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Buyer Beware – My Serve Visa Prepaid Card Nightmare

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. Serve Visa Prepaid Card

Serve Visa Prepaid Card

Methods in our very lucrative hobby don’t always work out as planned.  More advanced experiments can end with unintended consequences.  Other activities can result in outcomes equally predictable and frustrating.  I recently went through over two months of the latter.  Today, I’ll describe my recent Serve Visa Prepaid Card misadventure and how I finally found resolution.  But first, why bother with a Serve Visa Prepaid Card?

Serve Visa Prepaid Card Highlights

Issued by Metabank, a Serve Visa Prepaid Card works very similarly to “normal” Visa gift cards which many of us have often used to rack up big rewards.  Also known as a Serve Pay As You Go, this card is not to be confused with the more traditional Serve cards we’ve used for years.  Interestingly, the packaging states it is not a gift card, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s a helpful product – when it works.  So why bother?

The Serve Visa Prepaid Card’s activation fee is $1.50.  A cardholder is also charged $1 for each purchase.  If one loads $500 when the card is bought then subsequently uses the entire card for one purchase, that’s $2.50 in total fees.  This effective 0.5% fee is attractive to many hobbyists acquainted with fees in the 1-1.2% range (or maybe higher).

My Serve Visa Prepaid Card Experience

Overall, I’ve had a positive experience with these cards.  They’ve been generally available in my area, and I’ve purchased and used many of them.  That’s until mid-November of last year.  I bought one at a local Walmart, and the receipt confirmed the $500 load to the card, as usual.  A day or so later, I attempted to use the card.  The transaction errored out.

Serve Visa Prepaid Card

Checking the Card Balance

I then navigated to check the card balance online.  After entering the card number and CVV, I received the above notification.  Thinking I simply entered numbers wrong, I tried again.  Same error, over and over.  A trusted friend also tried on his computer, and he received the same error.

A Frustrating Phone Call

I learned the hard way that Serve customer service is lacking.  Shocker – a live agent isn’t readily available.  I entered card info based on the automated prompts, and the system said it didn’t recognize the card number and to try again.  Thanks.  After enough failed attempts, I was connected to a rep.

The conversation started off with a rehash of the exact same process above:

  • Rep: Please provide your card number and CVV.  [I provide the requested info.]  Sir, we don’t recognize that card.  Please check the number again and tell me the information.
  • Me:  This is why I’m calling.  The card isn’t recognized by the Serve site or you.  Please help.
  • [We then get caught in a loop of the same responses for the next two minutes or so.]
  • Me:  What other options do I have for resolving this?
  • Rep:  Send an email describing the problem and provide photos of the Serve card (front and back), receipt, packaging, and your driver’s license.  You’ll then receive a response from the Serve Prepaid Resolution Team with next steps.

Serve Visa Prepaid Card

Email’s A Big Waste of Time

I’m not including the email address in this article; I discourage anyone to seek resolution this way.  Why?  Because I followed the exact instructions and never heard back from the purported Serve Prepaid Resolution Team.  A few weeks later, I was done waiting.

Disputing The Charge

As many of you know, Walmart receipts state that there are no in-store refunds for gift cards.  To no one’s surprise, I didn’t obtain a refund at the store.  I finally disputed the charge with Chase, advising them of the faulty card and other info.  I received a temporary credit while they reviewed the situation.  About a month later, Chase ruled in my favor, making the credit permanent.  Finally, a resolution!


I’ve stayed away from these Serve cards since mid-November, and I have no plans to buy more even now that the situation has been resolved.  I and many others have also recently noticed these cards are disappearing from store kiosks, anyway.  Regardless, I’ll pay a bit more in fees for reliable cards.  It’s silly that I had to resort to disputing the charge to resolve this.  With other cards, I’ve been able to obtain at least some level of customer service.  Not so with Serve.  Nonetheless, I’m happy to put this one behind me.  If you use Serve Visa Prepaid Cards or are considering them, be careful and consider the risks.  Those low fees are great, but what I paid on the back end dealing with a bad card cancelled out much of the savings.  Have you bought a faulty Serve Visa Prepaid Card?  How did you resolve it?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I have a Serve Visa card. I can’t reload the f*****g thing. I know it can be done, because one employee at one Walgreens successfully loaded the card with cash. It involved something beyond me swiping the card. She did something on the registe. Nobody else at any of Serve’s other listed locations knows how to load it, and there isn’t a bar code to use on the app. Once the rest of the cash on the card is gone, so is my account. Absolutely worthless.

  2. Serve prepaid is by far the worst. I bought one for a certain reason and now I can’t use it nor talk to a human and so I thought maybe I could reach them by email, well good luck finding any help. Don’t understand why some companies have to be just as crooked as some people so all it’s showing is NEVER trust anyone with SERVE on it.

  3. Dealing with this currently. Purchased with a Chase card at Speedway. I emailed 12 business days ago and no response. I stumbled upon lawyer while doing a Google search who takes these types of cases Green Dot, Serve, etc.). The lawyer works on contingency.

  4. Did the number on the receipt match the number on the back of the card? Maybe it was a scanning glitch when you purchased it?

  5. Evidently, you used a Chase card to purchase this Serve card. Were you trying to meet minimum spend on the Chase card? I can’t think of any other reason you’d do this. What am I missing?

  6. This happened to me. I got the same response when I tried to check the value. I didn’t call. I was about to leave on a long trip. I just said screw it I’ll deal with it when I get back. A few weeks later I checked the balance again and it showed $500. I immediately went to the grocery store and bought my money order and it went perfectly


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