PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The goal was to get money into people’s hands as fast as possible, so the federal government sent four million Americans their emergency stimulus funds in the form of a debit card.
As Eyewitness News first reported back in March, the cards were sent to people for whom the IRS doesn’t have banking information on file.
“If they don’t have an account, it makes it more difficult to cash the check,” Congressman Jim Langevin said Friday.
When you receive the card through the mail, it comes with instructions on how to activate it along with a breakdown of the ways to access the money on the card. But there’s a catch.
If you want to take cash out, you can only withdraw a certain amount at a time, and you’ll get hit with a fee the more times you try to do so.
“It’s not what we had intended in Congress, that there would be a fee associated with it,” Langevin said. “If so, then there would have been an extra $5 included with it.”
“I understand, maybe to some, a $4 or $5 fee isn’t a big deal, but for many people, every dollar counts and they’re trying to stretch a dollar, it is a big deal,” he continued.
In an email, a spokesperson for Citizens Bank told Target 12 that banks can choose to waive the fees: “In fact, in order to ensure that consumers have full access to their stimulus funds, Citizens Bank proactively updated its ATM machines so that consumers could withdraw the balance without being assessed a fee. The issuer of the card is MetaBank, not Citizens Bank. If a consumer needs to take the full money off the card they can withdraw at an ATM and deposit the funds into their bank account.”
A BankRI spokesperson told Target 12 they also will be waiving fees for people with economic impact payment (EIP) cards. An email sent to Target 12 read: “We are in the process of working with a processor to program all ATM machines to waive these fees. The process is expected to be completed by Tuesday.”
A bill that passed in the House about two weeks ago is currently on the Senate floor which includes another round of stimulus funds. It’s unclear it if will pass or be sent back to Congress for revisions.