Unemployment Insurance Fees

I just received my unemployment insurance debit card, the default payment mechanism in Colorado. After dutifully reading the fee schedule i am appalled. If you are out of work it is quite likely that you need to make every penny count. But the debit card carries an obscene level of fees and usage charges.

Here are just a few of the most egregious ones.

  • 10 cent surcharge on every purchase1
  • 75 cents charge each time a transaction is denied due to insufficient funds2
  • 50 cents for a ATM balance inquiry

I am ashamed that the Colorado Department of Labor willing subject unemployed workers to this sort of treatment. It is particularly shocking because the debit card is strongly preferred as a payment method for unemployment insurance. The only other option is direct deposit, but it really talked down in the sign-up process.

The debit card issuer obviously needs to be paid, but surely we can do better than allowing Chase Bank to nickel and dime claimants every time they use the money entitled to them. Since a simple check is not an option the least the Department of Labor could do to pay the card issuer directly for their services, rather transferring that cost to unemployed worker in the form of obscene usage fees.

  1. You do get 2 free POS signature transactions each month. That barely even counts as a fig leaf.


  2. The old “don’t kick a man while he is down” adage is not given much weight in the banking industry, apparently.

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