In late May, the Internal Revenue Service began sending some of the economic impact payments as pre-paid debit cards. It was a confusing switch, as the IRS had spent more than a month sending the stimulus checks as physical checks in the mail or as direct deposit payments. To add to the confusion, the cards were sent in plain white envelopes from "Money Network Cardholder Services" with no federal markings. Do not throw those envelopes away if you receive one since it will include your entire payment on the card.
Since the IRS did not widely publicize the switch to pre-paid debit cards, there were frequent stories about people throwing them out and mistaking them for spam mailings. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau added a blog post explaining that the cards are not part of a scam. "The government is sending some people Economic Impact Payment Cards if they qualified for a stimulus payment and the IRS couldn't direct deposit the payment," the CFPB noted. It also noted that a real EIP Card will include a letter with instructions on how to use the cards. The card itself has the Visa logo and stars in a blue field on the front. The bank notes the issuing bank is MetaBank North America.
Once you get the card, the primary cardholder will have to call 1-800-240-8100 to begin the activation process. After providing your name, address and Social Security number, you are then asked to create a new 4-digit PIN code to use to withdraw money from an ATM. You can also call the number or use EIPCard.com to check your balance. There is also a Money Network Mobile App smartphone owners can use. EIPCard.com and the Money Market app also list locations of ATMs where you can withdraw the money without paying a fee. The EIPCard.com site also includes a tool to help transfer up to $2,500 per transaction to a personal bank account without a fee.
If you did throw away the card already, you can still get a replacement for free. The standard $7.50 replacement fee is waived for the first request for a replacement EIP Card. You can call MetaBank Customer Service at 1-800-240-8100 and go to the second option from the main menu. If you did pay a re-issuance fee before, that fee will be reimbursed.
The stimulus checks were part of the CARES Act signed in late March. Individual taxpayers with unadjusted gross incomes under $75,000 were eligible for $1,200, and joint filers were eligible for double. On June 3, the IRS said it already processed 159 million payments, including 120 million direct deposits, 35 million payments as checks and 4 million payments as EIP Cards. Low-income Americans who do not usually file taxes can still register for a payment using the IRS' Non-Filers Tool through Oct. 15.