Do COVID-19 Stimulus Check Prepaid Debit Cards Work at ATMs?

covid-19 stimulus check error message

Getty Some people are getting an error message when they try to get their COVID-19 economic stimulus check.

If you’re one of the Americans about to get a prepaid debit card to access your COVID-19 stimulus check, you may have questions about how they work. For example, do they work like a normal debit card? Can you use the prepaid debit card at ATM machines?

The answer, according to the IRS, is yes. The COVID-19 stimulus check debit cards will work at ATM machines.

In a press release, the IRS revealed it is “starting to send nearly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card, instead of by paper check. EIP Card recipients can make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to their personal bank account without incurring any fees.”

You can read more about the IRS economic stimulus checks here. The IRS also directs you to this FAQ page on the prepaid debit cards. The page advises:

Shop anywhere VisaⓇ Debit Cards are accepted: in-store, online or by phone, including paying bills3
Get cash back at the register with PIN debit purchases at participating merchants
Get cash surcharge-free at any in-network ATM – find one with the ATM Locator

Here’s what you need to know:

People Can Use the EIP Card at ATMs Or Any Retail Location That Accepts Visa

stimulus checks pending


It’s not just ATMs. You can also use the prepaid debit cards at any retail location that accepts Visa, according to the IRS.

“They can also check their card balance online, by mobile app, or by phone without incurring fees. The EIP Card can be used online, at ATMs, or at any retail location where Visa is accepted,” the IRS explains of the cards. “This free, prepaid card also provides consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners, including protections against fraud, loss, and other errors.”

“Treasury and the IRS have been working with unprecedented speed to issue Economic Impact Payments to American families. Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”

The cards come on the heels of the 140 million stimulus checks that the government has already sent out. Other checks were sent as paper checks or through direct deposit to people’s bank accounts.

The prepaid debit cards are limited to certain areas of the country and people for whom the IRS did not have banking information on file.

“The Treasury-sponsored EIP Card is another method to provide money efficiently and securely to eligible recipients and their families,” explains the IRS. “EIP Cards are being distributed to qualified individuals without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.”

The IRS says Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank, “will mail EIP Cards to eligible recipients beginning this week. Each mailing will include instructions on how to activate and use the card.” That release was dated on May 18, 2020. “The EIP Card is part of Treasury’s U.S. Debit Card program, which provides prepaid debit card services to federal agencies for the electronic delivery of non-benefit payments. MetaBank was selected as Treasury’s financial agent for the U.S. Debit Card program in 2016, following a competitive selection process conducted by the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service,” says the IRS.

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