Sign up for a free account from Bluebird.
Wait 7-10 business days to receive the card. If you have a Serve account, you will need to cancel it and then wait about 30 days before signing up. You need to wait for your physical BB card before you can proceed here.
Please note: You can load a maximum of $1,000 a day (plus $100/day with a debit card, though this might be risky, see below, II.4.) and $5,000 each calendar
month into your Bluebird account, from all methods combined.
√ You can find answers to many questions here: https://www.bluebird.com/faqs?linknav=us-Prepaid-Bluebird-Home-Faqs#bluebird-checks
And here: https://www.bluebird.com/
(just scroll down instead of clicking 'log in')Ways to load it:
I. Vanilla Reload (VR)
1. Purchase a Vanilla Reload at any location
that sells them. It is a hard plastic card similar to most gift cards. CVS is basically the only location that carries them and allows paying with a CC, although YMMV, even within the same store. Finding VR can be very difficult in regions with high DDF-er density. Load $500 on the VR, for a total of $503.95 including fees. The store will usually only let you buy two cards at a time, but again, YMMV. Pay by credit card, obviously.
Some stores will ask for ID and possibly scan your license. This is to make sure you don't default on payment. (It may be possibly to avoid this, if it bothers you, if the loaded value is less than $1,000 but as always, YMMV, and odd load values might look pretty... odd to the employees. You probably don't want to be the talk of the break room. Please use your best judgement.)
Vanilla Reload looks like this:
2. Scratch off to reveal the PIN on the back of the VR.
3. Go to https://www.vanillareload.com
and put in the PIN, and then your BB account number on the next screen. No fee will be charged. The money is now in your BB account. If it doesn't work, make sure you entered both numbers correctly. In certain locations you may need to wait about 15 minutes for the money to show up.
II. "Gift" cards (GC)
As of April 1st, 2013, Mastercard (MC) and Visa GCs have PIN codes that will make the cards function as debit cards. GCs may be used to load up your Bluebird account in any Walmart, as will be explained below, or get cash back on purchases. There is still a lot of confusion and YMMV very much at this point, so be wary of the risks. Note that not all GCs work. Those from Metabank do, as do others. AMEX GCs are not capable of working with a PIN. They can only be used as gift cards. GCs for a specific business or store (iTunes or Home Depot or whatever) will never work in the ways described here.
1. Buy Visa or MC GCs. The larger the denomination the better, since the fee-to-balance ratio will be better. Buy them anywhere, but you get the most out of this if you buy them with a CC that pays more than 1 point per dollar at that store at that time.
2. You will need a PIN for each GC. If you bought a MC GC, call the number on the back of the card or go online to set a PIN. If you bought a Visa, the last four digits of the card number will usually work, as long as you have not used the card yet. If you have used it, you had to set a PIN, so use that.
3. Go to Walmart.
There are two suggested ways to load the GCs to BB at Walmart. Via a MoneyPass ATM (preferred) or via any cashier. Neither method charges an additional fee to what you paid when you bought the card. Please do not go to the service desk. Certainly do not refer to the GCs as gift cards, as they are, in fact, debit cards.
3a. MoneyPass ATMs
Not all Walmarts have MoneyPass ATMs, and MoneyPass ATMs at non-Walmart locations will not work to load BB. You can search for MoneyPass ATMs at Walmarts here: http://www.moneypass.com/atm-locator.aspx
Some report that MoneyPass ATMs in Walmarts near areas with high concentrations of DDFers seem to be permanently out of service. You may need to go farther afield or use the other method, mentioned below.
Follow the instructions on the machine to load your BB card. In some cases, the "Walmart Money Card" option will work for Bluebird as well. Be patient and careful with your card swipes, as the machines are often slow or touchy. Each GC will be a separate transaction. Remember, the maximum of $1,000/day per BB account always applies.
Please remember to be friendly, considerate and compassionate in all your interactions.
Ask a cashier to load your Bluebird account from a debit card. If they don't know how, tell them to use action code 70
and follow the instructions on their screen. They are able to split a single transaction into up to four different cards, but it can be simpler to add one GC at a time, especially with people waiting behind you on line. You can then go back around to the same or another cashier to add other cards. Again, the $1,000/day per BB account applies.
This method should work at any Walmart - as intended by the Bluebird product - but there are many stores in which some or all of the staff and management are suspicious of such transactions and will not do it. Your chances of convincing them to do something they think will risk their jobs is slim to none so if you encounter such resistance, please: Do
take no for an answer and leave courteously to try another store or another day.
4. It is apparently possible to load up to $100 (one hundred dollars, not thousand) per day to BB from GC debit cards on the BB site for free. Please note that people have had their BB accounts frozen or shut down for using GCs to load BB online, and that the BB site clearly says that any debit card used must be in the BB account holder's name. You have been warned.What to do with it:
BB money can be sent, via the BB site, to pay bills that don't normally accept CCs (think rent/mortgage, tuition, insurance, car payment, gas bill, even pay your cc bill) or to anyone in the U.S. for free. Checks sent online this way are delivered within 5 business days. It may be prudent not to use BB to directly pay the CC on which you purchased the VRs/GCs that funded BB, but, once again, YMMV.
Some people would rather use the free physical checks that you can order from BB, which need to be preauthorized by you online. For checks of $2,000 or more, authorization will require additional information and time. You need to provide the information and wait for confirmation before the check will be valid.
The money in your BB account can be withdrawn directly withdraw to a linked bank account, which, if done too much, may be seen as risky by BB, but in moderation should be fine. You can also send money to your bank account online by check, same as any other payee, but this might be risky from the perspective of the bank (not BB) if you bank and have CCs at the same institution.