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Economic impact payment debit card: Don't trash your stimulus money by mistake

Watch your mail carefully, millions of Americans will be getting their second stimulus check on prepaid debit cards. Don't throw it out by mistake!

As millions still await their second round of stimulus money, the IRS says they are sending out approximately 8 million economic impact payments by prepaid debit card through the mail.

The agency said the VISA debit cards should be arriving in a white envelope from “Economic Impact Payment Card,” with the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal "prominently" displayed. The card inside should have VISA on the front with the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A., on the back. Details of how to activate the card are included in the envelope. 

When the first stimulus payments were sent out, some people mistook the envelope with the debit card as junk mail or thought it was a scam.  

Just because someone received a paper check or debit card for the first stimulus check, doesn't mean they'll receive the money in the same form this time around.

The IRS warned that "some people who received a paper check last time might receive a prepaid debit card this time, and some people who received a prepaid debit card last time may receive a paper check."

The agency stressed that it doesn't determine who receives a prepaid debit card and who doesn't. 

Credit: IRS
A sample stimulus debit card and the envelope it comes in.

Mailed payments, including checks, began going out shortly before the new year. For those getting a direct deposit, payments may have already started appearing in their accounts as pending or provisional. 

The new round of stimulus payments is $600 for individuals who earned up to $75,000 or $1,200 for couples who earned up to $150,000, plus an additional $600 for each qualifying dependent child. 

How do I track my stimulus payment? 

To track your payment, the IRS re-launched the Get My Payment tool, but there may be some delays initially due to high demand. The program was taken offline for several days before it could offer information about the second coronavirus stimulus check.

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'Payment Status #2 - Not Available' message 

The IRS tool could show a "Payment Status #2 – Not Available" message when you're trying to track your second coronavirus stimulus check. So, what does it mean? 

The IRS said that anyone who sees this message will not receive a second Economic Impact Payment by mail or direct deposit and instead needs to "claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 Tax Return."

That's because the stimulus package that included the $600 checks gave the IRS a Jan. 15 deadline to make stimulus payments through direct deposit, paper checks and debit cards. 

Because of the speed at which the law required the IRS to issue the second round of Economic Impact Payments, some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or, is or no longer active, or unfamiliar.

By law, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS; they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active. 

If the IRS tracker shows "Payment Status #2 – Not Available" you will not receive a second economic impact payment at this time.

The IRS advises people that if they don't receive their Economic Impact Payment, they should file their 2020 tax return electronically and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their tax return to get their payment and any refund as quickly as possible.

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Where can I use an EIP card? 

According to the IRS, "EIP Card recipients can make purchases online or in stores anywhere Visa® Debit Cards are accepted. They can get cash from domestic in-network ATMs, transfer funds to a personal bank account and obtain a replacement EIP Card if needed without incurring any fees. They can also check their card balance online, through a mobile app or by phone without incurring fees. The EIP Card provides consumer protections including certain protections against fraud, loss and other errors."