Wal-Mart, American Express team on prepaid card
Posted: October 8, 2012 at 7:28 a.m.
Updated: October 8, 2012 at 7:56 a.m.
Wal-Mart and American Express announced Monday the launch of Bluebird, a prepaid-access account designed as an alternative to debit and checking accounts that the companies say will help consumers better manage their finances.
Bluebird, which began as a pilot program and will be available in a revamped form next week at www.bluebird.com and in more than 4,000 Wal-Mart stores, was designed for customers who need features such as mobile bill pay and no minimum balance or monthly, annual, or overdraft fees, Bentonville-based Wal-Mart and New York-Based American Express said in a news release.
Bluebird cards can be used at locations that accept American Express. Members can deposit money into their Bluebird accounts via methods including payroll direct deposit, remote check capture using a mobile application, using cash at any Wal-Mart register, or by linking a checking or savings account to their Bluebird account, the companies said.
“Our customers tell us that they’re tired of navigating a complex maze of dos and don’ts to avoid the ever growing list of fees found on checking products. Bluebird solves this problem,” Daniel Eckert, vice president of financial services for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement.
A $1,000 daily limit is in place for deposits to Bluebird accounts at Wal-Mart registers, Eckert said, adding that direct deposit totals are capped at $10,000, a figure that may be adjusted next year according to consumer needs and feedback.
In a conference call, Eckert declined to comment on the details of Wal-Mart’s economic arrangement with American Express.
Bluebird allows no credit or overdraft capabilities but the service plans to add check-writing capabilities and more money-depositing options in the first quarter of 2013, the companies said. The platform "will continue to evolve," said Dan Schulman, the group president for enterprise growth at American Express.
Bluebird is not backed by the FDIC but instead by the American Express Travel Related Services Co., the companies said.
Wal-Mart said its new partnership with American Express won't affect its previously launched prepaid-card arrangement with Monrovia-Calif.-based Green Dot, which expires in 2015.
An audio replay of a live webcast announcing the service will be available later in the day at ir.americanexpress.com.