Serve – a new way to send/receive money and stick to a budget ($250 giveaway ends 10/31/12)

My 15+ year old daughter brought home something that I’ve been dreading since the day she was born. No, not a boyfriend (although that day is fast approaching) but rather brochures for colleges. She brought home stacks of them for colleges as far away as California to as close as New York City.

There are three reasons why I dread college…

1 – It means my kids are growing up and will be adults and I’m already having that “empty nest” syndrome

2 – I can’t watch over them 24/7 like I do now (I’m a paranoid parent)

3 – $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only do I dread college expenses, I also worry about the non-college related things we’ll have to foot the bill for. I want my kids to focus on their college work more so than a job but at the same time I’m not about to pay for my daughter’s $$$ nail polish obsession and her appetite for designer clothing. Unless she’s going to have a job she’ll have to be on a strict budget.

There is a new service from American Express that might just be a dream for parents of college students, as well as others who not only send/receive money but also those who like to stick to a budget. You can even set up sub-accounts for all your kids (use Serve instead of cash for allowance). You can even give one to your regular babysitter and pay her via Serve (text, email or Facebook) instead of cash.

Serve is a FREE service that works the same way as a debit card. When you open up an account you’ll receive a free card that you can use just like a regular debit card. The funds are drawn from your Serve account. You can only spend what you have in your account, unless you set up a back up funding source (more on that later). You can even send money through e-mail, text and even Facebook.

Serve gives you the ability to easily send and receive money from others. My husband and I occasionally have to borrow money from my father (we always pay him back in full). Usually he sends us a check which takes a few days to get here visit USPS as well as a few days to clear at the bank. With Serve my father can quickly and easily send me money that will go straight to my Serve account and I can use the money instantly with my Serve card.

This is also great in case of emergencies. The funds are instantly in your Serve account as soon as someone sends money to you. There is no waiting. Simply accept the funds and you can start using the money right away.

I can see this being a parent’s dream when it comes to college age students, or even younger children. You can set up an account for you as well as one for your child. Then you have the ability to send them as much money as you want and when the funds are depleted they can’t use their Serve card until more funds are added.

I have heard horror stories from parents who give their children credit cards, only to have them run up charges and end up owing an astronomical amount that cannot be paid off quickly. Warning… credit cards and college age students (or teens) are NOT a good mix. With Serve YOU can control how much money they are allowed to spend. For example, you can put $200 a month on your child’s Serve account. Once that $200 is depleted for the monthly they cannot take out anymore money until someone sends them more. This is a great way to teach children how to budget their money wisely.

Speaking of budgets, this would be a great way for people like me and you to stick to a budget too. If you find that you spend too much on things like coffee, eating out and miscellaneous frivolous stuff, you can help stick to a budget by allowing yourself a specific amount of money each month. Simply transfer money from your checking or savings account to your Serve account and let that be the only money you are allowed to spend on non-billl related or essential stuff. You’ll quickly learn to budget your money wisely when you see how much you spend monthly on things that are not essential.

What I like about Serve, aside from it’s easy of use, is that you can not only set up a backing source, but you can also set the amount as well. Say for example you want to set your checking account as your back up funding source. If you only had $200 in your Serve account and you needed some emergency car repairs done that cost $250 (as an example), Serve will take the additional $50 from your back up funding source. With other debit-like cards if you don’t have the amount in your account there is nothing you can do. Many don’t offer a back up funding source.

You have the option to also put a limit on the back up funding. If you have concerns about your card being stolen or misused you can either set it for no back up funding source (another words once the money in Serve is gone no one can take out anymore) or you can set a limit. I currently have mine set at $100. That means I can take out $100 from my back up funding source and no more. If I have $200 in my serve account and I needed $325, Serve will ONLY take out the extra $100 from my back up source, NOT $125. So I would have to come up with the other $25 some other way.

You can change your options at any time too.

I like the you can set limits because I think it’s a great security feature. If someone steals your bank debit card they can potentially take ALL the money out of your account. With Serve they can only take out what is on the Serve card and nothing more – or whatever amount you have set for your back up funding source.

A couple of months ago an AMEX gift card that I have had fraudulent charges on it. I tried to get the store to apply a credit but all efforts were ignored (I haven’t shopped at that store since!). THANKFULLY it was a gift card and not my debit card. The criminals (which I suspect is the store it’s self!) were only able to use what was left on the card and nothing more.

Serve works just like any other debit card. I had the opportunity to use mine recently at Home Depot. My husband and I went to get some supplies to paint our dining room and happened across an outstanding deal on an electric fireplace/entertainment center, which is something we wanted for years. It was too good to pass up. I was able to use funds on my Serve card just like I would any other card and for the balance I just gave them my regular debit card. I had no problem using the Serve card at all.

Unlike other “refillable” cards there are NO monthly service fees. I have another card similar to Serve but they charge $$$ every month just for having the card AND they charge you for uploading more money. That is wrong on so many levels! Serve on the other hand doesn’t have any fees. There are NO monthly or annual fees.

Other benefits of Serve include;

Purchase Protection is underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company, Administrative Office, Phoenix, AZ. Coverage is determined by the terms, conditions, and exclusions of Policy AX0951 or Policy PP-IND and is subject to change with notice. This document does not supplement or replace the Policy. Shop with your Serve account and you can help protect eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Roadside Assistance may arrange for the following services: towing, winching, jump starts, flat tire change when spare is available, lockout service when key is in vehicle and delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel. Card members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers. Services are available regardless of mileage from primary residence when traveling within the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Subject to additional terms, conditions and exclusions. Call Customer Service at 1-800-954-0559 for full terms and conditions. When your car breaks down, we can send help your way for towing, winching, flat tires, battery boost, fuel delivery or emergency lock-out*. *Available in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Offer valid in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis / St. Paul, NYC tri-state area, northern California, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Enjoy access to presale tickets, reserved seats and behind the scenes experiences in certain cities when you use your Serve card from American Express

I love my Serve card and I plan on using it frequently. I’m going to upload $$$ to my account monthly and keep myself on a budget.

For more information about Serve visit www.Serve.com. There is also an app and a Facebook app for Serve too.

You can also “like” on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

I have an awesome giveaway for a lucky reader. One lucky reader will win $250.00 which will be sent to their Serve account. That means if you are the lucky winner you will have to create a FREE Serve account in order to receive the money.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on October 31, 2012 at 12:01 AM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to respond or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me how you would use Serve – or – what feature you like most about the service AND what do you think you would spend the $250 on if you were the lucky winner?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below). You MUST complete the initial entry requirement or additional entries will not qualify. I do verify too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received funds through Serve in order to try out the service and do my review. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and are not ifluenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family, five cats, dog, a tank full of fish and snails. She is also a freelance writer and photographer.


  1. I would buy some fuel for the house to keep warm – brrrrr

  2. I would use the $250 for Christmas gifts.

  3. I already have a serve account, I would use it for Black Friday shopping

  4. I would use Serve to help me with budgeting my spending $$. I’ve been cutting it close lately, so this will be great!!

  5. I would use it for Christmas gifts.

  6. I would use it for Christmas gifts

  7. I will use it for the holidays

  8. Marilyn Wons says:

    My favorite is the Roadside Assistance. I would use the cash to buy winter clothing.

  9. Adrienne gordon says:

    Use it on clothes

  10. it’s the first time I read something about serve, I will try to open account later.

  11. jeannine s says:

    I love how easy it is to move money into it and pay with it. I would use it towards christmas presents

  12. Great idea. I love how user-friendly it is. I’d use the money towards a new lens.

  13. I would use Serve to help me budget. I would use the money to stock up on some sale groceries.

  14. Margaret Smith says:

    This is a wonderful idea. Like you, I have a 15 year old and we’re starting to look at colleges (what an emotional time and sticker shock too) I love that we can supply my son with needed money if needed and this sounds so easy to use.
    If I were to win, I would use some towards Christmas shopping and keep a balance to give to my son so he can use it for emergencies, especially with him getting ready to drive.
    Thanks so much.

  15. Jessie C. says:

    Purchase Protection is the best feature to me. I’d use it for holiday shopping.

  16. The Roadside Assistance is a really nice plus! I would use the money to get started on Christmas presents!

  17. Cynthia R says:

    if i am winner planning on using $250 towards christmas gifts

  18. I like that my mom can loan me money esily and safely if I need it for an emergency, and i would use the extra money to buy xmas gifts and supplies/gifts for my local animal shelter.

  19. Katherine says:

    I would use it for my daughters wedding

  20. Ashley Hatten says:

    Purchase protection! I’d use it for my Christmas shopping! thanks so much 🙂