When I received an envelope from the Money Network Cardholder Services of Omaha, NE, I figured that it was a credit card from some bank that consolidated. Nope. It was the Economic Impact Payment Card. It’s money we’re “receiving as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).”
In other words, our stimulus check was not a check at all but a debit card. It is a sign of the times that when I typed in eipcard com, Google auto-filled to add the word scam. But it is NOT a scam, as this brief, mechanical video notes.
The Treasury is Delivering Millions of Economic Impact Payments by Prepaid Debit Card, according to this May 18 post. “This week, Treasury and the IRS are starting to send nearly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card, instead of by paper check. EIP Card recipients can make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees.
“They can also check their card balance online, by mobile app, or by phone without incurring fees. The EIP Card can be used online, at ATMs, or at any retail location where Visa is accepted. This free, prepaid card also provides consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners, including protections against fraud, loss, and other errors.”
Your basic caveats
Well…, check out this Forbes article, “5 Things To Know About Stimulus Debit Cards.”
Not everyone is getting them. “The Treasury Department says EIP cards will be sent to people who don’t have bank account information on file with the IRS from the 2018 or 2019 tax years and have had their tax returns processed by the Andover, Massachusetts or Austin, Texas IRS Service Center. Those two service centers process tax returns from [10 states], foreign countries, U.S. territories, and military addresses.” And other places, such as upstate New York.
You May Be Charged Fees. For instance, for “Out-of-network ATM withdrawals.” And I can’t find an in-network ATM that’s closer than 30 miles from my house: Walmarts in Bennington, VT and Pittsfield and North Adams, MA.
ATM balance inquiries. “Most ATMs will ask you if you want to check your card balance before making a withdrawal. However, each time you check your account balance on your EIP card via ATM, you will be charged 25 cents (on both in-network and out-of-network ATMs). You can avoid this charge by checking your account balance online, through the mobile app or by calling the customer service number.” Tricky stuff, this.
Bank/teller over-the-counter withdrawals. “If you withdraw cash directly from a bank teller, your first withdrawal will be free—but additional transactions will cost $5 each.” Ouch!
Register Online for Easy Account Access. I’ve tried, thrice so far. I get to what appears to be the last page, and I came up with an address error, somehow. So I CAN use the card, but I can’t yet check the balance unless I call 1.800.240.8100.