Avoid the Prepaid Tax Refund Debit Cards

March 23, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle 

Many companies, including TurboTax and H&R Block, offer prepaid cards for tax refunds; but there are questions about whether receiving a tax refund in this form, rather than as a check or direct deposit, is financially prudent. According to Creditcards.com, filers who choose debit cards may get their refund sooner than via check or direct deposit; they can also be more secure than paper checks and help avoid cash-checking fees. However, prepaid cards also come with fees -- such as a $5.95 monthly maintenance fee with TurboTax's prepaid card -- or costs for ATM withdrawals. The TaxAct prepaid card, for example, has a monthly fee of $2.50 and an activation fee of $16.95. Individuals who choose to receive their refunds on a prepaid card should understand the fee structure and know how to avoid those additional costs. Rather than use an ATM and paying fees, they can choose to get cash back when they use the card at retail centers. Instead of using a prepaid card, taxpayers may consider starting a savings account with the refund.
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