In the first round of stimulus checks, about 4 million people got money in the form of a prepaid Economic Impact Payment card. Here’s how to know if you’ll get one in a potential second round.
When the first round of stimulus checks began to roll out under the CARES Act in April, many people were surprised to learn that they would not be getting their money through direct deposit or a check in the mail, but through an Economic Impact Payment, or EIP, card. EIP cards are debit cards that you can spend like cash or transfer to your bank. Around 4 million people received these cards.
Now, with negotiations on a second stimulus bill stalled and Congress on recess, many Americans are wondering if and when a second check could come — and, if they got their first one through an EIP card, if the second will arrive the same way.
Here’s everything you need to know about EIP cards and whether or not you could get a second stimulus payment in this form in the coming months.
An EIP card is a prepaid debit card that the Treasury Department has used to distribute stimulus payments under the CARES Act, instead of an electronic monetary transfer or paper checks. The cards were provided to some eligible US residents for whom the government did not have banking information.
After the card arrived, you would head to the EIP card website to activate it and learn more about how to use it.
Those who were eligible received the first stimulus payment through an EIP card instead of a check if they filed their taxes, but the IRS did not 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.
If a second stimulus bill does get approved, you may get your payment the same way you did the first time around — so if you received an EIP card, you’ll probably get another one.
If you are eligible, your EIP card will arrive at the address listed on your last tax return in an unmarked envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Because it wasn’t clearly marked, some people reportedly threw the letter away without opening it during the first round of stimulus payments. Payment cards are often sent in plain envelopes to deter fraud and thieves. It’s unclear if the IRS would send a second payment in an unmarked envelope too.
If another coronavirus relief bill with a second stimulus payment is passed, it could likely take longer to get your EIP card than by direct deposit. When the CARES Act was passed in March, the first EIP cards didn’t start going out until mid-May. But it’s possible that it will be faster this time, since the infrastructure is already in place. Once a second stimulus check is approved, you’ll be able to track your money (in whatever form it will take) using the Track My Payment tool from the IRS. (If you still haven’t gotten a first stimulus check, you can also track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your missing check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.)
Once a bill is passed, the amount of money you would get in a second stimulus payment (whether it comes through direct deposit, mailed check or EIP card) 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 could get is $1,200.
Getting your payment through an EIP card won’t change anything about the calculation or the amount you could get — just the form it will come in.