American Express, Walmart Enhance Bluebird Prepaid Card
American Express is making two major changes with the Bluebird prepaid card sold at Walmart.
These cards will now be backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In addition, consumers will have the ability to write checks and to make direct deposits of government payments such as tax refunds, military payroll checks and Social Security checks.
The Bluebird card is aimed at consumers who are disillusioned or excluded by the rising costs of banking services. The card has no monthly, annual or overdraft fees and does not require a minimum balance. The card can be purchased online or in one of the 4,000 Walmart stores where an account set-up kit costs $5. Funds can be added at any Walmart register.
Prepaid debit cards have skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years, appealing mainly to millions of people who have become “unbanked” in the wake of the economic downturn. As credit card companies have tightened their acceptance requirements, people have turned to reloadable prepaid cards to make transactions and house their money.
Researchers at Pew Charitable Trusts estimate that Americans will load over $200 billion onto prepaid cards this year.