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Government Issued Prepaid Debit Cards

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Q: Why Were Some Debit Cards Not Issued In The Full Amount Which Is Up To $1200 Per Individual And $2400 Per Couple

Government Distributing Federal Stimulus Money With Prepaid Debit Cards

A: There is no fee assessed to issue the stimulus debit card although some fees apply for certain transactions.

If your card balance is less than you expected, its probably tied to a payment reduction because of your filing status and adjusted gross income .

Under the Cares Act, eligible individuals with an AGI up to $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for head-of-household filers and $150,000 for married filing jointly are entitled to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married filing jointly. Theres an additional $500 payment for dependents under 17.

If your income is above those amounts, the stimulus payment is reduced by 5 percent of the amount that your AGI exceeds the three thresholds.

Single filers with income above $99,000, $136,500 for head of household and $198,000 for married joint filers with no children are not eligible for a payment.

However, there could have been an error in the amount you received from the IRS. If your payment is incorrect, you will have to wait to get the balance when you file a 2020 federal return next year, according to the IRS.

What Do I Do If My Card Is Lost Stolen Or Misplaced

If your card is permanently lost, stolen, or accidentally thrown away call customer service at 1.800.240.8100 to report your lost or stolen card immediately. Your card will be deactivated so nobody can use it and you will be able to order a new replacement card. Your first replacement card is free and additional replacement cards are $7.50 .

If you think you have misplaced your card, go to and lock your card to prevent unauthorized transactions or ATM withdrawals while you look for it.

Can I Build Credit With A Prepaid Card

Just as prepaid cards cant hurt your credit, neither will they help you build it. Credit refers to debt, which is money you owe to creditors and lenders. A prepaid card incurs no debt, so when it comes to your credit score, prepaid cards are as neutral as Switzerland.

A card issuer must report your account activity to at least one credit bureau for it to help build your credit history, which prepaid card issuers do not do.

However, if you are willing to concede that building credit is a long-term endeavor, you may consider prepaid card usage as the first step on the journey. How? By giving you the opportunity to develop good money-management habits:

For whatever reason, schools today just dont teach personal finance. Its up to you to develop good financial habits, and using prepaid cards can be a helpful step in that direction.

If you want a card thats easy to get approved for that can help you build credit, consider a secured credit card. These cards require a deposit for approval, similar to prepaid debit cards, and will report your account to the credit bureaus.

This means the account will appear on your credit report with each bureau. And paying your bill on time and keeping your balance low will help you build credit over several months.

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How To Use Your Economic Impact Payment Prepaid Debit Card Without Paying A Fee

This blog was originally posted on May 20, 2020 and was updated on June 1, 2020.

If you recently received an Economic Impact Payment prepaid debit card from the government in the mail, this is money for you under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Do not throw this card away. You will need this card to access your Economic Impact Payment. You must first activate your card by phone before you can use it. Once activated, your money is safe and secure on the card. Be sure to immediately report if your card is lost or stolen.

Here are some common questions and tips to help you access your money and use your card, including how to do so with limited fees. While most transactions are free, small fees can add up, so know how you can make the most of your money.

What To Do If You Have A Problem With Your Prepaid Card

Unemployment Debit Cards

The good news: Most complaints made to the CFPB about government benefit prepaid cards last year have been resolved, according to the bureauâs report.

The bad news: 92% of the people who made complaints said they had tried to resolve the problem with their card issuer before turning to the CFPB as a last resort.

Here are some tips for using and managing your prepaid debit card.

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Who Can Legally Ask For Your Ssn

Federal law mandates that state departments of motor vehicles, tax authorities, welfare offices, and other governmental agencies request your Social Security number as proof that you are who you claim to be.

The Privacy Act of 1974 requires government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels to disclose to the public whether submitting a Social Security number is required, how this information is used, and the law or authority that requires its use.

You have no legal obligation to provide your SSN to a business unless youre engaging in a transaction that requires notification to the Internal Revenue Service or youre initiating a financial transaction that is subject to federal Customer Identification Program rules.

Among the transactions subject to these rules are large purchases or applications for credit, and any transaction that includes moving money from one account to another such as moving cash into a prepaid card account.

These laws are intended to counteract terrorism, money laundering, or other illegal activities. If you choose not to provide your SSN or other identifying numbers, the business can choose not to do business with you.

Besides lenders, prepaid card issuers, and credit card issuers , other businesses that may require your SSN include:

  • Insurance companies
  • Investment advisors and brokerages that must report your purchases and sales to the IRS
  • Real estate services

How Do I Check My Balance Without Paying A Fee

There are multiple ways you can check your balance conveniently 24/7 for free, including through push notification, text, or email:

  • and access your account information
  • Mobile App: download the Money Network® Mobile App

Tip: If you typically check your card balance at the ATM, try to use one of the free ways above to avoid paying a balance inquiry fee.

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Are Prepaid Cards Safe

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau introduced prepaid card protections in 2019. The safeguards include:

  • If you are the victim of unauthorized or fraudulent charges, your liability is limited to $50 when you report the problem within two days of discovery.
  • Fee disclosure must be more transparent.
  • Issuers must disclose whether the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation secures the card balance.
  • You can no longer be charged for seeking information about your card account.
  • If you opt for overdraft protection, the fees are capped for the first year at 25% of the credit limit. However, there is no cap after the first year.

These are good protections, but some dangers still lurk in the form of fee abuse by predatory card issuers. We recommend you decline optional overdraft protection, as it can accumulate a high overdraft fee total. Also, stay with cards that provide FDIC coverage.

Can I Use A Prepaid Card To Get Cash At An Atm

Economic Impact Payment Prepaid Cards

Most prepaid cards allow ATM withdrawals. The biggest variable is fees.

Typically, prepaid cards charge nothing for cash withdrawals from in-network ATMs. Out-of-network ATM withdrawals are a different story, and prepaid cards may charge several dollars per withdrawal, plus whatever the cash machine operator may charge.

The challenge for a prepaid card owner is to locate a conveniently situated in-network ATM. That gives an advantage to prepaid cards that have extensive ATM networks.

Our top pick for prepaid cards with no ATM fees is American Express Serve®, which provides free withdrawals from the MoneyPass ATM network throughout the country.

The card charges $2.50 for each withdrawal from an out-of-network ATM. The card offers many free services, including no reload fee at more than 45,000 retail locations.

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Tips For Getting A Credit Card Without A Ssn

You may have trouble finding a card that will give you full access to its benefits and features if you dont have a Social Security number or you dont want to disclose it to a prepaid card issuer.

But before you throw in the towel, consider the following options to get the prepaid card you need without providing a SSN:

  • Check Your SSN Eligibility: You may qualify for a Social Security number without realizing it. Noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security can qualify for a SSN, as can noncitizens under other specific circumstances. Acquiring a SSN can open the doors to many benefits and financial products you may otherwise not have access to.
  • Consider Getting an ITIN: An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a tax processing number that is issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number, but who do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security number. The prepaid card issuers above will accept an ITIN number in place of a SSN when you activate your prepaid card.
  • Use Your Passport: Your government-issued passport will contain an identification number that most card issuers will accept as a valid means of ID. If your passport is up to date, you can bypass having to provide your Social Security number and still get the card you need.
  • How Does The Direct Express Card Work

    Each month, your money is automatically deposited to your Direct Express® card account on your payment date. You can go to any bank, credit union, or ATM that shows the Mastercard® logo, even if you do not have a bank account.

    • buy from any place that accepts debit card payments
    • get cash from any ATM, bank, or credit union that shows the Mastercard® logo
    • pay your bills online or over the phone

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    Already Have A Card Get It Ready

    The Money Network/My Banking Direct debit card expires four years from the issue date, as indicated on the front of the card. Don’t throw it away after you stop receiving benefits! We can issue benefits for future claims on this same card.

    If your debit card is stolen, or becomes lost or damaged, immediately call Money Network/My Banking Direct at 888-292-0059. There is one free replacement per calendar year. Additional replacement cards cost $10 each.

    What Is A Government Benefit Card

    Mastercard and Visa Prepaid Debit Cards

    Some state and federal government agencies use prepaid cards to pay unemployment benefits, child support, and other government benefits. Federal law requires disclosures and protections for loss, theft, and errors for certain types of government benefit prepaid accounts, but not for other types.

    Instead of getting checks, recipients receive a type of prepaid card called a government benefit card. Each month the benefit amount is loaded onto the card. The federal government uses prepaid cards to pay certain federal benefits, such as veterans benefits or Social Security benefits. Depending on the benefit you can get your benefits by direct deposit to your own bank account or a prepaid card you choose, or use the one arranged through the government.

    Many government benefit cards charge fees for using and maintaining the card. The types and amounts of fees you can be charged for using the card depend on the contract between the government agency and the card issuer. Read the cardholder agreement carefully before using the card to understand how you can avoid fees. For example, you may have a certain number of free ATM withdrawals every month or you may not be charged an ATM fee if you use ATMs that are in a particular network.

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    Features Benefits & Uses

    Strict management controls for agency staff

    Not tied to a bank account

    Protected by both a chip and a magnetic stripe Safe – with fraud prevention and other protections

    Use for one-time or recurring payments Can be disposable or reloadable

    Start immediately – enroll, fund, activate right away

    Use the card at an ATM, in a store, online, by phone Use with a mobile app and online banking .

    Powerful reporting – reports and statements available online

    Hand the card to the payee or send in the mail

    Customer service always available, all day, every day

    Q: Why Did The Government Send The Card The Way It Did

    A: The stimulus prepaid debit card came in a plain white envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services in Omaha.

    I was expecting a check, and this card just shows up, said Gary Jacobson, a former business editor who is retired and living in Austin.

    Jacobson said even with his experience in journalism, the mailing looked suspicious. I do think the debit card is an efficient and quick way to distribute the economic impact funds, he said, but the Treasury and the could have done a much better job of alerting and explaining the mechanics to those who received them.

    The card was discreetly sent to protect against potential fraud, a Treasury spokeswoman said.

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    Why Are Prepaid Cards Popular

    Prepaid cards can be convenient for people who do not carry cash. Prepaid cards also are easy to get.

    The businesses that sell prepaid cards advertise them. That means you might hear about them.

    Some businesses use celebrities to advertise their cards. Some businesses also say that prepaid cards are good for people who do not have a bank account. The businesses might say prepaid cards are a good way to manage your money.

    The Benefits Of Prepaid Cards For Government Payments

    The IRS is also sending prepaid debit cards as stimulus money in plain envelopes

    Traditional government payments processes are paper-heavy, slow, and costly. Switching instead to a prepaid payment system delivers multiple benefits to both government agencies and the citizens they serve.

    Benefits for Governments:

    • Saves time: Accounts staff will spend less time on the paperwork associated with other payment methods, giving them more capacity to take on other commitments.
    • Secure: Tech-enabled prepaid card solutions bring more security to the process by eliminating the risk of check fraud and minimizing the potential for human error.
    • Supports financial literacy: Empowering constituents to control their spending improves financial literacy in the community, something thats a high priority for governments on both a national and local level.
    • Fast and efficient: Duringchallenging times when funds are urgently needed, prepaid cards can be set up and delivered in a matter of days, getting payments to the most vulnerable constituents right when they need them.

    Benefits for Constituents:

    • More security:Prepaid cards eliminate the need for constituents to hold cash or paper checks, both of which, if lost or stolen, are gone for good. Prepaid cards can also be canceled and reissued remotely.
    • Inclusive to all: No bank account or credit screening is necessary for payments made using a prepaid payment system. With around7.1 million households reported as unbanked in 2019, its a much more financially inclusive solution.

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    What If The Card Is Lost Or Stolen

    If a card is lost, stolen, or even accidentally thrown away, individuals should immediately contact customer service at 1-800-240-8100. The card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it, and a replacement card can be ordered. The first replacement card is free and additional cards are $7.50.

    For more information on Economic Impact Payment prepaid debit cards, visit

    Do Prepaid Cards Hurt Your Credit

    Prepaid cards cannot hurt your credit because they fly under the radar of the major credit bureaus . These credit bureaus track consumer credit and loan activity, which rules out a prepaid, debit, or gift card.

    But the only conceivable way that prepaid cards can affect your credit score is indirectly, to the extent that they deter you from using credit cards to rebuild your credit. Thus, if you already have a low FICO score, using prepaid cards instead of credit cards wont help you rebuild your score.

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    How Do I Use My Card To Get Cash Without Paying A Fee

    There are several ways to get cash from your card without paying a fee.

    • Use one of the In-Network AllPoint brand ATMs to withdraw cash. Use the ATM locator at or Money Network® Mobile App to locate one near you. Limits may apply to the amount of cash you are able to withdraw at ATMs.
    • Get cash-back at participating merchants, like grocery and convenience stores. If the merchant allows cash-back during a purchase, select Debit on the keypad, enter your 4-digit PIN, select Yes to get cash-back, and then enter the amount of cash you would like. Check the merchants policies on amount limits.
    • Request a Money Network Check and cash it at select participating check cashing locations. Go to to find the nearest participating check cashing locations. To avoid a fee, cash only Money Network Checks and only at participating check cashing locations. Limits may apply.

    Tip: If you already have a bank or credit union account that you are comfortable using to access cash for free, you can also transfer money from your card to this personal account and then withdraw cash in the same way you normally would once it is available.

    Many Americans Thought The Cards Were Junk Mail Or Scams And Some Arrived With Names Mixed Up

    How to Choose the Best Prepaid Debit Card

    The good news is that many people have the right amount of skepticism about receiving unsolicited mail.

    The bad news is that some folks may have trashed a mailing that contained their stimulus payment thinking it was just a scam or junk mail.

    But what they received was a prepaid debit card loaded with the economic impact payments to individuals made available under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

    Adding to the confusion, some couples say their cards came with their names mixed up.

    My wife and I dont have the same last name, and our joint stimulus card arrived addressed to, and in, her first name, my last name, one reader wrote. I dont understand why this is happening at all, since obviously the Treasury knows our income and names from how we filed our taxes.

    Treasury did not respond to questions about the name mix-ups.

    Here are answers to some common questions about the economic impact payment card.

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