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stimulus prepaid debit card

May 21, 2020 – The Treasury Department and the IRS announced that this week they would begin sending roughly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) – otherwise known as stimulus checks – via a prepaid debit card instead of a paper check. This money is part of the Coronavirus Relief, Aid and Economic Security (CARES Act) to help Americans weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Will Receive EIPs Through This Method?

Amid the frustration around late stimulus payments, it’s important to know whether you are supposed to receive the stimulus via a prepaid debit card. According to the Treasury website, EIP Cards are being distributed to qualified individuals without bank information on file with the IRS and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover, Massachusetts or Austin, Texas IRS Service Center.

According to the IRS website, at this time taxpayers cannot specifically ask the IRS to send the Economic Impact Payment to them as a debit card. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will determine which taxpayers receive a debit card.

How Does the Prepaid Debit Card Work?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on the Treasury website that the debit cards “are secure, easy to use and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly. Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”

Cards will be issued by MetaBank, the Treasury’s financial agent, as a prepaid Visa card in the mail. Each mailing will include instructions on how to go through with the activation process and use the card.

Cards are different from traditional debit cards in that they are prepaid with a fixed amount, so using them does not deduct from a checking account balance. They are different from traditional credit cards for the same reason. The amount is not something that recipients must pay back to the government.

To check the balance on a card, report it lost, search for information on how to use the card without incurring fees or find an in-network ATM, head to EIPcard.com.

Tools to Help You Manage Your Money During the Coronavirus Crisis

  • Make sure you get your stimulus check if you expect one. If you expect a stimulus check but haven’t received one yet, take a look at the Get My Payment tool at irs.gov. There you can find information about your payment type and status. Additionally, if you are still not sure if you are eligible for the benefit, check out SmartAsset’s coronavirus stimulus calculator.
  • Reassess your budget if possible. Making a budget is a great way to fit your housing costs and all other essential spending into your income. If you’re receiving a federal economic impact payment in light of the recent coronavirus crisis, it might be a good time to take another look at your budget. Use our free budget calculator to understand how best to allocate your income.
  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about how to ride out a financial downturn. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in just five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/alexsl

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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