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American Express Launches Mobile App for its Bluebird Prepaid Card

By Jim Bruene on October 16, 2012 10:34 PM | Comments

image Today, American Express released the iPhone app for its new Bluebird prepaid card which will be sold in Walmart stores and elsewhere. The app allows new customers to sign up for a Bluebird prepaid card, but in my test I was not able to get that to work (see below).

As you'd expect from American Express, the app is attractive and well designed. It includes imageimportant payment features (see inset):

  • Billpay
  • P2P payments 
  • Request money
  • Mobile remote deposit

My experience: I downloaded the 7MB app today. The only screen visible to non-cardholders is dominated by a login area. But it also has a Get Started button, which I learned was where you apply for a new card (see number 1 below). It would probably be better to call it "Get your card" or something more obvious.

This next screen contained an odd question, "do you have a Starter Card?" (with that capitalization)(see screenshot 2). Again, this is not the clearest way to make a sale. Why not just say "Do you want a new card?"

After I clicked "No," the app took me through a standard three-step process for getting a card including name/address, SS number and disclosures (see screenshots 3-5). For some reason, my company email address did not work (an error message said I could not register with that email). But a standard @gmail address worked fine. The application also has the annoying requirement for a capital letter in the password which is overkill, especially on a mobile phone.

In all, it took almost five minutes to complete because of the various errors I made along the way.  

But despite being an Amex cardholder for two decades, the company could not "verify my information" (see screenshot 6) and I was declined for a prepaid card. I went back and re-entered everything with the same result. The final error message (which could use a rewrite) suggested that the issue might be my fault. But if I thought otherwise, feel free to give them a call.

Which I did. But after 3 or 4 minutes trying to explain to the rep what had happened, I gave up. She was picking up my keywords and reading the script. But she was clearly having trouble following my story. At the 3.5-minute mark mark she suggested I "download the mobile app." That's when I signed off.

Bottom line: It looks like a great app and I look forward to using it. And I'm willing to cut American Express some slack given how new it is. The app hasn't even been officially announced, so I'm sure the kinks will be worked out shortly. 


1. Login screen                              2. Odd question

image     image

3. Application name/address          4. Application SSN/password

image      image 

5. Disclosures                                6. Error message

image       image


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