Walmart May Be Hardcoding Registers Against Gift Cards to Load Bluebird/Serve

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bluebird serve hardcoded gift cards

The End of Serve/Bluebird Reloads with Gift Cards?

Ben Turnbull is reporting via Twitter that a new Walmart memo has emerged regarding Serve and prepaid gift cards. According to the report, starting next month Walmart’s systems will be hardcoded against allowing loads to Serve (and presumably Bluebird) from prepaid gift cards.

According to what Ben was told, only bank issued debit cards will work with their systems going forward. This could be a huge blow to many people’s manufactured spend strategies. (If this happens it reinforces my decision to switch to REDbird.)

Keep in mind this is still rumor at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Walmart makes a move like this. I have noticed a definite change in their behavior towards looking for gift cards in the past couple of months.

While some areas have been tougher than others regarding gift cards, Las Vegas has been pretty lax. In the past two months, employees have sought out gift cards and seem to be trained as to what to look for.

Kiosks Vs. Registers

walmart kiosk

For those who use the MoneyCenter Express kiosk, this may not be an issue. While it is possible that Walmart could block all prepaid cards by number like what happened with Vanilla branded cards, it is more likely that this hardcoding will be done within their POS system.

The kiosks seem to still use the old POS system along with old hardware. Now this may very well be a software issue on the backend, but if the new restriction is based on Walmart’s new POS system, then the kiosks may still work. (Or at least I am hoping so.)


At this point we don’t know much, but I felt this worthy of reporting since Ben is a knowledgable person and because I have noticed a distinct shift in the behavior of Walmart employees in recent months.

Hopefully this is nothing, but my guess, my gut instinct is that it will soon be a lot harder to load Bluebird/Serve at Walmart with prepaid gift cards. If you have heard similar reports or know anything about this memo, please let us know in the comments.

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  1. I just tried to load/buy my bluebird card with my visa gift card and it was declined twice. I was told it was coming through as a credit card or something and the woman kept repeating debit card only, I did show her that the card says debit on it. My question is, did I miss the boat on this? Please share any advice. Thanks.

  2. I ordered the blue bird card and this far have been unsuccessful at even purchasing the recommended meta bank (can’t find) gift cards. I went to Walmart and all their gift cards are green dot bank based. There was 1 from sunrise with a variable load and I tried to buy it with my groceries and the cashier told me that the gift card needed to be a separate purchase which I assumed but didn’t know would get coded as a cash advance. I have a working KATE at my Walmart but I am very new to MS. I was going to switch to Serve cuz I heard you can load 1k with your credit card and now it’s just American Express credit card and gives you no points. My grocery store variable load cards all say at the display must be purchased with cash. I live in western Colorado and I think I missed the MS boat. I do nor have the patience to load 50 dollars at a time even if that did work but not sure it will. Any advice for me would be appreciated. I have this blue bird account that has never been used and doesn’t seem likely that it will be.

    • Sam,

      Try to buy the Visa GC at Simon Mall. The other way cost a little bit more but still good for MS to the bonus is buying MO at post office.

  3. Hi, I bought few Visa cards (200$) ones and tried loading BB using ATM at walmart. All the cards were declined saying Alternate payment required. Is it the end of loading 200$ cards from staples? It started only after Aug-1. I did Simon mall cards (500$) and they worked.

    • I think there is definitely something up. I went to load $200 at WM at a register, which worked just fine last month, and now it’s saying “Debit Not Available”. I’m hoping this isn’t the end because I have a crapload of cards to unload. 🙁

  4. In SE Washington no prob with WM kiosks loading prepaid visa gift cards. (Meta bank, simon, & staples) – loading 2 diff BB cards with 2x$500 /day each, $5k / mo per BB card. HOWEVER, I recently had to cut back to $1500 in WM meta bank gift card purchases at one time (3 x $500) because new rules require filling in ID info with drivers license as ID + listing SSN for GC purchases of $2k or more. GRRR. No way did I want to start that. Well … Today an energetic young manager (whom I’ve purchased from several times before) fingered me for the form & brought in a supervisor to address me when I stepped up to the register . I asked why I needed to sign since purchase was under $2k & I was loading them directly on my BB. He said because I’ve been doing large GC purchases a lot. Since the form was about “structuring ” & it mentioned suspicious characters who refuse to sign the forms … I gave them my info & ID. GRRR. I asked if I’d have to do that every time & he said no … But his supervisor didn’t respond. I try to do my BB loads (5k / mo / BB card) early in month so I’m done with it, & buy my GCs at same time.
    There’s no nearby alternate places to purchase $500 value GC’s – so I guess I’ll have to back off & space out purchases, or hope I can catch not-so-energetic clerks …
    It is getting harder to find kiosks at some WM stores too, I’ve noticed. Trying to enjoy the ride. – and reminding myself most all good things come to an end. Love those free points & miles!!

  5. I had trouble for the first time with 2 US Bank GC’s that I buy at the grocery store. I was trying to load to BB using Kate. Both gave the ‘card not accepted’ notice. I tried at two different WM’s. I didn’t think to keep trying them to see if they would work eventually. I was able to go to the grocery store to buy a MO, which at least took care of those 2 GC’s.
    Oh–this is in Metropolitan Atlanta area.

  6. I’ve tried 3 walmarts in the Twin Cities metro area and could not load a pre-paid visa debit card into my bluebird account. I haven’t had any issues over the past 8 months but it either appears that Walmart is starting to not allow bluebird funding thru the use of pre-paid debit cards, or bluebird has disabled that feature in my account.

  7. Tried 3 times today to load Bluebird with a Meta GC. All 3 gave the same message, “alternate form of payment required”. Has this happened to anyone else?!?

    • Happened to me tonight as well…although tried about 6 times instead of 3. Even tried calling to reset PIN but still didn’t work…not good. Anyone else have a data point to contribute?

      • It’s definitely getting more difficult to load…even on the Walmart ATMs. I buy the Visa GCs and register them on the giftcardmall website…sometimes that helps. Ones that I have registered end up having less issues than ones I don’t register.

        It takes a couple times to load. Sometimes the BB card gets an “invalid swipe” error and sometimes i get a “card not accepted” error as a form of payment. It takes some tenacity, but I was able to load $1K, it just took several tries. Sometimes it’s pretty quick and sometimes it takes forever, but it’s not as easy as it used to be on the ATM.

  8. Simon GCs failed in person (customer service counter) at WM, California Central Coast today. I only had one $200 from Staples with me, but it worked fine.

  9. If I am using the gift card purchased from giftcardmall with my name printed there, can I reload them into the serve at walmart? Just go and try the normal gift card purchased from Safeway and they wanted to see ur name on the gift card

  10. i hv a bb but i havent loaded a metabank visa (with pin)at wm in a while..are there still issues? i found a 200-500 liadedable metabank visa at my grocery story (earns 6% with my amex) that id like to try. aldo, ifiswitch to redcard, does it wrk there? im confused y ppl lke redcard better when u can buy gc for higher% points and load to bb. seems point wise better to buy gc and load than less %points straight from a cc. also, can u load gc to redcard and if so do u tell them ur liading debit or credit? does recard require a pin gc like bb and do all gc wrk on redcard whereas at bb only certain ones load smoothly

    • There are no issues with Metabank at Walmart as far as I know. (I loaded some as recent as last week.) Yes Metabank Visas will work for REDcard. They are just run as credit.

  11. Any update to this? Still working (loading GCs to BB)? Or is it shut down across the board-kiosks and cashier lanes? thanks

      • So I just came back from a Walmart here in Northern California, with my newly acquired Bluebird card and some VISA Vanilla ($200) GCs. No Money Center kiosk machine in this location. Person at money center desk said no to generic debt card loads just ones with your name on it; supervisor reiterated the no load as well. (She actually said that they NEVER allowed those ever before). Got her supervisor to come out-she seemed to actually know about the situation and have info. What she told me was that an audit was conducted last month and since then communication is being rolled out for them to NOT accept generic no-name Debit cards (e.g. Vanilla) to load BlueBirds; only those with your name on it. Anyone getting it processed at a register is likely because the sales person isn’t aware/heard/seen the new directive. As they don’t have a kiosk in this specific store, she couldn’t comment as to whether those (machines) would be affected as well.

        So is this now official? A new corporate policy? If so, I need to find a way/place to use all my $200 Visa GCs. I loved the ida of using Bluebird CHECKS to pay for things where credit cards aren’t accepted.

        • Why don’t you use Target Redcard or “Redbird”. I ran into the situation like you in suburban of Philadelphia. I bought a money order at Walmart with VISA GC issued by Metabank and usually no problem at all. Last Friday, I bought the first one without the problem. I bought the second and the girl dd not know much and said no I can’t use GC to pay for. I told her this debit card and bought it many times without and problems. She called the manager and he told me no, I showed him the MO which I just bought, he said OK he let me to buy it and no more later and he even pointed out this is GC not Debit card sice the GC has both words in the front. I went to the Walmart near my house and bought MO with GC and no problem.

        • This stuff seems to be more store specific. I have heard rumblings of similar memos over the years, but nothing has surfaced yet. It is Walmart’s official policy that you can’t load Bluebird/Serve with a prepaid gift card, but their systems allow it as does the kiosk. People have been having similar experiences as you for two years now.

          I know it is tough, but perhaps you can find a friendly cashier or you can always try sleight of hand! There is always REDbird as well, although you may run into similar issues at Target. 😉

  12. I tried to load GC to BB at 2 WM’s. At the first one, the clerk told me that they were not allowed to load GC’s to BB any more. At the second, the system rejected the cards. I am in the Chicago suburbs.

    • Did you have luck after that Mike? Couldn’t get it to work last last weekend via the kiosk here (am in Chi-suburbs too). May have to try regular registers to see if it works for me.

      • I load at the WM in Mt. Prospect on Rand at the ATM. If you mix and match using the BB reload and WM Moneycard, you can exceed the $2k daily load balance.

      • Tried at two locations (Naperville, Bolingbrook). Naperville kept asking me for 9 digit PIN after I already put in 4 digit PIN (associates dont want to reset the machine for me) and Bolingbrook gave me “tender_not_accepted” signal. Will continue on my trial journey in next a few days.

        • I had that extended PIN experience last week in MS. Took a break and tried again later and it was still the same. Worked fine at the register at that store. Back in GA the next day, Kate worked normally as always. Thankfully I’m done with this card; closed my account later in the week.

    • I loaded $1400 VGCs yesterday and only had issues with the system telling me there was an “invalid swipe” of the BB or Debit card not allowed. I was persistent and it took me a couple tries to get each card loaded, but ultimately was able to load. So if you run into an error…try again.

    • I loaded $1400 VGCs yesterday and only had issues with the system telling me there was an “invalid swipe” of the BB or Debit card not allowed. I was persistent and it took me a couple tries to get each card loaded, but ultimately was able to load. So if you run into an error…try again.

  13. At walmarts in Twincities South Metro,

    Tender not allowed message at chechout counter
    PIN will not go through in Kiosk…

    Lucky that I’m only stuck with. $500 US bank gift card from Cub Foods(local grocery) which used to work till last week… Simon Gift cardworked last week too. Not going to test now

  14. No luck trying to purchase a MO today with a Simon VGC at Wallyworld. Could not get it to do the workaround, and it would only recognize it as credit. Was told only cash or bank debit card for MO.

        • I was also able to load my Visa GC at a WM ATM, but only had a few “failed transactions” that didn’t take. I was persistent and it took a little longer, but it was all good. I’m in the Chicagoland area. Please note, failed transactions still spit out receipts, so make sure to check that you get a confirmation before you walk away. I was loading a couple GCs, and at least 1/2 failed the first round. Occasionally, I’d get an invalid swipe on my BB card, as well.

  15. Has there been confirmation that WalMart has now hard coded their registers to prevent loading gift cards to Bluebird card – since March 1st?

  16. Walked into a Walmart today after loading the day before and the ATM had a “Lane Closed” sign. Called some other Walmarts in the area and their ATMs were also “down”. I was able to have a really nice lady load Visa Gift Cards at the register, but I’m trying to load my remaining cards before they won’t work anymore. Worst case, I’ll use them for every day spending. Thinking about hitting up a 24 hour one right now to see if another cashier will let me load a few more.

  17. Just got back from Wal-Mart and it was not a good trip.

    Tried Kate twice and both times after getting all the way through the process instead of my receipt I get a printed stub ‘host timeout.’

    Tried at the register and same exact thing happened. Went as far as possible and again the same printed stub ‘host timeout.’

    Really not sure what to make of this. Used the Metabank vgc and I tried with both the default pin as well as setting my own using gowallet while in the store.

    • I went through the “host timeout” thing yesterday at different stores in different cities at different times of day: at the register, MoneyCenter, and via Kate. In every situation it acted like it went through and then that timeout thing printed at the end. In the case of Kate, the receipt was so small that it somehow just stayed inside the machine. I had to get a manager to open it to retrieve those tiny rejection slips. I finally gave up and bought a MO. I’m not going to try this again until I hear that someone else had a successful experience. It’s so much trouble (and unpleasant) going to WMT in the first place that I’d rather find a new hobby. I’m just glad I didn’t have to wait in line an hour or more to buy the MO, which could’ve been the case in some stores. I’m going to use the TGT Amex (for the first time) since it’s the end of the month.

      • At least we can buy MO since if you buy $1000 MO with 2 $500 GC only cost 70 cents extra. I am worry we can’t buy MO later.

  18. I tried to load a $500 VGC on my Serve account today with Kate. Everything went smoothly until I looked at the receipt – “DEBIT NOT APPROVED VENDOR DOWN”
    Anybody know what this means?

    • Got the exact same error. Kate went thru the whole process with no problem until the receipt came out with the “debit not approve”. Also noticed an employee looking at me while she was walking, backed up, walked pass me, then spoke to a Walmart employee in white that I never seen there before as I walked in. That same lady was standing next to me after I finish loading. She stood next to Kate the whole time I was there, while I was buying some groceries. It was just an odd moment. Also note I was able to load the day before.

  19. Just got back from Wal*Mart ; tried to unload 1K onto a money order and no go…..tried another set of cards…same thing…”debit not available”…tried loading 1K onto BB with same cards…No Go. Even the guy was stumped. I hope this was just a fluke, but I think the end is near for Wally World and GC’s.

      • It is strange since I used the old Kate six months ago and it did not work and it did not let me to cancel just ran around the loop. I stopped to use it and use the new one without any issues until 2/26. However with cashiers it was hit and miss, 1st one OK, 2nd one timeout & tried again it worked and 3rd one was the same as 2nd one at different cashier. Went to money center it did not work at all end up buying MO without any problems. It is not too bad if I still can buy MO but I am worry it will not work at all.

  20. Confirming. New Kates (the open ones) do not accept GC (tried three different versions/banks). PIN doesn`t go through (after Enter, it prompts to enter it again. And again. Without any error message.

  21. If this happens, then it is the end of MS? Is there any alternative solutions to meet minimum spending? I can’t sit in the economy seat LOL

    • There are and always will be options, some more practical than others. I’ve been in the game less than a year, but one thing I will not do is over-leverage myself, i.e. don’t put all your eggs in one basket if you can’t afford to do so. Probably why I have one Serve and one RB still lol.

      Yes it will be a big hit in the MS-world, but the sky will not fall if this happens.

    • There are still plenty of other options, the ones that aren’t posted on FT are still alive but once they are out and discussed extensively, they get ‘killed’ in a day or two.

    • Simon vgc’s are working for me. I have 6 bb cards in various family members names and I load 30k per month. Every month for well over a year with no issues at several Walmart stores in my area.

      • The have always worked for me as well, but I haven’t tried in a few weeks. It seems these reports are more recent. As a data point, when was the last time you loaded them? Thanks Johnny!

  22. I take what a 3rd party said a walmart cashier thought she read from a memo she thought she saw with a grain of dog shit.

    • If you’re of “No concern,” what is the point of your incoherent one-sentence post? No one is saying it will happen, it’s just speculation at this point. Lay off the vitriol, move along and enjoy your weekend.

      • My post is about the same as the one portrayed by this article. No point in posting about speculation that has been ongoing for years. Too many peeps in this game now mile rich and cash poor and bringing a bad name to the airlines. Airlines will kill ms before walmart ever will. Enjoy the sunset ride l and g

        • No, your post is basically evidence that you’re bitter about others taking your piece of the pie that you believe should be yours in perpetuity. You think they’re screwing it up for you, so you have a license to be beyond abrasive with those who you feel are inferior.

          BTW, MS’ers are basically capitalizing on inefficiencies in the system. If these MS friendly corporations want to close us off – and quite often they do – then they will. As long as there are those who retain balances on cc’s and stay undisciplined with their spending habits there will always be MS opportunities because the perceived risk/reward of said corporations will still put a buck in their pocket AND ours. So to claim that people ruin it, or to complain about “speculation that has been going on for years,” is just silly because it comes with the territory. If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t play the game. But certainly don’t complain when the inevitable happens.

          Sadly, I’ve come across your type many times in the world of MS and I must tell you, categorically speaking, you all come across to me as holier than thou and completely off-putting. Grow up.

  23. Shawn, thanks for the alert of an ominous potential development, Yet you’re losing us with the jargon, the loose terminology. What does “only bank” refer to? You write, “only bank issued debit cards will work with their systems going forward.”

    Yet wait a sec…. those visa debit cards we purchase via staples, they’re issued by “Metabank,” no? and the Simon”gift” (e.g., debit) cards that we buy via Simon Malls, well, they’re issued by US Bank, no?

    Would these then be “bank issued debit cards” of the order that would still work for loading Serve/Bluebird, etc.?

    • I was using his language but prepaid gift cards and debit cards are different. The meaning of the word is a debit card issued by bank that is backed by an account. The cards you buy at Staples are prepaid. That is the distinction I was making.

    • Some of us also have “real” bank issued rewards earning debit cards to load Serve/BB and for MO/BP. The bank issued debit cards are embossed with our names.

      Prepaid GC’s are easily identified by BIN (first 6 digits) …

      • Not really. I have 2 small town bank issued debit cards attached to C/A where my name is not embossed. They’re like DCs issued by CapOne360 and DiscIT CC.

  24. I asked my friend who works at WM HQ in Bentonville, AR and she told me to relax. If ever, this will be implemented slowly in batches; for now, she said I can continue to enjoy it at my friendly MS stores (whatever that means…lol). I’d like to think this will be YMMV for now as in all things that pertains to WM.

    • There is some precedent though since Vanilla cards were blocked across the board at all stores. We still don’t know if Walmart did that or the bank, but my guess is the bank. Even if this is a staggered rollout, this isn’t good news.

    • She’s lulling you into complacency. Then BAMM! It will probably be like the vanilla situation. Everything will be fine until one day things are really not fine and your world as you know it today is a distant memory.

  25. After this happens, watch Walmart’s numbers go down this year. I’d sell any stock in WMT if I had any. This doesn’t just affect Serve/BB. Think about it. This will lead to less shopping at Walmart since many of us serious ms’ers only shop where we also ms. I give my shopping business to the store that I also ms at. Bye bye WMT. This will also be bad for Red because this many moving over will not be sustainable. Plus, there’s some types of cards (small denom.) that aren’t suitable to load Red. Most ms will die within 2 years for must serious ms’ers due to too many now doing this due to blogs. Before blogs which publically regurgitated most of the information to the certain types who won’t investigate on their own because “it’s too hard and I don’t have time therefore I must be spoonfed by my favorite regurgitating blogger”, may of us ms veterans never saw another ms’er in our travels. I’m not blaming this particular blog, but there are some not part of B.Area that really mass marketed effectively with circles and arrows who brought in way too many that it just wasn’t sustainable for stores. Sad. There will still be small ways to ms just to get that new card bonus, but the real ms ways to actual benefit beyond that will disappear in the next 2 years. Get ready. More hits to the economy. Less ability to ms leads to less spending… leads to less cashback/points… less cashback for ms’er…less ability for ms’er to spend that cashback on items… leads to less revenue at stores… less revenue to card issuers…leads to a downward spiral for sales tax revenue from less purchased items due to ms’er who has less cashback to spend since he can’t liquidate gcs and therefore no need to buy vgc/agc anymore…leads to less taxes for U.S. treasury. This economy won’t be going anywhere fast with more and more restrictions and not just from ms’ers viewpoint. Free capitalism is dying fast in the good ole USA.

    • That’s funny Ed. Seriously…a corp like WM being effected by them tightening down on a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of their revenue? Even better, you’ve tied the budget woes not to drunken spending by the government, but to…elimination of MS activities. Wow…a bit more than self-important I’d say.

    • Haha, you’re hilarious! There’s a way to make a profit via ms on what a company allows. And when that company disallows the practice, you somehow think that is bad for the company and you should sell their stock. Brilliant 🙂

      • Their profits might actually go up because MSers won’t be clogging up the money center anymore. Nor will we be breaking the Kiosk. Walmart will be able to run the Money Center with fewer employes while providing better service to the unbanked. I new day will dawn with green lights on kiosks across the land.

  26. Terrible news. Evolve disappearing. Now the old standby WM. Working Kates are pretty scarce around here, generally I relied on cashiers at SuperCenters or the CS desk at Neighborhood Markets. If they close the cash-registers off a lot of casual MS’ers will be high and dry.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Target is next.

  27. I haven’t personally ever had an issue loading vgc at registers over the past few months (Kate is never working). I usually load two vgc, one to my card and one to my wife’s. Done this at least a dozen times without issue (although I do profile the cashiers). I guess we’ll have to just see how it goes over the next month or so. I really only use vgc purchased from grocery stores (which at times is a PITA itself with success rate) and I’ve ditched Staples $200 gift cards because without portal/visa edge it’s just not worth it unless there is a MIR.

    I’m also happy I converted to RB in my name (got it in the mail yesterday, will load it today for the first time). Still have Serve in my wife’s name, although that might be changing if the prediction for Serve comes true. The only benefit left will be the low limit $1,500 online cc load.

  28. Much like Patti my experience at Wally World recently has been very lax. They would run cards for me all day.
    But if this hard coded then it really makes no difference.
    However, last week I tried a Mastercard in lieu of Visa(both purchased at a grocery store) and had to resort to the cancel/no cash back workaround.
    I also have 7 debit/GC’s with balances looking ahead to next month. We shall see…..

  29. Hopefully this is not true. I prefer using the kiosk but when it is out of order I’ll go to the register. I am lucky that the employees at the Walmart store I frequent never check what I am using and seem very lax in general.

  30. There are already reports of individual Targets only allowing Redbird load that is Cash/Debit only. Since Target IT seems to move a lot quicker than Walmart’s, Redbird’s will likely decay quicker.

  31. A couple of weeks ago, I had no success loading Serve or buying MOs with GCs at the wm where I’ve been doing it like clockwork. Tried twice: the first time the system rejected the cards, and the second time the agent said only cash or debit, no gc. Then, a few days ago, I tried again and one of the regular agents told me that I can use gc for Serve, but that Serve loads can’t be split tender anymore – hence a $2500 load must be 5 separate transactions. She also said MOs, billpay and all other MoGram transactions are limited to cash or debit. I hope my lady was right and your source was wrong, but the way things havebeen going lately, yours is probably right!


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