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Switching From American Express Bluebird To Serve
Last month my wife and I successfully switched from American Express Bluebird to Serve via the Softcard Mobile Wallet app. It was a very easy process, but did involve a few steps. In this post I will go over the benefits of Serve ($18k free spending per year) and explain the steps involved in converting a Bluebird card to a Serve card.
Bluebird Vs. Serve
American Express Bluebird & Serve are essentially different skins for the same product. While there are a few minor differences, the backend system is the same and thus American Express only allows people to have one card or the other.
While I could spew out a bunch of data points comparing the two cards, the two advantages that Serve has over Bluebird are Amex Offers (formerly Amex Sync) and online credit card loads. The regular Serve card allows you to load up to $1,000 per month from a credit card, while if you sign up for Serve through the Softcard Mobile Wallet app you can load $1,500 per month.
The only two advantages of Bluebird are paper checks and no foreign transaction fee. I have no intentions of ever using my Serve card outside of the country and I have a stack of unused checks that I got for free on my old Bluebird account. I say that I have a stack, however I have no idea where the checks are. For a deeper comparison of the two cards, Frequent Miler has a great post.
Switching Over From Bluebird To Serve
As I mentioned before, the main reason to switch from Bluebird to Serve is the online credit card loads. I say you should always jump on any and every opportunity to manufacture spend with no fee, especially when it isn’t time consuming.
Before switching over from Bluebird to Serve, you should max out your $5,000 monthly load limit before closing your Bluebird card. This essentially allows you to double dip in the month that you switch over. You will get $5,000 in loads on the Bluebird and $5,000 in loads on the Serve if you time it correctly. In my case I maxed out my Bluebird in the first couple of days of the month to ensure my Serve card would arrive before the end of the month so I could max it out. (The $5,000 load limit resets at the beginning of the calendar month.)
Once you have loaded up your monthly limit on the Bluebird card, make sure to pay off bills and/or transfer money to bring your balance down to $0. Once that is done, simply call 1-877-486-5990 which is the same number listed on the back of your card.
After you navigate the prompts and get to a human, tell them to cancel your card. They will then inform you that the card will be closed, however you can reopen it any time in the next 30 days. Hooray you are on your way towards getting completing the switch from Bluebird to Serve.
Signing Up For Serve
To get a new Serve account you can go one of two ways. There is the easy way and the hard way. To go the easy route, simply wait 24 hours after cancelling your Bluebird and go to Serve.com to sign up. The only thing to note is that you must use a different email address than the one linked to your old Bluebird account or you will get an error.
The second way is more difficult, but also comes with more reward. If you have an Softcard compatible phone, simply download the Softcard app and sign up for Serve through the app. Once you open the app it will walk you through the process. If you don’t have an Softcard compatible phone there is some hope.
Buy Your Way To Serve With Softcard
Currently T-Mobile is offering a $50 credit for new Serve accounts when signed up through the Softcard app on a T-Mobile compatible phone. (Set to expire on 8/31 but they have extended it several times. Check this Slickdeals thread for the latest info.) You can use this to your advantage!
Right now Newegg is selling the Optimus F6 for $99.99 or if you don’t like Newegg or they charge tax in your state then some sellers on Amazon have it for $110. (I personally bought it through Newegg.)
The Optimus F6 is by far the cheapest Softcard compatible phone around and is less than half the price of the next cheapest option that I have seen. Additionally it is a well reviewed phone and a good deal. Once you receive the phone, you must activate it with T-Mobile prepaid to get Softcard to work.
Luckily T-Mobile offers a $3 per day prepaid service which will do the trick. Unfortunately there is no way to only load only $3 on to the account, so you must load a minimum of $10. One other thing to note is the phone does come with a sim card, but it may not be Softcard compatible. If your sim doesn’t say Softcard compatible on it, then call T-Mobile and they will send you out an Softcard sim for free or you can also go into one of their stores and they will swap it out for free as well.
Now that you have signed up for the prepaid service and activated the phone, download the Softcard app from the Google Play store. The app will first ask you to setup an Softcard account before taking you to the Serve card registration. Don’t forget to use a different email address from the one linked to your Bluebird. If all goes well you will have a new Serve account within a minute or two.
Once the Serve registration is done through the Softcard app, you never have to use it again if you don’t want to. Softcard offers a lot of great deals, so you may want to consider keeping it, especially if your current phone is Softcard compatible. If not, you can now log in to your Serve account on Serve.com. When you login for the first time you will notice the $50 credit is already sitting there.
A Trick To Get A Second Softcard Account With The Same Phone
Since my wife and I both wanted to switch our accounts, I thought simply getting a second sim card would work. Unfortunately a phone’s Softcard account is linked to the sim & phone number which means if you try to sign up for a second account it will give you an error message.
Thankfully there is a small workaround. After you complete the registration for the first Serve account, go to T-Mobile and get a new Softcard sim card. As mentioned before, they will give it to you for free and update your account to the new sim card.
Once you have that done, uninstall the Softcard app and call Softcard support at 1-800-937-8997 and explain that you accidentally signed up for Softcard in your name to test it out, but this is your wife’s phone and she needs it in her name. (Or something along those lines.) They should out of courtesy de-link the Softcard account from the phone. When this is done you can then register re-download the app and sign up for another account.
The trick above worked for me, but I don’t see it working for more than a second account. If you wanted to do more accounts, then you would probably need to cancel the T-Mobile phone number and wait to sign up for a new prepaid account a few days later.
While this process seems a bit lengthy, in the end you will have spent $110 and will have $100 in your two Serve accounts along with the phone. (Verify the $50 promotion is still running when you sign up.) In my case I needed a new phone for my son so I gave it to him. If you didn’t want the phone, you could sell it for about $75 which would yield you an overall profit of around $65.
The real reason to go down this path is that Serve with Softcard allows $1,500 in online credit card loads per month while the normal Serve card only allows $1,000. Assuming the limits don’t change, that is an extra $6,000 per year per card. To me that makes the process worth it.
How Much Time Is Involved
I personally spent less than an hour total doing this. There is a T-Mobile store right next to my house, so it wasn’t time consuming to switch out the sim card. After ordering the phone, I was able to activate and sign up for the prepaid service online.
Downloading and installing the app took a few minutes as did signing up for the first Serve card. It took about 15 minutes for Softcard customer service to de-link the first account and another five minutes to setup the second one. I never cancelled the T-Mobile account since my money ran out and it wasn’t on auto renew.
Whether you decide to go the route of Softcard or not, getting online credit card loads by switching from Bluebird to Serve is worth it. In our case, we now have $36,000 per year in no fee spending that we didn’t have with our Bluebird cards. A regular Serve card yields $24,000 in no fee spending for two people.
I know this post is lengthy, but hopefully it will help you realize that you are leaving money on the table by keeping Bluebird. If you have any questions about what I covered here, feel free to ask below!