Third stimulus check: how are the official paper checks and debit cards?

The IRS and Treasury announced on Monday that the second wave of $1,400 stimulus payments are being sent out with an official pay date Wednesday 24 March.

Third stimulus check: how are the official paper checks and debit cards?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been moving quickly to send eligible Americans the third stimulus payment initiating the first wave of payments just a day after the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden. The IRS will be sending out weekly batches of payments with the second scheduled to land in bank accounts 24 March. The agency will continue to send out payments throughout 2021.

To speed up payments the IRS will try to send the bulk of payments via direct deposit. But in order to expedite those payments that can’t be sent directly to bank accounts the agency will also send physical checks and pre-loaded debit cards through the post. The IRS urges taxpayers that don’t receive a direct deposit by 24 March to watch the mail carefully for their stimulus check or pre-loaded debit card, known as an Economic Impact Payment Card, or EIP Card.

What to look for in the mail

In a press release from the IRS, the agency cautioned taxpayers that they may receive a different form of payment than in the previous rounds, so if individuals don’t receive a direct deposit in their bank account, they should watch the mail. The agency provided examples of the physical checks and EIP cards, as well as the envelope that will contain the $1,400 payments. Both the checks and EIP cards will come by post in a white envelope from the US Department of the Treasury.

Sample envelope: Economic Impact Payment 3 Source: IRS

The quickest way to check your payment and how it is coming is to go to the IRS Get My Payment tool where you can track your payment. If your payment is coming by mail you will want to keep an eye on your mailbox. You can also use the USPS free service Informed Delivery that lets you know what mail will be arriving.

What does the $1,400 check look like?

This time round the paper check will look similar, but will only be labeled as an "Economic Impact Payment" in the memo field. President Joe Biden chose not to have his name branded on the stimulus checks to ensure that the $1,400 checks would not be delayed any longer than necessary.

Sample check: Economic Impact Payment 3 Source: IRS

What does the Economic Impact Payment card look like?

The Economic Impact Payment Card (EIP Card) is a prepaid debit card that the US Treasury used as an alternative to direct deposits and paper checks to distribute some stimulus payments in the previous two rounds under the CARES Act and the covid-19 relief bill in December. The Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank, will mail out the EIP Cards to eligible recipients. Each mailing will include instructions on how to activate and use the card, or you can visit the EIP card website to activate it and learn more about how to use it if you receive one.

Sample EIP card: Economic Impact Payment 3 Source: IRS

The EIP Card works just like any other Visa debit card, you’ll need to activate it when you receive it. Then you can use it to make purchases where Visa debit cards are accepted, get cash from in-network ATMs and transfer funds to your personal bank account without a fee.

Debit cards will have the Visa name on the front and MetaBank N.A., which issues the cards, on the back. The IRS does not determine who receives a prepaid debit card.

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