We just got our hands on the all-new American Express Serve card and had a week to test it out (full disclosure, American Express is an Advertiser on Let’s Do Taxes). If you haven’t heard about the Serve card from American Express, it’s a reloadable prepaid credit card account that you can use to pay bills, make online or in-store purchases, or withdraw money from ATMs.
There are two tacit benefits that come with the card especially handy for those who want to gain better control of their spending or save money. The first one is Insights section in your account that automatically categorizes your spending. If you have discipline to use your card to pay for all your expenses with it then it will automatically sort them into spending categories giving you a better picture of where your money is going. It can also help you make better expenditure decisions in the future; you can put a spending limit on any particular category to manage your funds more efficiently. All those details are presented both in numbers as well as on charts (it’s also a great feature for parents who what to have a better control and oversight over their kids spending).
The second benefit is called Reserve. It is another way of saving for larger purchases or even for rent. When you log in to your Serve account just select Plan & Manage and click on Reserve from a drop down menu. You will be able to indicate whether or not to make a one-time transfer or a recurring one. If you add money to your Serve card on regular basis then automatic transfers make a lot of sense. If your principal account balance drops below the amount you indicated as a regular transfer, the transfer will not take place. There are no penalties if that occurs. In the event you want to temporarily suspend transfers to your Reserve account simply indicate that in Reserve feature of your account. Restart the scheduled payments by clicking Resume as soon as you’re ready to save again.
There is always a possibility that you may loose you card or it is stolen. In any event that prevents you from further use of it, contact American Express Serve who will issue a replacement without any cost. Make sure that the first thing you do prior to using your card is to register for an Account or verify email address. This is required for a balance and card replacement.
American Express Serve is also compatible with contactless payment technology or near field communication (NFC). To use your phone making payments in retailers such as Walgreens, McDonalds, or Subway download the Softcard app and add your Serve card to it. Many newer phones come with the NFC technology built in but there are also many that don’t support it. Visit GoSoftcard.com and make sure the phone you have is compatible with it.
How to add money to a Serve card?
Adding funds to your Serve card is very convenient and mostly fee. Here are the ways in which you can do that:
- Cash – simply hand your card and cash to a cashier at CVS/pharmacy, Walmart, Family Dollar, and participating 7-ELEVEN stores; you will be able to add anywhere from $20 to the maximum of $500. Another option is to purchase Reloadit but that may cost you up to $3.95.
- Check – deposit using American Express Serve Mobile App.
- Bank transfer – you can use funds from your checking or savings account.
- Debit/credit card – transfer money from other credit or debit card but keep in mind that credit card transfer fees may apply
Availability of funds depends on a deposit method. Adding cash at one of the retail locations ensures immediate availability. Debit or Credit card reload is almost instantaneous. The slowest deposit option is by check, which takes about 6 business days to post in your Serve account.
With your American Express Serve card you can make payments to businesses or individuals. Log in to your account and follow this path from a drop down menu: Pay & Transfer -> Pay Bills. There is a list of preregistered businesses and if the one you’re paying is not listed, simply fill out the form that appears on screen and save it for future use. The preregistered businesses will receive your payments in 2 business days; all others will get it in 4 business days.
In a similar fashion you can send or receive money from individuals. Perform this activity from Pay & Transfer section of your account and exchange money with friends, family, or business associates who are Serve Accountholders.
How much does it cost to get and maintain a Serve card?
American Express Serve is one of the least expensive prepaid cards available. Depending on your level of urgency you can either order it online by registering here or purchase one at any of the following retailers, which charge up to $3.95 per card: CVS/pharmacy, Duane Reade, Family Dollar, Fred’s Super Dollar, Hy-Vee, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Sheetz, Walgreens, or Walmart.
Are there any other fees?
To make the card more appealing and worth the hassle American Express has kept expenses related to card ownership to minimum. There is no registration fee or in-network cash reloads. It costs $1 per month to have the card (excluding for the residents of the states of New York, Texas, and Vermont) unless you add money via direct deposit or at least $500 during a statement period (monthly).
Withdrawing money from an ATM is free as long as it accepts American Express cards. That applies to the ATMs in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally there are 24,000 ATMs in the MoneyPass network that don’t charge any fees. Withdrawing money outside of the MoneyPass network will cost you $2.50 in American Express Serve fees plus any additional ATM operator charges that may apply. For the locations of ATMs in MoneyPass network click here or download the mobile app to find an ATM on the go.
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