Thursday, May 29, 2014

Serve - Free and Automatic Manufactured Spend

Update: Starting in April 2015, you can longer load via Visa, Mastercard or Discover.  Fidelity American Express will work and still should earn points.

American Express has a number of different types of Prepaid Cards.  For a few years, their Bluebird card was the darling of the Blogosphere since it can be loaded with Vanilla Reload cards at a low cost and easily unloaded back into your bank account.  If you needed to hit a spending threshold, Bluebird was your friend.  With the demise of buying Vanilla Reloads with credit cards, people have been looking for alternatives.

Serve is a great alternative.  I didn't have Serve until this week because you can only have Serve or Bluebird, not both, and I've been too lazy to cancel Bluebird, but I'm sorry I didn't switch over sooner.

Major Advantages of Serve

1) Online credit card loads 

This reason and the next one are the only reason I switched over.  You can load $1,000 a month for free from a credit card. There is a limit of $200 a day, so you need 5 $200 loads to get to the $1,000

2) Automatic online credit card loads

You can set up Serve to automatically load money from your card.  I set it up to load $200 everyday.  The first 5 times of the month it works, and the rest it doesn't work because I've reached my maximum for the month.

3) Bill Pay

You can pay your credit card bills from Serve

4) Participates in American Express Offers

American Express has some great offers for their card holders.  Most prepaid cards are not eligible, but Serve cards and their subaccounts are eligible for American Express offers.

5) Load Visa Gift Cards at Walmart

Another major advantage Bluebird had was that you could load Visa Gift Cards onto your Bluebird card for free at Walmart.  That's still true, but it's also now true for Serve.

6) Connect your phone and Download the Isis app and load even more

Check here to see if you phone is eligible.  With Isis, your daily load limit goes up to $500 and your monthly load limit goes up to $1,500.

Major Disadvantage of Serve

1) $1 monthly fee - The fee is dropped if you load $500 a month.  That should be very easy if you set up automatic loads.

A couple of Notes:

1) You might need to call and verify your credit card info.  When I first set up my credit card on Serve I kept getting an error message when I tried to load with a credit card.  The message told me to call Serve.  I called and Serve called up my credit card company with me on the phone to verify that it is my credit card.

2) Not every credit card will work to get points.  American Express credit cards will load money to Serve, but you won't get points.  Citibank, Chase, Capital One, Barclays and FIA card services (including the 2% Fidelity American Express) all will earn points for the online loads.  If you use your Fidelity American Express you will get $20 every month for no work.

3) I need to spend exactly $1,000 a month for 16 months to get 2 miles per dollar on my Citibank AAdvantage card so this is perfect for me.

You can check out Frequent Miler's post on the topic

Also check out this Flyertalk Thread