Cardholder Frequently Asked Questions
General Prepaid Debit Card Program Information
The Government Prepaid Debit Card is an alternative to checks for receiving payments conveniently. You do not need to have a bank account to get the Government Prepaid Debit Card.
You’ll have access to your funds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via purchases everywhere debit cards are accepted, and cash access via PIN-based point-of-sale (POS) terminals and ATMs.
Here’s how the cards will work:
- Once you select to receive your payments on the Government Prepaid Debit Card, Bank of America will create an account in your name.
- Whenever you are due to receive a payment, funds will be sent by Electronic Funds Transfer to your Government Prepaid Debit Card.
- You can then use the Government Prepaid Debit Card to make purchases or withdrawals until the funds are exhausted.
- You can’t make any additional deposits to the account.
- This is not a credit card and attempting to use your card for purchases that exceed your balance may result in the transaction being declined.
Prepaid Debit Card BenefitsConvenience and Flexibility
This new prepaid debit card is a particularly useful option for recipients that don’t have bank accounts. The cards are cost-efficient, secure, easy-to-use, and provide many options for making withdrawals and purchases.
Benefits of the card include:
- No more check-cashing fees
- Use everywhere debit cards are accepted – in-stores, online or by phone
- Get access to cash at point of sale* terminals, ATMs and at participating banks and credit unions
- Use your cards to pay bills in person or online
- Improves control over money – take only what you need, when you need it
- Account information and customer service – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Recipients can transfer funds from their Government Prepaid Debit Card to their own bank account. In addition, recipients can take the debit card to any participating bank nationwide to make a cash withdrawal.
* Point of sale: a retail merchant that accepts debit cards.
How to Activate your Prepaid Debit Card
Activation of the card is simple and secure. It’s no more difficult than activating a credit card.
- You’ll receive your Government Prepaid Debit Card along with instructions on how to activate and use it. Once you receive the card, you can activate online or by calling 1. 866.213.4074 toll-free. Once activated, you may use your card.
- For security reasons you’ll need:
- the 16-digit number that appears on the face of the card
- the 3-digit card security number that appears on the back of the card
- the last four digits of your social security number (or ITIN).
- During the activation process, you’ll be asked to create a personal identification number (PIN). The PIN can be used to make ATM withdrawals and PIN purchases
- Once the card is activated, you’ll be given the account balance and may begin using it immediately.
How to Use your Prepaid Debit Card
You can use your card to make purchases in stores, online or by phone.
To conduct purchases with a signature:
- Present or swipe your card.
- Choose “credit.”
- Sign, take your card and receipt.
To conduct purchases with a PIN:
- Swipe your card.
- Choose “debit” and enter your PIN.
- Many grocery stores, convenience stores, and U.S. post offices offer cash back without a fee.
- If you want cash, select the amount and it will be added to your purchase.
- Take your card, cash and receipt.
Gas stations - Paying at the pump may cause a hold on your funds; consider paying inside, saying how much you want to purchase, and signing the receipt.
Restaurants - Restaurants may verify you have enough in your account for the bill. Make sure you have enough funds to cover any added tip.
Hotels - The hotel may hold the amount of your estimated bill, making that amount unavailable for other purchases. When you check out, the hold may take a few days to be removed.
Auto rentals - You may use your card for final payment for a rental car, but a credit card may be necessary to reserve a rental car.
Returns - Store return policies vary. You may receive a credit to your account or a store credit. A credit to your account may take a week to process before funds are available for use.
- Paying bills
Pay bills online, in-person, or over the phone. By using the Government Prepaid Debit Card to pay bills online or over the phone, you can avoid costly fees charged by check cashers and others.
- Balance Inquiries
Know your balance
Merchants are generally not able to determine the balance on your card, so you should always verify the balance before using your Government Prepaid Debit Card. Attempting to use your card for purchases that exceed your balance may result in the card being declined.
Cardholders can check the balance on their cards and review all their account transaction activity 24 hours a day online or by calling 1. 866.213.4074.
- There is no fee for online and telephone balance inquiries.
- Sign up for free balance alerts (mobile text message and e-mail) by logging in to your account.
- ATM balance inquiries:
- No fee for balance inquiries made at a Bank of America in-network ATM.
- For inquiries made at ATMs other than Bank of America in-network ATMs, the owner of the ATM may charge a fee. Bank of America won’t charge a fee.
- Cash Withdrawals
Recipients must have activated the card and created a PIN in order to make ATM withdrawals. The amount that can be withdrawn from an ATM depends on limits set by the ATM owner. Some ATM owners impose limits on how much can be withdrawn in a single transaction or in a day.
There’s no fee for withdrawals from Bank of America.
- There are thousands of ATMs providing free access nationwide.
- ATM locators are available for Bank of America ATMs. Links to these locators are available on the left hand side of the Home Page of this website.
ATM Safety Tips
- Be aware of your surroundings at ATMs. If you notice anyone or anything suspicious or unsafe when you approach an ATM, use another ATM or return later.
- At enclosed ATMs, close the door completely. Don’t open the door while you are making your transaction.
- When you use a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are closed and doors are locked.
- If you must use an ATM at night, consider taking someone with you.
- Always protect your card by keeping it in a safe place. If your card is lost or stolen, contact us immediately.
- Be discrete when entering your PIN at the keypad. After completing your transaction, carefully put away your card, cash and receipt before leaving the ATM area.
- Never give your PIN to anyone and never write it anywhere, especially on your card.
- Never give information about your card or PIN over the telephone. If someone is asking for this information, refuse and immediately contact us.
- Call 911 if you need emergency assistance. Immediately contact your local police if you experience or suspect a crime related to your account. If you have a concern about security at a Bank of America ATM, please call us at 1.800.222.7511.
Recipients who choose to withdraw cash at a bank teller will be able to do so by visiting any participating bank or credit union.
- ACH Transfers
In order to transfer funds from your card account to a traditional checking or savings account owned by you at any U.S. financial institution, you may perform an Online Funds Transfer via the Customer Service website. To begin this process, you will simply sign on to the website and select the "Transfer Funds" option from the Account Summary page.
- You will need to register a "transfer-to" account prior to performing your first transfer.
- Once your "transfer to" account is authenticated (this can take up to 5 business days), your transfer will be made.
- Once your transfer is made, it can take up to 2 business days to receive your funds in your account, and the transfer cannot be canceled once entered. If your account is a Bank of America account the funds could be available the next business day, if not sooner. Once funds are transferred to your checking or savings account, you will not be able to have the funds returned to you if the routing number or account number you provide for your checking or savings account is not correct.
A minimum value of $20.00 may be transferred.
Address changes may be done online through the Profile page once you are signed on to this website. You can also contact the Government Prepaid Debit Card Customer Service Center at 1.866.213.4074.
If you received a card directly from your sponsor that did not have your name on it, you may be eligible to receive a personalized upgrade card in the mail after a pre-determined number of deposits or calendar days. If you receive a personalized upgrade card in the mail, please activate the card immediately. You will have 30 days from the date of issuance to activate your new card. Once activated, your current balance will transfer to the new card and your old card will become inactive.
Lost or Stolen Prepaid Debit Cards
If your card is lost or stolen, the Bank of America “Zero Liability” Policy protects you against fraudulent transactions (subject to certain conditions). You need only contact the Prepaid Debit Card Customer Service Center at 1.866.213.4074 to report your card lost or stolen and to request a replacement card.
- If the card has been used, the bank will issue the replacement card in the amount of the remaining balance.
If the post office is unable to deliver a Government Prepaid Debit Card, it will be returned to the bank. Contact the Prepaid Debit Card Customer Service Center at 1. 866.213.4074 to update your address information and request a new card be mailed to you.
Automated Teller Machine
ATMs owned and/or affiliated with Bank of America where cash withdrawals and balance inquiries are available for no fee.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. A federally-assigned identification number for individuals who don't have, and aren't eligible for, social security numbers.
Non-Bank of America ATMs that support cash withdrawals and balance inquires, but impose cardholder withdrawal fees and a surcharge.
Web sites that accept debit cards for purchases.
Personal Identification Number, which is used to authorize an ATM transaction and certain purchases; and to access account information.
Point of sale (a retail merchant that accepts debit cards).