For the last few years, the digital payment space has centered around one main company – PayPal. If you wanted to buy or sell things online or send online payments to friends or family members, then PayPal was one of the few available options. But that has been changing over the last few years. One of the current options which offers even more flexibility is Serve® from American Express®. Serve is a digital prepaid account that gives users a safe way to pay in stores, make online payments, and even send money via email, text message, and FaceBook. In short, it can be a game changer for how people send and receive money. Let’s take a look at the features, and what it takes to open an account.
Serve from American Express – Features
To start with, Serve is a prepaid account that anyone can open. There are no credit checks and no monthly or annual fees. There are several ways to use this account. To begin with, you can use it like a prepaid credit card or debit card. The Serve Card is accepted everywhere American Express Cards are accepted. You can also use it at an ATM. (Serve will waive ATM the $2 fee for the next few months, but the servicing bank may still charge a withdrawal fee).
Send money via e-mail, text, and FaceBook. Having a prepaid card gives you flexibility, but these features go above and beyond. You can send and receive money through your smartphone via email, text, or through your FaceBook account. Serve also has apps for the iPhone, Android, and Windows platforms, making it easy to send and receive money on the go.
Easy access to your money. You can access money at with free ATM withdrawals at over 24,000 ATM’s, and free online bill pay.
Easy to open and fund your account. Opening an account is very simple – it takes about 5 minutes, and we’ll walk you through the process. Funding is also easy – you can link a bank account, your credit or debit card, or by purchasing a MoneyPak®. You can also add money to your account at over 15,000 CVS/pharmacy® stores and participating 7?ELEVEN® locations.
There is a $1 monthly fee, which a waived if you use Direct Deposit or add $500 during your monthly statement period.
Let’s take a look at the process of opening an account.
Opening a Serve Account
This is the best link to open an account right now, as there is currently a $25 opening bonus for new users. Once you arrive on the page, click the “Sign up to Get Started” button and enter your info. You need to provide your basic personal information, such as your name, address, and telephone number. Serve is set up to use a physical address instead of a PO Box. You can still use a PO Box, but you will need to call their customer service at 1-800-954-0559 if you need to use one.
Serve is a paperless service, so be sure to use an email address you access frequently if you will need to check your statement often. The only thing your address will be used for is to send you the Serve card, which can be used anywhere American Express is accepted, and to send important updates. Everything else is handled electronically.
Once you fill out the above form, you need to enter your email address, date of birth, last 4 of your SSN, and create a password and PIN. Then you need to verify the application in an email they send you. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes.
Funding Your Serve Account
Serve is a digital payment system, so the easiest way to fund your account is by linking it to an online bank. You can do this quickly and easily through the interface by simply adding your bank routing and account number. Then you need to verify the account through one of two methods – a verifying a small deposit, which can take 3-4 business days, or via an instant verification. The instant verification requires you to provide your customer number and password. Since this company is operated by American Express, I feel comfortable providing this information (this is also the same process for verifying your banking information with companies and products like Mint.com).
You can also fund your account by linking it to a debit or credit card. There are no fees for loading a credit card or debit card through March 15, 2013. However, your credit card company may charge you a cash advance for this option. Be sure to verify any possible fees before choosing this funding option. And to be safe, it’s best to use an ACH transaction through a bank, which is free. Here is a list of Serve fees:
Thoughts About Serve
Overall, it looks like Serve offers a great product in the digital payment space. It’s a flexible payment system that virtually anyone can use and a better alternative than many prepaid credit cards, which often come with high monthly or annual fees. Given that no credit check is required this is a good option for people with bad credit or no credit to get a card they can use online or at a point of sale. But it isn’t limited to people with credit issues – this card is a flexible option for sending and receiving money. It can be a great tool for freelancers, students, and anyone who frequently sends or receives money.