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Is your stimulus debit card real? How to know real from fake and avoid any fees

Stimulus check
Posted at 3:00 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 08:55:09-05

If you don't get a government stimulus payment card by Friday, you likely won't be getting one.

The government stops sending out the cards after January 15.

And a lot of you are reaching out to the Let Joe Know team and still have a lot of questions about the stimulus program.

What can you do if you don't get all of the money you're owed?

And for those who did get cards, how do you avoid fees that can come with the cards?

How do you even know the card is real and not a scam?

Let's take that last question first.

Billie says the card she received "Doesn't say outright it's from the U.S. government."

Sally writes she's concerned about getting a card because her "last stimulus payment was direct deposited."

Diane suspects a scam but says the card "looks very real."

That's because it is real.

While all of the concerns are understandable given so many scams, the government is sending out ATM cards as well as direct depositing stimulus funds. And you may get a card this time even if you had a direct deposit the first time.

The IRS says the real cards are Visa cards that come in a white envelope. They will have a US Treasury seal on them and the MetaBank name on the back.

To see an image of the legitimate stimulus ATM card, click here.

You can use it as an ATM card but beware of fees.

While withdrawals from in-network ATMs are free, there's a $2 MetaBank charge and another bank's charge for withdrawals from other ATMs.

There's also a $5 charge for over-the-counter withdrawals.

Both charges start after the first withdrawal.

And there's a 25-cent charge for each ATM balance inquiry.

To see the card fee schedule, click here.

If you have a bank account, transfer all of the money there and avoid any of those fees.

But what happens if you do not get a payment?

If you qualify and don't get your payment by Friday, January 15, you can file for a Recovery Rebate Credit. You have to know the exact amount you would get and you file it with your taxes.

The amount will increase your refund or decrease the amount you pay.

And the credit works for the first and second stimulus payment.

To learn more about the Recovery Rebate Credit, click here.