Transaction fees may apply to prepaid stimulus relief card

Olivia Sandusky

Jason Smith reviews the fine print on his Economic Impact Payment.

The prepaid stimulus card comes with a list of potential fees, and at first, Jason thought it was a scam.

“Then I went to the IRS website, and the website indicated that yeah, it’s for real. It just made me even more mad because somebody thought it was okay to start charging people, who are really on the margins of the economy, these fees that are going into the hands of private business,” said Jason Smith from Cathedral City. 

With the EIP card, services like ATM withdrawals and balance inquiries can range from $0.25 to $5.

Many of the fees are waved on the first occurrence, but will apply with additional transactions. 

But experts say, an online transfer can help avoid the charges.

“It still does have small bank fees when it comes to withdrawing the cash, but you can go online and set up an account and you can transfer the money directly into your bank account and that’s free,” said Sean Mcguire, Senior Staff Accountant at Brennan & Company in Palm Desert. 

For those still waiting for their stimulus checks, Mcguire says to check the mail frequently.

If it doesn’t arrive, or is a part of the portion that was deposited to the wrong account, Mcguire says there are ways to fix the situation.

“Those individuals may have to wait and file their 2020 tax return and claim that they did not get the refund on the tax return and then they can get their stimulus that way,” said Mcguire. 

But for Jason, his concerns extend beyond the payments.

He says not everyone has access to a traditional bank account or the internet, meaning they would have to carry out their transactions in-person.

And Jason is worried about people in the at-risk population like his mother.

“People with underlying health conditions don’t need to be forced to go to a bank or an ATM and expose themselves to the potential risk of COVID,” Smith said. 

The stimulus payments are expected to be finished mailing on Jan. 15.

You can check the status of the payment online or contact the IRS with further questions.

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