I have a confession to make. I am always (and I mean always) the girl at the table of 6 who has to use a card. It’s not like these group dinners are sprung upon me, but for some reason I never have the foresight to go to an ATM beforehand. So when it comes to splitting the check, my friends and I have to write a novel on the back of the check showing how we want everything broken down and on which card. Servers must hate seeing us seated in their section. Apparently I’m not the only cash-less jerk out there because American Express now has a service, appropriately named Serve, that helps eliminate the 14 credit cards at the end of a meal. I was given the opportunity through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program to try out Serve (and obviously I’m the perfect candidate).
The even better part is that Serve is hosting a contest to win $100 deposited into your very own Serve account! Stay tuned for a chance to enter this contest!
So, what is serve?
Serve is basically a digital source of funds that you can easily transfer to and from friends, family, or anyone else. Need to pay an electrician? If they have Serve, you just transfer the funds right over. Did the holiday shopping for your parents? Request the exact funds needed and it will transfer from their account to yours. For me personally, this tool is best used for my sorting of bills when out with friends.
It’s best to think of this service as a prepaid card. You can link it to a credit or debit card, or just deposit money into it using MoneyPak.To send and receive money, it works like an e-mail. Through your Serve account, just send the money to the recipient’s e-mail account they used to set up their Serve account. The recipient then confirms the transfer and it is finished! You receive a confirmation e-mail, and they receive their funds. (Note: the money transfer must be accepted within 7 days) To receive money, the sender can e-mail you through their account, or you can request an amount by sending a request to their e-mail.
Because it is a part of the American Express family, your money is protected by American Express’ technology and security. Even better, Serve sends you a card that can be used anywhere American Express is accepted.
Serve has an app for iPhone, Microsoft phones, and Androids, allowing you to make these transfers while sitting in the restaurant. Transfers can also be done online by signing into www.serve.com. Lastly, Serve can also be used through the prepaid, reloadable card.You can even withdraw cash from ATMs (for a fee starting in January).
Signing up for Serve is free. Services included in the free account include:
- Person-to-person money transfers
- Purchasing online and in stores with the Serve card
- Reloading your account through a checking account
- The first ATM withdraw a month
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.This card is also perfect for college kids that need money transferred. You can make sub accounts that you can control how much money goes in and when.
There are plenty of other really cool features (including using it to track collections/donations, donating to charities, etc) within Serve, so be sure to check out the site. Their “How Serve Works” section is particularly helpful.
How was my experience?
I went out with my boyfriend, my sister, and her boyfriend. My sister and I each signed up for a Serve account (which is free, plus they give you $10 to start!) and headed out for dinner.
I did some research beforehand to make sure our restaurant choice accepted American Express, in the off chance that our cards would arrive in time for us to use them. This was surprisingly easy! I had about five restaurants in mind, and all accepted Amex. (You can tell I don’t have an Amex card myself…) I ended up choosing one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia: Koo Zee Doo.Koo Zee Doo is a Portuguese BYOB in the city run by a husband and wife. David Gilberg is the chef while Carla Gonçalves makes the desserts and amazing bread brought to your table. The restaurant has an open kitchen so you have the opportunity to actually watch the chef prepare your meal (which I love). Koo Zee Doo is the phonetic spelling of the Portuguese word for “cooked” and also refers to a traditional Portuguese dish Cozido á Portuguesa that is a meat and vegetable dish found throughout Portugal.
The menu is awesome, ranging from the tame (Steak topped with a fried egg) to adventurous (braised chicken gizzards). They also offer a 5 course chef’s tasting menu that I have not tried (yet). I know this is a review of Serve, but I had to mention how wonderful this restaurant is. If you are ever in Philadelphia, I strongly suggest checking this place out.
As expected, our meal was wonderful. The food is served family style, so the four of us got two main dishes (the steak I mentioned as well as their special of the day: Lamb Stew) and two appetizers (braised chicken gizzards and Potato & salt cold croquettes). Despite being way too full, we had to try some of the amazing desserts as well (a chocolate hazelnut bread pudding and a coconut tart with chocolate whipped cream).
After our meal, we began the fun that is check deciphering. This bill was easier than most because of the family style serving, so we basically cut the check down the middle for each couple. My sister transferred the appropriate funds to my account while we sat at the table and I was able to accept and see the money in my account before paying.My card had amazingly come in the mail, so I just handed the server the one card which paid for everyone. I think Serve works best when using the card in tandem with the transfers. If the card had not come, my sister would have still transferred the money to me, but I would have had to use a separate card and the actual charge would have been on that separate card. The server, unbeknownst to her, had just dodged a bullet of dealing with two to four different credit cards with our scribble on the back of the check. The only criticism I have is that your name is not printed on the front of the card. When the popularity of this card picks up, I think that might make it very difficult to easily determine which card is yours.
Giveaway: So here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for. You can win $100 to be credited into your own Serve account! (You obviously would need to sign up for Serve to receive the $100. Click the link below for official rules for this giveaway) To enter, just comment below by midnight on 12/25/11.
As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a $250 stipend to try Serve from American Express. Sign up for Serve and receive a $10 credit towards your first use. Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account! Official sweepstakes rules and regulations may be found here: https://www.foodbuzz.com/blogs/4622317-win-serve-dollars-giveaway-official-rulesGood luck!