Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right for You?

Emily and I are grateful to be nominated for best travel blog. We'd love your vote!
Ps: You can vote everyday!

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Update:   You can no longer load Target Prepaid REDcard with debit cards or gift cards.

Now that you can no longer load American Express prepaid REDcard directly with a credit card at Target, readers have asked which AMEX prepaid card they should use.

You can still load AMEX prepaid REDcard at Target with PIN-enabled gift cards.  And you can fund Bluebird and Serve at Walmart, and Serve at Family Dollar.  But the rules for each card are different.

And you can only have ONE AMEX prepaid account.

Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right For You

You Can Still Buy PIN-Enabled Gift Cards With a Miles and Points Earning Credit Card, and Load Them to Your AMEX Prepaid Account

Let’s take a fresh look at each of the American Express prepaid accounts to help decide which is best for you.

What’s the Deal?

Link:   American Express Bluebird

Link:   American Express Serve

Link:   American Express Prepaid REDcard

You can use miles-and-points earning credit cards to buy PIN-enabled gift cards, then load the gift cards to your AMEX Bluebird, Serve, or REDcard account.

Then, you can pay bills you can NOT normally pay with a credit card from your AMEX prepaid account.  This includes mortgage payments, student loans, car payments, and utility bills.

Simply put, you’re buying gift cards with your credit card.  Then using the gift cards to fund either Bluebird, Serve, or REDcard.  Then you use the bill pay feature of Bluebird, Serve, or REDcard to send a check to your landlord, electric company, etc.

This is a great way to meet minimum spending requirements!

Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right For You

Instead of Paying Cash for Your Utility Bills, Use an AMEX Prepaid Account and PIN-Enabled Gift Cards to Earn Miles and Points!

To earn the most miles and points, many folks prefer buying gift cards from retailers that earn category bonuses.  For example, you could use:

But you have to buy the right kinds of PIN-enabled gift cards.  Certain gift cards do NOT work!  And each AMEX prepaid account has different limits.

1.   American Express Bluebird

How It Works

You can load your American Express Bluebird account using PIN-enabled gift cards at Walmart.  However, do NOT buy the following types of gift cards to load your Bluebird account:

  • American Express gift cards (they don’t have a PIN)
  • Vanilla Gift Cards (you can only use them to load a maximum of $49.99 at a time)

You can NOT load your Bluebird account online with a PIN-enabled gift card.

Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right For You

Bluebird Does NOT Allow Online Credit Card Loading

And here are some important monthly limits:

  • Maximum $5,000 per month in PIN-enabled gift card reloads (maximum $1,999.99 per day at Walmart)
  • Maximum $2,000 per month ($750 per day) in ATM withdrawals
  • Maximum $2,500 per month ($2,500 per transaction) in send money transactions (i.e.: transferring funds to your bank account or to someone else)
Why Choose Bluebird?

AMEX Bluebird is convenient for folks who live close to a Walmart.  And it’s the only American Express prepaid account that lets you write paper checks.

But some folks have trouble loading their account at certain Walmart locations.  So it’s best to make a small denomination gift card purchase 1st and see if your Walmart will accept it.

Bluebird accounts also qualify for AMEX offers and Small Business Saturday.  So you’ll save money by making the most of these deals! 

2.   American Express REDcard

Update:   You can no longer load Target Prepaid REDcard with debit cards or gift cards.

Until recently, it was very easy to earn miles and points with the American Express REDcard.  You could load up to $5,000 per month at Target registers directly with a miles and points earning credit card (no fees!).

But that’s changed.  However, you can still load your AMEX prepaid REDcard at Target with PIN-enabled gift cards.  And, like Bluebird, you can pay bills online or transfer funds to your bank account.

However, REDcard does NOT offer paper checks.  Although you can instruct REDcard to mail a paper check to anyone you like, such as your landlord or babysitter.

And, like Bluebird, you can NOT use American Express gift cards to load your account (because they don’t have a PIN).

Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right For You

REDcard Might NOT Be Your Best Choice If You Like to Write Paper Checks by Hand to Pay Contractors, Babysitters, or Other Folks Who Don’t Accept Credit Cards

The monthly limits are:

  • Maximum $5,000 per month in PIN-enabled gift card reloads (maximum $2,500 per day)
  • Maximum $2,000 per month ($750 per day) in ATM withdrawals
  • Maximum $2,500 per month in send money transactions (i.e.: transferring funds to your bank account or to someone else)
Why Choose REDcard?

If you’re close to a Target, REDcard may be a better choice for you.  Folks report fewer hassles loading their account with a PIN-enabled gift card at Target registers.

And when you use your Target prepaid REDcard for Target purchases (in-store and online), you’ll get a 5% discount.  And free shipping from Target.com!

However, you can NOT get discounts through AMEX Offers or Small Business Saturday.

3.   American Express Serve

Many folks used American Express Serve  because it was easy to load your account with a credit card online (up to $1,000 per month).

But Serve recently changed their rules.  Now, you can only use an American Express credit card to load your Serve account online.

And you won’t usually earn miles, points, or cash back.  Funding with an AMEX card also does NOT count towards minimum spending requirements.

However, there are American Express cards issued by other banks, like the AMEX Fidelity Investment Rewards, which do earn miles, points, or cash back.

Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right For You

You’ll Still Earn Miles, Points, or Cash Back Loading Serve With American Express Cards Issued by Other Banks

Plus, you can still load Serve with PIN-enabled gift cards at Walmart (except Vanilla gift cards) and Family Dollar.

Some important limits to keep in mind:

  • Maximum $5,000 per month in PIN-enabled gift card reloads (maximum $2,500 per day at Walmart, $500 per day at Family Dollar)
  • Maximum $2,000 per month ($750 per day) in ATM withdrawals
  • Maximum $2,500 per month in send money transactions (ie: transferring funds to your bank account or to someone else)
  • Maximum $1,000 per month ($200 per day) in online credit card loads
Why Choose Serve?

Like Bluebird and REDcard, you can use serve to pay bills online and transfer funds to yourself or others.  There are no paper checks.

If you have an AMEX card issued by a bank other than American Express, online credit card loads are still an easy way to meet minimum spending requirements and earn miles, points, or cash back without paying gift card fees.  But there aren’t many of these cards!

This card could be handy for folks who live near a Walmart or Family Dollar.  And Serve accounts are eligible for AMEX Offers and Small Business Saturday.

Bottom Line

You can only get ONE American Express prepaid account.  So you’ll have to decide if Bluebird, REDcard, or Serve is right for you.

Even though these cards have changed, you can still load them with PIN-enabled gift cards.  And earn miles, points, and meet minimum spending requirements by buying these gift cards with a credit card!

These prepaid cards have a lot in common.  So often the best choice depends on whether you’re close to a Target, Walmart, or Family Dollar.

And remember, Bluebird and Serve accounts are eligible for discounts through AMEX Offers and Small Business Saturday.

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

37 responses to “Which AMEX Prepaid Card Is Right for You?

  1. Just an FYI, I have been turned away several times at multiple Targets trying to load Red card with visa gift cards.

  2. This is the first I’ve read of Serve loads not counting toward minimum spending requirements for Amex-issued cards – do you have a source for this?

  3. @Tonei,

    I’d like to know the source as well. I know the rule, no points/miles using Amex issued cards, but had heard no definitive proof that promo spend wouldn’t count. Also companies such as Wells Fargo that co-brand a card with Amex may be exempt. I’ve been loading using my WF Amex Propel. Will see if it earns the stellar 1% cash back afte the statement closes. Since April is the first month that the new Serve load rules have been in effect, I’m sure more info, data points, will be revealed shortly.

  4. Target is no longer accepting third-party debit cards (PIN-enabled Visas) as a means of loading serve. I have been denied at two separate Targets in my town, was told that changed about a week ago.

  5. @Tonei and @Bob,

    Just this month I had my mom who is an AU on my AmEx Hilton card load $1k total to her Serve account, and the 60k HHonors point sign-up bonus already posted to my Hilton account. Of course, I didn’t earn any regular spending points for the Serve transactions.

    Also this month, I loaded $1k total to my Serve account using my AmEx Premier Rewards Gold card. I called AmEx, and the rep confirmed that I met the sign-up bonus spending requirement and my 50k Membership Rewards points were “pending” and would post soon (I think sometime before the end of June).

    In both these cases, I didn’t spend enough to meet the minimum spending requirements from other purchases.

  6. That worries me too as I’m loading the Serve card with AE Platinum trying to meet the minimum spending requirement too.

  7. Gift cards will be denied at Targets at the register. Both targets in my area now have goons with headsets monitoring the Customer service area and get in your face to inspect ANY card you try to load your redcard with. They also continually ask if it is a gift card before doing that. A lot of wasted time. GAME OVER

  8. Thanks for the helpful synopsis. I’ve been wondering what to do since the REDbird was nerfed earlier this month.

  9. There are mixed reports on Real AMEX with Serve. It appears depend on what real AMEX card you linked. I’m sorry to say, it’s kinda sad hearing about this the 1st time & asking for sources. If you are into this kinda things, you know where you need to look…if you don’t even know where to look, then, just rely on the Circles & Arrow.

  10. Has to be a 3rd party Amex, I have not tested whether an Amex issued card will give you points, but I have the Fidelity card.

  11. @Tonei, @Kent C,
    One of the article Frequent miler posted earlier before saying serve loads can help meet minimum spend requirements. I’m confused as well. Wait for your good news @Kent C.

  12. This is so much misinformation, it’s ridiculous. Waiting for the retraction on this post.

  13. Just loaded Redbird with a GC where are you guys located that you are being turned away. And did the register deny it or did people just stop you before you started…maybe go to the checkouts instead of guest services,

  14. Red card still accepts pin visa cards. I loaded $500 today using a Simon gift card. The cashier didn’t say anything negative or ask for my card information.

  15. I just loaded my redcard on friday with a pin-enabled GC. No problems (yet). Las Vegas

  16. @John

    Same here. It’s bit of a crap shoot. There’s only one Target in my area that has allowed gift cards for reloading. I can see this coming to an end. It was fun while it lasted.

  17. I loaded visa gift cards to my Redbird at Target today with no problems.

  18. Loaded my RedBird with Visa gift cards since Friday. No questions asked.

  19. one target in DFW has a manager and a head cashier that deny loading with any giftcard. They said a memo went out that tells them not to load a prepaid card (redbird or amex for target) with a prepaid card…..so every clueless cashier calls over the head cashier and you get interrogated on what kind of payment you are using….too bad target, back to Walmart and bluebird.

  20. I live in Oregon, Portland area. The targets here no longer accept PIN- enabled visa prepaid debit cards. The computer wouldn’t allow the cashier to make the transaction. I called the number on the back of the card and they stated that prepaid cards are no longer accepted. It must be cash or a debit card connected to a checking account. However, I’m still reading of people loading their Redcard with gift cards in other states and some who can’t. It seems to be case by case.

  21. Does anyone have experience charging serve loads to to an Ameriprise branded Amex platinum? In theory this should earn reward points….right?

  22. @Joe the Ameriprise platinum is issued by Amex, not Ameriprise, so I’d expect it will be treated like any other Amex-issued card – i.e. no points.

  23. The Fees and Limits pages linked (Bluebird and Serve) state Debit Card reloads are limited to $200 per day, $1000 per month. This is different than the $2500/day and $5000/month in the article. Are PIN-enabled gift cards not considered debit cards? Or am I misunderstanding something here?

  24. @Rick I believe that loading gift cards at Walmart falls under the “Swipe Reload” category, which is the same as the limits for cash. The debit card limits apply to online loads with an actual debit card.

  25. Maybe this is a dumb question but I’m new to miles and points… Which pin-enabled gift cards am I able to buy with a credit card and where do I find them? Because any Visa gift card that has a pin that I’ve tried to buy at Walmart required me to pay cash or debit. But I’m trying to use the credit to gift card to Serve method to pay my rent.

  26. @kittykate83 I’m new at this too. After reading and planning a strategy for about 2 months, during which time I applied for only 2 cards, my first MS was this week (and hence the reason for my question above).

    I started with two $200 Visa CGs at Staples. Used my credit card to purchase them and filled out the rebate online. I then unloaded them over 2 days (because I didn’t know on Sunday what I know today) onto my Bluebird. Next I bought a $400 Visa GC at Target, using my credit card. I found out the hard way that those you can only load Bluebird $49.99 at a time at the Kate in WalMart.

    Next I’m going to hit up the Kroger. I’ve bought the fixed value Visa GCs there before using a credit card – never bought the variable load at Kroger. Same with Office Depot – bought the fixed value cards there before with a credit card. Kroger and OD were before my new MS adventures.

    @Tonei Thanks for your reply. I was originally thinking it would take me 3 months to unload the MS from my Sapphire card if the limit was $200/day ; $1000/month. This makes it a lot more convenient if the limits are $1000/day and $5000/month.

  27. The advantage of REDcard (Redbird) is that you can load it at Target with ANY pin-enabled gift card. I’ve compiled a list of gift cards that have been positively tested here: https://bit.ly/1EhgXGP.

    By contrast, you can’t load Vanilla gift cards (or any gift card issues by Bancorp) to Serve and Bluebird. Vanillas are very common in the MS world due to deals that are periodically available at Office Depot/Max and sometimes other places.

  28. This site is deteriorating. Durbash says Amex loads to Serve don’t count towards MS, but when questioned above in comment section, he offers no reply, no clarification. Really disappointed in you Dubash.

  29. Today I went to reload my target prepaid red card and ran into some trouble. I got a simon Visa PIN ACTIVATED DEBIT CARD (it says gift card on the card however). I only wanted to load on $10 to test the waters and the man kept repeating that due to recent legislation I could not reload my prepaid card like that. When I said it was not a credit card and it was a pin activated debit card, he had to ask someone, and the manager again said that due to legislation they could only reload it with a debit card or cash, and not a gift card. When I asked, ” even if it is a pin activated visa debit card?” They didn’t really know and just repeated their legislation shpiel. I was wondering if you knew anything about this legislation the target men kept quoting because two weeks ago when I had initially got this card the lady made a point to tell me that I could reload it with a pin activated gift card.

  30. Sarah, I follow Redbird (prepaid REDcard) news daily on many blogs and this is the first time I hear the legislation shpiel as a reason to prevent someone from loading. MS is local though, so a Target store near you might have a policy that prevents you from loading from the Target store a mile further, etc. The vast majority of stores across the country do let you load Redbird with pin-gift cards.

    Now that Target has updated its POS (registers) the steps for loading are slightly different, they’re described in detail on this guide: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NoonRadar/posts/82eSPgNCGi5

  31. On the Target Red Card website it says there is a daily load limit of $200 and $1000 per month when loading debit cards to the Red Card. So if you load a gift card as a debit card onto the Red Card, is this the limit or not as I see others above have loaded up to $1000 a day to their Red Card in store?


  32. AW, what you’re referring is the Redbird limit for debit card online loading.

    The limits for loading at Target with gift cards is $1K/transaction, $2.5K/day, $5K/calendar month. A select few Targets have imposed lower limits per store policy, which they reinforce via employees, that is the registers aren’t hard coded to deny the loads over those limits.

  33. which pin enabled gift cards are best to buy and where can you load them?

  34. Do these PIN-enabled gift cards have fees associated with purchasing them? If so, which have the lowest fees?

  35. Can any American Express prepaid card (Serve, Red Card, or Bluebird) be loaded with Visa gift cards as of August 2016? My last attempts all failed at Target and Walmart.

  36. Are Bluebird and Serve still working, meaning one can load money to these accounts at WM from purchasing PIN enabled VGC’s?

    Today is 9/12/16………………is the above still working for both BB and Serve?

    Can someone confirm that authentically?

  37. Question 1- Is Bluebird still working, meaning one can load money to these accounts at WM from purchasing PIN enabled VGC’s?
    Question 2 – only $49.99 at a time! so should i repeat 10 times of doing this to load $500?