The IRS is sending most payments by direct deposit because it is the easiest and fastest way to get this money to tens of millions of Americans. When that isn’t possible, the agency is mailing checks and prepaid debit cards.
About 20 million paper checks and debit cards are expected to start arriving soon, but the delivery could run into nationwide mail delays at the U.S. Postal Service.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about the delivery of stimulus payments by check or debit card.
Why am I getting a check?
Most likely you are receiving a stimulus check because the IRS does not have direct deposit information for you, or your financial institution rejected the payment and returned the money. This could happen because the IRS has the wrong bank account information, or you’ve closed the account.
If the account was closed, your payment will be reissued and mailed to the most recent address on file with the IRS.
Even if you haven’t given the IRS banking information, it’s possible you may still get a direct deposit. Stimulus payments are being sent out in batches. So, just because you haven’t received your money yet doesn’t mean it’s not coming.
And for those without direct deposit information on file, the IRS says it will be using federal records of recent payments to or from the government, where available, to make the payment as a direct deposit.
How will I recognize the check is from the IRS?
Checks will arrive in a white envelope from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It will look much like a check you receive for a tax refund. However, in the memo field, it will say, “Economic Impact Payment.”
How will I recognize the stimulus debit card?
Many people mistook the debit card as junk mail or thought it was a scam and threw it out in the first and second rounds of the stimulus payments. There was no indication on the envelope that the correspondence was coming from the IRS or Treasury.
The IRS refers to the stimulus payment as an “economic impact payment” or EIP, so look for that wording. The debit card has the Visa logo on the front, and the issuing bank is MetaBank, the Treasury Department’s financial agent. You’ll also see “Money Network” on the back of the card.
Treasury changed what’s on the outside of the envelope after the first round following complaints people didn’t realize their EIP card was inside. Now, you’ll see the Treasury logo and the notice: “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The return address will say: “Economic Impact Payment Card, PO Box 247022, Omaha, NE 68124-7022.”
How can I use the debit card?
The prepaid debit card can be used to make purchases online and at any retail location where Visa is accepted. You can also get cash back during a purchase, transfer the funds to your personal bank account or withdraw money from an ATM.
However, there are limits on how much cash you can access at one time. There is a $1,000 ATM withdrawal limit per transaction and per day. Your bank may have an even lower daily withdrawal or transaction limit.
The IRS points out the limit on ACH transfers to a bank account is $2,500 per transaction.
You can use the card to pay your rent or mortgage, if your landlord or loan servicer accepts Visa debit card payments.
Read the instructions carefully or go online to eipcard.com to find out how to avoid fees when you use the card. There’s no fee to withdraw cash at in-network ATMs that carry the “AllPoint” or “MoneyPass” logos. But if you use an ATM out of the network, it will cost you $2, although the fee is waived for the first ATM withdrawal. You may also get dinged with a fee by the ATM operator, MetaBank warns.
You can find an ATM that doesn’t charge a fee by going online to eipcard.com or by downloading and using the Money Network mobile app.
What should I do if the debit card is lost, stolen, or discarded by accident?
If you have lost or thrown out the stimulus debit card, you’ll have to call (800) 240-8100 for a free replacement.
Here’s where things can get confusing.
When you call, ignore the instructions to press Option 1 to reach customer service. Instead, choose Option 2 for a lost or stolen card.
Then select Option 1 to input the last six digits (yes, six, not the customary four) of your Social Security number as well as your Zip code. You should be transferred to a customer service representative. You will have to answer some security questions before a replacement card is mailed.
I already received an EIP debit card. Will the latest stimulus payment be loaded on that card?
None of the debit cards are reloadable, the IRS said. You will receive a new debit card with the latest stimulus payment.
Will the money always be available on the card?
Once you activate the debit card, the money will remain accessible to you. Money on the card will not be returned to the government unless you return your card to MetaBank, according to the IRS.