American Express Serve Card Bulk Account Shutdowns / Terminations

Black Friday!  No, not the busiest shopping day of the year, but the day AMEX Serve sent out mass account closure emails with the subject line “Termination Of Funds Loading Capabilities on Your Serve® Account.”  My account was flagged due to “observed unusual usage patterns.”  I will explain what I was doing below, but here is what my email looks like:

AMEX Serve Termination Email

I clicked on the Consumer User Agreement link and noticed that the AMEX Serve terms were updated on 1/5/2016 (just 3 days ago).  I scrolled down to Section 15.d and the section is titled Suspension of Use; Cancellation; Closure.  I underlined the important sentences and drew a box around “manufacture activity” which is basically Manufactured Spending.  They are on to us.

AMEX Serve Termination Clause

Surprisingly, when I logged into my AMEX Serve account, there were no warning messages anywhere.

AMEX Serve Home Screen No Warning

When I went to add funds to my AMEX Serve Card, I did get the following error message: We’re sorry – due to unusual usage patterns on your account, loading funds to your account has been disabled.

AMEX Serve Loading Disabled

What is still working on a flagged AMEX Serve account?

  • I moved funds from a flagged AMEX Serve account to another AMEX Serve account that is not flagged (yet).
  • I made a bill payment from a flagged AMEX Serve account.

What are my current plans with a flagged AMEX Serve account?

  • I haven’t called customer service yet to inquire why or how to overturn my account closure.
  • I liquidated all my AMEX Serve accounts via bill payments.
  • I will keep my accounts open with $0 balance and wait to see what happens next.

What was I doing with my 4 AMEX Serve Cards (me, mom, dad, and brother)?

  • I never did any in-store reloads.
  • All online reloads using the same US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card number (authorized user cards have the exact same number, but different names).
  • I would load 1 AMEX Serve Card days 1-5 of the month, then the second AMEX Serve Card days 6-10, third 11-15, and fourth 16-20.
  • I transferred all the funds from 4 AMEX Serve Cards onto 2 AMEX Serve Cards and paid credit card bills from those 2 AMEX Serve accounts.

I will update this post when more information and data points become available.

Did you receive the account closure email?  How many AMEX Serve Cards do/did you have?  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  RIP old friend :(

111 thoughts on “American Express Serve Card Bulk Account Shutdowns / Terminations

      1. Balu

        My account also closed today with section15.d mention. I was loading just $1000/month($200×5) using my amex every day,to pay my rent.just wondering for this low activity they are saying manufacturing spend!!

        Reply
    1. john

      I had the classic serve account, would load it from my flexperks account days 1-5, and with visa gift cards and paypal debit cards at Wall mart 2 $500 loads a couple of days in a month. Then pay 2 different mortgage payments with it. When the shutdown was announced on the different websites, my card was still ok, but I couldn’t do debit loads at Wall Mart. So I tried loading cash at Rite Aid and CVS. Both had errors. Then when I tried to set up the load from the Flexperks account last night I got the same message, “due to suspicious activity on your account, you will no longer be able to load funds.” So I paid my mortgage with the remaining balance and now have a zero balance. Waiting to see if they shut down the account. I’m thinking of shutting it down on my own.

      Reply
      1. Grant

        Yup, that’s unfortunately what happened to a lot of Serve cardholders. You can try closing the card, waiting 24 hours and then opening a new Serve account. That might work.

        Reply
  1. Stanley

    yes, mine also got flagged. But I was actually using the gift card load to pay legit bills. Did you try to call the customer service?

    Reply
    1. Matt

      Customer service says to use snail mail to inquire. They will not provide any assistance whatsoever. On top of it, they are quite rude.

      Reply
  2. Ted

    They closed my three active accounts. Luckily I just opened a 4th with my Mom, and it hasn’t been used yet. I was maxing out in store loads at walmart (5k a month), plus loading with my fidelity amex on each card.

    Reply
      1. Ted

        nope. Never sent money between the accounts. Only ever took money out using the bill pay to pay off my credit cards.

        Reply
        1. Ted

          Its interesting to note that my auto-load with fidelity card went though this morning (around 1am), and is dated Jan 8th. Its suppose to auto-load tomorrow as well, so i’m interested to see if that works tomorrow morning as well.

          Reply
    1. Grant

      Bluebird terms of service Section 22.d (link) even mentions MS by name: “(iv)you structure purchases or conduct transactions with your Account, Family Account, SetAside Account and/or Card to manufacture spend”

      Reply
      1. allison

        only 1 BB. Haven’t heard back from my hubby yet to see if his account got stung too. I was just about an hour from going out to buy some gift cards and load today too. :(

        Reply
  3. Jan

    For me – Bluebird closure – FWIW – I loaded under $2100 a month, and used it to pay utility bills, etc. I withdrew cash once about 2 months ago. My loads were a variety of loads via Walmart. Different amounts ($300, $200, $100, and I never loaded the max in one day). At most I loaded $800 but that was a while ago when my Walmart still had a Kate. For the past couple of months, I’ve loaded about $300 a week tops.

    Reply
  4. Jessica

    I also got shut down. My activity was similar- I loaded from only one card – US bank Flexperks – and then paid it off. Looks like I should have masked my movements better.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      It would be easy for AMEX to identify the same card number being used on multiple AMEX Serve accounts. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

      Reply
  5. myoldsmoky

    My 2 Serve got shut down, just withdrew the funds to the bank. Wondering if I should close the accounts and open bluebird for the next round. Both accounts are relatively new, opened after redbird died, have been maximizing online and in-store load every month. Sigh, not feeling well today.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      I would wait a day or 2 to figure out what our next steps should be. Wait until the funds are deposited into your bank account before doing anything else.

      Reply
  6. Maora

    They got me as well. I mainly used it for Walmart visa giftcard loading (around $2K per month) and used those funds to pay credit cards and my landlord.

    Reply
  7. Nice Chap

    I have my 3 BB accounts shut down. I have around 7.5k in GCs and are currently unopened. Is there any way to return those back or use it? Cannot afford to have 7.5k sitting around in GCs.

    Reply
  8. aireyeonu

    I got a notice today on my SO BB account. Different BB T&C reference but the same wording. Haven’t called CS yet either, but I’m thinking of also writing to the address on the notice to see what they have to say if no success with CS.

    Reply
  9. Austin

    The Banks are reading all of the Blogs and they “know” what is going on with the entire MS. It shouldn’t be any surprise that they, highly paid, are also “smart” and they “learn” from the blogs as to what is going on.
    I am surprised it lasted this long though!

    Reply
  10. Stuart

    I have one Serve account that I loaded monthly from a single Fidelity Amex Card. I did not use the funds to pay the Fidelity Card but paid shopping and utility bills, and sometimes tuition.

    Reply
  11. Reva Revis (@revarevisPR)

    we received same email for both of our Bluebirds this morning. I was loading max (or close to it) on both cards with VGC’s at WM each month. I paid the credits cards that I used to buy the VGC’s (obvs) through a combination of online bill pay and withdrawing cash at ATM’s. When I first opened the accounts a couple of years ago, I paid my housekeeper and pool guy with Bluebird checks about a half-dozen times, but I haven’t done that in ages. I think it’s pretty easy for them to detect MS activity, and they simply decided they wouldn’t tolerate it any more. It was fun while it lasted. I guess all MS strategies have a life-span, and BB’s and Serves have run their course, too, now. I think this is the end of the line for me with regard to MS. Paypal Cash Cards- I stopped before they could stop me; Visa Buxx: Dead; Vanilla Reloads: Dead; and now RIP Bluebird.

    Reply
      1. Ani

        Called Serve and go in touch with “supervisor,” who stated I can close the account after spending the money down and re-open a new one? I am not sure what to make of this. I dont think they know what’s going on either. Apparently this cannot be overridden via phone call (obviously)

        Reply
  12. MarkMark

    I have one Serve account that I loaded $1000 monthly from Fidelity Amex Card, no other activity. Received the e-mail this morning. Will this affect credit history/show up as a delinquency with Amex?

    Reply
  13. Bea

    Hi, Grant,
    I received the same email 2 hours ago for my Serve account. I used to load $1,500 per month and spent mostly through bill pays. Do we have any other method for MS?

    Reply
  14. RG

    1 of my 3 were closed, which happened to be the oldest (fee free version). The two newer ones I obtained when Redbirds stopped working are both active still. I use them both to pay off credit cards bills, but also may 2 mortgages, electric, gas bills, in additional to credit card bills. Just trying to see if there is any pattern?

    Reply
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  16. thebrokeproSyed

    Got the dreaded email this morning too. I was doing $1000 per month with fidelity card and an occasional in store reload. Sad. No notice on my wife’s account as of yet, but we just opened it a few weeks ago.

    Reply
  17. Mark

    I wonder if Amex is planning on shutting down the whole business of prepaid cards? Maybe they decided that it’s simply not profitable for them. Obviously they have to wait until contracts with WalMart, etc end, but this could be a first step in the process.

    Reply
  18. scott daniels

    Well, we can still liquidate VISA GCs by buying money orders (70 ct fee) at Walmart. Even the Post Office sells MO’s, $1.25

    Reply
  19. Pam

    Closed. Opened mine after RB died and I used my ST card to load it until that got closed in November. Since then, I’ve only been doing online loads and then paying legit bills with the funds (pool guy, lawn care, mortgage, etc.).

    Reply
  20. lizwizbiz

    We had 3 BB’s closed, but our Serve One VIP has not been flagged yet. I guess Walmart Money Orders might be an option if it works in your area. We are in MN and I have not had good luck with that.

    Reply
    1. MSPTraveler

      Where in MN lizwizbiz. Near MSP here and looking for others for Twin Cities points and miles craziness meetups.

      Reply
  21. will s

    Grant, I think your original post “nails” Amex too — they changed their terms & conditions 3 days ago, and now apparently have it available to them as a “defense” as to what they mean by “unusual” activity. But seriously, Grant, they had to have known for years that MS activity is anything but unusual in their BlueBird, Serve, & RedBird products….

    By chance does anyone have their original terms & conditions from when they opened their accounts? It’s not an idle point to know if the words “manufactured spend” was in them before. (I rather think not… — but would be pleased to have my suspicions or corporate fraud either confirmed or corrected)

    (even more so if Amex starts putting black marks on our credit ratings over this)

    ps: I seem to recall that when redbird was shuttered, you had then posted something about having a nationwide buxx account…. Still use that? (even after their recent changes?)

    Reply
  22. Geoff

    Mine was shut down(wife’s not yet…) but when I went to “Add Money” tab no hateful message appeared like yours Grant. Not sure why.
    Only have 6 Staples Visas to liquidate but would prefer thru Serve than spending.

    Reply
  23. chang

    i did in store reload every month for abour $500 or so using VGC, and use that to pay rent and electric bills, and i got the email too : (

    Reply
  24. allison

    so as I said this morning my account got the dreaded death email BUT my husband NEVER received an email and when I went online to “load money” to his account the message that Grant had was not there. So I bust my butt to Walmart and buy (1) $500 VGC….stroll a little bit around Wmart and then attempt to load to BB at customer service register. denied and denied. So then I drove to another Wmart and denied again. Even though it appears his account is open and ready to load money to his BB it is not happening for us. Question: can you use a Walmart VGC to buy a money order from Walmart. The customer service gal said yes but when we went to do it too was denied. I checked my balance on the VGC online and it is loaded.

    Reply
  25. AB

    My card that never used billpay is still open. My card that used billpay was closed. That’s the only difference I see.

    Reply
    1. Pam

      Ditto. Two cards. One I used for bill pay and Amex offer spend – closed. The other only sent checks and Serve transfers and that one is alive.

      Reply
      1. Grant

        So, assuming the pattern is the same, as soon as you use those unflagged accounts with bill pay and AMEX Offers, you might get flagged. Yikes :/

        Reply
        1. AB

          Yeah I’m going to take it slow and just load online with it until my savings is drained and then do a big transfer. That way I can still make a final $100 off it.

          Reply
        2. Pam

          I was actually a bit concerned about my second account (my dad’s). He chose to load – and then unload via check to his own household this month. Had me sweating. His account is still live. He has never bill paid.

          I, on the other hand have kept a 5k balance for months and use my account for real billpay. Closed.

          Reply
  26. calwatch

    My mom’s BB, which was used primarily as an overflow to mine, did not get flagged and I dumped the remaining amount of GC on it at Kate today. Both had swipes primarily on Amex Offers and was loaded through Kate with VGC and off NW Buxx. Debating whether to keep pushing GCs onto that BB to max out $5k – I may play it by ear and see how it is going.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      That’s a tough call. You could argue that AMEX is probably doing account closures in bulk, so if you survived this round, you should be fine for a few more days/weeks. Slow playing it is probably not worth it if it takes you much longer to load and unload your Bluebird Card.

      Reply
  27. Anon

    My brother and his wife got their cards shutdown, then later that night they uncancelled his wife’s card, so she can use it again… Did not call or do anything to have the cancellation reversed. Does that help anyone?
    He did about 2.5k per month except for this last month he did $5k

    Reply
  28. Drew

    Had one serve account and loaded usually $400 per day no more than $2000 in any month. My GC loads at Walmart were always in $200 increments for the last year. No regular spend or atm withdrawals just bill pay to a few cc accounts

    Reply
  29. Vera

    Me and my +1 got the same email about our BB cards. I would load $1,000 each month (two Simon mall Visa cards at $500 each) at Walmart and used the funds to pay for car loan and some other small bills (never cc though). Husband would load about $2,000 every couple of months and pay mortgage.
    Oh well…it was a nice point booster.

    Reply
  30. venkat

    At one time i was regularly loading cash from Amex Costco card / blue cash card, but stopped it for sometime.Did one reload this month and there you go!! you can not do it any more. I called the CS and they are asking me to write a letter to the mailing address mentioned in the eMail and they will respond back as to what is “the unusual activity”. Also came to know about the monthly charges 4.95$ which they have recently started (They will not deduct if account has no funds.) So i have withdrawn all the money. Lets C what they do?

    Reply
  31. Sho

    They charge you a Monthly fee for not loading enough funds on the card, but when you load the card to avoid paying the monthly fee they close your account. wth???

    Reply
  32. K

    Wow someone stole my card. I never received it. Did a claim and in 2 days I received that email 15 d…what do I do. My taxes was loaded to that card. I don’t know what to do at this point or who to talk to. Help

    Reply
      1. Jim

        Yeah, I did that and they not only rejected the fraudulent transactions as authorized, they added insult to injury by suspending the account permanently. Horrible company.

        Reply
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