Many eligible individuals may receive a Government Payment Card in the mail. Several states use these cards to distribute unemployment benefits. Additionally, as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), some individuals may receive their Economic Impact Payment (also known as “stimulus payment”) via the Economic Impact Payment Card.
Government Payment Cards are not linked to your bank account, and they are not credit cards. They are prepaid debit cards onto which a government agency loads funds directly and you can use them just like traditional debit cards.
Simple steps to get started
1. Activate your card
Call the activation number on the card mailer or the customer service number on the back of your card. You may be asked for personal information to verify your identity.
2. Set up a 4-digit Personal Identification Number
Set up a 4-digit Personal Identification Number and sign the back of your card.
3. Start using your card
Listen to your balance over the phone — then start using your card.
Easy access to your money
Your card gives you immediate1 access to your funds without having to venture out to cash a check in person (refer to your cardholder agreement or card provider’s website to see when fees may apply).
Shop online, by phone, or in stores
Wherever Visa Debit is accepted.
Pay bills as soon as the same day
From rent to utilities to streaming services2.
Get cash back
At the register at participating merchants, or access cash at any ATM or bank teller3.
1Actual fund availability depends on receiving financial institution and region.
2Not all billers accept cards for payments. Please check the billers’ website.
3Fees may apply for cash withdrawal at out-of-network ATMs and at bank branches. Please reference your cardholder agreement or card provider’s website for a list of fees.
Secure way to pay
A Government Payment Card protects you with powerful security if it is lost or stolen.
Visa’s Zero Liability
Visa’s Zero Liability4 policy means you’re not responsible for unauthorized purchases.
24/7 fraud monitoring
Continuous fraud monitoring detects suspicious activity on your card.
3-digit security code
3-digit CVV security code verifies your identity for online and phone purchases.
4Visa’s Zero Liability policy does not apply to certain commercial card and anonymous prepaid card transactions or transactions not processed by Visa. Cardholders must use care in protecting their card and notify their issuing financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. Contact your issuer for more details.
File for unemployment
Find out how to file for unemployment on the U.S. Government site or visit your individual state’s unemployment site directly to apply for unemployment or find out more about your unemployment insurance benefit card.
They are prepaid debit cards provided by the government for disbursement of government benefits (such as Unemployment Insurance, Child Support, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).
Unlike a bank debit card, your Government Payment card is not linked to a checking account. Instead, the card arrives loaded with funds from the government and, depending on the type of card, it may be reloaded by the government in the future. Then each purchase you make is deducted from that balance.
When you use a credit card, you are borrowing money and building up a balance of debt. With your government payment card, you are not borrowing and will not have to pay anything back. You are spending money given to you by the government and loaded onto your card. Unlike credit cards, you do not need a credit check, you won’t incur interest charges or accrue debt, and the card will not show up on your credit report.
No. The Government Payment Card and the funds loaded onto it are separate from any bank account you may have.
No, unlike a traditional debit account, you do not need a bank account to use your card.
No, only the government can add funds to your card.
No. The funds loaded on to the card belong to you and you’re the only one who can withdraw them.
No. This is not a credit card and lawful use of a prepaid card will not affect your credit score.
Only one card is provided in the name of the beneficiary/beneficiaries and additional cards are typically not available for family members. Please contact your card provider for more details.
You do not need to proactively close your account as your benefit payments will automatically cease after your qualifying period has ended. You may also dispose of your card after the expiration date.
Yes, you should have received activation information in the mailer that was sent with your card. You can also call the customer service number on the back of your card and talk with a customer service representative to activate your account. During activation, you may be asked to validate your identity by providing your name, address and social security number. You will also be asked to create a 4-digit PIN. Please note that only the primary cardholder may activate the card.
When you first activate your card, your card provider will ask you to set up a 4-digit PIN. If you forget your PIN, please call the customer service number on the back of your card to recover or reset it.
You can check your balance at any time on the card provider’s website or via the customer service number listed on the back of your card. Also check with your card provider since some providers enable text alerts when funds are loaded to your card.
You can see your current balance and transactions, including purchases and funds added to your account, on your card provider’s, not Visa’s, website or mobile app (if applicable). You can also call your provider’s customer service number to hear this information. This information is private and can only be accessed by you. Please reference your cardholder agreement or look at the back of your card for your card provider’s website and customer service phone number.
Contact the customer service number listed on the back of your card or visit your card provider’s website for information about your routing and account number.
Ways to use the card
Your card is a quick, easy, and secure way to receive your government payments. You can use it to pay for purchases online, in-person, or over the phone —24/7, everywhere Visa® Debit cards are accepted. You can also use it to pay many bills, get cash back at participating merchants or withdraw cash at an ATM or bank (check your cardholder agreement or your card provider’s website for a list of associated fees).
There are multiple ways you can access cash using your card (please note that limits may apply to the amount of cash you are able to withdraw at merchants and ATMs):
Cash-back participating merchants: The easiest way to get cash back with your card is at the places you already shop, like grocery and convenience stores. Simply:
Select “Debit” on the keypad
Enter your 4-digit PIN
Select “Yes” for cash-back
Enter the amount and hit “OK”
Cash from an ATM: There’s no fee to withdraw cash at in-network ATMs but fees may apply if you use an out-of-network ATM*. To pull out cash, simply:
Enter your 4-digit PIN
Select “Withdrawal” from “Checking”
Cash from a bank or credit union teller: You can visit any bank or credit union branch to withdraw cash, but fees may apply*. To withdraw cash:
Know your balance beforehand — the teller cannot tell how much money you have on your card
Ask the teller for the amount you would like to withdraw
You’ll need your 4-digit PIN and may be asked for an additional form of ID
*Please check with your provider for a list of in-network ATMs and reference your cardholder agreement for the list of fees associated with cash withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs and bank branches.
Your Government Payment Card can be used at any merchant that accepts Visa Debit.
Most Government Payment Cards enable you to easily transfer the funds from your card to an existing bank account using your routing information. Please check with your card provider to ensure this feature is enabled.
Yes, most peer-to-peer apps (like Square Cash, Venmo or Zelle) will accept your Government Payment Card as a source of funding and allow you to send funds to others. However, you cannot receive or add funds to your card. Check with the P2P provider for specific instructions.
The ability to add your government payment card to a mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, varies by card program so please check with your card provider. Once you confirm your card’s eligibility, simply follow the instructions on the individual mobile wallet app to enroll your card and get started. Once enrolled, mobile wallets allow you to tap to pay in person at many merchants wherever you see the Contactless Symbol . You may also be able to use your mobile payment wallet account online.
Yes, you can use your cards for recurring bill payments, however, you must ensure you have sufficient funds to cover the entire bill. If you have insufficient funds then your payment will be declined.
Card funds and fees
There are no fees to make purchases, transfer funds to your bank account, or withdraw cash at in-network ATMs or at participating retailers. For a list of fees associated with your card account, please review your cardholder agreement or visit your card provider’s website.
You can check your card provider’s website or your cardholder agreement for a list of applicable fees. The fees that apply to prepaid cards can differ from those applied to credit or debit cards and are required to be disclosed to you. Familiarizing yourself with the fees associated with your card can help you from encountering any unexpected costs.
No, you can only spend the funds that are currently available on your card.
If there is not enough money in your available account balance to cover a purchase, the transaction may be declined or partially authorized. Either way, you will need to provide additional funds to complete the purchase.
First, you should check your available account balance to see if you have sufficient money available and check the expiration date on your card to see if it is still valid. If you have sufficient money and your card is still valid, call the number on the back of your card for assistance.
Many government prepaid cards, including those used to distribute Unemployment Insurance, may receive recurring government payments. We recommend holding on to your card until the expiration date in case future funds are applied to your card.
Certain types of purchases (such as those you may make at gas stations, restaurants or hotel reservations) require a pre-authorization that temporarily puts a hold on a portion of your card funds. This hold could be greater than the cost of your purchase. Once your purchase is processed, the money will be released and your balance will be adjusted. Please note that this hold on funds may take up to 10 business days to be released back to your card account balance (and up to 90 days for car rentals).
Pending transactions (such as point-of-sale purchases, ATM withdrawal, transfer of funds, etc.) have been made with your card but have not yet cleared your account. Typically, merchants settle outstanding transactions at the end of the day. However, settlement policies vary by merchant, so it could remain pending for up to five days. While a transaction is pending, the funds will not be available for your use.
Card lost, stolen or not received
Please immediately contact the customer service number or website on the back of your card. Rest assured that Visa’s Zero Liability Policy has you covered if your card is ever lost, stolen, or fraudulently used. You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized transactions made with your Visa Prepaid or Debit card.
Visa’s Zero Liability policy does not apply to certain commercial card and anonymous prepaid card transactions or transactions not processed by Visa. Cardholders must use care in protecting their card and notify their issuing financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use and for additional details.
Most card providers will mail you a new card if your card is lost or stolen (fees may apply — please visit your card provider’s website) but they typically do not instant issue these cards.
Please note that Visa is not responsible for sending out your Government Payment Card. You will need to follow up with one of the government entities listed below: