Bluebird was launched by Walmart as an alternative to checking and debit accounts. The launch by Walmart is in partnership with American Express. The new Bluebird accounts will target consumers that have become disenfranchised with traditional accounts at banks that are increasing fees and other charges.
The new Bluebird accounts do not have a requirement for a minimum balance, no monthly fee for maintenance, no annual fee or activation costs. Account holders will be able to access their accounts free by using one of more than 22,000 MoneyPass American Express ATMs, but will incur a fee of $2 if they do not direct deposit on their account.
Walmart said it launched the card because of the number of consumers who complained of not getting value they expect from the more traditional bank accounts that include debit cards due to fees that are becoming increasingly higher.
Banking costs and fees have increased of recent. A survey done during the summer of 50 of the largest banks in the U.S. found that the costs for basic banking jumped in almost all categories during 2012. That included the minimum amount to open a new account, which on average jumped to over $400.
A Bretton Woods study was used by Walmart that showed an average that more than $259 a year is paid by consumers to have a basic checking account. The study also said that amount is increasing due to banks requiring a higher minimum balance and the increasing number of fees being added.
Walmart feels it will help consumers with adding more financial center services such as money transfers, check cashing, bill payments and debit cards that are pre-paid.