Switching REDbird to Serve: The Full Process, Unique Serve Features & New Information I Have Learned

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redbird to serve

Update on REDbird’s Death & Switching to Bluebird/Serve

Two days ago I was one of the first bloggers to cover the eventual demise of debit card loads to REDcard (REDbird). At the time it seemed unlikely that Amex & Target would block all debit cards, but that is exactly what happened. Yesterday I saw a memo that confirmed Target REDcard loads are cash only and Frequent Miler even posted a copy.

Thankfully there is a way forward. Yesterday in my REDcard Postmortem, I explained ways to liquidate the cards you have and looked at a strategy going forward. In that post I linked to a number of resources and I highly recommend giving it a look.

One of the things I talked about was switching from REDbird to Serve. I just made a switchover and wanted to share the process in more detail and also pass along some new information I learned.

Switching from REDbird to Serve

Clearing the money out

Before switching from REDbird to Serve you must bring your account balance to $0. You can do this by transferring money out to your bank account, paying a bill, or sending money to another Amex card through the “Send Money” feature (probably the quickest and easiest way).

Note that Amex won’t allow you to close the account until the balance is at $0 and all transactions have cleared. Sometimes it can take a couple of days for this to happen.

Closing REDbird

redbird to serve

To close your REDbird account, simply go into your profile. You can find a link to it by clicking “Settings” in the menu on the top right. You should then see a tab labeled “Profile”. Click it and the “Close Account” option will be at the very bottom of the page. If all of your transactions have cleared and the account has a $0 balance, you should be able to close REDbird without issue.

Before you close the account you will see a message informing you that the closure cannot be undone. Once the account is closed you will also receive confirmation that you can still login for 90 days to view your transaction history and get your statements. Congratulations, you are officially in limbo, but not for long.

Opening Serve/Bluebird

redbird to serve

As I mentioned yesterday, I believe the One VIP version of Serve is the best, although you should read more about the different versions and come to a conclusion for yourself. As soon as REDbird is closed, you can head to the Serve site and sign-up. You do not have to wait.

Which Email to Use & CAUTION!

Yesterday I originally said that you need to use a different email for Bluebird/Serve than the one you used for REDbird. That used to be the case, however it apparently has changed. I was just able to successfully change a REDbird to Serve and use the same email for both accounts. There is one huge drawback though.

Since both the Serve and REDbird sites use the same backend, if you use the same email address to register Serve, you will not be able to log into your old REDbird account. (Or at least that has been the case for me.) This means you won’t have 90 days to access statements or look at transaction history. If you need this information, make sure to download it before opening a Serve account or use a different email for your new account.

Waiting for Serve

It usually takes about 7-10 days for the new card to arrive. This means that you should be able to get the new card before the end of the month if you make the switch in the next couple of days. You will have the full load limits available, even if you maxed out your REDbird before the change.

Adding Subaccounts
redbird to serve
To add subaccounts go to the menu on the top right and select “Subaccounts” in the drop down.

One of the coolest features of Serve is subaccounts. While I don’t use my subaccounts too often, each one is eligible for its own Amex Offers, so I make sure to have four subaccounts (the maximum) on every Bluebird and Serve I manage. Just in case you are wondering, it is possible to have a subaccount in the name of the primary account holder. You know, to separate expenses and all of that.

Credit Card Loads

Serve allows up to $1,000 per month to be loaded from an American Express card. The key is to find an American Express card not issued by American Express since Amex issued cards do not earn rewards. Be careful when doing this though, because the transaction can code as a cash advance. Doctor of Credit has a great reference discussing which third party Amex cards are available.

Conclusion

If your REDbird account is at $0 and all transactions have cleared, it takes less than 5 minutes to close one account and sign-up for the other one. With the memo now posted showing that Target is cash-only, I felt confident enough to switch over my remaining REDbird cards to Serve. With that said, take your time and wait until you are comfortable.


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28 COMMENTS

  1. Can you order Serve online? Or strictly have to get a temp card at CVS or B&M store? If it’s available online, do I get the permenant one right away?

  2. Hi Shawn, I just had RB cut a check for the remaining balance in my account. It’s in the mail and should get to me in a few more days. Do you know if I need to wait to receive, cash, and for the check to post before closing RB and switching to Serve? Don’t want the check bouncing or anything if i close too soon…ha.

    • I don’t think it will since the money is already accounted for. Generally it is a good idea to wait, but since you sent the money to yourself, I think it should be fine.

  3. Make sure to delete the CC or PP Debit Card from RB before you close the account or you won’t be able to use the same card with Serve (unless you call).

  4. Closed Redbird, even got the confirmation email.
    Tried signing up with Serve (different email address), but getting the following:

    “Sorry, we cannot approve you for an American Express Serve Account at this time because you have an existing Target Prepaid REDcard® Account.”

    • I also tried (twice) to sign up for Serve using a different email address than the one I used for Redcard and I also received the “Sorry, we cannot approve you for an American Express Serve Account at this time because you have an existing Target Prepaid REDcard® Account” message. But when I used the same email address I used for Redcard I got approved.

  5. hi Shawn,

    thanks for the detailed article, I was successfully able to covert red bird to serve VIP.
    i have a quick Q though – I plan to add my wife as an additional card holder to serve account, will she be able to load her card at Walmart using VISA gift card ? or the load is only working for the primary card
    thanks again

    • Unfortunately only the primary card cab be loaded. The subaccounts are just for spending. I do load my wife’s card all of the time and have only had an issue once with the names not matching. Since you are giving them money, they don’t really seem to care.

  6. Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for all the great info. I’ve been loading my RedBird through Visa cards using the Chase Ink for a few months and it’s worked great. With this news I will certainly change over to Serve One VIP. On the website it says you can load it at CVS, Family Dollar, Walmart & 7 Eleven. Do you or anyone here have experience liquidating Visa gift cards and loading Serve at any of these locations? Thanks!

  7. Hi Shawn,

    Just starting the hobby of MS and have read a lot about it but I’m still missing something (Actually just got my Redcard before the shutdown… bad timing). The question I have is regarding choosing the right Serve card, I see you recommend OneVip. What about Serve FreeReloads (Green)? From what I see the “green” version has more options to load (Walmart, Rite-Aid, CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar and some 7–11’s, while the OneVip is only at Walmart, CVS and some 7-11’s. I’m not worried about the monthly fee of $4.95 of the Green if i’m doing enough VGC’s a month, it kind of pays off, so why OneVip? I must be missing something since no one mentions it. Thanks!

    • The only two places that allow debit/gift card loads to Serve are Walmart and Family Dollar. All of the other places are cash only. Both the Green and One VIP cards will work at both Walmart and Family Dollar.

  8. Shawn, thanks so much for all of the detailed info. You are the best! I am so sad to leave Target. I love Target. I hate that other store. However, I am excited to have so many more accounts to take advantage of AmEx Offers! Wow! I’m going to have to expand my spreadsheet to keep track of them all, and sign up for more Twitter accounts!

  9. I suggest anyone getting serve now to try loading $500 vanilla visa cards at a Family Dollar near you. Since I waS STUCK WITH 8 CARDS WHEN REDBIRD shut down, I tried in Florida and was successfull You don’t need the redbird card unless you are close to a Target and not a Family Dollar that takes the card. Good luck.

  10. You didn’t mention the best use of Serve- all Serve transfers from Am Ex cards count toward minimum spending.

    Example- $750 through Serve on the Am Ex Hilton gets you 60,000 Hilton points. (Pull from card, immediately pay back through billpay)

    My plan is to use Serve until my wife and I run through every Am Ex card that has a minimum spending requirement and then maybe switch to the Fidelity card, which would get us about $30 in free cash per month (which may not be worth it).

  11. Hi Shawn, thanks for covering this. One quick question. When switching to Serve, is Family Dollar just as reliable a method for liquidating GC as Target was for RB? I note the focus is mostly on Walmart with a side mention of Family Dollar. I have a Family Dollar very close by — closer than my Target, but Walmart is quite far away for me.

    • It really isn’t because Family Dollar stores have very strange systems and can only load one card at a time. As in you can’t load more than one card to Serve per day normally.(Some stores reportedly have this ability, but it is rare.) Walmart is really the much better option.

  12. Hi Shawn –
    Is there a maximum amount that can be loaded at either WM or FD using Visa Gift cards per transaction? per day? per month?

    thanks for your help

    • You can’t load gift cards at WM, only real debit cards…you can load gift cards at FD but each store has a $500 TOTAL limit per day for everyone. So if someone loaded $500 the same day before you get there, your money might get taken but not loaded and then you have to wait to get it back.

      • Tony you are operating on very flawed information. Most pin-enabled gift cards work at Walmart. I have personally been loading them at Walmart for many many years. As you say FD does have some quirks.

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