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A Guide To American Express Serve (Graphic: Business Wire)

American Express (NYSE: AXP) Serve today announced a free nationwide cash load network and the addition of new money management capabilities to its full-service reloadable prepaid account. The new features include: Direct Deposit, Bill Pay, Mobile Check Capture, Personal Financial Management Tools, and Reserve, which allows customers to put money aside for future expenses. These enhancements are designed to meet the needs of the nearly 70 million Americans underserved by traditional financial services. 1

“Unfortunately, the traditional banking system is not easily accessible to large segments of the population, making managing money cumbersome and expensive for many,” said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth at American Express. “We launched Serve two years ago with the simple idea that consumers needed a better way to move their money. Today, we’ve added a number of new features to make the management and movement of money more affordable and convenient for everyone.”

More Ways to Add Money to American Express Serve For Free

According to Javelin Strategy & Research 2, 41 percent of underbanked consumers report they pay a fee of $3.00 to $3.99 to reload their prepaid cards. American Express Serve has introduced several cost-free options to add money to an account:

  • Free Cash Load Network: Starting this November, American Express Serve customers will be able to take cash to the register at more than 14,000 participating CVS/pharmacy and 7-Eleven stores and add it to their American Express Serve Account. This is made possible through a relationship with InComm and its Vanilla Reload Network.
  • Direct Deposit: Serve customers can add their paycheck or government disbursements directly into their Account through Serve.com.
  • Mobile Check Capture: Later this year, customers will be able to use their smartphone camera to snap a photo of a check and add it directly into their Account using the Serve mobile app.

Considering that prepaid card customers who report reloading their cards say they do so an average of two times per month, with 10 percent reloading 5 times or more per month, adding money to Serve using these options could amount to a potential savings of between $72 to nearly $240 a year for certain customers. 3

With the rollout of a range of features that offer an alternative to traditional banking, American Express Serve will charge a monthly fee of $1 beginning December 3, 2013. This fee is one of the lowest among leading prepaid cards that charge a monthly fee. Based on an Aite Group study that evaluated the amount that people pay in fees among the leading prepaid cards, the average monthly fee was $4.57 per month, compared to the $1 monthly fee for using American Express Serve.

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