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Direct deposit and your second stimulus check: What to know before Friday's deadline

If you have direct deposit set up, you're likely to get your second stimulus check quickly. But there are some important details to know.

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A second round of stimulus check money is on the way -- but you still have questions.

Angela Lang/CNET

The IRS has until Friday, Jan. 15 to deliver your second stimulus check of up to $600 by direct deposit, mailed check or EIP card. If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who qualify for a payment (though not everyone is eligible this time around), the IRS will send out your second stimulus check automatically. But unfortunately, you don't have much control over how the IRS will make that payment, and when. 

This can be frustrating, and leave you checking your bank account each day to see if the deposit of your second payment has arrived. You also might be wondering how much money you'll be getting (you can use our calculator to estimate the amount), and if it might end up arriving by mail instead. (To track your second check, you have two free options: The IRS Get My Payment tool can help you check the status of your payment, and, if it's arriving by mail, the USPS has a tool that will track it to your home.) 

The situation isn't completely straightforward, but we've broken down what you need to know about stimulus checks and direct deposit below. (Here's what's happening with a third stimulus check for perhaps as much as $,2000.) This story was recently updated. 

Will I get a direct deposit stimulus check?

The IRS is calculating second stimulus check totals and the US Treasury is cutting the payments. They appear to still be going out now to people who already have direct deposit set up with the IRS. There is currently no way to register your information if you're not already on file with the IRS. 

That means if the IRS doesn't already have your banking information on hand, you'll likely get a paper check or EIP card through the mail -- if that's the case, keep an eye out for a check to arrive through next week (in case transit takes a few days.) The IRS' Get My Payment tool can help track how your check will arrive.

What if there's a problem with direct deposit?

This could happen. The IRS has already experienced problems sending stimulus payments for millions of people who use tax preparation software like TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt. The IRS and those companies have been working to fix the problem and correctly route stimulus money to the right recipients. If yours encounters and error (more below), you may need to wait for the IRS and Treasury to resolve the issue, or claim your money during tax season using the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Now playing: Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

How would the IRS would have gotten my banking details for the second check?

  • Your most recently filed tax return if you received a refund by direct deposit in 2019.
  • If you registered your banking information for the first check through the IRS' Get My Payment online tool.
  • You provided bank information through the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool if you don't typically file taxes.
  • From another federal agency who issues benefits to you, such as Social Security Administration, Veteran Affairs or Railroad Retirement Board.

What happens if my stimulus check doesn't arrive by Friday?

Jan. 15 is the cutoff date Congress set in the December stimulus bill when the IRS and US Treasury must stop sending new stimulus checks, through direct deposit and the mail. 

Anyone who doesn't get a second stimulus check sorted by that date would have to take the extra step of claiming it as a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of this year's tax season, presumably with exceptions for people not typically required to file taxes

That means the timing for getting paid would vary wildly depending on when you're able to complete your taxes and how quickly the IRS would process your tax return. For example, people who file in February could receive their second stimulus money months before people who file in April. It isn't clear if applying for a tax extension would further delay matters.

Can I still sign up to get my second stimulus check through direct deposit, instead of the mail?

With the first round, the IRS let people enter their direct deposit information using an online tool as a way to potentially get their payment faster. In fact, the IRS encouraged it, setting a May 13 deadline for new submissions. For the second check, the IRS is not letting you your provide your banking information, if agency doesn't already have it, or change it if the direct-deposit information the IRS has it out of date. 

However, if you do need to use the Recovery Rebate Credit process, you can sign up to get any tax refund through direct deposit when you file your 2020 taxes.


You may need to set up direct deposit with the IRS if you don't have it already in place.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What happens if my banking details have changed for direct deposit?

With the first stimulus checks, you could use the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools to provide the IRS with your banking information. The IRS had said, however, it does not allow people to change the direct deposit information for a stimulus payment it has on file. This is a safeguard against fraud. 

With the new checks, the IRS is not accepting new or changed banking information. If the IRS attempts to make a payment to now-closed bank account,, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS, the agency saids. The IRS said is looking at options to correct these payments and said if you have not received your full payment by the time you file your 2020 tax return, you may claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return.

If you've moved, you can provide the IRS with your new mailing address.

Do I need to have a bank account to get my check by direct deposit?

According to the Urban Institute, people with bank accounts and direct deposit (who are disproportionately white) were more likely to get their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who identify as Black, Hispanic or were below the poverty line. This was directly tied to groups who were more likely to have banking accounts and who filed that information with the IRS to facilitate direct deposit tax returns.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and several other large banks now offer more affordable checkless bank accounts as part of a program to make it easier for people to get bank accounts. 

Read moreSorry, not everyone will get a second stimulus payment

If a third check is approved, what information does the IRS need to set up a new direct deposit account?

While the IRS is not accepting new banking information for the second check through the Get My Payment tool, if it does for a possible third check, you'll want to have on hand your bank account type and routing and account numbers. You have several ways to find this banking information.

Banking website: Your bank's website may show your routing and account numbers. Log in to the account you want to use, and look around for the numbers you need.

Banking app: If your bank has an app, it may show you your account and routing numbers. In the app, tap the account you want to use to see the account and routing numbers.

Printed check: At the bottom of your check you most likely will see three sets of numbers: The first set of nine numbers is your routing number. The second set of 8 to 12 numbers is your account number. The third set is the one you don't need for direct deposit, as it's the number of the individual check.

Check this IRS page for more help with locating your routing and account numbers.

For more on the checks, here's how to calculate how much money you might get in a second stimulus check and everything you should know about stimulus qualifications now. Here's what's happening with a third stimulus check.