Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

January 2, 2013 • Gear Bits

Bluebird by American Express, a Hiccup

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We are in the midst of a series of posts that walk through the process of creating an account with Bluebird, a joint venture between American Express and Walmart, and subsequently using the self-described “Checking and Debit Alternative”. Initially I planned to highlight the process of creating a number of sub accounts that work with my main account and allow family and friends I select to access the available funds in this post. For example, such a joint account could be quite helpful as we are heading to CES this weekend. It would allow all of us to access the same pool of funds rather than settle up after the show.

That, however, isn’t this post. No, this post highlights the first major annoyance I’ve run into with this system.

Let me back up a bit. Early in the series we received a comment that there is a problem with American Express holding checks that are deposited into the account and taking quite some time to verify and process them. Moreover, if there is any issue encountered while doing security checks, then the entire account can be frozen.

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I didn’t think too terribly much about the comment other than the fact that no system is perfect, until I attempted to link my bank account to my Bluebird account. I ran into the same sort of waiting game the comment referenced. My accounts weren’t linked for more than three days. During that period the only way to put money into my Bluebird account was by going to Walmart and using cash.

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Honestly I figured this wasn’t a totally bad thing, since I figured it meant the security vetting was at work. That’s always a good thing and an initial waiting period of two or three days when setting something financial up is something I can live with.

However, this is what I cannot live with:

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I ran that post on December 29 and immediately attempted to transfer $100 from my checking account to my Bluebird account. It is now January 2 and those same funds are still showing as pending. While I understand there was a holiday in the mix, my accounts have been linked and verified. I can’t imagine why there should be such a ridiculously long hold on my funds and, were I dependent upon this account, I would have a huge issue right now.

That’s a problem and, in conjunction with moneys not being FDIC insured, gives me pause. Read more here on the Bluebird website.

7 Responses to " Bluebird by American Express, a Hiccup "

  1. Carly Z says:

    Issues like this make me really wonder what the point of this card and program are…with that many flaming hoops to complete you might as well open a regular bank account.

    • loopyduck says:

      Pretty much the only benefit I can see to this is anonymity–or at least pseudonymity–while still having the convenience of a card. If you’re okay with going to a Walmart to reload the account with cash, there doesn’t seem to be any need to prove you are who you say you are (say with an SSN or something similar). I wonder if PayPal can hook into it?

  2. Corinne says:

    Dec. 29 was a Saturday. Discounting Saturday and Sunday that’s Monday and then today. 2 business days. If it doesn’t clear by tomorrow then I’d complain.

    • dancohen says:

      I realize it is an odd schedule because of the holidays but regardless, if someone was really depending on this there would be an issue. Plus, lots of electronic transactions aren’t nearly as impacted by the calendar these days. Obviously this is.

  3. Gordon Keith says:

    Try a different Friday for cryin’ out loud. New Year’s Eve isn’t a bank holiday but people with vacation/sick time take it in December, especially bank folks. For your transfer to be in pending status on Jan2 doesn’t surprise me a bit. Bear in mind, there’s no fees except what you are willing to inccur. IF you don’t have direct deposit. You really had me worried til I looked at the Dec/Jan calendar. Chill. . .

    • Chill? WTF, seriously? It is ONLY the money being *ELECTRONICALLY* transferred between two ONLINE entities that have already gone through verification and linkage …

      Imagine trying to fill up your gas tank or buy groceries with your debit card on that Friday when your paycheck was supposed to be direct deposited on Thursday and getting declined, and asking about and being told ‘loads of vacations, so even though it should be 100% electronic stuff didn’t happen … sorry, dude, but seriously – chill’.

      Um yeah.

      • dancohen says:

        Mike- he’s right. It was just a week and a half and I shouldn’t have been ranting, screaming and stomping my feet about it. Oh, wait… I didn’t do that did I? I just reported my experience. So, yes, wtf.

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