Another Round of Bluebird/Serve Shutdowns & My Old Bird Lives!

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Bluebird/Serve Shutdowns

Bluebird/Serve Shutdowns

Back in January Amex shocked the world when they began shutting down Bluebird and Serve cards for “manufactured spend”. The first wave of shutdowns happened in January with another wave happening in March and a third wave in May. Things have been a bit quiet on that front lately. Did Amex forget? Nope! Today, people are reporting that another huge wave of shutdowns is happening again.

I first saw news of this when two people posted in the Miles to Memories Facebook group. One person had a Bluebird shutdown while the other had a Serve get the axe. I then headed over to the Reddit Churning group and found the bad news. The shutdowns are widespread. You can play the game, but not for long.

Note: Amex doesn’t actually close the account, but instead makes it so you can no longer load money to it.

Resurrecting an Old Bluebird

On an interesting side note, I have one really really old Bluebird card that has seen action for a few years. When the first round of shutdowns happened, it somehow survived (I had a disproven theory as to why) and I decided to sock drawer it. I have survived without it since January, but with a recent influx of $200 cards into my life, I decided to dust it off just two days ago.

Thankfully this card seems to have not been shut down during this wave either, probably because our use was too late to be caught by the evil algorithm. What this actually means is that we probably timed things just right. I guess we’ll be using the old bird to her max for a couple of months. I don’t see her surviving again.

Conclusion

It is clear that American Express has setup a system whereby they will monitor accounts and clear them out every couple of months if they deem them to be trouble. Bluebird/Serve are not a long term way to liquidate gift cards, but rather a temporary way to do it until the dreaded email comes.

Did your Bluebird/Serve card get the axe today? Let us know how you used it and any other relevant data in the comments!


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16 COMMENTS

  1. Good post and heads up for people to have a plan for whatever they do. There isn’t much margin for error when it involves floating a lot of money and constantly changing conditions.

    I have to ask though, why not close and then reopen another version of Serve?

    I’ve done it about every 2 months with my father-in-laws Serve/OneVIP cards. I just received the new card yesterday and will rinse and repeat in a few weeks. I use the period trick and keep the same email. Change the phone number and you’re on your way. It takes less than 15 minutes to do.

    I’m not using it much for loading funds. More so to feed the account if I need it for Amex offers for my other accounts. But it’s there in the event I need a way to unload gift cards, which I admit don’t really interest me. I’m also keeping all Serve accounts empty except this one so I’m only paying $1/mo in total fees.

    • So you are keeping it a month or two and closing before they shutdown correct? Once you are shutdown you can’t reopen. Not a bad idea. Max out at the end of a month and then at the beginning of the next month and then close/reopen. Interesting.

      • You got it! Probably not something we want “eyes” on but it’s been sustainable (thus far). Load month #1, Load month#2, cancel account around the 6th of the month, re-open a new account around the 10th, register card and actually get in a second load for month#2. It’s been a lifeline for my other accounts and for random gc liquidation. It’s working for me (knock on wood) so I’ll keep at it.

  2. Amex shut my Serve down in the first round last year. Since then Amex won’t let me open a new Serve or BB account. Does Amex ever let someone open a new Serve or BB after a shutdown?

  3. Got hit with this wave too. Missed the first two I imagine because I hadn’t loaded any funds prior to them. Figured I’d get shut down eventually so went for a few loads. Luckily, was able to liquidate all my gift cards. Probably did 3 loads of $800-1000 over the course of 2-3 months. On to the next one. Good luck to anyone who still has a Serve card that is still alive!

  4. Wife’s Serve got shut down a couple days ago. Here’s a datapoint for you: NEVER used for loads, only loaded $1k a month via Amex online. I’d even started using it for some spending to look less like MS. Oh well, RIP Serve.

  5. Only had my Serve since last November. Did Fidelity Amex small loads off and on, then maxed out before the Visa change. Actually got PPBDC to work for online loads for a bit. Now shut down. Mostly bill payment, a few debit card purchases, no ATM or transfers out.

  6. Got the notice first thing in the morning before reading this post that my BB was affected. No load activity in Aug but a handful of $300 GC loads in July (4-6 ish). Used checks to pay legitimate bills (e.g. school tuition, insurance). Don’t have a Wal-Mart close to me but when I was by one, I would do 1x $300 load per visit/trip.

    The email says if there are any questions re. the closure, cardholders can write in to AMEX. Has anyone ever written them asking for an explanation? Gotten one back? Just curious. I might just to share my disappointment with the service and that it will further reduce my desire to use any of my AMEX card products in the future…if they care.

  7. My husband and I still have our Bluebird cards. I only use them to liquidate gift cards a few times per year. Also, the only way I have used the funds is to pay mortgages on our primary home and rental properties. This has kept us under the radar so far!

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