American Express Serve® Card — Full Review [2021]

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American Express Serve® Card — Full Review [2021]

U.P. Rating ? The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

"A Pre-Paid Debit Card With 3 Versions"

A prepaid debit card with 3 versions: basic (pictured), FREE Reloads, and Cash Back. Instead of earning points, these cards can be used to deposit money into banks or pay for purchases and bills!

Learn More (at Amex's secure site)

The information regarding the American Express Serve® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

You’re out running errands when you realize you’re out of cash and the bank is about to close. Not again!

You are a bit uneasy at the idea of spending any money on a credit card; that’s for emergencies only, and you don’t want to get in the habit of “saving yourself.”

If you’re looking for a good alternative to banking but are tired of being hit with fees, then the American Express Serve® Card could be a great option for you.

Amex Serve Card — Snapshot

  • Welcome Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
    • There is no welcome bonus available as this is a pre-paid debit card
    • The American Express Serve® Cash Back Card earns 1% cash-back for all purchases (Terms and Conditions Apply)
    • $0 if you direct deposit $500 monthly, otherwise it’s $1/month ($12/year) for the American Express Serve® Basic Card
    • $4.95/month ($59.40/yr) for the American Express Serve® FREE Reloads Card
    • $5.95/month ($71.40/yr) for the American Express Serve® Cash Back Card
    • Reload fee of up to $3.95 at a retail location ($0 for American Express Serve® FREE Reloads Card at participating locations)
  • Card Categories:
  • Rewards Center
    Cash-back rewards are found in your American Express account.
  • Customer Service Number
  • Login Link

The Ideal Cardholder

Frustated Shoppers Can Use the Amex Serve Prepaid Debit Card
If you’re a frustrated shopper who realizes you don’t have any more cash on you, don’t forget about the Serve Card! You can pay for groceries and bills from your preloaded card. Image Credit: Ljupco Smokovski via Shutterstock

Applying and Bonus Cash-Back

While the Serve Card is not a traditional credit card, it is still a valuable tool for your personal finances.

This convenient reloadable card offers free online bill pay and other convenient banking features without all the excessive charges.

It acts just like a debit card from a traditional bank, and you can only use the cash that is stored on the card.

You have access to more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATM locations across the United States.

You also have free access to American Express customer service reps, which is a feature that other prepaid cards don’t offer.

There are 3 different versions of this card:

The Amex Serve Card


The American Express Serve® FREE Reloads Card


The American Express Serve® Cash Back Card


Cost of Using the Amex Serve Cards

The basic card is free to use online but costs up to $3.95 at retail locations when reloading the card with cash.

There is no monthly fee for the basic version if you direct deposit $500 or more per month on the card. Otherwise, the monthly fee is $1.00 (or $12 per year).

It is free to use the FREE Reloads Card online ($0), but this card costs $4.95 per month. The benefit of this card is a waived $3.95 reload fee at over 45,000 locations.

Finally, the American Express Serve® Cash Back Card works like the basic card, except that it earns 1% cash-back for all purchases and costs $5.95 per month.

Amex Serve Card Banking Features

One of the great features of these different versions of the card is the ability to create sub-accounts. You can get a separate prepaid card for each sub-account you open.

In addition, you can send and receive money for free between any members, which is helpful in times when you need to split bills.

A service called Cash Pickup Powered by Ria is available at Walmart, and lets you take out up to $2,500 in cash at one time.

Additional Benefits of Being an Amex Serve Card Member

Two other great features of the card are Amex Offers and Membership Experiences.

Amex Offers is a program that allows you to add “deals” for shopping, dining, and entertainment purchases periodically.

These offers get updated every few weeks. If you like one, simply add it to your card and use it by the expiration date.

Membership Experiences is an entertainment portal that offers access to tickets and events that you might not otherwise have access to. It is always worth a check to see if there is something that catches your eye!

Just like AMEX credit cards and charge cards, the pre-paid debit card also offers access to other benefits like:

  • Purchase protection
  • Fraud protection
  • Roadside assistance

Bottom Line: The Amex Serve Card can be a nice alternative to traditional banking without all the fees that go along with it.

Some Items to Consider Before Becoming A Card Member

Remember that because this is a prepaid card, it can’t help you build up your credit.

Because of the card’s prepaid nature, though, it can be a good tool for those who are trying to keep a limit on their spending and/or stick within a budget.

Bottom Line: The Amex Serve Card can be a great way to keep within spending limits.

Great Card If

  • You’re looking for a convenient way to replace your banker without the hassle of a checking account
  • You are seeking a fee-friendly prepaid card
  • You want an easy way to limit your spending
  • You don’t want to carry around a lot of cash

Don't Get If

  • You want to build up your credit
  • You want to use a lot of out-of-network ATM locations
  • You do a lot of international transactions

Amex Serve Card — Fees

  • Annual Fee
    • $0 if you direct deposit $500 monthly, otherwise it's $1/month ($12/year) for the American Express Serve® Basic Card
    • $4.95/month ($59.40/yr) for the American Express Serve® FREE Reloads Card
    • $5.95/month ($71.40/yr) for the American Express Serve® Cash Back Card
    • Reload fee of up to $3.95 at a retail location ($0 for American Express Serve® FREE Reloads Card at participating locations)
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
    2.7% foreign surcharge on transactions processed outside the U.S.
  • Interest Rates ?
    • N/A; this is a debit card
  • Late fees ?
    • N/A
  • Balance Transfers
    • N/A
  • Cash Advance APR
    • N/A
  • Additional Info

How to Really Maximize Cash-Back Rewards

There are many ways that you can benefit from using the Amex Serve Card. Here are some ways to help make sure you get the most out of it right from the start:

Tip #1: If you will be adding sub-accounts to your card, it is important to be sure that a parent or guardian is the primary account owner. No one under the age of 18 can be an account owner.

Tip #2: For those who are hoping to build up their credit, this card can’t help there, though it is convenient to use. With that in mind, you may also want to consider opening a credit card in addition to your Serve account.

That way, you will be able to start (or continue) building up your credit and your credit score, while at the same time taking advantage of all the many benefits that the card has to offer.

Best Way to Redeem Cash-Back Rewards

The Serve cash back Card collects cash-back that can only be used in the form of credit to your account. Once accumulated, you simply apply it to your account for a direct deposit!

There are no travel partners, but they do partner with MoneyPass ATM for free withdrawal at over 24,000 locations.

The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need to Know

Any time you’re considering a prepaid, charge, or credit card, it is important to have a good understanding of just exactly what it does and doesn’t include. So being familiar with the gritty details can be helpful!

(For this card, a more in-depth synopsis can be found in the cardmember agreement).

The Amex Serve card can provide a number of benefits, including reducing the cost of your everyday banking. With this card, when you deposit at least $500 per month, the monthly membership fee is waived. (In some states, there is no monthly fee at all.)

Some Things to Consider Regarding the Card

Prior to diving into any banking transaction, you should understand that there will likely be both pros and cons; this card is no exception. With that in mind, there are a few items to consider with regard to the Amex Serve card.

For instance, even though the card has access to more than 24,000 free ATM locations, you will run into a fee of $2.50 for out-of-network ATM transactions. So, before moving forward, you might want to be sure that there is a MoneyPass ATM location near you!

Also, you will also be charged a fee each time you reload the card. Be sure to add $3.95 to your fee chart each time you go to put funds on the card, which could make it somewhat pricey depending on how often you load it up.

In addition, all card holders have to be at least 18 years of age. If you’re seeking a way to have the card for a teen, a parent or guardian will still need to be the primary user.

The Amex Serve card also charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so if you tend to conduct international transactions or travel overseas regularly, then this could get expensive.

Bottom Line: Be sure to weigh all the features of the Amex Serve card before moving forward with it,  just so there are no surprises.

Other Unique Features

The Amex Serve card also offers a number of other features, such as:

Free online bill pay – Card holders are able to pay any recurring bill for free using their Serve account, regardless of whether the bill requires a card payment or a paper check.

Free ATM withdrawals – Amex Serve cardholders also have free access to more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATM locations nationwide.

Free check cashing with mobile app – Using Serve’s mobile app feature, cardholders can also cash checks for free. All you need to do here is open the app on your smartphone and take a picture of the check.

Free sub-accounts – Cardholders can also open up to 4 additional sub-accounts at no additional charge, provided the other individuals are at least 13 years of age. This will allow users to send and receive money between the accounts and take care of other banking needs.

Roadside assistance – If your vehicle breaks down or has a flat, assistance can be arranged through the roadside assistance plan.

Purchase protection – You can protect items you’ve purchased with your card for up to an additional 90 days.

Fraud protection – If your card gets lost or stolen, you’ll be protected against fraudulent purchases.

Cardholders can also access American Express customer service. So if you have an issue, a question, or a concern, you can talk directly with a live representative 24/7 to find a solution right away.

Summarizing the Card

Overall, the card provides a number of really nice attributes for a prepaid card. While there are a few fees that cardholders will be subject to, this card is still on the low side in terms of nickel-and-diming you!

Plus, it also comes with some added benefits that American Express credit and charge card members get, such as purchase protection and roadside assistance.

American Express also offers a variation of the Amex Serve card that allows you to obtain 1% cash-back on purchases, although this version also comes with a monthly fee.

For those who are careful with their spending and also want to benefit from the conveniences of banking on the go, then the Amex Serve card can be a great way to do so.

For rates and fees of the Amex Serve card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Is the Amex Serve Card worth it?

While many prepaid cards can really hit their holders with fees, the card is a pleasant surprise in that it offers a lot of free attributes along with some nice additional benefits.

For those who are looking to build (or rebuild) their credit score, this card isn’t going to get you there since it isn’t a credit or a charge card. In fact, the card won’t even show up on a credit report.

However, it can provide a long list of positive features when you’re comparing it to other cards in the prepaid niche. For example, it offers an extremely competitive fee structure overall.

In addition, the benefits include other things such as Purchase protection, Roadside assistance, Fraud protection, and Free customer service access.

Is it better to get your Amex Serve Card online or from a physical retailer?

It is better to get your card online than from an in-store retailer. This is because doing so online is free, while getting the card from a physical retailer can cost up to $3.95.

Plus, if you get the card from a store, you will still need to register it online and then wait for a permanent Amex Serve card to arrive in the mail.

Are Serve Card funds FDIC insured?

The funds that are held in a prepaid card account are not always as safe as those in a regular checking or savings account, because prepaid cards are not required to insure against bank failure.

However, account funds are FDIC insured up to the very same $250,000 per-depositor limit that applies to a traditional bank account. This can provide cardholders with a great deal of peace of mind!

Is there a direct deposit limit on the Amex Serve Card?

There is an annual direct deposit limit of $100,000.

What is a good credit card to use in conjunction with the Amex Serve Card?

You can use any other travel rewards credit card with the Amex Serve Card. If you spend enough, your best bet would be to get the Cash Back card in addition to a rewards card that has bonus points for one of your biggest spending categories.

Most people do well with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card since it earns 2x points in travel and dining, which covers a broad area of spending!

Are there any other prepaid debit cards that are similar to the Amex Serve Card?

Yes. The Bluebird from American Express is very similar. It does not require a minimum deposit to avoid fees and can be used to pay bills online.

Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. Incredibly poor customer service, and I have not really gotten started with them. I wanted a card like this for online purchases so I don’t have to use my bank card, so I purchased the temporary Serve card, as its packaging stated I could create a permanent account online and receive a permanent card.

    Great; so I purchased the card (with the minimum $10 deposit, since the reviews do show some issues; better to try first before committing to real money), and went to the website. There is a FAQ regarding the temporary card that even gives you the link to register – clearly stating that you could enter the temporary card info there. I went to the link – hmmm nothing on that page about the temporary card, just the general account form; so I went ahead and registered for an account. After logging in to their website, I looked around – there is no way to link the temporary card while logged in. OK so their instructions are broken; customer service will resolve this, right?

    Wrong. I spoke to several reps, two of them supervisors, and they all read from the same script – I did it wrong, there is a button somewhere else on the page that takes you to the correct link. Well, that is wrong as well – that button is to create a new account – and indeed, it lets you link a temporary card, but now you have more than one account. I asked them to either link the card to the original account, or register me and delete the old account (so I can make sure it is done right, as their website is defective on something so fundamental), and they all said they could not, as it was my fault I did it wrong – one of them even kept saying “there is nothing wrong with the card”, whatever that means. They all got pretty rude as the call progressed as well.

    Hilarious, but I could see where someone who put a few hundred on the temporary card might be upset, given the terms of the temporary card are NOT the advertised terms; you need your money on the permanent card to get the acceptable terms and fees; buyer beware about the temporary card terms! I am glad I only looked at it as an experiment.


  2. This is the second year I have used the American Express Serve card issued to me by Jackson Hewitt and each year I cringe! Thinking oh well this year may be different they may have changed some things not! They have really crappy customer service they get rude laugh at you hang up tell you it’s all your fault and refuse to give you money that’s even yours that has been held for longer then what they are supposed to. I would not recommend this card to anyone in fact I have turned them into just about any resource that I have been able to as well as had numerous talks with Jackson Hewitt which is why I will not be dealing with them next year either. When it comes to refunds or businesses issuing refunds they will hold your money as long as they feel like until they are ready even if it is longer that’s allowed. Fact of the matter is they suck – I have never written a review about a card nor have I ever want it to however I feel that someone may read this and decide against this card and not have to go through the hassles that I have. Each time I have to call customer service which might I add is a lot about everyday I remind them how am I supposed to trust you with my tax refund that is coming soon if I can’t even trust you with $100. Point Blank don’t do it and if you do I’m sorry but I told you so.


  3. Sabrina Livingston March 16, 2019

    I’ve had the American Express Serve card for five or six years now. I’ve never had a problem with them except they will put a block on your card if they see it’s being used somewhere than where your address is. That was taken care of when I called customer service and they updated my address. There are businesses that still doesn’t accept the American Express card. That’s the only downfall that I have experienced. I prefer this card to my own bank. I can use this card to save money. They have different accounts that you can open on the same card. You can even place money on your card for your kids use. They have access only to the money that you place on their card. But I like this card. I’ve had no problems whatsoever other than what I have already stated.


    • Thank you, Sabrina, for sharing your experience. I’m sure our readers will appreciate the feedback. It’s appears you’ve put forth some extra effort to learn how to use the card effectively and it’s working well for you.


  4. If you get a large tax refund – or have a large sum of money on this card, the weaknesses of having this card really show. First, you are limited in how much cash you can take out daily from the card. Your cash pick-up option powered by Ria is actually 2500.00 and not 900.00 as the article states – but that’s it for the day. You also are limited to 15000.00 withdrawals total per month – that is cash and purchases. Once you hit that, you are blocked from any withdrawals of YOUR money until the next month, which is crazy!!! Before you hit that total, you’ll find scores of places that take other American Express cards, declining the Serve card for no apparent reason. If you have over 15000.00, just use a traditional bank and NOT this card!!!


    • Hey Carlos, thanks for your feedback and the heads up here. We checked in and noted it does look like the cash pick-up option has recently increased again to $2500 or $2900 (as you mentioned) since our last update of this piece.

      The terms are as follows (and we plan to update our post accordingly):

      “A daily withdrawal limit of $2,500 applies for each Serve Account held, and a cumulative $2,900 daily limit applies across all of your Serve Accounts. If you Direct Deposit a tax refund or refund advance to your Serve Account, the daily Cash Pickup withdrawal limit will be equal to your remaining amount of tax funds, but no greater than $2,900, until the remaining tax funds amount is $2,500 or less. At that point, the $2,500 daily Cash Pickup withdrawal limit applies. The increased tax funds limit expires at the end of the calendar year in which the tax funds were Direct Deposited into your Serve Account.”

      Thanks again for weighing in!


  5. Steven hampton March 30, 2019

    I’m very dissatisfied disappointed in American Express serve right now…..


  6. I have my paychecks directly deposited into my Serve card. At first I had no issues, now it’s never on time. I don’t care if I get paid early but I do care to be paid on payday! Plus there’s no way to talk to anyone, it’s so frustrating we trust you with our money and can’t even talk to someone to resolve the problem. I think I’m done with American Express and it’s Serve card.


  7. David Blakney June 17, 2019

    Do NOT get this card! I was told this card would work internationally and even on the package says you can… but here I am in the Bahamas WITHOUT access to my money!!!


    • Hello David. Sorry you are having trouble using your card. First, we are not affiliated with American Express or Serve. We are Upgraded Points, a blog specializing in providing credit card and travel-related resources. I did do some research, however, and found this statement on the Serve web site which may explain the difficulty you’re having.
      “You can use your American Express Serve Card for purchases anywhere American Express is accepted internationally. At this time you cannot use the international ATMs. Additionally, international use is not available to Account holders who are Vermont residents or to Sub-Account holders. Exchange rates apply, please see fee chart for further details.”


  8. I did my taxes at Jackson Hewitt and had used their card for the refund. I knew they weren’t that good because they had poor customer service and always had problems but I figured it was ok to deal with since it was once a year. I know now I will never use them again and still thinking Jackson Hewitt! The 2020 stimulus payment was supposed to be deposited onto the American express Serve account and these idiots backed out on the 15th saying they didn’t want to deal with it and pretty much screwed every person that used these idiots from Jackson Hewitt. These people could never be trusted and I would recommend no one to use these cards ever again! It shows you they don’t care about any of us especially when we’re in the need of this money. Choose your banking cards and prepaid cards wisely and never use American express. Pulling something like this during the times when millions need it the most shows how they really are. A bunch of morons. Really bad for business for sure and I don’t recommend!


  9. You guys are a total joke. I’d like to be put in contact with an officer of the company to report my interaction with your support people in India and the Philippines. You have taken a great company to 1 that, as more time goes on, is no longer respected let alone used. You’re failing big time and you don’t even know it. I will share some insight into what is making all these complaints come to be. It’s your own fault for trying to save money while taking American jobs overseas. I have been an American Express Member for over 18 yrs. I have never seen this as bad as it is now. Please provide a person at the corporate level to contact me.


    • Hello Art. Please understand that we are not American Express. We are Upgraded Points, a blog specializing in points, miles, and travel resources. According to Wikipedia, the address for American Express is 200 Vesey Street, New York, New York and the key people are Stephen J. Squeri (Chairman & CEO) and Jeffrey C. Campbell (Executive VP & CFO). Perhaps you could write a letter with your concerns and ask to be contacted. They do not accept email comments or complaints.


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