A couple of times in the past month I wrote about a new service from American Express and Walmart called Blue Bird. If you are interested in reading the other posts you can find them here;
Essentially, Blue Bird is an account, similar to a checking account, that uses a debit card instead of checks. You can use it the same way you do a bank debit card (make purchases, pay bills…). Unlike a reloadable debit cards, Blue Bird doesn’t carry a lot of hefty fees as well as have the ability to upload money to your Bluebird account via Direct Deposit or your checking or savings account.
You can also upload money to your account at your local Walmart store or with another debit card. These two options do carry a fee ($1 if you add money at a local Walmart – $2 if you use another debit card). Even with these nominal fees they are a lot less expensive than reloadable cards that can charge upwards of $5 – $10 to add more money on your card. I think this fees are outrageous. I can understand a fee for withdrawing or transferring money, but there shouldn’t be a fee for adding money to your account.
Here is a little more information about the card;
Bluebird has been developed for the tens of millions of Americans who are looking for advanced capabilities such as deposits by smartphone and mobile bill pay, fee transparency, and no minimum balance, monthly, annual or overdraft fees. Bluebird puts people back in charge of their finances and is available in more than 4,000 Walmart stores and online. Along with premium features like mobile phone deposits, family sub-accounts and free access to cash at 22,000 ATMs with direct deposit, Bluebird comes with access to additional benefits such as purchase protection against accidental damage or theft, roadside assistance and award winning 24/7 customer service. Bluebird is FDIC insured and can be used for purchases anywhere American Express is accepted worldwide – with no foreign transaction fees.
I opened my account at my local Walmart. I gave the cashier the amount of money I wanted to load into my account and she took care of it. If you want to do it that way just look for the Bluebird box near the cash registers. It looks like this (below).
You can also sign up online. That is especially convenient for people who don’t live locally to a Walmart store.
I used Bluebird for back to school shopping for my kids. I actually found it to be helpful to keep me on budget. I told myself that the money in the Bluebird account was ONLY for back to school shopping (supplies and clothing) and nothing else. It also helped me not to go overboard and spend too much. I often spend too much on clothing for my kids.
Now that school shopping is over I have added more money to the account and I am using Bluebird for other reasons. Unlike my bank debit card, my Bluebird card only allows me to spend what is in the account (rather than draw from our checking account). I like this feature a lot because it keeps me from overspending.
Recently I used Bluebird to purchase a camera for our son’s birthday. Our son recently turned 14 and for his birthday he wanted a camera (SLR). He’s responsible enough, but he’s still a kid and things happen. I worried about something happening to the camera.
I used the Bluebird to purchase the camera. That is because Bluebird comes with Purchase Protection. Purchase Protection can help provide coverage if an eligible purchase made with your Bluebird account is accidentally damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase. I hope we never have to use it, but it’s comforting to know that we have that available to use. Case in point – My son was using my tripod for my camera and didn’t screw his new camera well enough on to the base and it fell off. THANKFULLY it landed on the carpet (and it wasn’t that high up) and his camera worked just fine. It made me feel good knowing we had that extra protection.
Bluebird comes with other forms of “protection” too. I was surprised to learn that Bluebird offered a roadside assistance program.
Having a teenager daughter that is old enough to drive, I would feel A LOT better knowing that she had someone to call in the event the car breaks down. I think all teens should have some kind of roadside assistance program. It should be mandatory.
Speaking of teens - my daughter is STILL looking for a part time job. So far she has not had any luck.
I get a bit worried when I listen to my daughter ramble about all the things she plans on doing with the money once she starts making some. She talks about getting her nails done weekly, buying new Ugg boots and going to concerts with her friends. While I do agree she should be able to do what she wants with her money since she earned it, I also feel that she needs to learn how to budget her money AND put some aside in savings for a car and for college. Knowing what a spend thrift my daughter can be she needs to learn to stick to a budget. That is why I like that Bluebird offers users the ability to create sub-accounts.
I created subaccounts for both my daughter and my son (you can create up to four subaccounts). My son is only 14 but he does have a job walking the neighbor’s dog. He actually as more money than we do. LOL! He saves his money and only spends it once in a while. I would rather he have a card that we can replace if it’s stolen rather than have him carry around a large sum of money when he goes to school or we go places.
With the Bluebird subaccounts you can help set a budget for your teen (or college age student). This way they have access to money when they need it (via the card), but they cannot go overboard and spend all their money. They can only spend what is allotted to them.
As a parent this gives me peace of mind. I know that my kids will always have money when they need it, and I don’t have to worry about them spending more than they should (which could cause a problem if it was a bank issued card linked to a checking account). Or if they accidently lose the card or it’s stolen you have fraud protection (another Bluebird service).
If you would like to learn more about Bluebird for yourself, or for your family, visit your local Walmart store and look for the Bluebird box near the cash register. Or you can go to www.Bluebird.com.
To find a Walmart near you visit www.Walmart.com.
Does Bluebird sound like something that would be great for you and/or your family?
Do you have any experience with the Bluebird? Feel free to comment and share your personal experiences.
*I am being compensated for my time and participation, however all the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.