Walmart and American Express announced Monday morning that they would make available a reloadable prepaid card for consumers tired of banking fees.
The company said the card is an “alternative to debit and checking accounts” and will be available next week online or in more than 4,000 Walmart stores. There is no fee to set up the card online at Bluebird.com but there is a $5 fee for an account set up kit at Walmart stores with any amount between $1 and $500 for immediate use.
Gerri Detweiler, credit card expert from Credit.com, said the card combines the appeal of the American Express brand, “which is generally seen as an upscale card,” and the wide distribution available through Walmart.
“Prepaid cards have been trying to establish themselves as a smart alternative to increasingly expensive bank accounts and this program may help them do that,” Detweiler said.
Banks’ overdraft fee revenue increased 2.1 percent to $31.5 billion in the last fiscal year, according to financial data firm Moebs Services. The median overdraft fee rose to $29 from $28 the prior year.
Bluebird does not require a credit check but only adults 18 and older can sign up for a card.
There are no monthly or annual fees. There is, however, a $2 fee for a deposit from a debit card. Users can also access money through 22,000 MoneyPass ATMs across the country for free; otherwise, there is a $2 fee for using other network ATMs; third-party network fees may apply.
Detweiler said the fees on this card are “very low,” which will be appealing for those tired of bank overdraft fees, online shopping or someone who wants to better manage their budget.
It is likely Walmart and American Express would make revenue from swipe fees if a consumer uses the card at a retailer, she said.
Walmart has said previously that 85 percent of transactions in its U.S. stores are paid with cash, according to Reuters.
The card’s benefits include fraud protection in case it is lost or stolen in which case the card can be replaced at no charge.