October 9, 2012 in Business

Wal-Mart, American Express team up on card

Prepaid Bluebird touts fraud security, few fees
Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

The launch of Bluebird signals how competition for prepaid cards is heating up.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express are rolling out a prepaid card that they say offers unique services designed to help shoppers manage and control their everyday finances.

The two companies said Monday that Bluebird, begun during a pilot program late last year, acts like a checking account but without the fees that have increasingly frustrated shoppers. It will have no minimum balance and no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. They say the only fees that will be associated with the card will be transparent and within the user’s control, such as out of network ATM withdrawals by consumers who don’t use direct deposit.

Bluebird will be loaded with a number of features, including the ability to deposit a check to one’s Bluebird account by simply taking a picture with a smartphone. It will also offer the same fraud protections in an event the card is stolen or lost as other standard cards.

Bluebird cards can be used at millions of locations where American Express cards are accepted, both in the U.S. and internationally. Users can deposit funds onto the card via direct deposit, with cash at any Wal-Mart register, or by linking a checking, savings or debit card to the account.

Another key feature: The user can set up sub-accounts for family members or others, giving them access to certain funds, instead of the entire account. So parents could set up such accounts using Bluebird for their children in college.

Bluebird will be available next week at www.bluebird.com and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.

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