If you receive a debit card in the mail claiming to be your COVID-19 stimulus payment, don’t throw it out! While over 140 million Americans have received their Economic Impact Payment from the federal government by direct deposit or as a check in the mail, a third form of payment may be arriving for those of you still waiting.
On May 18, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS announced that roughly four million Economic Impact Payments will be sent in the mail as a prepaid debit card, often referred to as an EIP card.
The debit card is a VISA card issued by MetaBank, the Treasury’s financial agent, and will look like this:
Still have questions? You’re not alone. Here are answers to several common questions about the latest update on your economic stimulus payment.
IF I’M STILL WAITING FOR MY STIMULUS PAYMENT, DOES THAT MEAN I’M BEING SENT A DEBIT CARD?
Not necessarily. The debit cards are being sent to individuals who did not provide bank account information on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns, and therefore couldn’t receive payment via direct deposit. Recipients also will have had their returns processed at one of two IRS centers, including the Andover, Massachusetts which handles tax returns for Vermont residents. However, plans are being made quickly and information is evolving, so you may still receive your payment by check.
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HOW DO I USE MY EIP CARD?
The card can be used anywhere Visa cards are accepted, including at ATMs. You can also transfer funds to you personal bank account. You can activate your card by calling 1-800-240-8100. That number also works as a customer service number, should you have any questions.
If you’re wondering how you should use your stimulus payment, on the other hand, here are a few suggestions on how to spend it based on your financial situation.
SINCE IT’S A DEBIT CARD, DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ATM FEES?
If you use an in-network ATM, you won’t have to worry about fees. If you use an out-of-network ATM, there is a two-dollar fee that will be waived for your first transaction. This does not include any fees that the ATM operator may charge on top of your withdrawal. So the short answer is yes, you should be mindful about how you use your EIP card at the ATM. To avoid fees, you can find in-network ATMs by going to the Economic Impact Payment Card ATM Locator and entering your zip code or address.
WHY IS THE IRS DOING THIS?
According to a 2017 survey by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), roughly 25 percent of Americans are unbanked or under-banked. This means they likely won’t have an account to deposit a check into. A debit card enables instant access to funds without having to set up a debit account first.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT BEING SCAMMED?
If you are being extra cautious about scams right now, good for you! Unfortunately, fraudsters have been active during the pandemic trying to take advantage of the general fear and confusion. Fortunately, the EIP card isn’t one of them. It should arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services,” and you can use it without worrying about becoming a victim of financial fraud. For more information on identity theft, the Federal Communications Commission has a detailed and frequently updated page with safety tips for avoiding fraudsters.
CAN I STILL RECEIVE MY STIMULUS PAYMENT VIA DIRECT DEPOSIT?
If you were hoping to get your COVID-19 stimulus via direct deposit and have not yet given your information to the IRS, the window has passed to provide that information. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, you’ll receive your stimulus payment via a check or a debit card in the mail!
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