American Express Serve Platform Review – Let it Serve You

Serve is the American Express reply to both PayPal and Google Wallet (Amex Serve vs. PayPal). It has been criticized for not offering anything new that PayPal was not offering one year ago, and this was last year. However, just this February 16, 2012, Serve released a statement that it would be operating with the same technology as Google Wallet – making a sale or transaction through the use of smartphones and an NFC card reader.

A Competition in the Offing

This makes it a potential three-way race – PayPal has been at Google Wallet right from the start, after Google hired one of PayPal’s top employees prior to introducing the Google Wallet to the world. And then the Google prepaid card was born, making the use of the Google Wallet much easier. With the entry of the AMEX Serve, PayPal is being left behind, but the real benefit is to the consumer – competition is always to its advantage.

The more merchants employ NFC readers for their transactions, the better it is going to be for the consumer. With Google Wallet alone, there is no real pressure to fix the glitches in the system when trying to make a purchase off your mobile phone. However, with a new competitor, one will try to outdo the other, and here, AMEX Serve has already taken a swing.

No Fees

The AMEX Serve does not come with any fees whatsoever. For people used to seeing extra charges on their American Express credit cards, this will be something new, and potentially something more attractive. For American Express, this is also a foray into an entirely new market – the prepaid market has been ignored by American Express for the longest time, and with Serve, the potential to dominate the market is just waiting.

This is because unlike Paypal or Google, the American Express has had a financial relationship with the whole of the United States at one time or another. Besides, the AMEX Serve has the whole structure of American Express behind it, putting it at least one step ahead of the Google Wallet, which is composed mainly of innovators and programmers, and not by financial wizards.

Aside from that, the AMEX Serve already has a list of participating merchants that American Express already has in its pockets. So while Google is still struggling to find more merchants to install NFC readers to make Google Wallet transactions, all American Serve has to do is to advice each merchant on the list to participate with AMEX Serve by installing NFC card readers in their physical stores.

serve is free to use, quiet expectedly. Services offers are:
  • Person-to-person money transfers
  • Purchasing online and in stores with the Serve card, which comes once you open your account.
  • Reloading money on your account from a checking account
  • You can withdraw money from ATM
  • You can deposit money from your Serve account to checking account in exchange of a fee.

Getting cash from an ATM after using your first free withdraw a month will cost you $2.00, plus whatever the ATM might charge you for using it. If you want to fund your Serve account with a credit card, you’ll be charged 2.9% of the amount transferred plus $0.30 for each transfer.

Paying money to someone else with serve account is cheaper than what PayPal takes.

The Winner

In every business competition, the end consumer is always the winner. With AMEX Serve on the move to have more NFC readers installed, even Google Wallet will be along for the ride. With both AMEX Serve and Google Wallet able to make wireless transactions through the combination of smartphones and NFC card readers, more merchants will be familiar with the transaction process, unlike today, where making a transaction via the Google Wallet is like making big juju magic with your smart phone.

And with more merchants willing to take on wireless transactions, more consumers will have that option to do so, and will hopefully take on the technology as both Google and American Express hope they do.

And it all started with PayPal, so don’t count them out yet. If the technology takes, it is certain that PayPal will take the bait as well. And the more competitors, the better, because then the technology will make the wireless transaction safer, smoother and hopefully cheaper than where it is right now.

Our Recommendation

Things we like about Serve.com:

1. $10 sign-up bonus

2. Sign up is easy both on Mobile and online versions.

3. Trusted brand from American Express, who are in business for more than 150 years. With global presence.

4. Sub account feature makes sharing same account within family easier than any other mobile payment platform

5. Well defined user interface which is very easy to navigate and easy to transact.

6. Instant money transfer between parties, even faster than PayPal.

We give this product a “should Apply” rating with the above factors in mind. Whether it will be as widely accepted as PayPal is to be seen.

Some other reviews you might be interested in

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Disclaimer: Finance Product Reviews is an independent website. Although we may have advertisement relationship with financial institution we review, they do not influence our decision or rating of products. Contents of this site are not provided by any financial institution, banks, brokerages or credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone and are not reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the product owners.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this web site are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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9 comments to American Express Serve Platform Review – Let it Serve You

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  • I’m just starting to get my head around what these products are and how they work…I’m sure in two years they’ll be the preferred way to do business (as I think a smartphone will be the new credit card). Thanks for the thorough review!

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  • Greg W

    Seemed to work fine, then today their systems started having problems. A friend of mine as a card on a subaccount and suddenly the money was listed on the card, but unavailable. He had just started a trip, and the card was being denied. Called several times today, but each time the agent said they couldn’t access the account (sorry, our systems are having troubles) please call back in a couple hours (or we’ll call you–but never did). After 9 hours of trying, the card doesn’t work and they still don’t know what’s going on. They can’t even get the transaction history on their terminals.

    Sad. Sad. Sad. Even worse for my friend who is traveling and was relying on access to the money.

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  • Michael J

    Half-baked product. Not even the phone number on their website (the one that shows when they lock your account)is correct. They send you ‘Notifications’ with no message on it. It takes hours to reach customer service by phone. They never answer your emails.

    Also has a tendency to lock your account for no reason once you have deposited some money and then ask for documentation (i.e. copy of SSN, bank account, lease, etc.) they did not ask whey you first signed-up.

    In my opinion, Serve is a scam.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this web site are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”