An Alternative to Gift Cards


I told you last week that I was trying out the new Bluebird card available from WalMart from American Express. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and wanted to tell you about one of its pretty cool features. Sub-accounts.

Do you plan on giving any gift cards this year to your teenage kids? I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic that gift cards, aside from fruitcake, are the most commonly unused gifts? It’s actually quite amazing how many millions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused each year, essentially the gift giver tossed their cash in the trash can.

In January Time Magazine reported that (quote):

Roughly $2 billion worth of gift cards will go unredeemed this year. That sounds like an awful lot of money. Until, that is, you realize that the amount in unused gift cards is actually down compared to the peak year, 2007, when approximately 10% of the value of all gift cards went to waste thanks to fees, expiration, and consumers who left them in drawers or otherwise just didn’t use them. All said, $3.5 billion worth of gift cards was unused in 2007.

Read the entire article on Time Magazine’s website.

So, I’m going to tell you about an awesome alternative. Bluebird’s sub-accounts. A sub-account is an account associated with your Bluebird Account that you establish for another person. It’s a convenient and flexible way to give someone access to your money, but maintain control over how much they spend and how they spend it.

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A Sub-Account is linked to, funded exclusively by, and controlled by the main Bluebird Member. A Bluebird Member can have up to 4 Sub-Accounts. Perfect for teenage children, aged 13 and up, especially those who are headed off to college. You can quickly and easily add money to their account with the click of a mouse.

Here it is in a nutshell.

Bluebird subaccounts

You set up a sub-account from your online Bluebird dashboard by clicking on the “add subaccount” button.

setting up a Bluebird subaccount

You’ll enter some pertinent information, then a Bluebird American Express debit card will be created in that name and shipped out to your address.

If you are giving this as a gift, you can create it with one of your email addresses so that it’s kept a secret, that information can be changed later, after the gift has been given.

Sub-Account Users can*:

  • Use their Bluebird Cards at virtually any merchant that accepts American Express® Cards worldwide
  • Withdraw cash at ATMs only if allowed by the Bluebird Member
  • Send money to and request money from a Bluebird Member

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Sub-Accounts Users cannot:

  • Deposit money to their Account
  • Pay Bills
  • Deposit checks with the Bluebird mobile app
  • Create their own Sub-Accounts
  • Send money to or receive money from other Sub-Accounts

This is a great way to offer a little financial freedom to your teens while keeping control at the same time. You will be able to monitor their spending and teach your kids about financial responsibility. Great for teens and allowance, college kids and book expenses, and even for a spouse so you can quickly transfer money when needed.

You keep control. You can set daily spending limits, allow or disallow use of ATMs, receive email alerts, and more.

After the holidays you can load allowance onto the card, or if they’ve done a job for you that you want to pay them for, simply transfer that money to their card! It’s a great way to give kids money without them from carrying cash they might lose, and allows you the piece of mind knowing you can see what they are spending if you feel that need.

Note: Sub-accounts aren’t just for teenagers, they can be used for anyone over 13.

Stay tuned for more about Bluebird. I’ll be reporting in with more next week!

This post is brought to you by American Express though all opinions that you read here and completely and 100% mine.


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