Wal-Mart has given the world an alternative to shopping like never before. Initially it was a combination grocery, retail, hardware and nearly every other store you could imagine under one roof. This was an idea whose time had come and welcomed by many communities. Now they have stepped into another retail marketplace, banking. The ultimate retailer is presenting the Bluebird card. What is this financial instrument and what can it do for you?

This monetary gadget is defined as a substitute for a bank card in scores of advertisements on various mediums like the web and television. However, what do participants actually receive when they sign up with a contract for it?

There are some advantages and disadvantages customers discover when they use it for making their purchases. This article discusses some benefits and shortcomings found in this next step in managing your money to pay for goods and services at Wal-Mart.


No fees for nearly anything

Fees connected to using monetary tools add up. One big advantage to using this one is no fees for nearly everything.  This is something separating it from similar industry competitors. This makes it very appealing for anyone that has paid more than a few in their banking history.

This large advantage is very attractive for tons of users. There are no annual or monthly costs for the account and no charges for overdraft. An inactive account will not gain any charges for a card holder and no foreign exchange or replacement fees for replacing one are found for members. All of these freebies are not found with other similar competitors.

No balance requirements

Have you ever heard the saying "its my money and I need it now". Well you can have it now without keeping a minimum balance with this one. This is another great benefit, a nonexistent minimum balance. No matter how low one is for customers accounts they will still keep an active membership.

Multiple deposit options

Members do deposits in a number of ways. Deposit checks with any Smartphone device. Employer direct deposit is available and cash getting to your account through a Wal-Mart checkout register is an option. You can transfer monies from a regular checking or savings account to a Bluebird card using their website.

Customer Service 24/7

Customers with issues and concerns can contact the company. American Express Company provides customer service 24 hours each day and 7 days a week which is ideal for members with questions or issues that come up.  Online bill pay is another terrific opportunity appreciated by users.

no credit check or minimum requirement

Anyone with blemished credit can still get membership. Unlike other financial institutions in the marketplace a credit review or minimum rating for credit is not needed to open an account.

Multiple accounts in one

Subaccounts are a way to have more than one account connected to each other. For family spending this is wonderful. Each member has a card with their personal name on it. Daily spending limits and turning ATM access on and off are possible.

Imagine how safe you will feel with the control for subaccounts issued to students that need access to monies with this type of control over finances? You will be able to adjust the balance at your fingertips and watch the money machine usage for these cardholders.

Mobile banking

Cardholders use smartphones to manage funds. Texts to a cell phone for balance and transaction info free.  A mobile app is also available with no charge and easy to navigate.

ATM access

Withdraw money at any ATM. There is no fee for any owned by American Express. There are about 22,000 of these machines in their network.


No FDIC insurance coverage

If your money is lost or stolen there is no protection. Funds are not insured by FDIC (Federal Deposit Inc. Company) which makes them very different from a regular bank or credit union. This means your money is not guaranteed up to $250,000 like deposits with credit unions, banks and other similar financial institutions have.

Deposits cannot be made anywhere

Cash is one way of adding funds to an account that a number of people use. This is extremely limited using this vehicle. In fact, it can only be done using a Wal-Mart register. Surprisingly, you can withdraw from  an ATM, but these cannot be used for deposits. Anyone living with a Wal-Mart store outside of their neighborhood and making frequent dealings in this way will find an inconvenience. Getting money into the account will be a hassle.

ATM charges

ATM withdrawal charges do apply. These are only eliminated with an employer direct deposit and use of an American Express MoneyPass network machine. Both must be in place to get rid of the charges.

Withdrawal limits

Member accounts, combined with subaccounts, have a limit of no more than 3 ATM withdrawals per day and cannot exceed $500 for the same day as well as a max of $2000 each month. This sets an enormous constraint on a lot of people for accessing their money. If you deposit your employer paycheck  you could potentially have big problem getting cash money when you need it.

Charges for using your card

Without direct deposit through an employer, there is a $2 charge for Amex network machines for taking out any monies. Funds added from a debit card from another bank will have a $2 fee per transaction and a $100 daily limit. This limit is considerably small for a lot of folks. Though, for others it is something they want to avoid and makes a difference in choosing to use one or not.

Age limit for subaccounts

You must be at least 13 years old to be a subaccount holder. Dependents under this age are unable to become an authorized user. Your dependents 13 and up are okay.

Mobile phone charge

Cell phone texts for account balance info and account history is not free of charge. Regular data rates will apply and are costly depending on your cell phone carrier and plan.

Weakened buying power

There are limits on the buying power of Bluebird. Only merchants that accept American Express for goods and services will take this one. Hotel and car reservations are not possible as well. Other rentals and deposits similar to these kinds of reservations are also excluded.

Inability to use all of your funds when you need them

There are times when you will not have access to all of your funds. A number of merchants, such as restaurants and gas stations, make a pending transaction for the amount of purchase plus an extra fee before processing the final transaction. This pending amount is temporarily out of your account until everything finalizes which could take up to five banking days.

The amount could be four or five times of the dollars you transacted. For an example, $25 worth of gas delayed $100 in your wallet for up to a week. This time frame varies with the merchant.

Insurance coverage for purchased items

Any product or service purchased using this instrument is not covered for loss or damage.  This benefit is generally seen with some credit cards, but not Bluebird.

Returned items are not immediately credited back

Returned items generally have funds credited back. On average this takes up to seven business days. During this time your monies are not available.

In conclusion

The Bluebird is not a debit or credit card by the usual definition. It does have several benefits over the prepaid forms of these same types of devices, but substantially less than a bank type of  debit equal.  This could be a great stepping stone for anyone that does not enjoy prepaid types of implements, but lack the credit rating to get another type connected with a credit union or similar organization and the comparable devices that go with it.

For the right person or circumstances it does have benefits that cannot be ignored. However, the limitations seen with money and withdraws are the biggest disappointments customers mention in their personal feedback with Wal-Mart’s step into banking for their customers.

The chances of this decision taking off like hotcakes doesnt look to be in the cards. Though, with a few changes you never know.