How Long Does it Take For Bluebird “Pay Bills” to Mail a Check?

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Bluebird Introduction

One of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is the ability to pay for transactions which can’t usually be made with a miles or points earning credit card.  This includes transactions such as your rent, mortgage, car payment, credit card bill, tuition, etc.

You load your Bluebird card (which you can order online) with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart.  You can also reload Bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards which you can buy at CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations.  Alternate with other credit cards so that you’re not spending too much at buying Vanilla Reloads with any one credit card.

Here’s a post on other credit cards to use with Bluebird, so that you’re not maxing out on just 1 card.

You may also be able to pay for the Vanilla Reloads with a credit card at Walgreen’s, but this isn’t always the case and could be a bit of wild goose chase.

Here’s a post on what a Vanilla Reload looks like and  how to load a Vanilla Reload card to your Bluebird account.

Bluebird Pay Bills – Mailing a Check

I wrote earlier how my Bluebird “Pay Bill” payments to Emily’s Sallie Mae student loans and my Chase credit card account posted within 1 business day.  However, those were electronic payments made to a payee listed in the Bluebird system.

If the person or business whom you want to pay is NOT listed, you can add them to Bluebird and Bluebird will mail them a check for free!  The person or business does not need to have a Bluebird account to receive the money.  See this post for step-by-step screenshots on how to get American Express Bluebird to mail a check to others.

For example, you can mail a check to your apartment complex, contractor, or even pay (a small bit of) college tuition this way.

There is a monthly limit of $5,000 for payments via checks (likely included in the Pay Bill limit of $10,000 per month)

American Express Bluebird guarantees that your payment will reach on time if you schedule it at least 6 business days in advance of the due date.  However, the guarantee is for only up to $50 in late payment fees.  I recommend scheduling check payments at least 10 days in advance of the due  date, just in case of any delays.

Mailing a Check – My Experience

On October 26, 2012 I sent a $50 payment using the Bluebird Bill Pay feature from Emily’s account to me.  I entered my name and address as the payee and entered in “1” as the account #.  For example, your account number could be your apartment number if you’re paying your rent.

Entered “1” in Account # Field

I was curious to see how long it would take to receive the check and what information would be included on the check.

Bluebird indicated that I would receive the check on October 31, 2012 and I did receive the check on October 31st – so I received the check in 3 business days.

Arrival Date for October 31, 2012

The check was mailed from Hickory, North Carolina.  I don’t know if all checks are mailed from Hickory, North Carolina or if they have regional mailing centers depending on where the check is mailed.

Interestingly, my address had my full 9 digit zip code, but I never entered the full 9 digit zip code (I only entered the regular 5 digits) when submitting the payment from Emily’s account!

Check Mailed from Hickory, North Carolina

The check included Emily’s name and address.  This is very useful because it helps the payee know who sent the check and how to contact you in case of questions.

The check also had “Account: 1” printed at the top of the check.

I had entered “1” in the account field when submitting the payment from Emily’s account to see how the account number would appear on the check.  You can enter your apartment number or property tax parcel number in the “account” field to provide further information to the payee.

Next to the account information was printed “Please post this payment for our mutual customer – $50


Bluebird “Pay BIlls” Check

The check was payable to me and my address was printed below my name.

Bottom LIne

The Bluebird Pay Bill feature is a great way to earn miles and points for bills which usually don’t earn miles and points!  But schedule your payment at least 6 business days in advance of the due date. There is no option to schedule recurring or automatic payments which is very inconvenient.

But be sure to read my cautions at the end of this post before using Bluebird.

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73 responses to “How Long Does it Take For Bluebird “Pay Bills” to Mail a Check?

  1. You might want to white out the routing number and account number at the bottom of that check image.

  2. Bobby @ Award Booking Service

    FYI: I was the treasurer for my homeowners association for a while. Most bill pay checks come from NC. Same company for most banks print them on the same check stock you show here.

    I use to get bill pay checks from all sorts of banks and credit unions and they were all the same except for the bank name printed on the front.

  3. Darius, thanks for this great intel WRT bill pay via hard checks.

  4. If you care about privacy you should blank-out the barcode the USPS uses for mailing (for example 1501 – I won’t give the rest here).

  5. I have a problem with “Pay Bill” service. I need to pay property taxes here in FL, and my county is listed in BB system. However, when I enter account number and tax collector’s zip code (5 digits or 9 digits), I am getting error that account number of zip code is incorrect. I don’t think account number matters, so the problem must be in zip code. I called BB customer service, but it looks they don’t know what I’m talking about. I can request BB to send a check to my county tax collector office, but I have to supply a slip from my property tax bill as well. Is it possible to send the check from BB to me and then I will mail both check and slip to my tax collector office?

  6. There are routing# and an acct# on the bluebird check, which makes me wonder if can be used toward auto-draft by other financial institutions: such as Fedelity college fund, mortgage or even IRS for tax payment……..

  7. Does BlueBird ever tell you that the check was cashed? This is my concern; they take out the money when you hit send not when the check is cashed. What if check is lost or misdirected?

  8. @Amy: Doesn’t work. There are reports on FT about this. Apparently, money must be pulled from BB, not from outside.

  9. With all the opportunity to pay actual bills why bother monkeying around with passing money back and forth to yourself ?

  10. I’d add another caution for New York residents in rent-stabilized apartments considering paying rent in this manner while hoping to avoid housing court. One’s paper trail looks better if checks are mailed from local postal codes.

  11. Is there a list of merchants or company’s that Bluebird will send out to electronically ?

  12. @Mileage Update – Darauis sent the money to Emily to check the actual number of days it takes to receive the check. I don’t see any monkey business here.

  13. Some CC companies like Amex have different regions where they accept payments. Where you able to double check the chase address before a processing payment? I saw Chase Credit card was listed as a payee in my Bluebird but wanted to make sure it was going to the right address.

  14. Thanks very much for posting this – I was very interested in seeing what information made it onto the checks they send. A relief to know my personal address will be on the check I send to my landlord for rent.

  15. Do you use your address and Emily’s address? I meant you use your address and Emily uses different address? or you and Emily use the same address?

  16. Do all banks considering the vanilla reloads purchases at Office Depot to be regular transactions? For example, you have covered Chase but what about Bank of America? Are there any banks that count the vanilla reloads as a ‘cash advance’? If so, do you know which ones?

  17. Is there a spot for account # for Bill Pay if you pay to let’s say your mortgage or car loan?

    • @bluto – Thanks, but I’ve already deposited that check!

      @Bobby @ Award Booking Service
      – Very nice to know.

      @Daniel @Tyler – Glad it helped!

      Scott – Thanks!

      @Brendan – That’s a good reminder!

      @happy9z – We both stay at the same address so we used our common address.

      @Amy @Sergey – Unfortunately, you can’t send money out of Bluebird via ACH based on what I’ve read on Flyertalk.

      @Mary Kate – I’ve used other Bill Pay services from banks and the amount is debited to my bank account immediately with no further confirmation when the check is cashed. However, I get a message if the check isn’t cashed within a certain number of days and I get the option to cancel the payment and have the money go back to my account. I don’t know if Bluebird has a similar set up, but would assume they having something similar.

      @MileageUpdate @MileHunter – As MileHunter points out, it was a test to see how long it would take to get the check and what information was printed on the check. We don’t plan on sending checks to each other when there are so many other ways to use Bluebird.

      @perryplatypus – My payment to Chase Card Services was electronic and asked for the account number (my credit card number). It didn’t show me an address. That said, I’d send a small test amount before you start paying your bills in full with Bluebird – just to see how long it takes to post etc.

      @Jennifer_85 – Since the purchase is coded from Office Depot it almost certainly will be a purchase and not a cash advance. That said, I haven’t actually used a Bank of America card at Office Depot, but would expect it to be a purchase.

      @Grant – Most mortgages and car loans are electronic and there is a place to enter your account information just as there is when Bluebird sends a check.

  18. How about adding a link on your page, where people can list where they have sucessfully bought some Vanilla reload cards.
    List the state and store where the item is available.

    Right now I have yet to find a store in Mass, RI or NH that carries the reload card.
    There is only 1 OD here and they have been out for 3 weeks. Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Family Dollar all have nothing.

  19. @Sergey I have having the same problem as well paying my bills using the direct pick a payee person, I know I can pay it with a mailed check, but does anyone know why it continually says: account number or zip code is incorrect.

  20. I have been using vanilla reloads for my bluebird account for about a month. We have no OD so have been buying them at Walgreens, mainly just doing this to meet spend requirements. Last time I tried Walgeens, they said cash only. Is there another way to fund bluebird that would help me meet spend requirements?

  21. Ok.. Today sucked.. I went to a new Walgreens and they wouldn’t let me check out with a Credit Card. Then I went to Walmart.. No Vanilla reload Cards. Then I went to Dollar General.. Nope.. So so far in Louisiana I have only found one Walgreens that let me buy with a credit card but then they only let me buy one card. Seriously, Who cares how many I buy. ARGHHH.. I agree with Bob S. Let’s start posting where they can be found.

  22. I was thinking the same thing as Scott. Those of us who have worked in direct mail have nightmares of double checking barcodes for correct 9 digit zips.

  23. Just noticed on FTG site, he is saying you can load bluebird direct with a credit card (not citi)…is this correct?

  24. Is there any reason for Bluebird to shut down strict $5000 in bill pay per month? I’ve been doing $5K Vanilla on Ink -> AMEX Prepaid and using that to pay off 1x bills that accept credit card. Now I’m thinking of putting those charges on another credit card, then putting $5K Vanilla -> Bluebird -> pay off CC (essentially a double-dip of points).

    I can’t imagine how AMEX isn’t losing money on that.

  25. @AK – Eureka! You’ve discovered the mythical perpetual points and money laundering machine.

    Max out your cards while you’re at it – Amex has lousy monitoring and you’ll be able to remain under the radar for years!

  26. @Ron – might want to brush up on the definition of “money laundering” there — I’m not procuring money via illicit means, nor am I concealing the source by “washing” it through, say, a car wash in Albuquerque, NM. Although my organic chemistry skills are top-notch!

  27. Breaking Bad rocks! Cant really worry about those who use incorrect terms to describe your hobby.

  28. I paid my credit card via BB from the credit card’s website instead of from BB’s website. So I entered my BB routing and checking info in my credit card website. So far, payment has not gone through and its been 2 days.

    Is there a difference in doing it this way (paying from the credit card’s website) versus paying from BB’s site via Billpay or check?

  29. @Jennifer_85 Vanilla reload cards are essentially no different than gift cards. Darius is correct that the cards are processed regularly. If the cashier asks you to input a pin number then they may be processing it as a debit transaction, which is likely to incur ‘cash’ transaction fees.

    @Daraius It seems buying 1 vanilla reload at a time is the best way to purchase the reloads. Once 2 or more are purchased on the same ticket my experience draws more scrutiny (approval by manager, check with credit card company). Just do one transaction at a time and also it’s good to pair it up with some other item you need from the store or a gift card.

    I paid my PersProp taxes. They can print off my bill if they need a copy of it with my payment. If you walk in to pay a bill and they need a copy of a bill, then they print it off. They will accept the money and apply to your account.

  30. I tried 5 different ODs in LA area.None of them have VRs.Is there any other option of using BB and getting points.

    • @Bob S @Carla – Frequent Miler has one on his site, but it hasn’t been updated recently. I suspect that not many folks will contribute to such a list if Vanilla Reloads are in scarce supply, and some folks could enter misleading information. But thanks for the suggestion.

      @StevenTravel – Enter the billers zip code (not yours) and the account number and it should work.

      @Doug – Perhaps go back to Walgreens and try with a different cashier/manager?

      @Justin – Ha! And thanks!

      @Doug – I haven’t been able to load it directly with a credit card.

      @AK – I’m doing the same thing with student loans and will let you know how it goes. AMEX doesn’t lose money when you load with Vanilla and pay bills. They likely make a small amount from the float. That said, Bluebird is too new to know what the limits are, but I’ll post if I hear from them. AMEX also doesn’t know how you purchased the Vanilla (cash, credit card, or which credit card you used), so why should they care? I’m sure they could manually figure it out if you use an AMEX card, but I don’t see that happening unless there is a manual review.

      @Jay – Unfortunately, you can’t use the checking number and account number to send payments from Bluebird.

      @JonCski – I suspect it varies by location and even staff at the same location, because I’ve bought 4 to 6 at a time with no information required. At other times, any purchase above $50 needs to be logged.

      @RK – You could try debit cards.

  31. @ Daraius — the “float” Amex had on my only bill pay this far was $1000 for 10 minutes, so maybe I’ll keep it on longer. But it makes sense, and since Frequent Miler posted today what I’m thinking about, seems like a plan.

  32. Daraius can you read my post again? I meant from the cc site to BB, or other way via check/Billpay.

    • @AK – Good luck and let me know how it goes. You could load with Vanilla towards the start of a month and let the money sit there until it is time to pay the bills.

      @Jay – I read it again, but you can’t send money OUT of Bluebird to a payee by using the Bluebird account/routing numbers. You have to go through their Bill Pay system to send money out of Bluebird.

      @Lee – I don’t believe you can apply for Bluebird with a Serve account open.

  33. Hi MMS, why do I have to cancel Amex serve card for Bluebird? What would happen if I just go ahead and apply for Bluebird? As always, Thanks!

  34. @MMS – will do. Since BB can take $5K/month and can hold up to $10K, I think I’ll always keep some 3-to-4 digit balance on it between months.

  35. Thanks again MMS! Weird thing is that my credit card online account says payment went through (balance due now 0), while my Bluebird account still shows an unchanged balance ($2k from 4 vanillas).


    Checks can take up to 9 days to cash!! They don’t tell you…
    I’ve had one pending since the 26th of october.. and i called today
    and it should be done by 11/07/2012
    That’s almost 2 weeks!!! ** BE WARNED**

    CUSTOMER SERVICE is in ASIA!!!! Be ready to not understand a thing from them!!!!

  37. Do you have any thoughts on using Bill Pay to pay an AMEX card account with Bluebird? I know it’s probably not a good idea to pay off a Chase account with BB, but how about AMEX?

    • @Jay – Very interesting. Please keep us posted!

      @Janice Josplin – What do you mean by “cashed?” Bluebird claims to complete Bill Pay requests within 6 business days.

      @Dave – AMEX may be able to see the chain of loading and purchases and Chase will not. That said, I don’t think it is an issue as long as you use it for legitimate payments.

  38. Oh well. E-mail from CITI after payment was first deemed as accepted:

    “Unable to Process Online Bill Payment: We’re sorry, but we are not able to process your payment of $xxx.yy, scheduled to post to your account on November 4, 2012. We’ll be happy to help you resolve this issue and avoid future problems. Please call the Customer Service number on the back of your card.”

    So MMS you were right:-((((

  39. Hi Darius, I made a property tax payment via Blue Bird 2 days ago in the form of a check payment. I put my folio number as my account number. I thought I added a memo in the payment to include the property address and folio #, unfortunately I didn’t click on ‘done’, so that the memo was never written as intended. Do you have any experience or hear other experiences who paid property tax to the county by just entering the acct no as a folio no and it went thru fine? Thanks!

    • @xina – I’ve never made a property tax payment, so I don’t know. I also believe that the memo doesn’t print on the check (only the account # does), but I could be wrong. Your address will be printed on the check, though.

  40. @xina – The county only needs the personal property account number to process the payment. In the future you might add PP or RP in front of your account number to indicate Personal or Real Property. If your county is like mine, then the workers are programmed like robots and receiving a check this way might cause some circuits to blow! 🙂 I will confirm once my check is processed and expect that by the end of next week.

    Usually a memo would print below the perforated line, but if only the check is sent, then there won’t be a memo.

  41. I have been able to buy the Vanilla Cards at CVS with a credit card. Gift cards won’t work with credit, but the reload cards we need do work. Just tell the cashier it will work and it does.

  42. What is the safe total $ amount of Vanilla Reload cards that I can buy per month per credit card (to meet the spending limits)? I don’t want a card issuer ask questions or close my account.

  43. @Daraius @xina I checked my personal property account this morning and noticed the payment was not yet processed. Unfortunately, I know the County Collector and most of the staff. I called and asked them how long it generally takes to process a check once it is received by the County. He told me that it can take a while this time of year with the intial rush of payments.

    I told him the check was mailed on Nov 5th or 6th so he decided to check the mailroom. Sure enough the check had been stamped received Nov 14th. It seems that it may have taken a little longer on the front end or in the mail.

    He told me they have no trouble processing these checks and most of the billpay services only cut checks once they have so many checks to print or every 7-10 days.

  44. Paid our property tax using BB via our county property tax website (pulling funds out of BB instead of pushing it to the county). It did not go through and we were charged 10% of our property tax + $25 as a insufficient fund fee. Ouch!

    The county acountant said she is willing to remove the fee if we can show that we have a balance more that our taxes at a particular date. Apparently, the monthly statement and the online BB transaction view does not show the balance after each transaction. It just shows the activity. This was not enough to convince the accountant to remove the fee… The BB help center in Phillipines said they could not issue any statement or letter regarding balance. We plan to write a letter inquiring about our balance to the BB US address in the FAQ. Will see…

    So, just an FYI to those who plan to pay property taxes or any other payment…

  45. Called customer service to get info on check not received or cleared, and found out the following:

    Payments are made within 4-6 business days, they suggest calling customer service after the 6th business day for investigation. If no funds are received 7th business day, funds are returned to account 5-7 business & a email confirm is sent out. They bank w Centurion Bank out of Utah.
    Late fees on checks are reimbursed up $50 as long as check was scheduled sent out for 6 business day prior to due day.-
    Contact info
    Fax # 623-748-5578

    Mailing address:
    PO Box 989
    St Petersburg, Fl 33731

    —Customer Service Rep Christina on 11/27/12

  46. Why is your check dated October 31 when you authorized the check on October 26?

  47. So I am assuming you and Emily live at the same address, and there was no issue with sending the check to the same address?

  48. Just an FYI that Bluebird has started a new thing where you actually get a checkbook to write checks with– personally, I think this is great, as I had terrible trouble getting Bluebird to send checks on time for things like rent. Now it may actually be useful to me…

  49. Hi, I wanted to know is there any place showing the receiver deposit checks yet?

  50. Regarding Bluebird checks, there is a promo where the first checkbook order is free until 5/21/2013, so hurry. If you miss this the checkbook fees are:
    50 Bluebird Checks:
    $19.94 + $5.94 shipping & handling
    100 Bluebird Checks:
    $26.94 + $6.94 shipping & handling

    Just like ING Direct/CapitalOne 360, you cannot order checks from another company as the routing number on the checks contains additional security digits. Also, you need to pre-authorize each check and write down the authorization code to validate a check.

  51. Is there one routing number for all bluebird customers? I can’t seem to find any info on it. I want to add my BB account to my Amazon Payments, but I have no idea what the routing number is.

  52. Thank you!!!

  53. Is it possible to use my BB account as my bank account for Amazon Payments? When I try to do so, entering the BB routing and account numbers, I am unable to instantly verify.

  54. Can I pay American Express credit card bills with Bluebird? I do not use my Amex cards for buying gift cards.

  55. I’m going to gripe about Bluebird for a minute. My first time using Bluebird: sent a Mortgage payment to USAA Mortgage on July 26th. Bluebird said it would arrive by August 1. Now it’s 2pm on August 2nd, and payment has not been received by USAA Mortgage. Called Bluebird, they say it will take 3 business days to “research” this issue. Meanwhile my money is gone and my payment is already a day late. Today is Friday, so, at the earliest, they MIGHT resolve this by Wednesday the 7th. That will be 6 days late. Customer service is cordial, but difficult to understand by phone, since they are Asian. When I ordered my payment to be sent on the 26th, I spent an hour on the phone with them trying to figure out what zip code they use for USAA Mortgage. USAA Mortgage is listed in Bill Pay, but they still ask for a zip code. The zip code on my mortgage bill kept showing an error. After 2 calls to their “technical department,” customer service told me they only use one certain zip code for all of USAA, and I should “look on the USAA website and try some of their other zip codes.” Multiple times I asked why they do not keep a record of the zip code they use for USAA, and I was just told “we do not keep a record of zip codes.” I had to go on the USAA website and try 3 different zip codes before I hit on one that didn’t give me an error in Bluebird bill pay. Seems rather ridiculous to me. And now my payment is late. Which probably means it didn’t get sent to the right place. Even though they only “use 1 certain zip code for USAA.” Doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

  56. P.S. In case anyone needs it…the zip that worked for USAA is 78288. I tried lots of others, both 5 digits and 9 digits. I even tried a different web browser because customer service told me “Bluebird works best with Google Chrome.”

  57. Hi,
    is it possible to cash a BlueBird check at Walmart or anywhere else?

  58. You cannot pay bills from a biller’s website using your Bluebird routing and account number. Both routing and account numbers are used for direct deposits ONLY. You MUST use Bluebird’s billpay feature to pay bills.

    I know this has been mentioned before on this post already, but I want to post it again so it’s picked up by search and so customer can avoid a potential headache. American Express ought to make this fact more prominent, instead, they bury it in the FAQs.

  59. Hi Jeff, so if you keep sending bluebird checks to your own address, is that going to cause any problem, e.g. AMEX will review your acc. or something like that? Bills I want to pay all have coupons which I need to send with a check, so I have to get the check to myself first.