Bluebird, the Walmart and American Express prepaid, reloadable card that offers mobile and smart-phone functionality, will now carry FDIC insurance and “worry-free” checking — creating even more of an alternative to standard banking.
Bluebird account holders will be able to receive direct deposit of government payments, such as social security payments, military pay, and tax refunds.
Customers can also balance their Bluebird checkbook in real-time with pre-authorized check writing, add checks to their Bluebird account by mail and add funds up to $100,000 annually — that’s the amount protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for Bluebird holders.
Americans currently carry government insurance on up to $250,000 of their money for each deposit ownership category per insured bank.
The total Bluebird account balance limit has increased to $100,000 per calendar year to allow members to add more of their paychecks and large-value checks.
Bluebird customers can now also add personal and government checks to their accounts by mailing the check to American Express. Once the check has been successfully processed, the funds will be added directly to the Bluebird Account. There are no fees associated with this new capability.
When Bluebird launched last October, the intent was to serve tens of millions of Americans who are “unbanked” or “underbanked” — meaning they are not well served by traditional banking services, said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth at American Express.
Adding FDIC insurance “reflects feedback from consumers, advocacy groups and government officials, represents the next set of enhancements that further distinguish Bluebird from other financial services options,” Schulman said.
Bluebird members will also have the ability to order checks that they can use to pay bills and make purchases, without worrying about insufficient funds or incurring overdraft fees because funds are set aside during the pre-authorization process.
To preauthorize a Bluebird check, a customer will follow these steps:
- Obtain a unique authorization code online or through the Bluebird mobile app. Once a Bluebird check is pre-authorized, the funds associated with that check are immediately deducted from the customer’s balance, and are held until the check is presented for payment.
- Write the authorization code on the check and give to the payee. This ensures for the customer that sufficient funds are available to cover the Bluebird check being written. The payee can confirm that sufficient funds are available by calling American Express.
Bluebird is available online at www.bluebird.com and at more than 4,000 Walmart stores.