Exorbitant card fees chip away at benefits for the unemployed

Martha C. White

For millions of out-of-work Americans, the only thing keeping them fed, clothed and housed is the unemployment benefits they receive from the state. Yet in far too many cases, those badly-needed funds are being depleted by the very banks that issue the debit cards on which they receive their benefits.

In 19 states, the unemployed use a processing system called EPPICard, which also handles distribution of other types of government benefits such as welfare and child-support payments. In others states, big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America provide debit cards on which unemployment funds are distributed. The cards are supposed to offer users convenient access to their funds, but many Americans are growing frustrated with EPPICard and other unemployment-benefit debit cards.