LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Two of the nation’s biggest financial services firms are getting into the unemployment insurance business in California.

Visa and Bank of America are partnering with the state to send out an estimated 10,000 debit cards per day instead of unemployment checks.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the transition will continue for the next couple of months until all recipients have completely switched over to plastic.

“You can use these cards at grocery stores, gas stations,” said Pam Harris of the Employment Development Department.

The state is expected to save millions of dollars by switching to the debit card system, while people who receive unemployment can access their benefits a lot faster — and without getting hit up for fees.

“Our customers can indeed avoid paying fees with careful use of their EDD debit card,” said Harris.

Over one million residents in California are currently receiving unemployment benefits, while 400,000 more getting disability payments have already made the switch to plastic.

Comments (11)
  1. snmfx says:

    How the F are the unemployed supposed to pay their rent with a DEBIT CARD. This is complete BS and a stupid decision.

    1. The Mad Man says:

      If you have an ATM card they you can get checks to pay your rent or do a direct deposit. Use the bill pay service, it does not cost anything.

  2. ginny says:

    I agree snmfx. I also know about another state that switched to this method and BofA charged a fee like it was an ATM card. They have a good thing going, the states involved pay them to handle the production and sending of the cards and then charge the already unemployed, who are hardly making it, a fee when they spend using the cards. Typical banks!

    1. The Mad Man says:

      Watch out for the fee stuff, BofA has a bill pay service they do not charge anything for. Anything else will require a fee. If you have direct deposit the bank (at one time) did not charge you but i do not know now. Don’t have the bank process any of your checks (don’t ask them to make out the check), they charge for that. I am lucky so far, I am not charged a monthly fee and I use the bill pay service for free, so far, but if they change, I’m gone!

  3. 310doll says:

    Although I HATE B of A, this is way more convenient than having to go to my credit union every time to deposit the EDD check. Also, you can have access to cash at ATMs . I used to have a B of A account, and I know if want access to cash, I better use their ATMs to stay out of fee trouble!

    1. The Mad Man says:

      BofA can charge up to $2.50 per transaction if you do not use their atm’s and DON’T BOUNCE A CHECK….they charge you twice and thee times for the same transcation and each transaction is $35.00 or more. Just watch you banking. I watch my account DAILY on line and SO FAR, I am under the radar and manage my money. When I don’t have any money, I don’t have any but I save a lot of change as emergency money.

  4. john says:

    Actually you can go inside the bank and get access to all of your money on your card for no charge. I had a card while on disability from my job and was able to do multiple transactions of 500 each at BofA ATM.

  5. captkeebz says:

    I’m guessing BofA and Visa are partnering with EDD because there is some kind of profit incentive (up front or on the back end), as profit is the sole motivator for corporations, and they will take no action without said motivation. Do you folks think that the spending habits of these cardholders won’t be tracked? You are more optimistic than I. To me, this sums up modern America perfectly. Sell out the powerless to the white collar criminals. The unemployed, who are often at the brink of economic catastrophe, now have more chances to fall prey to fees associated with this new system. Neither company should be allowed profit from this arrangement. In a purely profit-driven society, there is no America; there is no allegiance to this country by corporations, they will chase the profits outside of our borders while picking at the carcass of the American working class until it doesn’t exist. Good job EDD selling the people out.

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