The manufactured spending world is currently blowing up – it appears that many people who have either Bluebird or Serve accounts for manufactured spending got an email that looks something like this (this one came from a reader of mine who was wondering)
We are writing to let you know that we have observed unusual usage patterns on your Bluebird Account. Because of this, effective immediately, you will no longer be able to add money to your Account.1 We have made this change in accordance with Section 22.d of our Member Agreement, which you can view here.
Please be aware that you continue to have full access to the funds on your Account and can withdraw them at any time.
Once your balance reaches $0, please close your Account online via your Profile page accessible here. Scroll down to the Close Account section and click “Close Account.”
If you have any questions or would like to inquire further about this issue, you may write to us at the following address:
C/O Customer Relations 02-04-40
4315 S 2700 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84184-0440
The Bluebird® Team
Other coverage of Bluebird / Serve shutdowns
Right now this is breaking news, and we’re still figuring out who is affected by this and what it means. Here are a few other places where people are talking about it
- Miles to Memories – BREAKING: American Express Shutting Down Bluebird & Serve Accounts for MS: What We Know & What We Don’t
- Travel with Grant – AMEX Serve Card Mass Account Closures Effective Immediately (1/8/2016, Section 15.d)
- Saverocity Forum (requires login / registration) – PSA – Your Serve/Bluebird is shutdown Consolidated thread
- Points of Life – You’ve Been Served: Amex Closes Mine Too
- Doctor of Credit – RIP: The End of Serve & Bluebird & SoftServe for Manufactured Spend + What’s Left
- Frequent Miler – Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend
So… why did I not get one of these emails?
I do have a Serve account, and I did NOT get an email like this. I did also verify that I WAS able to log in to my Serve account this morning and there was no messaging.
Here are a couple of thoughts I’ve had about my account and why I might not have gotten a shutdown email.
- I don’t use it super frequently (I don’t think I ever max out my account monthly)
- My account is fairly new (I re-opened it in November)
- I’ve been loading $200 and $100 cards rather than $500
- I only have one account
- I also am not super vigilant about clearing out my balance (for instance, I currently have $2900 in the account that’s been there for awhile)
- I also have not done any online loading (one of the commenters in the reddit thread suggested that shutdowns might be related to online loading)
I have no idea if any of these things is a factor, or some combination of them or none of them at all. I’m definitely interested to hear your experiences in the comments, ESPECIALLY if you have a Serve or Bluebird that was not shut down and EVEN MORE SO if you also have any of these characteristics. Hopefully we can find a pattern of some sort!
(UPDATE: For more information on trying to find a pattern see – Finding a pattern in Bluebird / Serve shutdowns?)
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Mine got shut down and I’m also not super vigilant about spending all the money in the account. So I doubt that data point applies. I do, however, max out funding on my Flexperks Amex every month.
I have the very similar pattern as how you use serve. I have a bluebird and I am not receiving that email either.
I avoided the termination email as well. Likely because (i) I’ve never loaded at Wal-Mart, (ii) Also keep a low 1k-2k balance, (iii) only load with my SPG card and an initial cash load, and (iv) Only have 1 card.
Shame for the others. I could basically care less about the card, as the local Wal-Mart had a junk KATE, so it really is no big loss. For those doing 30k+ a month (or worse for those who do 100k), this could hurt.
Why do you say “have only one account”? Is it possible to have more than one account per person???
You’re right that it’s one per SSN, but there are many people who are managing several people’s (spouse / kids / parents / whoever) accounts
Hope your luck holds out. Both my BB and my wife’s SERVE got the same nasty, arrogant note from AMEX. At first, had also thought my wife’s serve account had escaped the notice, as she’s barely used it in the 6 months since she had it. (But she did avail herself of the perfectly fine practice of loading with her Amex business card — and then paying legitimate bills with it)
But while the nasty note wasn’t in her regular gmail in box, it WAS to be found via her promotions sub-tab. (ironic in spades)
What’s really grating about this is AMEX’s insinuation that we engaged in some sort of “unusual behavior” — and now I see comment isolating/finding a line in the T&C about “manufactured spending.” (I’d really like the detectives among us to confirm if that was in there before, or if it too was “manufactured”)
Typical American corporate behavior…. surely they’ve known for years about legitimate ms as a leading use of Bluebird and Serve. But now they want to claim that what they surely encouraged us to do is now “unusual.”
If this in any way ends up as a nick on our credit records, seems to me then we all have grounds for a mass class action lawsuit. But I surely hope this is not the case.
Well, I suppose its time to learn how to best dispense with the visa gift cards bought from Staples this week. (money orders?)
Of course, the most tried & true American-style weapon of choice against such arrogant corporate behavior is in the category of a boycott….
as in, I sure as …. will not be opening anything new from AMEX, and I’ll think long and hard about paying any fees for any existing AMEX cards…. (which will be high on list for closure consideration)
Realize today’s teahadis have forgotten their own heritage (tea-party against corporate arrogance), but hey…. if the shoe fits AMEX…. over-board ya go.
Mine did not get the shutdown email but that’s because I’ve stopped loading after the VGC load with Kate or at the Walmart Customer Service were cut off in my neck of the woods about 5 months ago. I’ve been contemplating what to do with the BB acccount but I’m thinking I am going to cancel it anyway.
I did get the email this morning on both mine and my husband’s accounts. I have not done online loading for at least two years. I load at Walmart with $200 or $500 gift cards, and I use the card at Walmart occasionally. I use the funds to pay my mortgage, utilities, and credit card bills, and I nearly always have money sitting in the account. Such a sad, sad day. Now when I drive past Walmart, my heart will skip a beat the way it does when I see a Walgreens or a 7-11. Ah, the good old days.
LOL @ your heart skipping a beat 😀
My Bluebird account was not shutdown. I haven’t loaded anything in the past couple months because I was too busy. And when I was loading it I never came close to maxing it out. Part of it was because the closest WM rarely had there kiosk operational. I did not like going through the money center.
Hopefully my account lasts because I would still like to use BB for the occasional MF but it is also good for depositing cash for me at least.
I did not get shut down. I did not get the dreaded email, either.
And how was your Small Business Saturday? Didn’t get all of those 3X$10 statement credits on your AMEX cards like 2014, did you? AMEX is fighting to survive . They are focused like a laser beam on cuts. And as advantages get whittled away one by one do what I plan to do: hold ONLY cards with no annual or monthly maintenance fees.
I didn’t waste my time with Small Business Saturday this year
I have a BB acct that I used rarely a couple years ago and now only use it to funnel money from the WM price catcher cashback scheme. I guess what I’m wondering is did they use records from other AMEX products to compare the deposits? Also for those of us that didn’t do much or any MS on these will this open up for us down the road? Since they seemed to have done a major account closure project all at once. After the dust settles in a month or two could I potentially ramp up the MS on my semi-dormant account and get by with it?
I was shut down today. I never loaded mine online, and I’ve only had it since the Redbird shutdown, and I don’t think I maxed out loading, so those don’t make sense. I have, however, mostly done $500 loads. I have never actually used my Serve card for purchases (where Amex would make money on the interchange fee). I’ve got to think that only using online billpay was likely the flag that got me.
So far neither my BB nor my wife’s Serve’s have been shut down. We abused those cards to the max. We loaded $5K each month to each card without fail. I would also cancel a BB and then get a Serve in the same month and vice-versa in order to load even more. All I can think is that either they have not finished sending out all the emails, both my cards are only a couple of months old since I’ve been canceling and switching cards, or that I don’t always transfer the funds out right away.
BB not closed down ( yet anyway) but I had no history of any online loads or bill pays and only 1 card ever. I have loaded up to $500.00 at a time at WM via ksk but have not done this for about 6 months due to work schedule. Will have to wait and see.
Your Serve might have indeed been shut down. Consider that maybe they just haven’t emailed you yet.
I got a shutdown email this morning for my wife’s Serve, but no email for my BB. Ran out at lunch to see if I could get one last run at Kate. Tried to load a $100 US Bank MCGC to Serve, and then the BB. Both times I got a receipt that read “debit not approved.”
4 Serves. All opened after RedBird shutdown. No shutdowns on any of them.
– I do always load max 5K at WM/Rite-Aid on each card
– I always do max 1K online loads on 2 out of the 4 cards
– I always use them to pay bills
What may have saved me (for now) – just speculating:
– I had actual spend on all the accounts due to some AmEx Offers (Dunkin Donuts, Petco, Newegg, etc…)
– I don’t pay bills/withdraw money immediately. It sometimes takes me a few weeks, and even then I may leave some balance in the account
Ditto on habits with my card except only loading the online 1k in the last few months. I was shut down.
My 3 month old acct got shit down
– no online load
– no ATM
– all gift card load at Walmart
– always leave around $1000 balance
– never even close to max out
Month 3:$200 only!!!
I am surprised to be targeted …
I recently noticed that new bluebird accounts can’t link to an external checking or savings anymore. This was the original and only reason I got one of these cards to begin with–it allows me to make cash deposits to free online checking accounts effectively solving the problem of branchless cash deposits. I’m suspicious that this is what’s happening to everyone, that all the old accounts–the loyal people of the brand–with linked external accounts and where funds are deposited and withdrawn repeatedly without us doing much spending has come to an end. And they really don’t need a reason to just close our account…oh not close I was told, but just rendered useless in that I can’t deposit anymore. Which is the same as shutting me down.
I don’t really get why companies don’t just make a product or charge for consumers behavior instead of ripping it apart when people use it in ways where they make no money. I’d pay for that service, wtf…
My BB got shut down. I don’t do much loading. Around 700 a month and I write a check to my sons daycare from it. I mainly did it to get points for something I cannot put on a card. If I could pay for daycare by card I would. There is usually a balance albeit small ($10). I only do KATE loads (no online) and for varying amounts (never $500 trying not to get flagged lol). I do commonly write the check the day after a deposit but don’t see how this would be strange for someone loading with cash and then writing a check. I have never bought these gift cards on another AMEX cc. Seems like there is no rhyme or reason. Sucky part is I just bought my months worth of gift cards last night… Bummer.
I’m a newbie and couldn’t get my Serve to work at WM without being charged a load fee. Finally called Serve to ask why and was told I had the wrong Serve card for free re-loads. While I was on the phone with him I got the distinct feeling that he did not approve of WM and seemed to steer me more towards Family Dollar and Rite Aide. Anyway, closed my Serve account and opened the One VIP Serve a few weeks ago. Loaded a $200 VGC at Family Dollar, spent a few dollars there and ordered an Olive Garden gift card ($50 card for $40). Received the OG gift card but my account has not yet been charged the $40 ?! Weird, but my account still seems to be working.
FWIW – mine was shut down. It’s only been open since Redbird died and only been loaded 4 or 5 times. (albeit in $200 and $500 loads via Kate…which I suspect is partly why mine was targeted along with others)
I was lucky enough to use my BB last week to buy a Universal Studios ticket via Undercover Tourist to get the $30 back Amex offer! I’m glad I at least got that bonus before the shut down.
My BB didn’t get shut down.
Only had for 3 months and have not maxed the limit on it. Only load at Kate and then pay off bill directly.
Got shut down
-never max out on load every month
-carry a balance every month
-used bill pay for legit payments and never transferred to my bank acct
-loaded not only $500 but $200 and $100
You can remove having one account as a reason from your list. I only had one serve account and it was closed. Other datapoints are that I would do 1.5k a month online credit card load. I usually used bill pay within a few days of the load. I never loaded with amex cards. I never loaded gift cards. The bill pay was to pay other credit cards or other bills I could not pay with a credit card. I did loads recently. For the reason why yours was not shutdown I think it is a combination of your not maxing out the monthly load and that you are leaving money in the serve account. Just a guess.
My Bluebird got shut down; I was a very mild and bland user of the card. A few hundred to a few thousand a month, and several months with no activity at all. It will be interesting to see if those whose accounts are still active can continue to load gift cards.
Three opened in Oct 2015 got shut down but two in Nov 2015 are still alive. All cards are max out monthly with $500 and $200 loading in WM as well as the regular utility, loan, and bill payments. I was told there will be the 2nd shut down coming in couple weeks. Be well-prepared, everyone!
Serve didn’t get shut down but I’m a bit of a novice here.
– minimal loading … maybe have done a total of $4,000 since i started in Nov and always only at $200 or $300 max.
– Only using it to load and pay tuition so i can get ultimate rewards
– Initial loads done at Walmart but now at RiteAid
– i ONLY use my Chase Ink to purchase all of my GC’s from Staples (and have been lucky with them offering the $20 promo back for purchasing $300 in GC’s a number of times). I figured if I only used Chase there would then never be any affiliation with using an AMEX to purchase a GC
– I have never paid an AMEX balance with my Serve
– I have let funds accumulate for a while until I have to pay my next month’s tuition.
Not sure if that helps but just trying to think of as many things specific to my Serve that might help us better figure out what is working for AMEX and what is triggering other’s cards to be shut down. (so sorry for those that have been … big-time bummer!) You’ve all been so helpful to me as I have started learning this. Hope this might help! 🙂
@ozzie – I’m a victim of the “second shut down” on March 4. All of my transfers via my Delta Skymiles debit card were legit; however, I made more than I did before because of the nature of my small businesses and it was easier to transfer by $200 increments online.
I called customer service and kept getting recordings, even when I asked for a “representative.” Does it recognize my card number and automatically block it?
Can anyone tell me how I can talk to a live person? Anyone have any luck getting this reversed?
I doubt you’re going to get anywhere talking to anyone at Amex – it seems too widespread…
The #2 wave came earlier than what I was told. SS# is linked to each card and blocked by Amex so reapplying any prepaid card does not work at all.
has anyone successfully reopened serve/bb after being shut down?
does using a different phone #, email, address work? or is it all tied to the SSN?
Everything I’ve seen has said that does not work. The only thing I’ve seen work (and personally done) is open up a account after I closed it (Before it was shut down)