Treasury says 4 million Americans should expect prepaid debit cards with stimulus payments. Here's who gets them and when, and how they work.
- The Treasury Department says it will begin sending out debit cards to millions of Americans this week loaded with their stimulus payment.
- The cards, issued by MetaBank, will be sent to people who did not provide the IRS with banking information and whose tax return was processed at IRS centers in Austin and Andover.
- The cards can be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, transfer funds to a bank account, issue a check, or make purchases wherever Visa is accepted.
- The government cannot track purchases you make on the card.
About 4 million Americans can expect to get a prepaid debit card in the mail this week loaded with their stimulus money.
The Treasury Department announced its plans on Monday to begin delivering prepaid Visa debit cards — formally called an EIP Card — to remaining stimulus check recipients who didn't give the IRS direct-deposit information and whose tax return was processed at an IRS center in Austin, Texas, or Andover, Massachusetts."Treasury and the IRS have been working with unprecedented speed to issue
The debit cards can be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, transfer funds to a bank account, issue a check, or make purchases wherever Visa is accepted. Only one card will be provided per family. For instance, a couple who files tax jointly and is getting an additional payment for a child dependent will only get one debit card.
Here are common questions and answers about the debit cards.Table of Contents
How did the government pick Visa and MetaBank?Treasury has a partnership with MetaBank to operate its US Debit Card program, which delivers non-benefit payments from federal agencies to companies and individuals via prepaid debit card.
Who is getting a prepaid debit card?
Treasury says anyone who qualifies for a relief payment, didn't provide the IRS with banking information, and had their tax return processed at either the Austin, Texas, or Andover, Massachusetts, service centers will be getting a prepaid debit card.Treasury did not specify which taxpayers had their returns sent to those centers, but according to the IRS Economic Impact Payment FAQs page, the Andover Service Center covers residents in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, while the Austin Service Center covers residents in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. According to the IRS page, the Austin Service Center also covers residents of a foreign country, US possession or territory; Americans who use a military address (APO or FPO); taxpayers who file Form 2555 (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) or Form 4563 (Exclusion of Income for Bona Fide Residents of American Samoa); and dual-status aliens.Advertisement
Will Visa take fees?
No, in most cases there's no fee associated with using your EIP Card.
There are a few exceptions. You will be charged a fee if you:
- Make balance inquiries or withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs or international ATMs
- Request a replacement for a lost or stolen card
- Make more than one cash withdrawal over the counter at a bank
What is MetaBank?MetaBank is a national bank headquartered in South Dakota. It offers deposit products, mortgage loans, business loans, and prepaid debit cards. The bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). It only operates a handful of bank branches but is accessible online. Advertisement
How do I find an in-network ATM?
You can download the Money Network Mobile App from the Apple or Google Play store to find a free ATM near you. You can also use the locator tool on EIPCard.com.
You can also withdraw cash at no additional charge when you make a purchase at a grocery or convenience store that offers debit cash back.
How will I get my EIP Card?Your EIP card will be mailed to the address on file with the IRS. It will arrive in an unmarked envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services with instructions on how to activate it.Advertisement
What do I do if my card gets stolen?If your card is stolen (or lost), call 1-800-240-8100 to report it. The card will be immediately deactivated and you'll get a new one in the mail — however, you will be charged a $7.50 fee for the replacement card, and a $17.00 fee for priority shipping.
If the card is just misplaced and you think you'll recover it, you can lock it without deactivating by logging into your account at EIPCard.com, the same site you use to activate your card and check your balance.And remember: The government communicates through mail only. It will not call or email you. If you get a call or email asking for information, it's a scam.Advertisement
Can the government track the purchases I make?
No, the government won't track the purchases you make — in fact, it's illegal to do so. Federal law says that under normal circumstances, the government can't ask the card issuer about your activity unless you have given written permission to do so.
How much money will I get?The relief payments are largely based on adjusted gross income reported on 2018 and 2019 tax returns. Anyone with a Social Security number who isn't claimed on someone else's tax return as a dependent — and earns below $99,000 as a single filer, $198,000 as a joint filer, and $136,500 as a head of household filer — is in line to receive a payment. Nonfilers and people who receive federal benefits also get payments. Couples who file jointly could get up to $2,400, and individual filers can get up to $1,200, plus an extra $500 a child under age 17.Advertisement
How can I make sure I'm using all the money on my debit card?
To check your balance, you can log on to EIPCard.com, or call 1-800-240-8100 to hear your balance from an automated system.
The EIP Card is a prepaid debit card, not a gift card — you shouldn't end up with a small, pesky sum you can't use. If you spend the money on your card and end up with a few dollars left, you can withdraw the remaining sum in cash.
How is the EIP Card different than a credit card?Prepaid debit cards are not credit cards. You are not borrowing money from a bank or the government and you won't have to pay any of it back. Spending the money available on your card will not affect your credit score. Advertisement
The EIP Card is slightly different than a traditional debit card — instead of drawing funds from a checking account, each purchase is deducted from the remaining balance on the card.
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