Be Wary of Fees When Using Your Prepaid Stimulus Card
If a second stimulus payment doesn’t appear in your bank account soon, watch your mailbox. Many U.S. consumers are receiving funds on a prepaid debit card, which are easy to use, but like other prepaid cards, may come with extra fees.
The Treasury Department and IRS said Thursday that approximately 8 million consumers will be mailed an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) prepaid debit card this week. The EIP cards, sponsored by the Bureau of Fiscal Service and issued by MetaBank, will be sent to taxpayers in all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.), but there’s no firm rule for who is getting a prepaid card and who isn’t. So if you received your first stimulus payment as a paper check, you may get a prepaid card this time, and vice versa.
You may be more likely to receive an EIP card if you live in the western part of the U.S., according to the IRS.
What the Economic Impact Payment Card Looks Like
It’s a good idea to throw out suspicious junk mail, but make sure you don’t throw away your prepaid stimulus card. Your EIP card will arrive in a white envelope clearly marked with a U.S. Department of the Treasury seal, and this return address:
- Money Network Cardholder Services, P.O. Box 247022, Omaha, NE 68124
You can see what the card should look like on the Treasury Department’s website.
If you accidentally throw out your EIP card, call 1-800-240-8100 for a free replacement.
How to Avoid Fees When Using Your EIP Card
First things first, activate your card and set a debit PIN by following the directions that come with the card. Once the card is active, you can pretty much use it like a typical debit card, just be careful to avoid extra charges that often come with prepaid cards, such as out-of-network ATM fees.
Here’s how to access the stimulus funds on your EIP card, free of additional charges:
- Use at retailers that accept Visa cards: Purchases can be made online, by phone, or in stores.
- Withdraw cash from an Allpoint ATM: These ATMs don’t charge extra fees, and can be found in stores like Target, Walgreens, and CVS. To find an Allpoint network ATM near you, use the online ATM locator tool, or download the Money Network mobile app for iPhone or Android devices.
- Use the Money Network app connected to another account: You can transfer up to $2,500 of card funds each day to another bank, prepaid, or mobile payment account. Just make sure you have the routing and account numbers on hand to help complete the transfer.
- One-time cash withdrawal by a bank or credit union: Visit a bank or credit union teller to make one free cash withdrawal up to $2,500. If you do this more than once, you’ll pay a $5 fee.
- Request cash back after using the card at a grocery or warehouse store: Just as you would with a traditional debit card, ask for cash back after using your EIP card to complete a PIN transaction at a supermarket or big-box store like Costco.
- Request a free Money Network check: Call 1-800-240-8100 to request a paper check that you can make out to anyone, including yourself. However, this isn’t the quickest option. You’ll need to wait for the check to arrive in the mail and then activate it.
Once your EIP Card is empty, hang on to it. If Congress passes another stimulus bill, you may be able to quickly access funds if the card is reloaded.
For more information about prepaid EIP cards, including the cardholder agreement and a comprehensive list of potential fees, visit eipcard.com.
IRS. "Treasury Issues Millions of Second Economic Impact Payments by Debit Card." Accessed Jan. 8, 2021.
National Consumer Law Center. "The EIP Stimulus Payment Prepaid Card: Not a Scam; How to Avoid Fees." Accessed Jan. 8, 2021.
Money Network. "Economic Impact Payment Card Short Form." Accessed Jan. 8, 2021.