American Express is best known for their outstanding credit card products, but not all of their offerings are about extending credit.
Take their line of Serve cards—prepaid debit cards that also boast some typical Amex features.
What kinds of rewards can you reap if you sign up for a Serve?
This review will cover what you can expect and what to look out for.
What is a Serve Card?
Amex offers three kinds of Serve products—their standard card, a Free Reloads card, and a Cash Back card.
They have slightly different fees and benefits, so let’s focus for now on the standard Serve card.
Serve is a prepaid debit card, not a credit card.
However, it has low upkeep costs and limited fees—atypical for prepaid debit options.
Another advantage is that these cards come with purchase protection benefits, where you can be reimbursed for an item that is damaged or stolen within 90 days (up to $1,000).
There are no savings associated with this card: It’s used for spending only.
Serve vs. Other Cards
If you’re looking for a prepaid card, this is one of the best options out there due to its low fees, plus its protection benefits.
When comparing Serve to credit cards, you may be happy with a non-credit option, especially if you are underbanked and don’t have the best credit.
But if you want something that will help you build credit, no dice:
Your credit score won’t be affected by applying for or using this card.
Additionally, while this card has more protections than other prepaid cards in its class, it doesn’t have the robust protections that credit cards are mandated to provide by law.
At any time, Amex could pull or change its policy, leaving you liable for damages to your purchases.
Important Serve Card Fees To Know
Here are the numbers for Serve—
Which can vary slightly depending on which version of the card you choose:
Activation fee: $0
Monthly fee: $1 (you avoid this tiny fee if you live in New York, Texas, or Vermont)
In-network ATM transaction fee: $0 at 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs
Out-of-network ATM transaction fee: $2.50
Foreign ATM transaction fee: 2.7%
Direct Deposit fee: $0
Swipe fee: $0
Reloads: Up to $3.95
There is also no cancellation or inactivity fee.
Want to stop using your card?
Just cut it up and say goodbye.
Be aware that while Amex promises Fraud Protection and 24/7 customer service, some user reviews claim that they’ve had difficulty getting representatives on the phone to discuss issues.
In 2018, that’s not the best reputation for a product of any kind to have.
Be aware that you may not get the help that typical Amex credit card users receive.
Serve Card A Good option, All Things Considered
You may not find a better prepaid debit card on the market, but the Serve Card comes with some of the typical drawbacks of these kinds of offerings (without the guarantees that American Express often provides.)