In a Nutshell: For many Americans who do not have access to bank accounts, or are considered underbanked, access to modern conveniences, such as shopping on the internet, direct deposit, and electronic bill pay, is very limited. But with the Bluebird prepaid card, the unbanked can participate in today’s world of digital commerce. Bluebird account holders gain access to bank-like features, including the ones mentioned above, as well as ATM access and low fees. Bluebird users can also take advantage of a number of other perks, including fraud protection, roadside assistance, and American Express’s 24/7 customer service.
About 25% of American households do not have access to a bank account or are considered underbanked, according to a 2017 FDIC survey. The numbers break down to 8.4 million unbanked households and 24.2 million underbanked households.
The reasons why someone would not have a bank account in today’s increasingly digital world varies widely. Some people may have trouble getting a bank account if they have run into serious financial trouble in the past. Others may choose to avoid banks because of a bad customer service experience or to avoid fees.
More than half of the FDIC survey participants who were unbanked said they simply did not have enough money to keep in a bank account.
Thanks to the digital transformation, the rise of the internet, and the convenience of modern-day e-commerce payment systems, those of us who do have bank accounts can hardly imagine navigating the world without one. I know that my bank account plays into my life on a daily basis, whether it’s from swiping my debit card for a coffee on the go, receiving my paycheck, or ordering items online. Not to mention that I pay all my bills online.
Many people who do not have bank accounts are essentially shut out of participating in society and in the economy in any meaningful way as commerce continues to move more toward the digital world.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Thanks to services like Bluebird, people don’t have to have a bank account to gain access to online payments, debit card purchases, and even ATMs.
We recently spoke with Adam Brault, the Senior Vice President of Financial Services at InComm, Bluebird’s parent company to learn more about how the Bluebird platform can benefit the unbanked.
Access Bank-Like Features and Use the Bluebird Card Virtually Anywhere American Express is Accepted
“Bluebird was originally developed as a checking and debit alternative to provide many of the conveniences of banking to consumers who didn’t have bank accounts,” Brault said.
Although there were other prepaid cards on the market, Bluebird launched with many features and few fees, making it a very affordable and competitive option, he said.
Bluebird is a great option for anyone who either doesn’t have or doesn’t want a traditional bank account, Brault explained, because it provides many similar features with very few fees. Additionally, a credit check is not required to open an account.
“Bluebird offers many bank account-like features, such as bill pay, ATM access, checks, and mobile check capture; but without minimum balance requirements or monthly or annual fees,” Brault said. “Account holders can add money for free at Walmart and withdraw money for free at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATMs.”
Users of Bluebird can also receive their paycheck up to two days faster with its direct deposit feature.
“Your funds are automatically added to your account — no more waiting in lines to cash or deposit checks,” according to the company. “Add all or part of your paycheck or government benefits, and change your selections at any time.”
Bluebird Cards are virtually accepted anywhere that accepts American Express Cards, and Bluebird account holders can take advantage of the American Express Card Membership benefits as well.
Brault explained that Bluebird is not a bank account nor is it issued by a bank. Bluebird balances do not earn interest.
Bluebird Offers Additional Perks, Including Fraud Protection, Roadside Assistance, and Amex Offers
In addition to services historically only available to bank account holders, Bluebird users gain access to an array of handy auxiliary perks as well.
Bluebird account holders can feel secure knowing their benefits include purchase protection and fraud protection for online or in-store purchases.
“Shop with added confidence and purchase protection, which can help protect eligible purchases made with the card against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from date of purchases,” according to the company website.
And if a user’s Bluebird Card is lost or stolen, the company protects against fraudulent purchases.
Users can also send money to anyone using the Bluebird2Walmart Money Transfer program, and there is no charge to send money between Bluebird accounts.
Roadside and emergency assistance are a couple of other handy perks that are normally available through traditional credit cards and bank accounts.
“You can call us in case of emergency for coordination and assistance services to help get you on your way,” according to the company website. “Card Members are responsible for third-party service costs. There are some vehicle exclusions and other important restrictions.”
Similarly, Bluebird account holders can get access to select emergency coordination and assistance services when traveling more than 100 miles from home. Cardmembers are responsible for costs charged by third-party service providers.
And since Bluebird runs on the American Express network, Bluebird users get access to Amex offers, such as valuable savings for shopping, dining, and more, according to the company.
The Bluebird app also provides tools that deliver valuable financial management tips and information.
Users can select the Family Account option that allows for multiple users to access the same account.
“Managing family expenses can be a breeze with Bluebird,” according to the company.
Give up to 4 cards to anyone you choose, then easily set limits on spending, ATM access, and more.”
Bluebird Values Customer Feedback and Delivers Easy Access to Customer Support
“Bluebird account holder feedback has been very positive,” Brault said. “One of the things account holders appreciate most is our compelling fee structure — many features are available for free, and there are no monthly fees.”
Due to this appealing aspect of Bluebird, among others, the company’s research indicates that Bluebird account holders tend to have a high affinity for the brand. And they also tend to stick with Bluebird longer than customers stick with other prepaid cards.
“We continue to incorporate feedback from our account holders, and we’re constantly working to improve our customer support and features so that the customer experience with the Bluebird brand remains efficient and positive,” Brault added.
Because they are on the American Express network, Bluebird account holders already receive quality 24/7 American Express Customer Service.
That means no matter the problem, day or night, Bluebird account holders can access the help they need.
“If you feel that an unauthorized transfer was made to or from your Bluebird Account, or there is an error on your monthly statement or transaction receipt, or you need more information about a transaction listed on your monthly statement or transaction receipt (each circumstance, a “Dispute”), you may contact us at 1-877-486-5990, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” according to the company website.
Users may call this same number for any other support needs.
They can also write to Bluebird at
Bluebird Customer Care
P.O. Box 826
Fortson, GA 31808
With a service like Bluebird, those who don’t have access to — or don’t want access to — traditional finance accounts can enjoy the modern-day conveniences that come with credit cards and checking.