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Home / Tips and Tricks / What is an EIP card and why should you receive one instead of a second stimulus check?

What is an EIP card and why should you receive one instead of a second stimulus check?



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

Angela Lang / CNET

An Economic Impact Payment card (or EIP) is one of three forms of this incentive payments sent by the IRS to about 4 million Americans, in lieu of a physical check or direct deposit. Like a second round of stimulus aid is approved by Congress as part of a new economic aid package, it is likely that the IRS will send several millions payments to qualifying Americans use the same method – keep reading to find out if you’re getting your money this way.

Use our stimulus check calculator to get an estimate of how much money you could get, and if you miss your first stimulus check, follow these steps. 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 Ministry of Finance has used to distribute some incentive payments among the CARES Act, instead of an electronic money transfer or paper checks. The cards were issued to some eligible US residents for whom the government had no bank account information.

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 the card arrives, visit the EIP card website to activate it and learn more about how to use it.


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Why have some people been issued an EIP card instead of a check?

Those who were eligible received the first incentive payment by EIP card rather than by check if they filed their taxes, but the IRS did not have their bank account information to hand and whether the tax return was processed by IRS service centers in Andover, Massachusetts , or Austin, Texas, according to a Treasury press release. It is not clear what the meaning of those specific service centers is, but we have asked the Treasury for more information.

If a second incentive invoice is approved, you can receive your payment in the same way you did it the first time – so if you got an EIP card, you’re likely to get another. If you need to provide new bank details, you may be able to receive your payment in a different way.

How much incentive money is loaded on the card?

Receiving your payment through an EIP card doesn’t change that calculation or the amount you could get – it’s just a different format of the same payment.

Once one last bill has been accepted, if it includes an incentive payment, the amount you would receive in a second incentive 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 stimulus check and the stimulus check situation for older adults, people in the SSDI program, US Citizens Abroad and people living in US territories.

If a second stimulus check is approved, how long can it take to get an EIP card?

If another coronavirus relief bill with a second incentive payment passes, it could likely take longer to get your money with an EIP card then through direct deposit. When the CARES law was passed in March, the first EIP cards didn’t go out until mid-May. But it is possible that it will be faster this time, as the infrastructure is already in place. We just don’t know yet.

Once a second incentive payment is approved, you can track your money (in any form) with the same IRS tool you can use to track the status of your incentive payment. If you’re still waiting for the first check, here it is how to report your missing payment to the IRS and find possible reasons why your incentive payment still hasn’t arrived.

How is the EIP card delivered?

If you qualify, your EIP card will arrive at the address on your latest tax return in an unmarked envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services”. Because it wasn’t clearly marked, some people reportedly threw the letter away without opening it during the first round of incentive payments.

Payment cards are often shipped in plain envelopes to deter fraud and thieves. It’s unclear whether the IRS would also send a second payment in an unmarked envelope.

If you have moved, you should notify the IRS and USPS of your new address.

What if I prefer a direct deposit?

If you have a bank account, this is all we know direct deposit with the second check now. If the IRS has your bank account information to hand, you’re 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 help people who don’t have a bank account get one for this purpose.

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?

Do not you worry. If you have lost or destroyed your EIP card, you can request a free replacement via MetaBank customer service. The replacement fee will be waived the first 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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