Prepaid cards are increasingly being used as tax refund cards. As previously reported, this tax season, the trend is to get your tax refund on a prepaid debit card. Today, we look at a Non Profit organization that offers very low fee prepaid debit cards to their low-income clients.
This is the second year that the Center for Economic Progress has used prepaid cards in conjunction with their tax preparation services. The Center for Economic Progress is a non-profit organization that helps low income families and individuals in Illinois. The organization provides free tax and financial services, and serves low-wage families earning less than $45,000, and individuals earning less than $20,000 per year. Based on these income guidelines, the Center can help one in three Illinois residents.
According to Erika Schafer, Director, Financial Services at the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago,
Last year, we served over 33,000 families, and this tax season, we will return more than $50 million in refunds to 35,000 families and their communities. Last year, we only offered a prepaid debit card at 5 tax sites, and a total of 291 clients opened a card at our sites. Many more clients opened bank or credit union accounts at our sites, compared to debit cards. But we also offered bank and credit union accounts at around 20 sites.
The Center uses the Get It card to help low-income customers get access to their tax refunds more quickly. Many of these customers do not have traditional bank accounts (and thus cannot receive their refund via direct deposit), and some are on the ChexSystems list and cannot open a regular bank account.
The Get It card has very low fees and is accepted anywhere MasterCard is accepted. Card holders can make everyday purchases via phone, mail order and the Internet, get cash, pay bills & make ATM withdrawals, 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
Get It fees are quite low, with no account activation fee or monthly fees. The Get It card is part of the Allpoint Network (37,000+ ATMs) with no ATM surcharge fees. Allpoint ATMs are conveniently located in retailers like 7-Eleven, Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, CVS, Walgreens, and others.
For low income households without traditional banking relationships, the program offered by non profit centers like The Center for Economic Progress makes perfect financial sense. Free tax preparation services and fast access to their refund, without need to pay the high fees charged by refund anticipation lenders.