Walmart shoppers offered prepaid card

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express Co. are teaming up on a reloadable prepaid card for shoppers.

The two companies said Monday that Bluebird, which began during a pilot program late last year, will have no minimum balance and no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. They said the only fees that will be associated with the card will be transparent and within the user's control, such as out of network ATM withdrawals by consumers that don't have direct deposit.

Wal-Mart and American Express said they view the card as an alternative to debit and checking accounts that will help consumers better manage and control their finances. The companies said Bluebird was built on feedback from consumers who said they were bothered by the rising fees related to checking accounts and debit services.

"Our customers tell us that they're tired of navigating a complex maze of do's and don'ts to avoid the ever growing list of fees found on checking products," Daniel Eckert, vice president of financial services for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. He said Bluebird solves that problem and will "help customers affordably manage their everyday finances."

Wal-Mart is not new to the prepaid card segment, as it already offers prepaid cards from Green Dot Corp.

The Bluebird cards can be used at a variety of locations that accept American Express. Users can deposit funds onto the card via direct deposit, remote check capture through the Bluebird mobile app, using cash at any Walmart register, or by linking a checking, savings or debit card to the account.

Wal-Mart and American Express said that more features will be added to Bluebird in the first quarter of 2013. These features will include more options to deposit money and check-writing capabilities. Bluebird will be available next week at and in more than 4,000 Walmart stores.

Wal-Mart's stock was basically flat at $75.25 in trading Monday. Shares of American Express, which is based in New York, rose 26 cents to $59.82.

businessnews - yourbiz


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