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Update 3/3/15: US Bank credit cards are no good with Serve. It is coding as a cash advance.
Update 11/2/14: I tried to load up Serve with my Chase British Airways and it is coding as a cash advance! I have also read reports that the Sapphire and Freedom are starting to code as CA, too – so with Chase, beware.
I also loaded up $5 with my US Bank Club Carlson Visa. It is still on my account as a pending transaction – will post with an update soon.
For now, I am using my FIA Fidelity Amex. I couldn’t get the Serve website to accept my Barclaycard Arrival no matter how many times I tried. No idea why. But it took my Fidelity Amex on the first try, so not sure if the website is glitching out or what. Just keep an eye on Serve. I think it’s starting to go the way of Vanilla Reloads, unfortunately.
Update 10/12/14: There is some speculation that US Bank (and possibly other banks) are starting to code Serve reloads as cash advances. These fees destroy any value you get from a points-earning credit card. I have already loaded my $1,000 this month so can’t personally test until November. I’d recommend loading up $5 and giving it a few days – let the transaction post. If you are charged a fee, avoid any other cards issued by that bank. The next step in manufactured spend is hopefully just around the corner!
As you guys know, I just ditched Bluebird and got a Serve card to help manufacture some spend post-Vanilla Reloads at CVS.
From what I understand, you can still purchase Vanilla Visa cards with a credit card at CVS, assign it a PIN with the first purchase, and use a service like Evolve Money to make bill payments. I may employ this method soon to pay student loans and electricity bills (HT: Neil). Just make sure your payee is in their system before you get started.
In This Post
Why I got Serve
Simply put, there are no Walmart stores in New York. The closest one would take me hours to get to. If you are near a Walmart, you can buy Vanilla Visas at CVS and continue to load them to Bluebird at Walmart. It’s a little “around the world” but possible. Million Mile Secrets outlines everything here.
Serve is even better when linked to Isis because it increases the monthly CC load limit from $1,000 to $1,500, which is pretty sweet. However, it’s not compatible with iPhone… yet. To make it work, you need to buy a “shell” which runs about $70. I did the math, and I’m better off starting with the non-Isis version for now. As always, be sure to read the T&Cs before you decide if the Isis version is right for you.
Lastly, if you do sign up for Serve, use this link to score a bonus $50 through the end of June – you need to have two direct deposits hit your new Serve account before then, and both need to be at least $250. Amazon Payments is good for this.
Loading Serve with credit cards – are there cash advance fees?
Last updated: April 21, 2014
I will update this as I get confirmation that my cards work with the individual banks. For now, I am relying on a partial list furnished via Flyertalk and will continue to add my own findings.
Treated as cash advance, does not earn points/miles:
- US Bank – Club Carlson Visa Signature – Cash advance fees – No points
- Chase – British Airways Visa Signature – Cash advance fees – No points
Treated as purchase, earns points/miles:
- Capital One
Treated as purchase, but doesn’t earn points/miles:
- Amex issued cards
The best cards to use with Serve
I started out with the Club Carlson Visa because it earns 5 points for each 1 dollar spent: $1,000 x 12 x 5 = 60,000 Club Carlson points a year
The Barclaycard Arrival would also be an awesome candidate:
- $1,000 x 12 x 2 = 24,000 points (+10% back after redeeming) = $264 in extra free money each year
Ditto for the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex ($240 + whatever return you get on your investments).
The British Airways Visa earns 1.25 points per 1 dollar spent: $1,000 x 12 x 1.25 = 15,000 Avios a year – enough for 3 free short-haul flights each year and a good start on earning the yearly companion pass certificate (hmmm… I just gave myself an idea!)
- I have written before about the wonderful dilemmas that having too many Avios can bring
All other cards that earn 1 point per 1 dollar would net you 12,000 points or miles – not a huge amount but also not nothin’. A great complement to other earning activity.
You can only store one credit card at a time with Serve. That is, as the French say… annoying. Each time you want to use a new CC, you have to delete and re-add.
You can only load $200 a day. So you have to remember to load up for 5 days each month. I’d recommend adding a calendar reminder and doing them all in a row. A bit annoying, but it only takes a minute each day.
The other thing is that credit card companies can start charging cash advance fees at any time. Keep an eye on these purchases and be sure to adjust accordingly. I will update this page regularly as I test out each bank.
Serve is a great way to generate some points from home. If you’re not near a Walmart location, I’d recommend this card as a free and easy way to yourself some extra points each month. It only takes a few minutes to set up and is a great way to pay bills that don’t otherwise accept credit cards (rent, mortgage payments, car payments, etc.).
I will continue to post my experiences with Serve.
Any questions – please post!
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.