Tax time! I was successful in rounding up all but one of our W-2 forms, so I’ll be looking for the other and then getting down to work. As I mentioned, I have a free copy of H&R Block’s Tax Cut software which I think will be a good start.
However, I won’t be taking H&R Block or any other company up on their “generous” offers of refund anticipation loans or refund debit/credit cards. I’m not going to pay people money to get the money faster.
While this loan chart (PDF) isn’t very clear–that is, it doesn’t have as much information as it should–it shows that getting a refund anticipation loan from H&R Block will cost you at least $30, probably $50+ for a $200 refund. They’re unclear as to whether or not you need the “bank check” but it appears so.
Ok, so 1/4 of my tax refund would go to the account set-up fees?
That’s an awfully big slice of the pie.
But there’s more. The H&R Block prepaid Mastercard carries an ATM withdrawal charge. If I only withdraw money once, and do it from the compatible ATMs, it’ll just put me out $1.85. Of course, that’s per-transaction. So 10 transactions and I’m out another $18.50. But that doesn’t count transactions made at ATMs run by other banks, for maybe $2-3 per transaction. Sure, that would happen anyway but it’s a factor to consider.
My debit card doesn’t charge me for withdrawals, so I only have to worry about the latter fee. H&R Block customers have to worry about both.
If I say “screw it all” and decide to withdraw my money at a bank…that’s a $20 charge.
Now once you get up to big refund amounts like $5000, the percentage you’re paying goes down. But they have more time to nab your with ATM fees and the like.
Oh, and speaking of time, did I mention that the card will eventually expire? Yep. So then they’ll mail you a check for any remaining balance minus remaining fees.
One saving grace, this is definitely a prepaid debit card (with all the hassles that brings) and not a credit card. Once the funds are gone, it stops working. Anything else would have been a travesty—can you imagine?
So those are my thoughts on the H&R Block program. I like my money. I’m tired of the federal government having it. If they’re going to give it back I’m sure as heck not giving a significant portion (like more than 25% if we’re on the lower end of the scale!!!) to someone else just so I can get it sooner. No way no how.
This program is directed at two groups of people–those who can’t wait and those without bank accounts.
If you think you can’t wait, look at these fees and think again. Maybe you truly can’t, but maybe you can if it’ll mean that much more money.
If you don’t have a bank account, carefully evaluate all these fees. Will it really save you money on just getting the check cashed?
Patrick of Cash Money Life also thinks refund anticipation loans suck. He mentioned the Jackson Hewitt RALs, but apparently they didn’t have pricing online. Shady? I think so.
This also reminded me of Gibble’s post on delayed gratification. It’s certainly a case where waiting longer gets you more money!