Meet Walmart’s New MoneyCenter Kiosk (KATE) – The News Isn’t Good for Bluebird/Serve Reloads

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walmart new kiosk load bluebird serve
This is the old MoneyCenter Express. See its new replacement below.

Meet the Walmart MoneyCenter Express Replacement

One of the most popular methods of liquidating Visa & Mastercard gift cards is to load them to Bluebird or Serve at Walmart. While this is possible in most cases at a register, many people find it much easier to use Walmart’s MoneyCenter Express Kiosk or KATE (seen above) since cashiers often want to see ID or won’t allow loads from prepaid cards.

Related: Guide to Loading Bluebird/Serve at a Walmart MoneyCenterExpress Kiosk

Kiosk Replaced with an ATM

A couple of weeks ago I received word from a local reader in Las Vegas that one of the most stable kiosks in the city had been replaced by an ATM. I quickly headed out and checked a few other stores, however at that time only the one had been affected. Fast forward a few weeks and I have now run into the new ATM kiosk at my local store. The news isn’t good.

The new kiosk is about half of the size of KATE and for the time being is solely an ATM. As you can see from the screenshots below, Walmart is touting this an their “New ATM Experience” and saying it will have more features such as bill pay and money transfers added later. Of course card reloads are not mentioned as a future function of this machine, which isn’t a surprise.

The new kiosk has three home screens that each display for about 10 seconds before cycling to the next. Here are shots of all three. I apologize in advance for the poor quality, however the store was busy and I was trying not to draw too much attention for taking the photos.

walmart new kiosk load bluebird serve
Screen 1 – A typical welcome screen.
walmart new kiosk load bluebird serve
Screen 2 – Their new ATM experience? Booo. I liked the old experience. Well, sort of.
walmart new kiosk load bluebird serve
Screen 3 – About the new features that they plan to add.

Is This a Fluke or the Future?

I sincerely believe this is the machine that many of you will see rolled out to your local Walmart eventually. As you can see, this isn’t some off the shelf ATM that they stuck in this Walmart, but is a machine running custom designed software. While I have high hopes that card reloads will be added as a software update, I sincerely doubt it.

The first clue that this machine was designed differently comes from the hardware. The POS pinpad has been removed in favor of a more traditional ATM pinpad. Also, there is a card slot now instead of a place to simply swipe the card. I am sure the new hardware could probably support reloads, however it doesn’t seem designed for it.

walmart new kiosk load bluebird serve
Meet Walmart’s shorter skinnier kiosk.

Why Replace KATE?

A different interface and hardware than the previous version.
A different interface and hardware than the previous version.

It is no secret that Walmart does not like people loading Bluebird/Serve with prepaid debit gift cards. That is probably one of the main reasons why they are not adding that functionality to the new machines. With that said, I believe the reason the old KATEs are being replaced is reliability. In fact, I asked a MoneyCenter worker at this Walmart why the machine had been replaced and she confirmed it had to do with reliability.

Conclusion

I am going to set out tomorrow to see if any other KATEs in Vegas have been replaced with this new version. With confirmation of two stores now with these machines, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a full rollout fairly soon. At first I was hopeful these ATM replacements would be temporary or only at select stores, however with the language used on the splash screens and the customized software, I think this new version is here to stay! 🙁


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41 COMMENTS

  1. Not yet replaced at my local Walmarts, but the existing KATEs haven’t been working for about 2 weeks and managers don’t seem to care. Cashiers can do reloads but it’s s-l-o-w if you have $200 VGCs. Maybe it’s time to move on to Target.

    • It’s time to be patient and be nice to cashiers and budget a bit more spare time to do the do at the WM. I know showing early morning before there are lines at the Money Center and being willing to step aside and let others by and then resume what I am doing has worked wonders with keeping money center people happy and cheerful. Plus not overloading them. Do a couple VGC at one register then move on, look at TVs and then go hit a different one. Patience is a virtue and kindness even more so.

      • My experience using multiple cashiers at a WM in CA was being stopped by security, told that it was against policy to use prepaids to load BB, and then being threatened with being banned from Walmart if I ever tried it again.

        Needless to say, without Kate, there’s just no safe way out here to reload BB. A sad day.

        • In CA too. Same experience at a couple WMs. They were so angry that I even attempted it. Like I ruined their day. Thankfully I still have a kiosk…..for now.

    • Walmarts by me have never had KATEs. So, I’ve used Target exclusively this year. Target isn’t always a breeze either. Thankfully, one Target near me doesn’t care what debit card I use to load Redcards. The closest Target wants debit cards with your name on them… and are VERY strict about it. I hope those store managers don’t talk to each other. 😉

  2. There are 4 WM near me in eastern PA. The KATEs either isn’t working or when asked to enter the pin it keeps requesting it and doesn’t move forward. I have to cancel the transaction and go to customer service, where they are more adept at going through the load process. So, if the new ATMs don’t accept BB reloads it won’t make any differnec to the process I’ve been following.

    • I have experienced the same thing. Some WM managers around here even think you’re doing something illegal when loading with VGCs, so I try to avoid the CS counters and stick with indifferent looking cashiers. Moreover, using RedBird at a few specific Targets in the area with well-trained cashiers has been my go to vehicle for reloads lately.

  3. Our Kates were not working for a couple of weeks and now they are working, but updated software. They look like the same old machines but now the money order feature is gone on all of them (3 stores). I have not had a chance to see if bluebird works as I had already hit max for the month.

  4. Remember that I told you about this a month Or so ago? Now we are seeing all that I was told materializing and the panic I had in trying to unload visa cards was a sign of the future. Big-time sad face.

  5. the kate near me was also recently updated with new interface that no longer displays the money order feature As an option. Before it usually said money order not available. Now it doesn’t even show up as a choice. Any other had this happen?

  6. wild, wild speculation here…. great click-bait, breathless, oh dear, key phrase, “I’m sure…” ah, the demise of kate — first reported he’uh!

    Oh, and about that claim, “it is no secret that Walmart does not like people loading Bluebird/Serve with prepaid debit gift cards,” what’s your evidence for THAT doozy? At what level? Are you referring to the disposition of cashiers (and customers) not liking to deal with the Ariana’s of the world who would tie up their lanes for half of an hour of the ms/bs games? (Kate doesn’t cause THAT problem)

    Over the past two years, I’ve yet to find a KATE that wasn’t working…. (and I’ve used them at least monthly, sometimes weekly, in Richmond, Staunton, & NVA. I’ve used them in Flordia, New Mexico — and even last month in miserable, tourist-trap Vegas — luv’d Utah by contrast…. despite always hearing the stock claim on ms sites that kate never works, I’ve yet to find one NOT working — or one where it could be quickly fixed by mgmt)

    Oh sure, sometimes Kates will be “down” for a few minutes while updating just before midnight, and once I encountered one that needed a tape refill (for the receipts). Managers were always cordial as could be with them….

    Have a hunch there’s another explanation for what your’e seeing…. (not that you’d want to check with corporate) Walmart check out lanes were the first to have card devises that wanted to utilize your chip enabled cards…. Perhaps there’s something in the works similar for Bluebird… those old kate’s were long overdue for a technology upgrade, and perhaps that’s what’s afoot……

    but never mind, you got clicks to generate.

    Ok, back to the sky is falling, Kate won’t accept bluebird anymore… it’s a trap!

    • If you found that Kate’s are always working you must be a lucky person. The machines are horrid and constantly break. So often that even if I call them in to fix them, the next week they are broke again. Amazingly flawed machine is the “Kate”. The fact that you’ve found them all to be working seems like a minor miracle at the least.

    • Will,

      Thanks for your input. There is no click-bait. I simply showed off the new version of the machine which does not allow card reloads. In fact, the screenshot that I provide shows that it doesn’t provide card reloads and doesn’t have that on its upgrade calendar. In other words, if one of these machines makes it into your Walmart (as it has in many areas of the country including mine), then you will not be able to load Bluebird/Serve at the kiosk.

      I never made any speculation regarding the current generation of machines. I do not believe the functionality will change on those machines, however they will most likely be replaced since they are many years old now. As for reliability, you seem to have been lucky. I actually used to joke about how I never had an issue with kiosks, then about a year ago the kiosks in Vegas began failing. I have experience with just about every store here and kiosks that were solid for years started being unplugged. Now we are seeing those being replaced. This post is about them replacing machines in Las Vegas. The photos are from a Walmart that I went to with the desire to load via KATE. This machine has replaced KATE. This is all factual.

      I’m sorry you didn’t like the article and I sincerely hope your streak of healthy KATEs continues! I really really do. Have a great day.

  7. Maybe I’m just an optimist but this seems like fear mongering and click bait. Doesn’t seem scary at all. Just looks like a better built machine with less breakable exterior parts that will eventually ramp up to handle simple tasks. They even say that the features will be added back (you want to “soft open” new tech most of the time). Walmart will be all about maximizing this machine’s abilities rather than paying real people. Here’s to wishful thinking.

    • Thanks Bryce. This definitely wasn’t meant to be fear mongering or clickbait. The truth is these machines are being rolled out now in my area and I wanted to show people what they are and how they function. In many areas it is still possible to go to the MoneyCenter or cashier and Target is still an option. The sky definitely isn’t falling and if it came across that way I apologize.

      I do want to mention that the machine specifically mentions that card reloads need to be done at the MoneyCenter and that the future features do not mention card reloads. As I mentioned, the hardware is more of a traditional ATM than a POS system like with the current KATE. With all of that said, I hope you are right. I really hope you are right.

  8. Noticed these new machines in passing at a few WalMarts which did not have MoneyPass ATMs in the past, so I paid no attention to them. My three regulars in PHX are still good to go since last week though. There’s no mention of these new kiosks on the MoneyPass site. Did you notice if they’re manufactured by the same company?

  9. I went to two more stores today and discovered the new machines at both of them. This brings it to 5 confirmed locations in Vegas with the new machines with at least four of them having their KATEs replaced in the past week.

  10. hoping with the new machines, it will allow autodraining of cards so I don’t have to do 60 $200 transactions a month. Would love to load the full $2500 in one transaction and keep swiping the $200 cards down. wish we could request this feature.

  11. Have you found any working Kate’s in Vegas? The ones on N Rainbow and Tropical Parkway as I’m sure you’ve found are not working.

    • N. Rainbow and Tropical have both lost KATE. Their machines have been replaced with this new machine. Also, Lake Mead, Craig Rd, N. Decatur/215 and Charleston and Decatur are confirmed to have the new machines. I haven’t made it to the South, but my guess is the new machines are probably being rolled out valley wide.

      • FWIW, today the old Kate at my (sadly, one and only) local WM had the usual OOO sign. Yet, the screen was on and had the usual welcoming screen with all buttons, etc showing. I asked the money center and they had been told to mark it OOO. Strange. However, both there and at a cashier’s stand, with a very friendly manager’s assistance, I was easily able to load 3k on Serve.

        Folks, you just have to be NICE and patient even if it takes longer than before.

      • Thanks Shawn! I won’t be able to check the others until mid-month. Do you know which ones allow the cashiers to load? I just tried Decatur/215 and two cashiers referred me to CS who nicely loaded $1,000. Lake Mead was a no go with cashiers even before the new atm’s.

        • Yeah the Decatur one is nice as is the one on Craig. Pretty much every store in this area now requires you to go to CS. Unless you find a newer cashier it is almost impossible to do loads at the register. Cheyenne and Rainbow is good. I used to live on the South side and did well at both S. Eastern stores and S. Rainbow/215, however I haven’t loaded there in about 6 months.

  12. Ok Im a little new but live in Vegas near the Spring Mountain/Rainbow WM. I need to meet spend requirements for two cards, 1k and 3k to get the bonuses. I have a serve card on the way. Just so I have it right, do I follow these steps:

    -Go and purchase gift cards with a pin at Walgreens or CVS, up to $500 with the new cards.
    -Take the GC to Walmart that still has a KATE and put the amount on the GC onto my serve
    -If that doesn’t work, what is my other option? Thats where the confusion comes in
    -Once on serve I use that to pay bills

    I plan on transferring money from my bank account onto the serve to pay for the initial GC purchases on my CC to meet the spend requirements and not raise any red flags.

    Thanks for the helping out a new guy! I have read soooooo much I think I am confusing myself with everything!

  13. I will miss Kate…. I do the 25 VGC 200 each a month to bluebird now with visiting a customer service center that will be a challenge. Any way to combine several VGC to one ?
    JR

  14. My cashiers are just as reliable as my Kate. And slightly faster. Kate takes just over a minute to make a load, my cashiers just a few seconds under.

  15. I bought WM gift cards today and for the first time they did not each have to be a separate transaction! My Kate is still the older one and there were no issues loading BB.

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