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.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.