7-Eleven Ready to Serve

Retailer to become part of American Express Serve's free cash-loading network

Published in CSP Daily News

NEW YORK -- 7-Eleven Inc. and CVS/pharmacy are on board as American Express Serve launches a free nationwide cash load network and adds 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.

"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."

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, 41% 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% reloading five 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.

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 Dec. 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.

The $1 monthly fee is waived if customers use direct deposit to load their account or add $500 or more to their account during a monthly statement period.

To help customers make smart decisions about their finances, American Express has partnered with LearnVest to bring free educational financial content to Serve.com, and is introducing Reserve, a linked account that customers can use to store money for upcoming expenses. Additionally, American Express Serve customers have free access to Serve's Bill Pay feature to pay bills online and can withdraw cash for free at MoneyPass ATMs in the United States.

  • LearnVest Partnership: LearnVest, a company aimed at making educational financial content accessible to everyone, will provide information designed to help customers set and achieve financial goals and save money. This free educational financial information will be integrated throughout the Serve.com experience.
  • Reserve: Customers can easily move funds with one time or recurring payments from their Serve Account to a linked Reserve to put money away--and keep it away--for future purchases like a vacation, holiday gifts, or for emergency funds.
  • Bill Pay: With electronic bill pay customers can pay any bill online using Serve.com and the Serve mobile app.
  • Free Withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs in the United States: American Express Serve customers can now withdraw money for free at more than 22,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide.

Additionally, all funds in permanent American Express Serve Accounts are eligible for FDIC pass-through insurance. This feature also allows American Express Serve customers to arrange for direct deposit of U.S. government payments including social security benefits and military pay. Temporary account funds will not be FDIC insured.

American Express Serve will continue to offer customers the ability to easily create and manage subaccounts for friends and family, send or receive money, and enjoy access to benefits such as purchase protection roadside assistance global assist service, fraud protection in the event the card is lost or stolen and 24x7 live customer service.

"We are striving to provide the best value and convenience for the underserved market," said Schulman. "We've added a slew of new features to American Express Serve in an effort to build one of the most comprehensive full-service reloadable prepaid offerings available today."

American Express Serve is now available online at www.serve.com and will be available at select CVS/pharmacy, Family Dollar, Office Depot, Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the United States this fall for a one-time purchase price of $2.95.