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Coronavirus stimulus checks: How to use your payment debit card

The federal government is sending coronavirus stimulus checks — called Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) — by prepaid debit card through the mail to around 4 million Americans who don’t have direct deposit information on file with the IRS.

The recipients are those who are eligible for the payment and had their tax return processed by the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.

“Treasury and the IRS have been working with unprecedented speed to issue Economic Impact Payments to American families. Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”

PHILADELPHIA: Economic stimulus checks are printed at the Philadelphia Financial Center May 8, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA: Economic stimulus checks are printed at the Philadelphia Financial Center May 8, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

The EIP debit card follows paper checks and electronic transfer as the third method of payment used by the Treasury, which so far has distributed $258 billion to over 152 million eligible Americans as a result of the stalled economic activity brought on by COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know about the stimulus debit card.

How will it arrive?

Through the mail! Your card with a Visa logo will come in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, will appear on the back of the card.

Where can I use it?

Almost anywhere! Recipients can use their EIP Cards much like a bank-issued debit card to pay for gas, groceries, bills, or clothing.

Cardholders can make in-person and online purchases at any location where Visa is accepted, withdraw cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees.

How do I activate my card?

Call a phone number! Instructions for activation will accompany EIP Cards, and you’ll call 1-800-240-8100 (TTY: 1-800-241-9100).

For activation and security, you’ll need to verify your name, address, and social security number. You’ll also need to create a 4-digit PIN required for ATM transactions and automated assistance and to hear your balance.

Is it enabled for mobile banking?

Yes! Cardholders can check their balance online, through a mobile app, or by phone for free. Recipients can have peace of mind knowing the cards are backed by protections against fraud, loss, and other errors.

The federal government is sending 4 million Americans a debit card loaded with their coronavirus stimulus check funds.
The federal government is sending 4 million Americans a debit card loaded with their coronavirus stimulus check funds.

Are there fees?

It depends. You can do the following without incurring a fee:

  • Make debit purchases anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted

  • Get cash back with a PIN debit purchase, where available.

  • Get cash from in-network ATMs that have the AllPoint brand.

  • Transfer funds to a personal bank account.

You may incur a fee for some transactions, such as international ATM withdrawals or replacement for a lost or stolen card. Read the material in your Welcome Packet to see which transactions could charge a fee.

Will my credit score be impacted?

No! Since the card is a debit card, it is not tied to your credit and therefore your credit will not be impacted.

Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.
Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

What if I lose my card?

You have options! You can lock the card online at EIPCard.com to prevent unauthorized purchases or ATM withdrawals. If your card is permanently lost, call customer service at 1-800-240-8100 to report it lost or stolen. That card will be deactivated and a new replacement card will be sent to you. The reissuance fee is $7.50.

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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