The Register’s Editorial: ‘Nobody should have to pay to be paid’

It’s Friday afternoon so you stop by your workplace and pick up your paycheck. You go to the credit union, deposit it, check your balance, transfer some money to another account and then withdraw some cash. A few days later you discover you’ve lost your ATM card. The credit union sends you a new one. Each month you receive a paper statement in the mail with details about your account transactions.

None of this costs you a penny. The same routine business is likely much more expensive for a retail or restaurant worker who agreed the first day on the job to be paid on a so-called “payroll card.” Wages are deposited onto these increasingly prevalent debit cards, which are provided by employers and administered by third-party entities.

Calling a “live agent” to ask a question about your account may cost $2. Some Iowans are charged $3 a month if their accounts are “inactive,” another $3 to receive a paper statement and an additional fee if they want to treat the payroll card like a real bank account and give a spouse access to it. The cost to quickly replace a lost payroll card can be as high as $19, according to documents shared by Iowa workers with The Des Moines Register editorial board.

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