People using state-issued debit cards for unemployment benefits
will see many of the fees associated with using the cards reduced
or eliminated altogether thanks to the Department of Labor and
Employment's renegotiated contract with J.P. Morgan Chase.
The new contract will save users of the cards more than $500,000
each year. Some of the new fee structures are already in place;
others will go into effect later this month. Among the changes
Elimination of the "point-of-sale" fees for each transaction,
a move that will save cardholders approximately $60,000 per
Allowing cardholders to withdraw up to $809 within a 24-hour
period (this is the maximum ATM withdrawal allowed);
Modification of the Denied Transaction Fee policy. Seventy five
cents had been charged if a debit card was denied. Those assessed
fees had cost cardholders approximately $14,000 per month. This
change will provide one free denied transaction for each deposit
the Unemployment Insurance Program makes on the account.
"In Colorado, the cards were introduced as a way to expedite the
payment of benefits and eliminate the costs of warehousing of check
stock, printing and mailing checks. Eliminating postage costs alone
have saved us more than $200,000 per year," says Department of
Labor and Employment Executive Director Ellen Golombek. "However,
since the debit card was introduced, we have worked to find ways to
address concerns about bank fees. In February of 2009, claimants
were given the choice of having their unemployment benefits
deposited directly into their bank or credit union account. Last
year, we renegotiated the one free teller withdrawal to two free
teller withdrawals per month. This latest contract renegotiation is
another significant step in that ongoing process."
Tips for avoiding debit card fees appear on the Department of
Labor and Employment's website, www.colorado.gov/cdle. Click on the
links, "Unemployment Insurance" then "Unemployment Benefits
Overview" and finally, select the menu item, "Colorado Automated
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