What’s an EIP card and would you get one instead of a second stimulus check? – CNET

money-cash-dollars-bills-bank-stimulus-covid-finance-7151

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


Angela Lang/CNET

What exactly is an EIP card and what does it have to do with a second stimulus check? Is there any way to get the next stimulus payment in a different form if a new coronavirus relief bill passes?

These are all questions you may have and we’ll answer them here. Basically, an Economic Impact Payment card is one of three forms of stimulus payments sent by the IRS to about 4 million Americans, rather than a physical check or direct deposit. If a second round is approved by Congress, it’s likely that the IRS will make several million payments to eligible Americans using the same method — keep reading to find out if you’ll receive your payment this way. 

To estimate how much money you could get, take a look at our stimulus check calculator, and here’s what to do if you’re missing your first stimulus check. We update this story periodically.

What is an Economic Impact Payment card?

eip-prepaid-debit-card-stimulus-checkeip-prepaid-debit-card-stimulus-check

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


Money Network; screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

An EIP card is a prepaid debit card that the Treasury Department has used to distribute some stimulus payments under the CARES Act, instead of an electronic monetary transfer or paper checks. The cards were provided to some eligible US residents for whom the government didn’t have banking information. 

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. 


Now playing:
Watch this:

Next stimulus checks: What to expect

3:03

Why some people got an EIP card instead of a check

Those who were eligible received the first stimulus payment by EIP card instead of by check if they filed their taxes but the IRS didn’t have their bank account information on hand, and if the tax return was processed by IRS service centers in either Andover, Massachusetts, or Austin, Texas, according to a Treasury press release. It isn’t clear what the significance is of those particular service centers, but we’ve asked the Treasury for more information.   

If a second stimulus bill does get approved, you may get your payment the same way you did the first time around — so if you received an EIP card, you’ll probably get another one. It may be that if you have new banking information to provide, you could receive your payment a different way. 

How much stimulus money would come on the card? 

Getting your payment via an EIP card won’t change anything about that calculation or the amount you could get — it’s just a different format of the same payment.

Once a final bill is passed, if it includes a stimulus payment, the amount of money you would get in a second stimulus payment (whether it comes in the form of direct deposit, mailed check or EIP card) 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 a single taxpayer could get is $1,200. 

Find out how to calculate how much you could get on a second stimulus payment here. You can also find out who counts as a dependent on your taxes and what that means for a stimulus payment. Here’s how old a dependent has to be to get 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.

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

If another coronavirus relief bill with a second stimulus payment is passed, it could likely take longer to get your money by EIP card than by direct deposit. When the CARES Act was passed in March, the first EIP cards didn’t start going out until mid-May. But it’s possible that it will be faster this time, since the infrastructure is already in place. We just don’t know yet. 

Once a second stimulus payment is approved, you’ll be able to track your money (in whatever form it will take) using the same IRS tool you can use to track the status of your stimulus payment. If you’re still waiting for the first check, here’s how to report your missing payment to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus payment still hasn’t arrived.

How would the IRS deliver the EIP card?

If you’re eligible, your EIP card will arrive at the address listed on your last 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 stimulus payments.

Payment cards are often sent in plain envelopes to deter fraud and thieves. It’s unclear if the IRS would send a second payment in an unmarked envelope as well.

If you moved, you’ll need to inform the IRS and USPS of your new address.

What if I’d rather get direct deposit instead of an EIP card?

If you have a bank account, this is everything we know about direct deposit with the second check right now. If the IRS has your bank account information on hand, it will more likely you’d get the payment by direct deposit instead of an EIP card. Since the first stimulus checks were sent, there has been greater effort to help people who don’t have bank accounts get one for this purpose.

Will the IRS tell me if it’s sending an EIP card? 

With the first stimulus payments, the IRS sent a letter about your money to your last known address within 15 days after the payment was made. The letter 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. 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 should I do if my EIP card gets lost or destroyed?

Don’t worry. 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’re qualified for a second stimulus check and when you could expect a second stimulus payment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *