquidating gc’s. I haven’t closed any of my Serve accounts in hopes of Amex offers and the fact that I’ve been able to use funds from Serve#4 and send to Serve #1 and #2 to satisfy DD requirements for bank bonuses. Once/If Serve#4 goes, I’ll close down all accounts other than the Serve#5 which can be used as a backup for liquidating gc if necessary. Complicated yes, but I’m just trying to find any value I can at this point.

  10. My Serve is still open. I got it last summer and honestly have NEVER used it. I’ve always meant to get into the MS game but either time or the hassle has stopped me. I just got a few cards and it’s a bit of a stretch to hit the min spend so wondering if I should even try or not. The cards I just got give a good bonus at office supply stores and the other was all the rage in the blogs yesterday. Is GC and MS even worth the effort now?

  11. I received the email this morning. I have had my card for close to 2 years and never did anything but put cash in and pay bills. Some months $1000 and some months 0. Some months less than $500. Never did the GC thing but also never used it to buy things. They advertised it as a bill pay thing so not sure what I have violated.

  12. Wife’s new BB was shut down today at about the same time as everyone else. The data points are very simple. The BB was opened a month ago. Two $500 vgc were deposited via Kate. Payments were sent via bill pay to unrelated individuals to pay for services. That’s it.

  13. I just had one account that survived the first round, but died yesterday. In total, I unloaded four visa gift cards to it totaling $1400, a far cry from many of the smash-and-grabbers out there. Then again, I’d also load it with my rewards debit card and use it to post regular household bills. I also got in a few years ago with the free checks, so it’s too bad I won’t be able to use them.

  14. BB I manage got shutdown in last wave. Opened my own BB after closing RB a month ago. Have only loaded with debit and paid cc bills. Still alive.

  15. Does anyone get the SS benefits on BB. I usually have them way before this day and its now Nov 1,2016 and I do not have them as of yet. I checked both the Bluebird site and the Social Security sit to make sure all was OK and it is. Last month I got it on Sept 26,2016 at 2:04 pm for October benefits/.. And November should at least posted by now

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