Treasury is starting to send some stimulus payments on debit cards

Some stimulus payments will be sent on a debit card that looks like this. By Katie Lobosco, CNN

(CNN) -- The Treasury Department said Monday that it will start issuing some stimulus payments by sending a debit card to people in the mail.

Until now, payments had been either directly deposited in an individual's bank account or sent as a paper check.

About 4 million payments will be sent on a debit card. It could mean that those people receive their money faster than if they had to wait for a check.

The Visa debit card can be activated immediately and can be used to make purchases, to get cash at an ATM or to transfer funds into a bank account without being charged a fee, Treasury said.

The direct stimulus payments -- which are worth up to $1,200 per individual and up to $2,400 per couple -- were included in the $2.2 trillion aid package passed in March.

Over the past five weeks, Treasury has sent 140 million people their stimulus payments. That leaves about 10 million people who are still waiting.

The agency started by sending money to the people it could reach the fastest. This was anyone who had direct deposit information already on file with the Internal Revenue Service because they were due a refund on either their 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns.

Others could use an IRS online tool to upload their bank account information or they could wait for a check in the mail. The agency sent checks out first to those earning less than $30,000 a year.

Social Security recipients who don't normally file a tax return are receiving their stimulus money however they usually receive their monthly benefits.

Those being sent a debit card this week do not have bank account information on file with the IRS and would have otherwise received a check in the mail.

Low-income people who don't earn enough money to have to file tax returns will still have to submit some information to the IRS, using an online non-filer tool, before receiving the stimulus money.

Eligibility for the payments is largely based on income, and it excludes individuals earning more than $99,000, head of household filers with one child who earn more than $136,500, and married couples without children earning more than $198,000.

Families earning a little more may still be eligible if they have children. The phase-out limit depends on how many children they have. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with incomes exceeding $218,000.

Those who can be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes, like many college students, are also ineligible for the payments, as well as undocumented immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers.

Payments are worth up to $1,200 for individuals, and $2,400 for couples -- plus $500 per dependent.

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