AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wilmer Roberts didn’t expect to receive a debit card.
He expected his stimulus money to come via direct deposit, which he filled out beforehand, or a check.
“For right now, I’m in good shape, but it just alarmed me initially,” he said.
Roberts is one of about four million people that have received or will receive a stimulus debit card, also known as an Economic Impact Payment Card, as part of the federal CARES Act.
The federal government started sending out these prepaid, debit cards last week to people without bank information on file with the IRS.
Millions will get their Economic Impact Payments by prepaid debit card. It’s like a regular debit card. You can make purchases, get cash from ATMs, transfer funds to a personal bank account and check card balance without fees. #COVIDreliefIRS #IRS https://t.co/uLKkNgG72e pic.twitter.com/xYZDf62wAj— IRS #COVIDreliefIRS (@IRSnews) May 26, 2020
Michael Sury is a lecturer in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
He said the debit card is a boon for “so-called unbanked Americans.”
“However, consumers should be alerted that certain transactions will carry surcharges, including out-of-network withdrawals (anything after the first withdrawal carries a $2.00 surcharge), international ATM withdrawals ($3.00), reissuance of a lost or stolen card ($7.50-17.00), and in-person Bank/Teller over the counter cash withdrawals ($5.00 for every withdrawal after the first),” Sury said.
The card’s issuer, MetaBank, deferred questions to the Treasury Department when KXAN asked about the fees Tuesday.
MetaBank and Fiserv won contracts last week to issue the Visa-branded cards.
As for Roberts, he was able to transfer his stimulus money from his debit card into a bank account. He said the fees are a rip-off.
“I didn’t like that aspect of it at all,” Roberts said. “There are a number of people out there that can’t afford those kinds of fees.”