American Express and Walmart Launch Bluebird: a New Alternative to Debit and Checking Accounts

Bluebird addresses the need for an affordable, transparent way to manage everyday finances, with premium features, no minimum balance, monthly, or overdraft fees 

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Oct. 8, 2012 – Walmart and American Express today announced the launch of Bluebird, an alternative to debit and checking accounts designed to help consumers better manage and control their everyday finances. Bluebird has been developed for the tens of millions of Americans who are looking for advanced capabilities such as deposits by smartphone and mobile bill pay, fee transparency, and no minimum balance, monthly, annual or overdraft fees. Bluebird puts the power back in the hands of consumers and will be available next week online at www.bluebird.com and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.  

Building on a pilot program launched in late 2011, Bluebird was shaped by feedback from consumers who said they were not getting the value they expect from traditional checking account and debit services because of increasingly higher fees. According to an independent study by Bretton Woods 1, consumers now pay an average of $259 per year for a basic checking account and that cost is rising due to higher minimum balance requirements and a growing list of fees being added to these services.

“Our customers tell us that they’re tired of navigating a complex maze of dos and don’ts to avoid the ever growing list of fees found on checking products. Bluebird solves this problem and we believe it’s the best product on the market to help customers affordably manage their everyday finances,” said Daniel Eckert, vice president of financial services for Walmart U.S. “At Walmart, we are always looking for ways to make a difference by using the strengths that come with our size, scale and reach to take on the challenges that matter most to our customers. Reducing the costs and frustration that come with high fees is one of these issues.” 

“The financial services landscape is changing. Technological advances, regulatory changes, and evolving consumer needs are redefining payments ranging from prepaid, to checking and debit.  Bluebird is our solution to help consumers who currently may be poorly served by traditional banking products. It allows them to easily and safely move, manage, and spend their money.  In an era where it is increasingly “expensive to be poor,” we have worked with Walmart to create a financial services product that rights many of the wrongs that plague the market today,” said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth, American Express.

Loaded with Features. Not Fees.

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Bluebird merges the best of today's capabilities found in the payments, technology and financial services space and packages it into something that provides consumers with simple and convenient access to their funds so they can manage and streamline their money management.

Bluebird members can deposit money in a variety of ways including payroll direct deposit, remote check capture via the Bluebird mobile app, using cash at any Walmart register, or by linking a checking, savings, or debit card to the account. Members can also set up alerts and controls to manage their account, use their Bluebird card at millions of locations that accept American Express® Cards and enjoy access to benefits such as Purchase Protection 3, Roadside Assistance 4, Global Assist® Services 5, fraud protection in the event the Card is lost or stolen, and 24x7 customer service. If a customer's Bluebird card is ever lost or stolen, funds stay protected at American Express, and the card is replaced at no charge.

Bluebird allows consumers to also enjoy the functionality of a digital wallet, including person to person (P2P) payments, mobile app functionality, and the ability to control subaccounts for friends and family right from a smartphone. Bluebird is built upon the digital payment capabilities of American Express' Serve platform.

The only fees consumers will ever pay are clear, transparent and within their control, such as out of network ATM withdrawals for a consumer that does not have direct deposit.

Bluebird customers can get access to cash at a network of more than 22,000 MoneyPass® ATMs nationwide. Cash access through MoneyPass' network is fee free and surcharge free for Bluebird customers enrolled in direct deposit. For customers not enrolled in direct deposit, each MoneyPass ATM withdrawal is just $2. For out-of-network ATMs, each withdrawal is also $2, though additional ATM operator fees apply. 

In the first quarter of 2013, Bluebird will be adding additional features, such as more options to deposit money and check-writing capabilities. 

Signing up is Easy

Consumers can sign up for free on Bluebird.com, or choose to buy a $5 account set up kit at a local Walmart for immediate use (with limited functionality). The set up kit includes a starter card, which can be funded with cash or a debit card at the register with any dollar amount between $1 and $500. Once funded, the starter card can be used immediately anywhere in the United States where American Express Cards are accepted. Customers must then complete their account set up at bluebird.com in order to access the full features and benefits of Bluebird, as well as receive their personalized Bluebird card.

For more information, please visit www.bluebird.com.

1Bretton Woods, “Analysis of Branded General Purpose Reloadable Prepaid Cards,” February 2012.
2Fee Schedule has been updated since packaging was printed. There is no fee for cash loading through Walmart.
3Purchase Protection is underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company, Administrative Office, Phoenix, AZ. Coverage is determined by the terms, conditions, and exclusions of Policy AX0951 or Policy PP-IND and is subject to change with notice. This document does not supplement or replace the Policy.
4Roadside Assistance may arrange for the following services: towing, winching, jump starts, flat tire change when spare is available, lockout service when key is in vehicle and delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel. Cardmembers are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers. Services are available regardless of mileage from primary residence when traveling within the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Subject to additional terms, conditions and exclusions. Call 1-877-458-7304 for full terms and conditions.
5While the Global Assist® Hotline coordination and assistance services are offered at no additional charge from American Express, Cardmembers are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers. Please call the number on the back of your Card for full terms and conditions.

Media Conference Call – Live Audio Webcast

A conference call with members of the media will be held today October 8, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The call will be hosted by Dan Schulman, Group President, Enterprise Growth, American Express and Daniel Eckert, Vice President of Financial Services for Walmart U.S.

When: Monday, October 8, 2012
8:30 AM (Eastern Time) / 7:30 AM (Central Time)
Dial In Number: 1-866-952-1906
Conference ID: WALMART

A live audio webcast will be made available to the general public through the American Express Investor Relations website at http://ir.americanexpress.com. An audio replay of the presentation will be available after the event at the same website address.

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About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at over 10,300 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of $444 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmartnewsroom. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.  Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.  Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 which are subject to risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contain words such as "believe"," expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "will", "may", "likely" and similar expressions. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. Neither Walmart nor American Express undertakes to update or revise any forward looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward looking statements include, but are not limited to, the ability to add additional features to Bluebird in the first quarter of 2013, including additional deposit options and check-writing capabilities, which will depend in part on the ongoing investment in Bluebird's functionality, technological developments relating to such features and whether consumers will find such features attractive.

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Contacts

American Express Media Relations:
Vanessa McCutchen
Vanessa.c.mccutchen@aexp.com
212-640-5445

Walmart Media Relations:
http://news.walmart.com/reporter
1-800-331-0085

American Express Investor Relations:                          
Ken Paukowits
ken.f.paukowits@aexp.com
212-640-6348

Walmart Investor Relations:
Carol Schumacher
Carol.schumacher@wal-mart.com
479-277-1498