I’ve felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas. Only I’m a big kid waiting for the arrival of my Bluebird card.
Before posting about how Bluebird opens infinite doors, I wanted to have an opportunity to test the card. Alas, my card still has not come, but I did want to be sure to inform you about Bluebird.
I suspect over the next few months I’ll probably have more posts about it, but for now, allow me to introduce you to my new best friend – Bluebird.
What is Bluebird?
Bluebird is a new bankingish feature by American Express. I describe it as a hybrid between a bank, debit card, and PayPal. American Express markets it as “Your Checking and Debit Alternative”.
So, why the excitement over this new product?
The Ways to Fund Your Bluebird
Let’s get started with the most exiting feature. You can add money to your account using Vanilla Prepaid Reload cards. (Make sure they are the Prepaid Reload cards). These cards can be purchased at different retails. Best of all, they can be purchased at Office Depot (at select locations). This is fantastic because if you have the Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards, you’ll get 5x per dollar spent at office supply stores. If you don’t have either of these cards, this is seriously a reason to go out and get either the Ink Bold or Ink Plus (each with 50,000 sign up bonus after spending $10,000 in the first 3 months).
Side Tip: Recently, for a few hours there was an Ink Plus link that only had a $5,000 minimum spend. If you get this card after you get your online account set up, send them a secure message and ask if they’ll match the $5,000 minimum spend offer. The worst they can say is no.
Here’s how the math works out:
$500 card + $3.95 processing fee = 2,519 Ultimate Rewards points. Paying $3.95 for 2,519 Ultimate Rewards is an outstanding deal.
Think about it this way. A flight between Denver and Dallas using Avois (1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards) costs 4,500 Avois. If I were to buy $1,000 worth of Vanilla Reload Network cards at the cost of $7.90, then I’d have enough points for a one way flight between those two cities.
You can add money using a debit card. If you have a mileage earning debit card you can add funds to your account at Wal-mart using your debit card.
There are other ways to add money that don’t really matter much when it comes to mileage earning. These include direct deposit, transfer funds from your bank account, deposit checks using a mobile app, or adding cash at Wal-mart.
The Ways to Spend Your Bluebird Balance
This formula doesn’t work if there is a good way to add money to the account, but not a good way to get money out of the account.
Here’s the good news. There are great ways to spend your Bluebird balance.
Here are the best withdrawal features: you can send a check, withdraw cash at an ATM, or send electronic payments.
Send an Electronic Payment
You can send money to businesses listed in the pay bills section of your account.
This is a great way to pay banks or institutions that would otherwise charge you a fee for using a credit card or wouldn’t even allow you to pay using a credit card.
While you wouldn’t want to do this exclusively or even much, it does appear that you can use the bill payment feature to pay your credit card bills. I’ll let you figure out the possibilities with that one.
Send a Check
If a business or person is not listed where you can send an electronic payment, you can send a paper check to that individual (without a fee).
Again, this opens a whole pletora of opportunities. Think student loans, rent, donations, mortgage payments, tax payments …
Why I’m Excited About the Bluebird Possibilities
- As a proud owner of a Ink Bold, this is a great way to earn 5x on almost anything. That’s hard to beat.
- The thing that always limits me with credit card rewards is the minimum spend. With Bluebird + Vanilla cards (and Amazon Payments, if necessary), you should be able to reach any minimum spend. If necessary, I can always go to a retailer and buy a Vanilla prepaid card in order to reach a minimum spend. I’d been thinking that it would be really hard to get an Ink Plus card when the Ink Bold is due for an annual fee. Why? There’s a $10,000 minimum spend in the first three months to get the bonus. This now makes that more feasible.
- Spending Bonuses: However, knowing that I can reach the minimum spend with the added ‘spending’ with Vanilla Reloadable cards is great. As an example, my wife got the British Airways card that gives an extra 25,000 Avois for spending $10,000 in the first year (and 25,000 more for spending an extra $10,000 in the first year). If we wanted to, we could buy $1,000 Vanilla per month on her British Airways card. That would cost us a total of $39.50 over 10 months, but would give us 25,000 Avios. There are several cards that give you bonuses after spending a certain number of dollars.
- Potential for debit card spending: I currently don’t have any mileage debit cards, but this might just be enough reason for me to consider going out and getting one.
A Wise Word of Warning
Unnatural usage of any of these systems could get you shut down. The following are suggestions I have to help be sure your spending looks (and actually is) natural:
- Limit the number of Vanilla cards you buy at Office Depot using your Ink Bold. In the last five months, I’ve only bought a total of $3,000. I plan to increase this initially to $1,000 per month with the hopes of going possibly as high as $2,000 per month. How high and how fast I go depends on the next point.
- Use your Ink Bold or Plus at locations other than Office Depot. In fact, the more you spend in other locations will help increase the amount you can likely spend at Office Depot.
- Add other purchases when you check out with Vanilla cards. Buy a package of anything so that every time you check out it’s not $503.95 or $1,007.90.
- Add funds to Bluebird using different methods of adding funds. Don’t just do debit or just Vanilla reloads. Include account transfers.
- Withdraw funds from Bluebird using different methods. Don’t take all your money out at ATMs. That’s a bad idea. Transfer payments, send checks, and use ATMs. Paying all your credit card bills may be a bad idea.
Don’t get greedy. Used ‘moderately’, this is a profitable plan, so don’t ruin it by getting shut down by either Bluebird or Chase.
Since I’m new to Bluebird, I’m testing out a lot of things. However, what questions do you have about the card?