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Home / Tips and Tricks / EIP card: what it is and why the IRS can send you a debit card starting this week with your second stimulus check

EIP card: what it is and why the IRS can send you a debit card starting this week with your second stimulus check



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The IRS has three ways to distribute incentive money to you.

Angela Lang / CNET

With President Donald Trump signing the Sunday on Sunday second round of incentive payments as part of greater COVID relief legislation, the IRS said it will start sending payments from Tuesday evening by direct deposit and by mail on Wednesday, either as a paper check or as an economic impact payment card (or EIP).

About 4 million Americans received their first round of incentive money on an EIP card, and the IRS said it will use the same method this time for some of the payments to speed up delivery of the money to those who qualify.

Read on to find out what an EIP prepaid payment card is, whether you could receive your next round of incentive money through an EIP card and how to identify it (and which IRS priority group you place). This story was recently updated.

Read more: Not everyone is eligible for a second stimulus check. This is why

What is an EIP card?

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About 4 million people received their incentive payment on a prepaid debit card, called an EIP card, which looks like this.

Money Network / Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

An economic impact payment card is a prepaid debit card that the Treasury Department used to distribute certain incentive payments among the CARES Act, instead of an electronic money transfer or paper checks. The maps have been issued to some Eligible US Residents for whom the government had no bank details.

The IRS said it will use the cards to distribute stimulus payments this time too.

These Visa debit cards can be used to make purchases, collect cash from networked ATMs and transfer money to your personal bank account at no cost.

If you receive one, after receiving the card, go to the EIP card website to activate it and learn more about how to use it.


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Why should I get an EIP card instead of a stimulus check?

For the first round of payments, those who were eligible received the first incentive payment by EIP card rather than by check whether they had filed their taxes, but the IRS did not have their bank account information to hand, and whether the tax return was processed by the IRS service centers Andover, Massachusetts, or Austin, Texas, according to a Treasury press release. The meaning of those particular service centers is not clear, and the Treasury has not responded to our request for more information.

For the second round of payments starting this week, the IRS said she will send paper checks or a debit card in the mail if she doesn’t have bank details to hand. The IRS said some people who last received a paper check can receive a debit card this time, and some people who last received a debit card can receive a paper check.

How much incentive money can be loaded on an EIP card?

Receiving your payment via an EIP card would not change this the amount you would receive – it’s just another format of the same payment.

The amount you will be allocated in a second stimulus payment (whether in the form of direct deposit, check or EIP card sent by mail) depends on your AGI, or adjusted gross income, your tax returns, along with your tax return status (single versus joint) and how many dependents you have. The maximum amount a single taxpayer can get is $ 1,200.

Find out how to calculate how much you could get with a second incentive payment here. You can also find out who counts as a dependent on your taxes and what that means for an incentive payment. Here is how old a dependent must be to receive a separate incentive payment and the stimulus check situation for older adults, people in the SSDI program, US Citizens Abroad and people living in US territories.

How long can it take to get an EIP card if a second stimulus check is approved?

When the CARES law was passed in March, the first EIP cards did not go out until mid-May. But the IRS said it expects to start shipping EIP cards by mail starting Wednesday.

The IRS said you can also track your money (in any form) with the same IRS tool you can use to track the status of your incentive payment, later this week.

How will my EIP card be delivered?

If you qualify, the IRS said your EIP card will arrive at the address listed on your latest tax return in a white envelope with the seal of the United States Treasury Department. The card has the name Visa on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, NA, on the back. The information that comes with the card explains that this is your economic impact payment.

Because the envelope containing the first EIP card was not clearly marked, some people reportedly threw the letter away without opening it during the first round of incentive payments. The IRS said that for eligible people who do not receive a direct deposit, pay careful attention to their mail for the card.

Please note, if you have moved, you must do this notify the IRS and USPS of your new address.

What if I prefer a direct deposit?

If the IRS has your bank account information handy, you are more likely to receive payment via direct deposit rather than an EIP card. Since the first incentive checks were sent, more effort has been made to get people who don’t have a bank account to get one for this purpose. Here are ways you may be able to help get a second check faster.

Will the IRS notify me that an EIP card is coming?

With the first incentive payments, the IRS sent a letter about your money to your last known address within 15 days of the payment being made. The letter contained information on how you got the money (check or direct deposit or EIP card) and how to report it if you did not receive payment. But beware: there have been many stimulus check scams go around. Before giving anyone your information, visit IRS.gov to make sure your letter is legitimate.

What should I do if my EIP is destroyed or lost?

If you have lost or destroyed your EIP card, you can request a free replacement with the first cards through MetaBank customer service. The replacement fee will be waived the first time. We expect the IRS to do something similar this time.

You don’t need to know your card number to request a replacement. Simply call 800-240-8100 and choose the second option from the main menu, according to the IRS website.

For more information, see if you qualified for a second stimulus check and when you might expect a second incentive payment.


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