Your stimulus check may come as an EIP debit card.
For the $1,200 stimulus check associated with the CARES Act, the IRS set a deadline of May 13th if you wanted to enter your direct deposit information. If you missed that deadline, your check may come in the form of an Economic Impact Payment debit card if you’re one of the 4 million people selected.
In a press release, the Department of the Treasury did not explain how they will decide who gets the debit cards versus a check but they did say that the cards would be issued faster than the checks.
The card is a VISA debit card issued by MetaBank and part of the Treasury Department’s U.S. Debit Card program. When they are mailed out, they will come from MetaBank and not the IRS or the Treasury Department. It’s touted as a “free, prepaid card” but it’s not completely free.
(as always, be on the lookout for stimulus check scams – if it doesn’t say MetaBank then it’s not an official EIP card)
If you review the fee schedule of the card, you’ll see a lot of $0 including:
- No fee for Card account Opening, Checks and initial Card.
- No monthly maintenance fee
- No fee on “Credit” / Signature Debit Transactions
- No fee on “Debit” / PIN Debit Transactions, including cash back options
- No fee on Money Network Checks
- No fee on ATM Withdrawals In-Network
- No fee when ATM transactions are declined
- No fee on a transfer to Customer Bank
- No Monthly Paper Statement fee
- No fee to call Customer Service
- No inactivity fees
The card is free in all the ways that are important – no maintenance fee, no credit or debit transaction fees, and no inactivity fee.
There are instances where the card does charge you a fee and here are the ones that are important to know as well as how to avoid them.
ATM Withdrawal Out-of-Network
There is a $2.00 fee the second time you use an ATM outside of their network. This is easy to avoid because you can use their EIP ATM locator to find an ATM that you can use without incurring any fees.
If you received a large stimulus check, it’s unlikely that you could withdraw the entire balance in one ATM transactions. Many banks limit the daily transactions to just a few hundred dollars.
This fee is what the EIP card charges you and would be on top of whatever the ATM network’s fee is.
Bank Teller Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawal
There is a $5.00 fee if you go to a bank and withdraw cash directly with a bank teller but it is waived for your first withdrawal on your card. If you wish to withdraw your entire balance, you would avoid this fee.
ATM Balance Inquiry Fee
They charge a $0.25 fee whenever you do a balance inquiry and this is on top of whatever fee is charged if you use an out-of-network ATM. You can avoid this by using the Money Network Mobile App to look up your balance.
There are three international fees and if you find yourself out of the United States, it’ll be hard to avoid these:
- $3.00 ATM Withdrawal fee
- $0.25 ATM Balance inquiry fee – avoidable using the app
- $5.00 Bank Teller Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawal fee
Replacing a Lost or Stolen Card
Lastly, there is a $7.50 fee for reissuing a lost/stolen card as well as $17.00 priority shipping fee if you wish to receive the card within 4-7 days. The normal shipping time is 7-10 days.
The best way to avoid these is to transfer your funds to your bank – there is no fee to transfer your funds to your bank account. You avoid all the ATM fees, any chance you’ll lose your card, and you still get all of your money.
If you want the cash in your hand and you don’t have a bank account, the next best option is to go to a bank teller, pay the $5 fee, and request the entirety of your stimulus check as cash.
Otherwise, you can spend it as you wish because there are no fees for credit or debit transactions. As you near the end of the balance, you can use the mobile app to monitor how much you have left.