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Get Your Tax Refund On A Debit Card

If you have your taxes prepared by H&R Block and are due a refund, you can get your money on a prepaid debit card that carries no monthly fees. Of course, getting your refund via debit card is unnecessary. But if you're in the market for a prepaid card anyway, the Emerald Prepaid MasterCard appears to be one of the cheapest options as long as you don't use an ATM.

Unlike most prepaid cards there is no up-front set-up fee, no monthly fee - unless you stop using it - and no fee for direct deposit. The ATM withdrawal fees are fairly high, but if you use the card for spending, it should be nearly cost-free.

When you have your taxes completed at a participating H&R Block tax office, you can choose to have your tax refund loaded onto the card. There's no charge for that. According to Block, it usually takes eight to 15 days for the funds to be available. This is the same amount of time it will take to get your refund via check or direct deposit.

After you get your refund, you can continue using the card to pay for things wherever MasterCard is accepted. To do that, the best way to load the card is through direct deposit of all or part of your paycheck. That's free. You can also add funds to the card at places like Green Dot, MoneyGram and Western Union, but they generally charge about $4.50 per load.

Money loaded onto the card is FDIC-insured.

On the negative side, the ATM fees are rather high. Cash withdrawals cost $2.50 each, plus $1 for balance inquiries. In addition, the ATM operator may charge its own fees, unless you use an ATM operated by AllPoint, which doesn't charge a fee.

While there's no monthly fee, there is a monthly inactivity fee: If you don't use the card for three consecutive months, you may be charged $2.50 per month after that if you don't use the card.

So, if the only reason you get the card is to get your refund and don't want to use it anymore, make sure you cancel the card immediately afterward to avoid that charge. In addition to getting this card at an H&R Block office, you can apply for one online.