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Everything you need to know about the stimulus debit cards

Approximately four million Americans will receive their coronavirus stimulus check in the form of a prepaid debit card.

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

However, there’s been confusion around the cards, which arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services,” with the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A., on the back. Some people, expecting their economic impact payment in the form of a check or direct deposit, are mistaking the mail as junk or the cards as a fraud.

The cards, issued through Treasury’s U.S. Debit Card program, were mailed out starting in mid-May. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Will I receive an EIP card?

If you’re eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and didn’t receive it via direct deposit or paper check, you could be among the approximately four million Americans getting a card.  

Chances are, you won’t be alerted ahead of time that your payment is coming in the form of a prepaid card: The decision to mail them out wasn’t widely known before the first batch was sent in May. Look out for a plain envelope from “Money Network,” a division of Fiserv, which is a global provider of financial services technology.

In addition to the card, there should also be a letter in the envelope. Look for the names “MetaBank,” the retail banking arm of the Treasury Department, and “Money Network” in the letter to ensure it’s a legit card.

Prepaid economic impact payment cards started going out to stimulus recipients in May.

Photo illustration / EIPcard.com

How much money will be on my EIP card?

It depends on how much you earn. The Economic Impact Payments are worth up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, plus $500 for eligible dependents. If you earn more than $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a couple, the total amount you’re eligible to receive starts to decrease. And if you earn $99,000 or more as an individual or $198,000 as a couple, you aren’t eligible to receive a stimulus payment. 

To determine the amount you will receive, the government will look at your 2019 tax returns if you already filed and 2018 information if you didn’t yet file.

You can check your card balance online (you have to register as a new user on eipcard.com, which provides information on how to use the cards) or by calling customer service at 1-(800)-240-8100.

Use this stimulus check calculator to figure out exactly how much money you should be receiving from the government and make sure it aligns with your balance. If it doesn’t, call customer service.

Do I have to activate my EIP card?

Yes. Before using your card, you have to call 1-(800)-240-8100 to activate it. You’ll be asked to enter your card number, last six digits of your Social Security number and the three-digit security code on the back of your card.  

You’ll also be asked to set a four-digit PIN, which you’ll use for any ATM transactions, automated assistance and to hear your balance.

Where can I use my EIP card?

You can use it to make purchases anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, and you can pay in-store, online or over the phone. You can also get cash back at participating merchants after making a purchase: select “debit” on the keypad at the register, enter your four-digit PIN, select “yes” for cash back and enter the amount you want back.

You can use your card at an ATM, though there’s a $1,000 ATM withdrawal limit. To avoid fees, you’ll have to withdraw from the AllPoint network of ATMs. You can find one close to you by using this ATM locator from eipcard.com. You can get cash using an out-of-network ATM, but it will incur a fee.

Finally, you can transfer funds from your card to an existing bank account online at eipcard.com or using the Money Network Mobile App. You’ll need the routing and account number associated with your bank account. Expect the transfer to show up in your bank account after one to two business days.

Can I use my EIP card to pay recurring bills?

What happens if I accidentally throw my card away?

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