Yesterday, American Express sent out an e-mail to Bluebird & Serve customers with what they called an “important” change to those cards. While many people may not think it was an important change, it certainly was a customer unfriendly change.
Amex’s Customer Unfriendly (Minor?) Change To Bluebird & Serve
Here is what the e-mail said (in case you didn’t notice it or see it):
We are writing to inform you of a change to the terms and conditions of your American Express Bluebird® Account:
Beginning January 6, 2016, you will no longer be able to withdraw money using your Bluebird Card at ATMs outside of the United States.
You can still enjoy free ATM withdrawals when using an in-network MoneyPass® ATM nationwide. You can find one of the more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs using the link below. Withdrawals at non-MoneyPass ATMs have a $2.50 American Express Bluebird fee, and ATM operator fees may also apply.
The Unfriendly Part Of The Change
This change likely does not affect the vast majority of Bluebird or Serve customers but here is the bad part. For those people it does affect, the lack of advance notice was completely customer unfriendly. They sent this e-mail yesterday and it was in effect that same day.
I (and others) do use one of these cards overseas at times. For me, it has acted as my emergency backup debit in case I have problems with my real debit. It has helped because the fee was constant and having it as a prepaid account kept it secure in case there was a problem or if it was stolen/copied.
In fact, just last year, I was kind of stuck in a country when my regular debit card was not working and I had to get cash out or I was going to pay a big fee for my rental car or miss my flight. Having my Bluebird card with me helped me out of that little pinch.
Getting an e-mail like this ending international access immediately was a really bad move for people that use the card overseas. Of course it was not the best card to use in this situation anyway but still it could have left some people stuck.
I fully understand and appreciate that this was a logical move for American Express, especially since they have just recently been trying to move their credit cards to be more internationally friendly and allowing cash withdrawals might have been more than they had imagined with their prepaid cards. My issue is simply with the timing of the notice. Hopefully, American Express will give more notice when they make changes like this.