EIP cards and stimulus checks: Who could get the debit card, what you have to do – CNET

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Your third stimulus check could arrive as an EIP card.


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Stimulus checks are already being sent out. That’s great news for anyone receiving up to $1,400 per person (including dependents) through direct deposit — starting Monday you can even track the payment online. But what does it mean for the millions of people who don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS? 

This group will receive their third stimulus check funds in the mail as paper checks or as something called an Economic Impact Payment debit card. The IRS has so far sent 12 millions payments this way, and the method isn’t without its confusion or complications. 

Read on for more information about getting your stimulus payment in the form of an EIP card, and how to use it if one arrives in your mailbox. Additionally, here’s how to claim your missing stimulus money on your 2020 taxes, what you need to know about stimulus checks and SSI and SSDI and older adults, and how your taxes could complicate a third stimulus payment

What is an EIP card, and how does it work with stimulus checks?

An economic impact payment card is a prepaid debit card that the US Treasury has used to distribute stimulus payments, in addition to paper checks and direct deposit. The cards were provided to some eligible US residents the government didn’t have banking information for, but it isn’t clear why you might get an EIP card instead of a check, or vice versa.

These Visa debit cards can be used to make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs and transfer funds to your personal bank account without a fee. If you’re sent one, after the card arrives, head to the EIP card website to activate it and learn more about how to use it. 


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When will my EIP card arrive?

The IRS is already sending out stimulus checks through direct deposit. With the first two rounds of checks, EIP cards were the last to go out. In addition, they typically take longer to arrive. People who receive EIP cards are unfortunately often in the last batch to receive a payment. Here’s when we think EIP cards could start being sent, and how to track your payment. The IRS tool will also tell you how your money will arrive. Here’s how you can track your EIP card in the mail with a free USPS service.

If I got an EIP card before, will I get a new EIP card now?

If the IRS sent a previous stimulus check as an EIP card, and plans to send you another payment the same way, you’ll receive a brand-new prepaid card with the calculated total for your third stimulus check. The IRS won’t add money to any previous card you may have, the agency said

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You can use the IRS tracking tool online to see if your stimulus check will arrive in the form of an EIP card.


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How do I know if my third stimulus payment will arrive as an EIP card? 

If you got an EIP card last time, does that mean you’ll get your money the same way with the third stimulus check? Not necessarily. With the second round, the IRS sent double the number of EIP cards. This time, your payment could arrive as a paper check or through direct deposit, if the IRS has your bank account information on file. 

One new wrinkle this time around: The third round’s checks are going out during tax season. The IRS is using your most recent tax return it has on file, which could be your 2019 or 2020 return, to determine your payment

What will my EIP card look like when it’s delivered? 

If you’re eligible for a third stimulus check and get that payment via EIP card, it’ll arrive at the address listed on your last tax return, in a white envelope marked with the US Department of the Treasury seal. The card will have the Visa name on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank N.A., on the back. Some literature will identify the card as the economic impact payment.

Note that if you moved, you’ll need to inform the IRS and USPS of your new address. The card expires after three years.

During the first round of stimulus payments, because the envelope containing the first payment’s EIP card wasn’t clearly marked, some people reportedly threw the letter away without opening it. (If you think this happened to you, we’ve got tips on how to get your payment, below.)

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Your EIP card could contain far more money this time around.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How much stimulus money can be loaded onto an EIP card at a time? 

Getting your stimulus payment via an EIP card wouldn’t change anything about the amount you’d get — it’s just a different format for the same payment.

The amount of money you’d be allotted in a third stimulus check depends on your AGI, or adjusted gross income, from your tax filings, along with your filing status (single versus joint) and how many dependents you have. The maximum amount any single tax filer could get is $1,400. However, this third check is “targeted,” which could bring far more money to your familyor far less

You can also find out who counts as a dependent on your taxes, how old a dependent has to be to get a separate stimulus payment and the stimulus check situation for older adults, people in the SSDI programUS citizens abroad and people living in US territories.

I was supposed to get an EIP card for first or second stimulus check, but it never came. What should I do?

If your first or second stimulus check (in any form) never arrived, you’ll have to claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return, now through the April 15 deadline. You’ll have to file your taxes to claim any missing stimulus money, even if you’re part of the group of nonfilers who typically don’t have to do so. In some cases — like if you received a confirmation letter from the IRS that it sent your money, but your EIP card never arrived — you may have to report the missing funds or any errors to the IRS.


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Will the IRS let me know that my EIP card is en route to my house?

With the first two stimulus payments, the IRS sent a letter about your money to your last known address within 15 days after the payment was made. This notice included information on how you got the money (check or direct deposit or EIP card), and how to report it if you didn’t receive the payment. The IRS will likely do the same for the third round of payments. But watch out: There have been a lot of stimulus check scams going around. Visit IRS.gov before giving anyone your information to make sure your letter is legitimate. 

What happens if I lose my EIP card or it gets destroyed?

If you’ve lost or destroyed your EIP card, you can request a free replacement through 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. Just call 800-240-8100, and choose the second option from the main menu, according to the IRS website

For more, find out if you would be qualified for a third stimulus check and when a third check could get sent out.

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