* Bluebird card available next week at Walmart stores, online
* Amex gets access to 4,000 stores, spending by underbanked
* Wal-Mart brings low pricing to card accounts
* Average American pays $200 annually in fees
* Shares of rival card companies NetSpend, Green Dot tank
By Martinne Geller and David Henry
NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc and American Express Co are teaming up to offer a prepaid debit card called Bluebird to target lower-income shoppers who may not have bank accounts.
The move will give American Express, best known for its affluent cardholders, a 4,000-store gateway to tens of millions of so-called “underbanked” households and the fees they will generate as technology moves more of their transactions from cash to digital payments.
At the same time, Walmart will get to extend its mantra of “every day low prices” to yet another sphere and come closer to achieving its years-long goal of offering banking services.
It also recently announced a deal with Metlife Inc to offer life insurance in a pilot program in South Carolina and Georgia.