Tax Refund Cards — Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about tax refund cards? Read our tax refund card frequently asked questions for answers to some of the questions we hear most often.

Where Can I Use a Tax Refund Card?

You can use a tax refund card wherever Visa®, MasterCard® or Discover® cards are accepted (depending on what brand your card is), including at retail stores, over the Internet, mail order and by phone – at home and abroad.

Because these are “pay before” cards, you can only use as much money as you have deposited onto the card. The balance on your card will be checked electronically with your card company before payment is made. In some circumstances your card may be declined because there is not enough money loaded onto it. This security feature exists to protect you from spending money that you do not have.

When will I get my tax refund?

If you choose to have your federal tax refund direct deposited onto a prepaid debit card or other bank account, you should receive your refund within 21-28 days from the date you complete the filing of your tax return. A helpful video from the IRS is shown below with more details.

What are the Fees and Costs Associaetd with a Tax Refund Card?

The fees for each card may differ, so please make sure to check the terms and conditions of a card before you open an account.
Compare the features and costs of similar cards to find the best deal for your situation.

Some of the common fees and charges for tax refund cards include:

  • Card application fees. Some cards charge an “activation” fee to set up your account and provide you with a card.
  • Monthly service fees. Some cards charge a monthly fee for having the card. The fee typically ranges from $2.95 to $9.95 a month (although these fees may be waived for certain uses).
  • Card loading fees. Some cards charge a fee for different types of cash loads (e.g., such as loading your card with additional funds using Green Dot or other loading services).
  • ATM fees. Most cards charge a fee (from $0.50 to $2.50) for using your card at an ATM. Higher charges may apply for “out of network” transactions. Look for cards that use the Allpoint ATM network or other fee-free ATM networks to save money.
  • Purchase or Transaction fees. Some cards charge you a small fee for every purchase transaction made using your card, while others only charge for PIN debit transactions. Again, check your terms and conditions to see exactly how you should use your card.

Can I Use My Tax Refund Card Outside the U.S.?

Yes. You can use most tax refund cards anywhere in the world that accepts Visa®, MasterCard® or Discover® cards (again, depending on the type of card).

Can I Use My Tax Refund Card to Shop On-Line, Over the Phone or By Mail Order?

Yes. You can use your tax refund card at any retailer that accepts Visa®, MasterCard® or Discover® (depending on the brand associated with your card).

Is There a Limit to How Much Money I can Put on my Tax Refund Card?

Some cards may set a limit on how much money you can load onto your card at any one time. Most cards that are specifically designed for use as tax refund cards have relatively high load limits for initial deposits, so that you can safely deposit your entire refund on them.

Can I See a History of how I Have Used my Tax Refund Card?

Yes, most issuers of tax refund cards provide online statements (just like a regular bank account. When you use your tax refund card, details of the transactions are securely stored on-line. This information includes the dates, locations and amounts of your transactions. All of this will appear on your on-line statement, so you can check and access details easily.

For more details about choosing and using tax refund cards, check out our guide.

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