As tax season approaches, H&R Block is once again promoting its Emerald Prepaid MasterCard. The tax preparation firm launched its prepaid debit card in 2007, according to H&R Block, as a way for consumers to quickly receive their tax refunds.

H&R Block offers the Emerald Prepaid MasterCard to its tax preparation customers. The card can also be applied for online. H&R Block refund anticipation checks can be applied to the new card within about 7 to 10 days. Instant refund anticipation loans are no longer available as of 2011, according to

The H&R Block federal refund anticipation check is free through Feb. 4, 2012, and only if it is deposited to the Emerald Card. If it's paid by check, or if a state refund is involved, there's a fee. Tax preparation fees will be deducted from the refund anticipation check. According to H&R Block, the RAC is a deposit, not a loan.

The prepaid card can be reloaded through direct payroll deposit, or through one of the card's participating retail reloading locations, which include the Green Dot, MoneyGram and Western Union networks. Each reloading location will accept checks or cash for deposit to the card, but they may charge a fee for the transaction. Those fees can range from $3.50 to $4.95 depending on the service used.

Like many prepaid cards, the H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard charges a variety of transaction and other fees, including:

  • $2.50 for each ATM withdrawal
  • $1.00 for each ATM balance inquiry or denied transaction
  • $2.50 a month inactivity fee if the card is not used for three months

ATMs not in the Allpoint Network may levy additional charges for transactions. Those transaction fees can range from $1.50 to $3.00 or more depending on the machine used. The Emerald Prepaid MasterCard is issued by H&R Block Bank, a Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC.