Don't Accidentally Throw Away Your Stimulus Check

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Jan. 15, 2021

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A man standing in his living room and holding a pile of mail in one hand while looking at a single envelope in the other hand.

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You don't want to throw your COVID-19 money in the garbage.

The recent $900 coronavirus stimulus bill authorized a direct payment of up to $600 per eligible adult and $600 per dependent child. Many Americans have already had this money deposited directly into their bank accounts.

However, the IRS was given a short Jan. 15 deadline to distribute the funds and opted to send the payment via debit card to around 4 million people. This includes some people who received their first stimulus payment via check, as releasing the funds on debit cards can actually be faster under certain circumstances.

Unfortunately, there's just one problem: The debit cards could easily be mistaken for junk mail and thrown away. In fact, reports indicate some people have tossed their stimulus payment into the trash, or been reluctant to activate the cards out of fear it's a scam.

Don't make that mistake as it will delay the arrival of your stimulus money. Here's how to recognize your debit card if it comes in the mail.

Here's what the stimulus debit card delivery will look like

According to the IRS, if your stimulus payment is sent via debit card, it will come in a plain white envelope. On the outside, the envelope does not indicate it comes from the IRS or the federal government at all. Instead, it will simply read "Money Network Cardholder Services."

When you open the envelope, the card should have a Visa logo on the front and the name MetaBank®, N.A. on the back, as that is the issuing bank. You will also get a document inside the envelope that explains the debit card is your economic impact payment.

After receiving your card, you can use it to make online purchases or buy items at retail stores, just as you would any other debit card. You can withdraw money for free at an AllPoint® ATM, or transfer the funds from your debit card to your personal bank account. Taking any of these actions with your card should be free. You can also check the balance of your card for free online, via mobile phone, or using the Money Network Mobile App.

Don't throw your debit card away

Unfortunately, if you accidentally tossed your debit card in the trash, you'll have to formally request another one. You can do so by contacting customer service at 1-800-240-8100. While there is no cost to get the card replaced the first time, there is unfortunately a fee of $17 for priority shipping. You don't want to have to wait longer for your money or get hit with this fee, so it's best to avoid losing your card in the first place.

If you aren't sure whether or not your payment is on the way, you can use the IRS Get My Payment tool. This should indicate the date your direct deposit was or will be made, or the date your debit card or paper check has been or will be mailed. If your money is coming via mail, be sure to watch out for your envelope. And look carefully at all your mail so you don't accidentally throw out your long-awaited money.

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