Hey! You’re reading an outdated Free First Class Next Month series. Check out the latest version published in April of 2015 here.

This is the sixth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Putting All Your Spending on Credit Cards.

Yesterday I talked about how to increase the amount of money you spend each month on credit cards without increasing the amount of money you spend each month.

This is key because the more money you spend on cards the more cards you can get, since so many require a minimum spend before the bonus is unlocked. And getting new cards means new mega sign up bonuses.

If you’re like most Americans, you have some big expenses that can’t be paid by credit card like mortgage, rent, car payment, student loan, or credit card bills. That’s where Bluebird comes in. Bluebird allows us to pay all of those with a credit card for a 0.8% fee–a fee so low that it is definitely worth paying to unlock more huge credit card sign up bonuses.

What is Bluebird?

Bluebird is a prepaid debit card offered by American Express and Walmart. It can be loaded for a 0.8% fee with Vanilla Reload cards, among other ways. Bluebird can be used for purchases, free ATM withdrawals, to write checks for free, and to transfer money to a bank account for free.

Sign up for your Bluebird today at bluebird.com. Bluebird is not a credit card, so you will not get a credit pull. Your Bluebird will arrive in the mail in about a week.

How to Load Your Bluebird

Once you have your Bluebird, you will want to load it with money, since it is a prepaid card that you must load before using. Bluebird can be loaded by a Vanilla Reload card. Vanilla Reload cards can be purchased at many CVS stores with a credit card. Not all CVS stores carry Vanilla Reloads, and those that do may not accept credit cards or may have a cap on the number you can buy. To use Bluebird to put more spending on credit cards, you need to find a CVS that sells Vanilla Reloads.

Vanilla Reloads can be loaded for up to $500. Loading a Vanilla Reload incurs a flat $3.95 fee, so the best idea is to always load Vanilla Reloads for $500 in order to make that fee less than 0.8%.

To add money from a Vanilla Reload to your Bluebird, scratch off the film covering the PIN number on the back of the Vanilla Reload card. Enter the Vanilla Reload pin and Bluebird card number at vanillareload.com. The balance will transfer instantly, and you can find the funds in your Bluebird account immediately.

Using the Bluebird

Regular Spending

The card can be used any time you can use an American Express credit card.

ATM Withdrawals

You can withdraw $500 per day and $2,000 per month at ATMs with your Bluebird.

American Express will charge $2 per Bluebird ATM withdrawal, and the bank operating the ATM will charge a fee too.

Transfer to your Bank Account

Direct transfers can be made from your Bluebird to your linked bank account. There is no maximum to the amount you can transfer to your bank account.

Bluebird will write a Check to Anyone

Bluebird will write a check to anyone you want for up to $5,000. Bluebird will write and mail this check for free.

There is a list of approved businesses that you can pay through the bill-pay section on bluebird.com. You can send up to $10,000 per month to the listed payees.

If you want a check sent to someone else, enter their information, and the check will be sent for free. You can send up to $5,000 per month to unlisted payees.

This means you can pay your rent, mortgage, student loan, credit card bills, parking tickets, and friends with Bluebird. Many of those previously had to be paid with cash. Many of the others could be paid with a credit card for a fee. Now they can be paid for free with a Bluebird that was loaded with a points-earning card for a 0.8% fee.

The checks arrive the day that American Express says they will in my experience, which is usually three days after requesting them. The beauty is that your landlord or bank doesn’t need to sign up with Bluebird or do anything special to accept the checks. They just get normal checks in the mail with your name as the sender and your account number listed.

Basic Strategy for Maximizing Point-Earning Potential of Bluebird

The biggest points earning potential is Bluebird’s ability to increase the total amount of spending you do on credit cards. More spending means you can unlock more sign up bonuses since most good credit-card offers come with a minimum spending requirement.

Follow these steps:

  1. Set up Bluebird account for free.
  2. Buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card for a 0.8% fee.
  3. Load Bluebird with Vanilla Reloads for free.
  4. Use Bluebird as a credit card, a way to write checks, and more for free.

Follow those steps, and you can put expenses you previously had to pay by check on a credit card for a 0.8% fee.

So figure out all the things you used to pay with checks each month like your credit card bill, rent, mortgage, car payment, student loan, etc. Now you can pay those with a Bluebird check.

Add this amount to the amount you figured you could spend in yesterday’s post, and you now have the new amount you can spend per month on credit cards without increasing your total monthly spending much.

Example: Looking at your old credit and debit cards statements shows you spend $1,000 a month on cards normally. Looking at my list of things to pay with credit cards made you realize that you send in an $80 check each month to pay your cell phone bill instead of setting up autopay with a credit card.

You send $1,000 per month to your brother on Amazon Payments.

You send in a $1,000 check every month for your mortgage, when you could pay $1,008 (0.8% fee) with a Bluebird check with the process noted above. Same thing with your $300 car payment and $500 student loan (now $302.40 and $504).

Add it up, and you see that you could spend $3,886.40 ($1,000 + $80 + $1,000 + $1,008 + $302.40 + $504) a month on cards without affecting your total monthly spending by much.

If you’ve calculated your new possible monthly credit card spend, write that down because you’ll use it in a few days to figure out how many of the best current offers you can apply for at once.

Continue to Double Credit Card Miles with Business Cards.

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