Stimulus Check Update: More Payments Went Out by Mail, So Here's What to Look For

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on April 28, 2021

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A white cardboard house sits on top of a stimulus check and a small American flag.

Image source: Getty Images

If you're not eligible for direct deposit, you should expect your stimulus to arrive by mail. Here's how to spot it.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan contains a host of provisions designed to help the U.S. public recover from the blow of the pandemic, though its most notable feature may be the $1,400 stimulus payments it allows for. Those payments have been hitting recipients' bank accounts since mid-March, but not everyone has gotten paid yet.

The reason? The IRS has been sending out stimulus funds in batches, and it can only issue so many at a time. Furthermore, the agency has been even more limited when it comes to sending physical checks or debit cards.

Last week, the IRS blasted out a huge batch payment of stimulus funds that included more paper checks than direct bank account deposits. But there's concern that those who receive checks or debit cards by mail may mistake them for junk mail and throw them away, as that's already happened in previous rounds. Here's what you need to know if your stimulus isn't arriving electronically.

What to look out for

If you're getting a stimulus check in the mail, it's a little hard to miss. The check itself will prominently show the seal of the U.S. Treasury, which is how you'll know it's legitimate. Meanwhile, if you're on tap for a debit card, it will say Visa on the front and MetaBank N.A., which issues the cards, on the back.

How to use your debit card

It's unclear as to why some people receive stimulus funds via check while others get a debit card. And to be clear, if you received one type of payment during a previous stimulus round, you may get a different kind this time around.

Furthermore, if you received a debit card for a previous stimulus payment, it won't be reloaded with new funds. Instead, you'll get a brand-new card in the mail.

As is the case with debit cards in general, you'll need to activate your card before you can use it. To do so, you'll call 1-800-240-8100 and follow the prompts. You'll also be asked to create a PIN, which you can use to access money at ATM locations.

If your stimulus debit card gets lost, or if you toss it out mistakenly, you'll need to call the above number to request a replacement card. The company will deactivate your initial card, and you won't be charged for a new one.

Get that tax return in

Some people may not have received a third stimulus payment because the IRS doesn't know they're eligible for one. That's why it's so important to get moving on your 2020 tax return, and to file one this year, even if your income is low enough that you're not obligated to do so. Without a tax return on record, the IRS may not be able to send you the money you're entitled to. And while you have until mid-May to submit a return, the sooner you do, the sooner your stimulus can come your way.

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