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The H&R Block Emerald Card and Advance Line of Credit

What Is It?

The Emerald Advance line of credit is a year-round line of credit that lets you repeatedly borrow and repay between $350 and $1,000, depending on bank approval. You can use it for whatever you need, and you'll only borrow and repay the specific amount that you want. Though you can use it year-round, you need to make monthly payments on the card and have the card paid in full by February 15th of every year. (This date may change from year to year.)

With the Emerald Advance, you can:

  • Load funds from your line of credit to your H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard
  • Pay down the balance on the Emerald Advance with a portion of your tax refund
  • Have access to credit year-round

How Do I Apply for the Emerald Advance Line of Credit?

You can only be approved for an Emerald Advance during specific times of the year, usually between November and January. To apply during this promotional period, you should:

  • Make an appointment to visit an H&R Block office. You cannot apply for this online.
  • Bring a current earnings statement (like a pay stub), an unexpired, government-issued photo ID (like a driver's license or passport), and your Emerald Card (if you have one).
  • If you have never been issued an advance before, you'll also need to bring a proof of address, like a utility bill or bank statement.

You will be either approved or denied on the spot, and in my experience the process takes about 20 minutes.

How Much Is the Credit Limit?

If approved, you can have a credit limit between $350 and $1,000. However, you can choose to borrow less than the amount you're approved for so you don't borrow more than you actually need.

When Is the Line of Credit Available to Use?

If you're approved, you will immediately be able to draw against a portion of your credit limit and have the money loaded onto an Emerald Card.

Can I Use My Tax Refund to Repay the Emerald Advance?

Yes, you can choose to pay down your balance with a portion of your tax refund, but only if you go to H&R Block to have your taxes prepared. You can only do this to pay down debt and not make monthly payments.

You need to make a minimum monthly payment of $25 or 4% of the outstanding balance, and the balance is due in full by February 15th. You can pay several different ways:

  • Check or debit card
  • Transfer from Emerald Card
  • Cash payment at MoneyGram or 7-Eleven locations ($2.99 service charge applies)
  • Tax refund (for pay down only, not available for monthly payment)

What Fees Will I Have to Pay?

The fees you will have to pay include:

  • $45 annual fee for the first year, applied on the day the Emerald Advance is opened, and $30 a year after that
  • 36% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – Finance charge assessed on the amount drawn from your Emerald Advance
  • 36% APR applies during promotional period and for unsecured lines of credit. For partial savings-secured and full savings-secured lines of credit, the APR is 18% and 9% respectively

For late payments and returned payments, the following fees apply:

  • $7.50 late fee for payments received after the due date. These are assessed monthly, with a maximum of five fees per year
  • $20 returned payment fee (for any payments that are returned)

Always be sure to read the terms and conditions of the Emerald Card before opening an account.

What Is It?

The Emerald Card is a reloadable, prepaid debit card that you can use to receive and use your tax refund. You can also loan money to it with an Emerald Advance line of credit.

Where Can You Use it?

You can use this card anywhere that MasterCard is accepted to buy things and use your card to buy things like groceries, gas, clothes, etc. (Note: you cannot use your card to pay from the pump.) You can also use your card for online and phone purchases.

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Can I Use this Card at an ATM?

Yes. You can get cash at any ATM what has a MasterCard logo on it. If it doesn't have a MoneyPass logo on it, though, you'll be charged a fee by the ATM owner. They're usually between $1.50 and $3.00. However, you won't be charged anything if you use an AllPoint ATM at a CVS or 7-Eleven store.

How Can I Add Money To It?

You can add money to your Emerald Card by direct depositing your payroll, unemployment, or government benefits. You can also load checks through the H&R Block mobile banking app (you'll be charged a fee though—this also isn't available for everyone), transfer money from another account (if it's linked), or add cash at some retail reloading locations.

To deposit funds directly, you need to ask your employer if they participate in direct deposit. If they do, you can be enrolled by giving them a complete copy of the Direct Deposit authorization form. You can also add money to your card at participating retail reloading locations through the Green Dot, MoneyGram, and Western Union networks. You should check to see if the retail location charges a fee, though, since some of them might.

What Kind of Fees Will I Have to Pay?

Fees will be applied when you use your card to pay bills, deposit checks to your card, withdraw money from a non-MoneyPass ATM (except ATMs inside of CVS or 7-Eleven locations), and reload your card at some retail locations.

What's the Difference Between this Card and a Credit Card?

With a prepaid debit card, you can only spend money that you have loaded or that has been loaded by someone else. There is no credit part to this card, and no credit check, bank account, or bank history check is required to get the card. You should also know that you will not build credit with this card.

How Do I Get an H&R Block Emerald Card?

You can apply for a card in person at an H&R block tax office and it will automatically be activated when your funds are loaded. You cannot apply online.

How Can I Get Cash with this Card?

Many merchants will let you get cash back at the point of sale for no charge (this can include grocery stores and pharmacies). You should always ask to make sure that you aren't being charged anything, however, since some retailers do apply a surcharge.

You can also get cash from ATMs with the MasterCard logo on them (though you will be charged a fee unless you are using an ATM with the MoneyPass logo or an ATM at CVS or 7-Eleven).

For more information, including information on opening a joint card, you should go to the H&R Block website.


Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 08, 2013:

rockieb I would recommend that you call your local H & R Block professional. They should know if you definitely get the advance or not. Make sure when you call, to ask what you need to bring in with you. Thanks for your comment..

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on January 01, 2013:

Nenez thanks for your comment. Yes the Emerald Card is helpful in time of need. Always check with your local H & R Block agent, for all details to obtain the advance from Emerald Card.

Havea nice day.

nenez on November 20, 2012:

I have used the emerald card advance for the past 2 years and I find that it is a help in times of need, its a fast service and the h&r block office that i go to is in jennings la have awsome service reps they are friendly and helpful. They really know what they are doing, if you go prepared with all the items you need they will do their best to make sure you get the best service that thay can offer. I am very satisified with the service i get from that office.

rockieb on November 17, 2012:

i called H&R Block number to see if i prequalified fo the emerald advance and they said i do. does this mean that i will definatley get the loan?

rockieb on November 17, 2012:

called the number about pre approval for the emerald advance and was told i am, i was wondering if it means im guarenteed to get the advance

foda88 on November 13, 2012:

They do check your credit for this my husband applied last year and was approved however I applied last year and make 46,000.00 by my self each year and was denied because I bought a new Camaro and it was listed as a new debt on my credit and they denied me......I have gotten it every year until last year.

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 13, 2012:

Hello. Yes they willl give you a brand new card on the spot or they used too. Good luck. But remember this only through tax season and for a short time. Always check with your local agent at H&R Block incase things have changed.

Have a good day and thanks for your comment.

sweetheart82 on November 12, 2012:

Hello My question is do they give you a brand new card on the spot? If you get approved? I do my taxes at H&R block every year ,But i don't have my card anymore,How does this work?Thanks.

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on April 13, 2012:

Hi Bobbi Jo. The emerald card advance is always changing or updating. If it says you have money on your card. Than that is how much money you have to spend only. Sometimes the advance is taken out of your taxes and paid back. To be sure. Contact a local H & R Block agent.

Thank you.

Bobbi Jo on March 30, 2012:

ok so i'm not borrowing on my taxes but i did in dec, My question is when i check how much money is on my card it says i have an advance payment of 305.00 would you like your advance? what is it and how much and when would i have to pay it back?

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on February 04, 2012:

Hi Karen thanks for your comment and this Emerald Card Advance is not for everyone though. If you get approved and you need the money fast, than its a good deal. If you don't need the money, than it is best to just wait for it. Yes, they do charge you a fee for this advance.

Thanks for your comment and have a nice day.

KAREN GIDDENS on February 03, 2012:

This sounds like a rip off to me, They take out $100 of your own money. I don't think so. This is not a good deal. Why would you pay more money out of your refund to get your money a week early. NOWAY!

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on January 30, 2012:

Hi Jay. Once you are approved for the Emerald Card Advance, it usually takes about 72 hours could be faster than that. Check with you local agent, to make sure that the offer is still available. It usually is not offered past mid January.

Thanks for your comment.

Jay on January 29, 2012:

How long should it take to get my refund?

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on January 06, 2012:

Hi Heather sorry you were denied the emerald card advance. I am not sure how you would be able to reapply unless you knew your projected income. I have never had any problems with H & R Block. However, seems that your exsperience with them, was not the best. I wish you better futures. If you have any more questions, they may have to be referred to and H & R Block agent. Thanks for your comment.

Heather on January 06, 2012:

Hi we applied today and were denied because they weren't able to calculate our 2012 projected income.How i dont know as my husband is active duty military and a e6 its not like he has a seasonal job. No one can give a straight answer on anything reguarding it. Do not use them horrible customer service! they also check your credit which had nothing to do with our denial just that they couldn't calculate the 2012 income. Weve used them for 7 years bs!

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 21, 2011:

Renee thanks for your question. Based on my knowledge, it has nothing to do with your credit. It is based on what and how much you are receiving on your taxes. Please, check with your local agent, to see if you qualify fro the emerald card advance.

Thank you.

Renee on December 21, 2011:

Hello do you need good credit cause I don't. I don't want to waste my time going if I need good credit.

Moe on December 15, 2011:

Thank you.

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 13, 2011:

Hi Moe thanks for your question. Yes, I believe your wife would have to be there, to sign the paper work with you. To make sure, check with your local tax agent.

Have a great day.

Moe on December 13, 2011:

Every year i.claim with my wife do I have to take her for the advance

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 09, 2011:

Hi Ashley, I believe that to be accurate, however check with your local agent and be sure.

Have a great day.

Ashley on December 09, 2011:

Is there a certain amount you have to make during the year to qualify for the emerald card advance? I heard you have to make 10000. I did not make that much.

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 05, 2011:

Thanks Ken for your question. I am not sure if you file your own taxes, that you can get the emerald card advance this year. I do believe you have to file with H & R Block, too be able to get the advance. I wish I could have been more help for you. Please check with your local agent, if you have any further questions on filing your own taxes.


ken on December 05, 2011:

H & R block always do my taxes. This year I wanted to do them on my own. If I get the card from H&R block, can the money be taking out my taxes if i don't let H&R block file my taxes

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 02, 2011:

Hi Denise as far as I know, they do not check your credit. You and your husband apply to qualify, based on how much your return will be. Almost everyone that applys is accepted. You only have till January 14/2012 to apply. Check with your local agent. Good luck Denise.

Denise on December 01, 2011:

Me and my husband are thinking about the emerald card. We always file our taxes with H & R Block. The only thing is our credit is not that good. Does your credit matter when applying. Thanks

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 30, 2011:

Hi Heather. Yes I do believe you can use unemployment and self employment income or a that's how it worked last year Thanks for letting us know, that you can file on line and still qualify.Check with your local agent and be sure, to make sure there are no more changes.

Have a nice day

heather on November 30, 2011:

you can file online last year with hrblock and still qualify that is how i do mine very year and i still get the advance. This year may be tricky although they tell me i can use unemplyment and self employment income i will soon find out tomorrow if it works!

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 30, 2011:

Hi Bernadette thanks for your question. To the best of my knowledge you have to be sitting in front of and H&R Block agent. They have to have you sign a contract in front of them. It consists of the fees and the policy regulations on the contract. It only takes a couple of minutes to find out if you qualify. If you qualify than the money is placed on your card, usually the same day or the following day. When you file your taxes in January for the year and you received and advance earlier on your emerald card, than the money you received is taken out of your return automatically including the fees. This is a good thing and yes it can help with your Christmas shopping. I hope this helps. Check with your local agent to file for your emerald card advance.

Thank you.

Bernadette on November 30, 2011:

I have done emerald advance the past several yrs but I have always had hr block prepare my taxes .last year I did my taxes online but through hr block web site paying a small fee for them to double check it. Would I still qualify for the emerald card this yr to do some Xmas shopping?

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 29, 2011:

Hi Janet Lynn. The emerald card will be available Dec 1 until January 16th only. I hope this helps you. Good luck.

Janet Lynn on November 28, 2011:

Is this available now 11/11?

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on November 28, 2011:

Hi bellyears to the best of my knowledge I was not given a credit check. I hope this helps.

bellyears on November 27, 2011:

do they do a credit check

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 15, 2010:

Thanks Joy Dans for your comment. This actually does work. So yes give it a try next year.

Joy Dans on December 15, 2010:

Great advice thanks I will look into it next year.

anonymous on December 12, 2010:

This is great. Thanks.

Rhonda Musch (author) from The Emerald Coast on December 09, 2010:

Thanks to everyone for each and every comment.

Liza Simmons on December 08, 2010:

Yes this works. Keep the tips coming.

Eric Musch on December 07, 2010:

This really works. Great article

anonymous on December 06, 2010:

great tip

Bill Barnes on November 28, 2010:

Great advice i will give it a try on November 27, 2010:

thanks for the tip love your work

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