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.
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!