In mid-March, the U.S. Federal Government introduced the CARES Act. The Act encompasses an economic package to help the country tide over the severe financial ramifications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
With the biggest of business houses declaring themselves bankrupt in the wake of a global health crisis, millions have filed for unemployment over the last few weeks. To help people economically deal with such an emergency, the Government decided to give out a one-time economic impact payment guaranteed to U.S citizens under the CARES Act.
This payment is now known as ‘stimulus checks.’
What are stimulus checks?
Stimulus checks are one-time payments worth up to $1,200 given to each individual to help them economically. You might apply to an additional $500 in case of child support.
However, one has to be able to qualify for a stimulus check; and not everyone will mandatorily receive the stimulus. Over 159 million payments have gone out via stimulus checks made until now.
Initially, the payments were via paper checks, including other mediums like Direct Express card or even direct deposit to bank accounts. Many people were throwing away their unopened stimulus checks received in mail because they arrived in a plain white envelope without a federal seal; many people thought it was a scam or a joke.
That’s where the stimulus debit cards came in.
What are stimulus debit cards?
Amidst all the payments, the government started sending out the stimulus payment via debit cards. These are prepaid debit cards, known as Economic Impact Payment cards (EIP cards). EIP cards are for people unregistered with the IRS with banking information.
More than 4 million EIP cards have been sent out until now but retain the same problem as stimulus paper checks. These cards come in white plain envelopes, and many citizens have discarded these envelopes thinking the cards are a joke.
So, here are the top 5 things you need to know about stimulus debit cards or EIP cards.
When will I receive my EIP card?
Firstly, you need to be eligible for a stimulus payment. If qualified, not everyone will receive this stimulus payment via debit cards.
If you’re eligible for such a stimulus payment and have not received it until now, it mostly means you’ll soon be receiving an EIP card in your mail.
Look out for a plain white envelope sent by ‘Money Network’ which is a financial tech giant. The envelope will not necessarily have federal seals on it, but it is legitimate. The card will be on a VISA network issued by ‘Metabank’, which is an offshoot of the Treasury Department.
If you’ve received a mail with all of these boxes checking out, congratulations on your EIP card!
What if I unknowingly threw away my card?
If you thought it was junk mail and accidentally threw away your EIP card, there is only one way to get another one.
Immediately call the EIP customer care number (1-800-240-8100) and choose the lost/stolen option on the VRS. A free replacement for the EIP card will soon be on its way to you but remember, the free replacement is a one-time affair. After this, you will have to pay an extra $7.50.
How much money will I receive on my EIP card?
Your entitlement to a stimulus payment depends on your annual income. You do not qualify if you earn more than $99,000/year individually or $198,000/year along with a spouse.
The amount entitled to you will begin to decrease if your annual income as an individual is more than $75,000 or $150,000 as a couple. To determine the amount entitled to you, the IRS will consider your 2019 and 2018 tax information.
Ideally, the stimulus payment is up to $1,200 for an individual and up to $2,400 for a couple. In the case of children, you will receive an additional $500 per child.
Where can I use my stimulus debit card?
Like any other VISA card, you can use it anywhere to make payments; be it offline or online.
Additionally, you can use your EIP card to pay bills, rent, EMIs, among other things given, there is sufficient money in your card.
Your EIP card can be retained by you even after the funds are exhausted and you can transfer money from your other accounts to your EIP card.
Are there any charges for using the EIP card?
There are no charges levied on using the EIP cards except if you are using the card to withdraw money out of an ATM.
Your first withdrawal from a domestic ATM using the EIP card will be free, but after the first use, you will be charged $2 on every transaction. However, all withdrawals made from AllPoint in-network ATMs will be free. There are over 55,000 in-network ATMs across the country.
Similarly, you will have to pay 25 cents every time you check your account balance at the ATM. To avoid this expense, you can check your balance online.
Withdrawing cash from the bank will also cost you $5 per transaction; however, the first one will be free.
Over millions of Americans still await their stimulus payment, via EIP debit cards or other mediums adopted. If you’re an eligible citizen awaiting your stimulus payment and are feeling helpless about how to proceed, these 5 things you need to know about stimulus debit cards further, MyTaxFiler has you covered with their special assistance during this time. Share your queries with us at C19Grants@mytaxfiler.com.
Published on June 8th.