CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus payment debit card: Do I have to activate the EIP card before I can use it?

More than 152 million stimulus payments have now been delivered – almost four million will receive their through a prepaid EIP debit card which must be activated.

Stimulus payment debit card: Do I have to activate the EIP card before I can use it?
MARK R. CRISTINO EFE

Over 152 million stimulus payments have now been delivered via direct debit, paper check or in a small minority of cases, through a prepaid debit card, the Economic Impact Payment Card (EIP). The IRS have confirmed that around four million American citizens will receive their relief payments through the EIP card, which can be used like a normal bank debit card to pay for goods online or at any retail store which accepts VISA.

EIP Card arrive by post to your registered address

These EIP cards will arrive by post in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services, mailed to the last address you filed with the IRS. The Visa logo, card number and cardholder name will appear on the front of the card; the back of the card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. Information included with the card will explain that the card is an Economic Impact Payment Card and how it can be used.

The EIP card needs to be activated before you can use it. First make sure you read carefully the cardholder agreement and list of possible fees.

Activate your EIP Card

To activate your EIP card, you must set your four-digit PIN number – to do that, call the Customer Service toll-free hotline: 1-800-240-8100. You will be asked to provide your name, address, and Social Security number. Then you will be asked to create your personal, four-digit PIN number.

Keep your four-digit PIN number safe, write it down and keep it somewhere safe so you don’t forget it. Sign the back of the card on the white strip and now you will be able to use it.

The EIP card can be used just as a normal debit card, to pay rent, mortgage and utility bills, in stores, buying good online or by phone.

You might be charged some fees with your EIP card

The EIP is mostly free of charges but certain charges do apply – withdrawing cash from ATM which are not part of the standard network will incur a $2 fee for each withdrawal. You may also be charged a $5 fee by the bank for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, although the first withdrawal by this method will be free of charge. Fees will also be charged for ATM withdrawals at banks outside of the US.

If you lose your card or it gets stolen, you will also be charged for a new one – the fee is $7 for a replacement plus a further $17 in postage and handling costs.

To find out how much money is left on your EIP card, you can request a balance by phoning the customer service automated response hotline or online at www.eipcard.com.