As reported by cnet,

Your chances of getting an EIP card instead of a paper check just went up.


Angela Lang/CNET

Although the IRS and Treasury Department stopped automatically sending out second stimulus checks on Friday, Jan. 15, some people using the IRS and USPS tracking tools report their checks up to $600 made the cutoff are en route. Some of these folks are also reporting that instead of a paper check, they are receiving their stimulus payment as one of the 8 million Economic Impact Payment cards, or EIP cards, the Treasury is sending out this time.

According to the Treasury, that’s twice as many EIPS cards this time around. The IRS told CNET the cards helped them deliver payments as rapidly as possible, though they didn’t explain why.

Regardless, we have answers to some of the most common questions you may have about stimulus checks in the form of an EIP card, including how to use one if it arrives in your mailbox (track it here). CNET also has guides on how to calculate your second stimulus total if you think you are still owed money, what you need to know about stimulus checks and SSI and SSDIhow to report missing stimulus money to the IRS and how to file for missing payments when you do your taxes. Here’s the story on a third stimulus check.

What is an EIP card? What does it mean for stimulus checks?

An economic impact payment card is a prepaid debit card that the US Treasury used to distribute some stimulus payments under the March CARES Act, instead of direct deposit or a paper check. 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. 

Read more: Not everyone qualifies for a second stimulus check. Here’s why


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Why would I get my second stimulus payment on an EIP card instead of a paper check or a direct deposit?

eip-prepaid-debit-card-stimulus-check

About 8 million people will get their stimulus payment on a prepaid debit card called an EIP card, which looks like this. 


Money Network/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

For the first round of payments, 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, and the Treasury did not return our request for more information. 

For the second round of payments that started going out in late December, the IRS said it sent either a paper check or a debit card in the mail if it didn’t have banking information on hand. The IRS said some people who received a paper check last time could receive a debit card this time, and some people who received a debit card last time could receive a paper check.

Read more: How soon could a third stimulus check arrive?

How much stimulus money could be loaded onto my EIP card? 

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

The amount of money you’re allotted in any second 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 a single taxpayer (with no children) could get is $600. You can calculate your second stimulus check total here.

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 program, US citizens abroad and people living in US territories.

When will I get my EIP card now that a second stimulus check is being sent out?

While the IRS began sending out second stimulus checks by direct deposit and paper check on Dec. 30, it did not start sending payments by EIP card until Jan. 7. However, this is much faster than the first round: When the CARES Act passed in March, the first EIP cards didn’t go out until mid-May. 

The IRS has said it would send all payments in the second round of checks by Jan. 15, as specified in December’s stimulus bill. You can track your stimulus money (in whatever form it will take) with a tool from the IRS if you want to see if your payment made the deadline.

What happens if I didn’t get my EIP card by Jan. 15?

Any second stimulus check payment that doesn’t go out to its intended recipient by the Jan. 15 cutoff will have to claim it with a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of tax season, which starts Feb. 12. 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

How will my EIP card be delivered?

If you’re eligible for a second stimulus check and your payment made the cutoff, the IRS said your EIP card would 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.

Because the envelope containing the first EIP card wasn’t clearly marked, some people reportedly threw the letter away without opening it during the first round of stimulus payments (if you think this happened to you, we’ve got tips on how to get your payment below). The IRS said for eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail for the card in the coming weeks — but it might be easier to sign up for this free USPS service.

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

Can I get my stimulus money through direct deposit instead?

If the IRS has your bank account information on hand, it was 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. But at this point, there’s nothing you can do to change your delivery method. 

Will the IRS notify me that an EIP card is coming? 

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. It will do the same for the second 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 my EIP card gets lost or 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’re qualified for a second stimulus check and everything we know about a third stimulus check



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