How to Get Your Tax Refund Deposited On a Prepaid Card

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? If so, you may already be thinking about how you’ll receive your money (and how quickly).

Being able to receive a tax return in the form of a direct deposit is great news for some. You just sit back and get your refund added to your checking account in about two weeks.

This is much better than waiting the six to eight weeks it takes for a paper check refund to arrive. Plus, you avoid the hassle of schlepping to your local bank to deposit the check, the cost of using a check-cashing service (if you don’t have a bank), or the worry of the check not making it to your mailbox safely.

For those who do not have a checking account, however, the benefits of direct deposit are elusive. According to the FDIC, about 33.5 million households in the U.S. are underbanked or unbanked… so this is no small issue.

To make matters worse, those without bank accounts often turn to tax refund anticipation loans. These short-term loans come with extremely high interest rates, and are really no better than a payday loan. While they do give you access to your refund immediately, the fees can eat into a substantial portion of it.

Fortunately, there is an extremely low-cost alternative for those who don’t have the option of direct deposit and don’t want to wait for a check: having your tax refunded deposited on a prepaid credit card.

Prepaid Cards that Offer Direct Deposit of Tax Refunds

Here are a few of the top prepaid cards that offer direct deposit of tax refunds. Some of them make it easier than others to set up a government direct deposit, and a few of the cards even offer online guides specifically for tax returns.

Green Dot

Also a Visa debit card, Green Dot offers another option for those seeking out a prepaid card, especially for tax refund purposes. Enrolling in direct deposit is free, and they also have an online guide to help you set up your refund deposit.

There is a one-time fee to buy the card in stores — if you buy online, it’s free. There is a monthly fee of $7.95, but this is waived if you loaded $1,000+ onto the card in the previous monthly period.

They also have a cash back card option, if that’s something that interests you and you want to earn rewards on the things you buy anyway.

Lastly, Green Dot is running a Payday Bonus sweepstakes promotion through July 26, 2018, where you are automatically entered weekly to win $5,000, just for using direct deposit. To learn more about the contest, visit their site here.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Initial cost: $0 – $1.95 for your first card, depending on where you buy
  • Monthly fees: $7.95, which is waived if you loaded $1,000+ onto the card the month priod
  • Transaction fees: $0
  • Direct deposit fees: None
  • ATM fees: $2.50 (withdrawal) and $0.50 (balance inquiry)
  • Add money to your account: Up to $4.95 reload fee
  • Supports tax refund direct deposit? Yes
  • Mobile app? Yes, with mobile check deposit
  • Customer service? No fee to call a customer service agent

RushCard

This prepaid Visa card makes depositing and spending easy. Enrolling in direct deposit is free, and they have a useful Tax Refund Guide on their website, which walks you through the process step-by-step.

There is a one-time fee to receive the card, in addition to a monthly fee. However, they do have two different packages to choose from, so you can decide which better suits your needs.

There is no fee to use their Bill Pay service, withdraw cash from one of their 24,000 ATMs nationwide, or even transfer between your RushCard accounts. If you want to see a more comprehensive breakdown of their fees, you can visit their site’s fee chart.

Lastly, the card has its own mobile app, so you can track transactions, view balances, and add funds easily and on the go. You can also temporarily disable your card from the app if it’s ever misplaced.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Initial cost: $3.95 – $9.95 for your first card
  • Monthly fees: $5.95 (direct deposit)/$7.95 (no direct deposit) for the unlimited plan or $0 for the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan
  • Transaction fees: $0 (unlimited plan) or $1 per PIN purchase (max $10/mo) with the PAYG plan
  • Direct deposit fees: None
  • ATM fees: $0 (in-network) or $2.50 (out-of-network)
  • Add money to your account: Free with cash or direct deposit
  • Supports tax refund direct deposit? Yes
  • Mobile app? Yes
  • Customer service? No fee to call a customer service agent, or to check your balance over the phone or at an in-network ATM.

READYdebit Visa Prepaid Card

We’ve talked about the READYdebit prepaid card in the past, and it definitely deserves to be included in this list.

This prepaid debit card offers many of the same benefits as the two above, along with the option of choosing your own card design and two prepaid account options. They do accept tax refund direct deposits, though their website doesn’t walk you through the process.

Depending on your spending style and how you plan to use the card, there are two account options: Select and Control. The Select plan has no set-up fee, but a $9.95 monthly fee. The Control plan has a $4.95 set-up fee, but no monthly fee.

There is no fee to add money to the card, pay bills, or manage your account online. They also offer mobile text alerts.

Transaction fees vary depending on the plan chosen. ATM withdrawal fees are $2.50 and balance inquiries are $1.50 per. You can learn more about their fees here.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Initial cost: $0 (Select plan) or $4.95 (Control plan) for your first card
  • Monthly fees: $9.95 (Select) per month or $0 (Control)
  • Transaction fees: $0 (Select) or $1/per PIN or Visa transaction (Control)
  • Direct deposit fees: None
  • ATM fees: $2.50 per
  • Add money to your account: Free with direct deposit or third party money transfer services
  • Supports tax refund direct deposit? Yes
  • Mobile app? Yes
  • Customer service? No fee to call a customer service agent or to manage your account online

Netspend

Netspend is a Visa debit card that allows you to manage your prepaid account with ease. Between their mobile app — with features such as mobile check deposit — and benefits like an optional rewards program, this card makes paying prepaid a breeze. They also help walk you through the process for depositing your tax refund.

There are three different monthly plans to choose from, based on your spending habits and needs. The monthly fee ranges from free to $9.95, and transaction fees are either free or $1 each. ATMs are $2.50 for domestic withdrawals and $0.50 for balance inquiries.

To see a full breakdown of the plans offered and fees for each, you can check out the site’s charts here.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Initial cost: first card is free, unless you want a custom card ($4.95 each)
  • Monthly fees: $0 (Pay-As-You-Go), $5 (FeeAdvantage™), or $9.95 (Premier)
  • Transaction fees: $1 (Visa) or $2 (PIN) each with PAYG plan; transactions are free with FeeAdvantage™ and Premier
  • Direct deposit fees: None
  • ATM fees: $2.50 per withdrawal, $0.50 per balance inquiry
  • Add money to your account: Free with direct deposit; third party fees vary at retail locations
  • Supports tax refund direct deposit? Yes
  • Mobile app? Yes
  • Customer service? No fee to email or call a customer service agent with general questions or to manage your account through the app. If you choose to have an agent facilitate a transfer, check your balance, etc., fees apply.

AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card

Now, this prepaid card brings with it a unique twist. Not only will they accept your tax return direct deposit, but they will actually help you file your taxes from start to finish. You can visit their tax refund center to learn more about the process and get started on your filing for the year.

There is no cost to get started, open your account, or receive your first card. There is a monthly fee of $9.95, and reload fees vary by retailer (up to $4.95). There is no fee to pay bills, unless you choose to have your payment expedited. There’s also no fee to manage your account online, and they offer mobile text alerts.

If you use your card for PIN or Visa debit purchases, or use the Bill Pay system online, there are no transaction fees. However, if you use your account number and AccountNow routing number to make ACH payments, there is a debit fee of $2.50 per. To see a list of their fees, see this page.

They are offering a $15 direct deposit bonus right now, too. To learn more, visit their website here.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Initial cost: $0 for your first card
  • Monthly fees: $9.95 per month
  • Transaction fees: $0 for PIN or Visa transactions, $2.50/per for ACH
  • Direct deposit fees: None
  • ATM fees: $2.50 per withdrawal, $1.50 per balance inquiry
  • Add money to your account: Free with direct deposit, up to $4.95 at retail locations
  • Supports tax refund direct deposit? Yes
  • Mobile app? No, online portal
  • Customer service? No fee to call a customer service agent or to manage your account online

How to Set Up Direct Deposit

What many don’t know is that it is easy to have your tax refund deposited directly onto a prepaid card. You get your refund just as quickly as if you were using a checking account. Plus, you avoid the aggravation of dealing with a paper check.

Basically, your prepaid card will function similar to a checking account.

As with direct deposit to a checking account, you need two pieces of information: (1) the routing number for the card and (2) the account number. The key here is that the account number is not necessarily the number on the face of the prepaid card.

To get the routing number and account number, simply contact the company that issued the prepaid card you’ve decided to use. Some even have online tools that can generate the routing number and account number for you. With most of the cards mentioned above, check out the tax links provided to learn more.

Tax Refund Prepaid Cards

If you don’t have a prepaid card, but want to take advantage of direct deposit, it’s easy to get a card. In fact, applying is easier than getting a credit card or bank account because there are no credit checks or ChexSystems inquiries. In fact, so long as your identification information checks out (like your social security number), approval of prepaid cards is guaranteed.

In contrast to the cards here, you should be very skeptical of prepaid cards offered by tax preparers. The problem with these cards is that they often come with extremely high fees. For example, H&R Block offers the Emerald Prepaid MasterCard, but there have been complaints about the high expenses associated with the card. The key is that whatever you decide, make sure to read the fine print and understand what fees you’ll have to pay.

One final note: if you have a large refund due to you — and you want to avoid making such a large interest-free loan to Uncle Sam — talk to your employer about changing your W-4 form. You may be entitled to claim more allowances, which would reduce the amount of money withheld from your taxes.


Topics: Credit Cards

5 Responses to “How to Get Your Tax Refund Deposited On a Prepaid Card”

  1. Another card to consider is Platinum Pay offered by TFG. Different from Mango and Green Dot, this card is for payroll direct deposit (and can of course be used for tax refunds). Low fees and a Welcome Call to every new cardholder.

  2. One other alternative for many people to consider is to use a local (not for profit) tax preparation center. Most of these centers do tax returns for free (or low cost) for lower income people. Plus, many have relationships with prepaid card issuers where the tax refunds can be direct deposited onto a prepaid card for lower than average fees.

  3. Susanne

    I used a debit card payment. Filed Jan 30, 2015. Sent me 3 cards which I cut up and threw away. I thought it must be a scam. So I never activated them. I went through Taxact, no problems. Except the IRS let me know immediately that my files were refused ; I had already filed before Taxact. Now I can’t find the company I first used. I can’t get in touch with the IRS.

    Have I lost my return??? I would remember the name of the first co. if I heard it.

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