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American Express Serve Prepaid Card: Beware the Fees!

Cory Santos

| Last updated on December 13th, 2023

American Express Serve®

American Express Serve®
No Credit Required
BestCards refers to a variation of FICO Score 9, which is one of many different types of credit scores. A financial institution may use a different score when deciding whether to approve you for a credit card. Please note that the range shown here is our own estimation and not a guarantee of credit needed to be approved for any given card. Recommended Credit: No Credit Required
American Express Processing Network
None Annual Fee

American Express Serve®

At a Glance

The American Express Serve Card is a prepaid debit card from the credit card company, American Express. The card is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want the hassle of a traditional credit card but still prefers to customer service and security that comes with such a card. The Serve the card gives users the flexibility of shopping at any merchant that accepts American Express while also allowing for the withdrawal of cash at MoneyPass ATMs, similar to what you can expect from a debit card.

  • Best Benefits
  • Rates & Fees
  • Why Should You Apply?
  • Get your money up to 2 days faster with early direct deposit
  • Free withdrawals at over 24,000 MoneyPass ATM locations nationwide
  • Transfer cash or pay bills online without a hassle
  • Access and manage your account on the go via your phone
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% on each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars
  • You do't want a hard pull on your credit history
  • You aren’t sure whether to choose a gift card vs. a prepaid card
  • You want credit card features (purchase protection, fraud protection, roadside assistance, etc.) without the risk of overspending or a credit check
  • You don’t have a bank account but want a repository for direct deposits

American Express Serve Prepaid Card Review

The American Express Serve Card is a prepaid card that acts in much the same way as the American Express Bluebird – a prepaid offering from Amex and Walmart. And like with the Bluebird, account management is easy with the American Express Serve: login to the American Express Serve app, and you’ll have access to many features that don’t come with other prepaid cards – including gift cards and even some debit cards.

One of the best parts of prepaid debit cards is adding money at many major retail locations – including Walmart. Just go to the customer service desk and make a Serve cash reload.

Choose Your Card

A unique feature of the Serve Prepaid Card program is the option of two distinct prepaid cards to choose from:

Direct Deposit

The Serve Direct Deposit version is designed for those who want a no-nonsense prepaid card to handle many of the basic tasks of a traditional bank account.  Cardholders get free direct deposits up to two days early, so you know your money will be there when needed. This is for no monthly fee when you direct deposit $500 or more within a statement period. Without the direct deposit minimum, expect to pay the basic $6.95 monthly maintenance fee.

Cash Back

Want a rewards card but not interested in a hard inquiry on your credit report or a bulky checking account? Amex Serve provides a cash back rewards option for an additional charge. For an additional $1 per month ($7.95 per month vs. $6.95), Serve cardholders can opt for 1% cash back on all purchases made with the card.

1% Cash Back is rounded to the nearest dollar, providing the framework for additional rewards on some purchases. Rounding means that you will never earn a fraction of a penny. You can redeem cash back once the in-store or online purchase has settled. 

To redeem cash back, follow these steps:

  • Log in to your Serve account.​
  • Select “Redeem” next to your earned Cash Back Balance on the Home screen to go to the Cash Back Balance screen.​
  • Select “Redeem” next to your Earned Balance.​
  • Click or tap “Yes” to confirm your Cash Back redemption.​
  • Your redeemed Cash Back will automatically applied to your next purchase.​

Other Serve Account Features

One of the best features of the American Express Serve is the ability to set up free direct deposits with the card. Direct deposits allow employers, government agencies, or anyone else to automatically add funds to your account. Most direct deposits set up with banks transfer the funds into your account once the money settles, meaning it can take days to receive your funds.

With the Amex Serve, however, the funds are transferred into your account as soon as the deposit instruction is given, meaning you can receive your deposit up to two days sooner than with traditional banks!

Free MoneyPass ATM Withdrawals  

If you need to withdraw at an ATM, you can do so for free at specific MoneyPass® locations (there are more than 37,000 of them nationwide). Otherwise, a small fee is incurred at any other automated teller machine. In addition to adding and withdrawing cash, you can send funds through the Serve Money Transfer powered by Ria® service and for free between other Serve accounts.

Amex Features

Since Serve is an American Express prepaid card, holders can expect the same level of support, protection, and customer service as an American Express credit cardholder receives. Expect 24/7 dedicated customer support and comprehensive fraud protection should your card be lost or stolen – all at no additional cost.

Amex prepaid cards also offer no hidden fees, meaning no transaction fees. This perk lets cardholders use the card to pay bills (like a checking account through Amex free online bill pay, reload their card free of charge, and shop as they would with any other debit or credit card.

Reloading the Amex Serve is also easy. Visit, use your Amex Serve card details to log in, and reload your card from the site – it’s that easy!

Serve Fee Schedule

Charge Fee
Monthly miantainence $6.95 ($7.95 for Cash Back)*
Purchases Up to $3.95
ATM withdrawal $0 (in-network); $2.50 (out-of-network)
Cash relaod $3.95
Customer service $0
Inactivity $0
Card fee $5
Direct deposits $0
Mobile check capture $0
Money in Minutes 1% or 5% of check ($5 min fee)
Serve Money Transfer powered by Ria® Up to $16
Cash Pickup powered by Ria® Up to $9.49

*No fee for residents of NY, TX, or VT. No fee for residents of AR until you register your card.

Prepaid Card Comparison

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Bluebird® by American Express Prepaid Card American Express Serve®
Best feature The card features easy loading and reloading, a helpful mobile app, and some fees to consider. Send and receive money, link your debit card to your Account, and add funds via direct deposit. Access and manage your account on the go via your phone.
Reload fee Up to $4.95 $3.95 ($3.75 at Walmart) $0 in network, $3.95 out of network
Fee-free ATM network 37,000+ (MoneyPass®) 37,000+ (MoneyPass®) 37,000+ (MoneyPass®)

What We Like About Serve

There are some nice features with Serve, not least the option to choose the card type of your preference. The option of cash back is nice, as is the waiving of monthly fees with the basic account after meeting minimum direct deposit requirements. Equally enjoyable is the extensive ATM network, allowing for surcharge-free ATM usage.

Things to Consider

Despite that, Serve has some big downsides, namely the maintenance fees. If you opt for either option, you’ll be on the hook for a $6.95 monthly fee (at least), with more for the cash back card. Even without the monthly fee, there are other fees to worry about, including cash reloads. For that reason, other options, such as the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, might make more sense for most.

American Express Ratings

How does American Express rate as a bank and issuer? Here is a selection of ratings for the bank from consumers and experts:

Should You Get the American Express Serve Card?

The Amex Serve is a solid option for anyone looking for a sound, reliable prepaid card. It isn’t, however, the best available option from American Express. That honor goes to the Bluebird, which offers many of the same perks as the Serve, but with fewer fees.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Serve is a wrong choice. The possibility of getting American Express customer service and protections in a prepaid card is an enticing prospect – and that makes the Serve so appealing tot hose who either can’t qualify for a traditional credit card or don’t want the hassles that come with applications of hard inquiries on their credit report.

All information about the American Express Serve has been collected independently by

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