Emerald Prepaid MasterCard Review

    Open an account when you have H&R Block do your taxes and you could get an instant refund.

    The Emerald Prepaid MasterCard offers quick refund access

    If you’re working to rebuild your credit, prepaid cards with offer a way to get back into financial responsibility. You won’t be tempted to go crazy and make large purchases because you simply can’t; your available balance is whatever you put on the card and not a penny more. One such card is the H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard.
    The Emerald card works like other prepaid debit cards; you load funds onto the card and whatever you load is the amount you can spend. No interest charges, no bill to pay at the end of the month, and for many people, it opens the option to make online purchases and works like a regular credit card anywhere MasterCard is accepted. A major difference between the Emerald card and other prepaid cards is that with the Emerald card, when you have your taxes prepared by H&R Block, you are able to have your income tax refund loaded onto your card.

    You don’t have to have your tax refund applied to open the card, but it is an option that offers a few perks. Tax preparation fees are deducted from the refund amount to be loaded, meaning you don’t pay anything out of pocket at the time of the preparation. The funds from an Emerald Advance Line of Credit, if approved, will be applied within an hour. If you choose to have a refund anticipation check or have the IRS direct deposit your funds onto the Emerald card, it will take an estimated eight to 15 days for them to appear on the card.

    You can also apply for the Emerald card online, and you have 45 days to get it funded. The options for funding include direct payroll deposit, or using a retail reloading location such as Green Dot, MoneyGram and Western Union. These retailers will charge you a fee for loading cash or your paper check to the card, and those are determined by the individual company but generally run between $3.50 and $4.95 per transaction.

    Unlike other prepaid cards in the media lately, the Emerald card does not charge a fee to apply for the card, but there are fees associated with using the card, meaning you do spend some money to access your money. Standard credit-card type transaction at merchants do not have a fee, but if you use the card at an ATM you will pay $2.50 for each withdrawal, $1 each time you check your balance, and even $1 if you try to withdraw funds but are denied. A better option is to ask for cash back when making a purchase at a retailer such as a grocery store. You could also incur a $2.50 charge if your account is inactive for three months, although H&R Block’s terms and conditions notes that the company will not create a deficit on your card with that fee.

    A few other fees and restrictions include:

    • Maximum daily withdrawal from ATM or point of sale is $3,000
    • Maximum spent on the card per day is $3,500
    • Over-the-counter withdrawal fee is $25

    Make sure any ATM usage is at an AllPoint Network machine, otherwise you could incur additional surcharges of $1-$3 per transaction. Prepaid cards like the Emerald Prepaid MasterCard are not for everyone, but if you’re unable to qualify for a credit card or you’re looking for a fast refund on your income tax, this might could be worth a look.

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