Beginner’s Guide to Manufactured Spending Series Index
Part 4 | Guide to American Express Gift Cards
Part 5 | Guide to Using BlueBird and Serve
Part 6 | Guide to Using Evolve Money
One of the key aspects of manufactured spending is the ability to liquidate gift cards and one of the easiest ways we have mentioned is using Bluebird or Serve from American Express.
This is a quick guide to how to manufactured at least $5,000 a month of spending to earn miles and points. One important thing to note is that you are NOT allowed to have both a Bluebird and Serve accounts.
The first step is to create an account to use for manufactured spend and here is a guide of how to do it.
Introduction to Bluebird and Serve
Both Bluebird and Serve are alternative checking accounts by American Express and Walmart. Just like any other checking account, you can load funds via cash deposits, direct deposit and most importantly debit loads via a pin based debit card. Bluebird and Serve don’t have the typical fees you might see with other checking accounts such as overdraft fees, card replacement fees, foreign exchange fees, inactivity fees and monthly/annual fees.
For a complete list of Bluebird fees and limits, click here.
For a complete list of Serve fees and limits, click here.
Register for Bluebird / Serve
2. Click Register Now. This will load a new page asking for your personal information.
3. Be sure that if you did indeed buy a temporary card from Walmart that you check ‘Yes’ for the first question and proceed as directed.
Although your SSN is required, this will not incur a hard inquiry. All banks are required to ask a person for their SSN when setting up a checking account these days.
4. Check all of the agreement boxes and once you are done with this step, you should receive your card within 5 to 10 business days.
Loading Bluebird at Walmart
Assuming you have been following this series, by now, you should have picked out the card(s) that will earn the most points for buying Visa gift cards. Now you can take those Visa gift cards to Walmart and approach either the Money Center or a Cash Register and tell them you want to load your Bluebird. (Make sure to set your pin to whatever you wish before going to Walmart!)
The daily limit is $1,999.99 at Walmart and it is set by American Express. However, Walmart registers can only do $1,000 per transaction therefore in order to maximize one trip to Walmart, you will need to do 2 transactions (one $500 load and one $1,000 load). Since most Visa gift cards come in $500 denominations, the $1,000 load will require two swipes of $500.
You may want to avoid the kind of loads described above during shopping rush hour, as the employees and the other customers tend to always be in a rush themselves and won’t exactly be happy campers.
The monthly limit is $5,000 per month, therefore you can liquidate 10 Visa gift cards in 7 days since each day you can load $1,500 per day. However, there is a way to liquidate $5,000 in 6 days if you live in the Pacific Standard Time zone.
Bluebird changes its internal system date at 12AM EST which means you can technically go to Walmart around 8:45 PM and load $1,500 and after 9PM you can load another $1,500. Everyday after you will need to go after 9PM. This will let you liquidate $5,000 in 6 days.
The convenience factor of this may vary for different people, but personally, I love the fact that I can go in at night when there is not a rush of customers and save one trip to Walmart.
Serve also allows $1,000 a month to be loaded online using a credit card, which Bluebird does not. This is an important aspect since your monthly limit just went from $5,000 to $6,000 and the extra $1,000 spend can be done from the comfort of your home!
If your want to manufactured spend greater than $5,000 to $6,000 per month, recall that you can also load your wife, partner, relative or parents Bluebird account as well. This will increase your monthly and daily limits based on the number of people who give you access to their Bluebird account.
Using Bluebird or Serve Bill Pay
Perhaps the most useful feature of Bluebird, as discussed before, is the Bill Pay feature. Most credit companies are already listed in the system which makes it easy to pay off the points earning credit card you used to purchase the Visa gift cards. Processing time of bill pay is generally two business days, which is important since at some point or another you will have lower available credit on a card you want to use for manufactured spending.
How to Add Payee
1. Once you login, on the homepage you want to mouseover ‘Pay & Transfer’ and click on ‘Pay a Bill’
2. Click on ‘Add Payee’
3. Search for the company you want to pay i.e – Chase Credit Cards and click on the appropriate result.
4. In the next screen you will fill out details of your account such as the account number, name etc.
5. Once completed, you are now set to make payments and complete the circle of manufactured spending.
On a side note, I always test out every new account with a test payment of $1 just to confirm the account number is correct and the intended account was paid.
Bill Pay is not only limited to credit card companies, you can pay your utilities as well as mortgages and rent using Bluebird, given that you can find the correct payee.
While I focused more on Bluebird in the post, it is worthwhile to note that Serve has all the same features and abilities and allows $1,000 extra manufactured spend. While these powerful tools are in place and easily accessible, remember that moderation is key!