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Frequently Asked Questions about your MEPS Prepaid Mastercard®

With the prepaid Mastercard, you can spend up to the amount on the card anywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted. Below are responses to Frequently Asked Questions about using the prepaid card.

Can I use my prepaid card immediately, or does it need to be activated?

Your prepaid card will generally be activated within 24 hours of receiving the card.

How does the card work?

You can use the card to shop in stores, online, or over the phone anywhere that Debit Mastercard is accepted but can charge only up to the amount available on the card.

Can I use the card as a debit card?

Yes. If you choose to use it as a debit card, the default PIN is the last four digits of the card number.

Can I use my card at a restaurant?

Yes, however you should confirm that the restaurant is able to charge a certain amount to the card prior to dining. If the purchase is more than the amount on the card, you must inform your server/cashier to charge only the available amount to the card. You will use a separate form of payment to pay the remaining balance.

Can I use my card to “pay at the pump” at a gas station?

No, you cannot “pay at the pump” at a gas station. To use the card for a gas purchase, it must be given to the attendant inside the station. If you do attempt to use the card to “pay at the pump,” the card may be declined and a hold may be put on the preauthorized funds.

Where else can I use my card?

Your card can be used in stores and restaurants, similar to the way you would use your plastic debit or credit card. You can even add them to your favorite retailer, service or fast-food mobile apps as a method of payment.

When using my card, do I to select CREDIT or DEBIT?

You can select either CREDIT or DEBIT. If you select CREDIT, you should give the card to the cashier and sign the receipt. The amount of the purchase will be deducted from the balance on the card.

If you select DEBIT, you should use the last four digits of the card as the default PIN. You may also update the PIN, if needed at To use as a debit card, you must swipe the card through the card reader, select DEBIT, enter the PIN, and confirm the transaction amount. The amount of the purchase will be deducted from the balance.

Can I use the card for a purchase greater than the amount of the card?

Yes, however if the purchase is more than the balance on the card, you must ask the cashier to split the transaction and to charge only the available amount to the card. You must use a separate form of payment to pay the extra amount. The card will be declined if you attempt to use it for an amount over the balance. Note that some merchants may not support split transactions.

Can I purchase merchandise on-line with my card?

To use the card for an online purchase, you must use the following address at checkout for billing: MEPS, 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850

Can I get cash back with my card?

No, you cannot use the card to obtain cash from an ATM, Point-of-Sale (POS) device, or by any other means.

What should I do if I lose my card, or it gets stolen?

You should treat the card just as you would cash and store the card in a secure location. Anyone who finds or steals the card can use the card to make a purchase. If you believe the card has been stolen, you should call MEPS at 1-855-964-1354 for assistance to cancel a lost/stolen card and request a new one. When a new card is received, it will be active and can be used right away.

Is the card reloadable?

No, the card is not reloadable, and you do not need to keep the card once the balance is spent. You will receive a new debit card after each MEPS interview.

Are there any fees if I don’t use my card right away?

No fees will be deducted for inactivity. However, you should use the card before the expiration date.

Does the card expire and if so, when does it expire?

The expiration date is printed on the front of the card. The card expires on the last day of the month listed.

What if the card expires and I haven’t used all of my money?

After the expiration date, the card will stop working and the value will be deducted.

How do I check the card balance or transaction history?

You can call the phone number listed on the back of the card or you can log into You will need the card number and the security code on the back of the card to be able to see the balance. There is no fee to check the balance or transaction history.

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If you have any questions or would like to request an accommodation, contact your field interviewer or call Alex Scott, a study representative at 1-800-945-MEPS (6377).