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