H&R Block loan review: A no-interest loan — with strings attached (2024)

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Pros

  • You use your tax refund, when you get it, to pay off your refund advance loan
  • 0% APR loan

Cons

  • You’ll have to file through H&R Block and pay its tax preparation fees
  • The prepaid Mastercard comes with a lot of fees, including charges for reloading and ATM use — and even a charge for not using the card (inactivity fee)

What you need to know about an H&R Block loan

H&R Block is a large tax preparation and tax software firm that offers refund advance loans at the beginning of tax season in five loan amounts: $250, $500, $750, $1,250 and $3,500. For the 2023 filing season, H&R Block offers refund advance loans from Jan. 2, 2024 to Feb. 29, 2024.

A no-interest loan

The biggest selling point of the H&R Block Refund Advance is that it’s offered as a 0% APR loan — meaning you won’t have to pay any interest on it. That’s a big deal since many lenders charge interest on their loans.

But there’s also a catch or two.

Money must be deposited onto an H&R Block prepaid card

If you’re approved for an H&R Block Refund Advance loan, the money will be loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard® rather than deposited directly into your bank account.

There’s no charge to make a one-time transfer via check or automated clearing house from your card account to your bank account. But the H&R Block Emerald Card has a lot of fees that could pile up fast if you use it like a traditional debit card.

  • Reloading fees – Up to $4.95 for cash reloading, depending on the reload provider
  • ATM fees – $3 per withdrawal and $1.50 for each balance inquiry or decline, plus you may be charged additional fees by the ATM operator

There’s even a $4.95 monthly fee for “inactivity” that kicks in if you go 60 days without a transaction.

You must file your taxes through H&R Block and pay its fees

To be eligible for a refund advance loan from H&R Block, you’ll need to file your tax return at a participating H&R Block office and pay its tax preparation fees.

If you prefer to do your own taxes, don’t want to make an in-person appointment or already have a tax preparer, this is a major drawback.

Repayment options

Remember that an H&R Block Refund Advance isn’t your tax refund from the IRS. It’s a loan. You’ll have to pay back what you borrow, and H&R Block gives you a couple of options.

Refund transfer — H&R Block will withdraw the money you owe, including tax preparation fees, from your refund account. Any remaining refund amount will be given to you based on what you choose during tax preparation: direct deposit, check or H&R Block Emerald Card.

A closer look at an H&R Block loan

If you’re considering an H&R Block refund loan, here are a few more things you should know.

  • Same-day funding possible —If your application is approved, you may get your money the same day you apply. Just remember that the maximum loan amount offered is $3,500.
  • Prequalification option — An H&R Block Refund Advance won’t hurt your credit since H&R Block’s partner, Pathward, says it uses a soft inquiry to check your credit before deciding whether to issue a loan. Keep in mind that even if you expect to get a refund, prequalification is no guarantee of loan approval. You must submit a formal loan application when you file your tax return.

Who is an H&R Block loan good for?

If you already plan to use H&R Block for tax preparation this tax season, you may want to consider an H&R Block Refund Advance to take care of a pressing, high-interest bill or loan, such as a payday loan.

Having to use H&R Block’s Emerald Card means transaction fees could pile up — unless you move your refund advance funds to a regular account using the one-time, free transfer and then close the card once your refund comes in. The Emerald Card cardholder agreement says you may cancel the card by returning it to the issuer, and it’ll send you a check (or deposit funds in another account) for any balance you might have.

Otherwise you may want to avoid borrowing through H&R Block altogether and just wait for your tax refund.

How to apply with H&R Block

To apply for an H&R Block Refund Advance, you’ll first have to make an appointment at a local H&R Block office. You can do this online.

In the meantime, you can apply for prequalification online. You’ll need your Social Security number, last year’s tax refund amount and personal contact information.

Remember, prequalifying isn’t a guarantee of approval. You’ll need to submit a formal loan application when you file your tax return.

Not sure if an H&R Block loan is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Jackson Hewitt: If you prefer to file taxes with Jackson Hewitt, you may qualify for a refund advance loan of up to $6,500. Fees may apply depending on the amount of your loan.

About the author: Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA in marketing from Roosevelt Un… Read more.

As a seasoned financial expert with extensive knowledge in the field, I can confidently dissect the article you provided, shedding light on each concept mentioned. My deep understanding of the financial industry, coupled with my ability to analyze and interpret intricate details, positions me as a reliable source for discussing the content at hand.

The article revolves around H&R Block's Refund Advance program and provides information on various aspects, including the pros and cons, the loan structure, and the application process. Let's break down the key concepts:

  1. IntuitCredit Karma Compensation Disclosure:

    • The article begins with a disclaimer regarding compensation received by IntuitCredit Karma from third-party advertisers. This statement aims to ensure transparency, indicating that the editors' opinions are not influenced by compensation.
  2. H&R Block Refund Advance Overview:

    • H&R Block is introduced as a significant player in tax preparation, offering refund advance loans at the start of the tax season.
    • The loan amounts for the 2023 filing season range from $250 to $3,500, available from Jan. 2, 2024, to Feb. 29, 2024.
  3. 0% APR Loan Feature:

    • The article emphasizes a key selling point of the H&R Block Refund Advance – it is a 0% APR loan, meaning borrowers won't incur interest charges.
  4. Prepaid Mastercard and Associated Fees:

    • Upon approval, the loan amount is loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard instead of being directly deposited into the borrower's bank account.
    • The prepaid card comes with various fees, including reloading fees, ATM fees, and an inactivity fee if there are no transactions for 60 days.
  5. Tax Filing Requirement and Fees:

    • Eligibility for the refund advance loan requires filing taxes through H&R Block and paying its tax preparation fees.
    • This could be a drawback for individuals who prefer to handle their own taxes or have a different tax preparer.
  6. Repayment Options:

    • The article explains that the H&R Block Refund Advance is a loan that needs to be repaid. Repayment options include a refund transfer, where H&R Block withdraws the owed amount from the refund account.
  7. Same-Day Funding and Prequalification:

    • There's a mention of the possibility of same-day funding if the application is approved.
    • An option for prequalification is highlighted, indicating that it won't impact the borrower's credit score.
  8. Considerations and Alternatives:

    • Borrowers are advised to be cautious about potential fees associated with the prepaid card and to explore alternatives if the H&R Block Refund Advance doesn't align with their preferences.
    • A mention of Jackson Hewitt as an alternative, with potential higher loan amounts but with fees depending on the loan amount.
  9. Author Information:

    • The article is authored by Anna Baluch, a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio, holding an MBA in marketing.

In summary, this article provides a comprehensive overview of H&R Block's Refund Advance program, covering its features, benefits, drawbacks, and alternatives. It aims to inform readers about the intricacies of utilizing such a financial product and encourages them to make informed decisions based on their financial preferences and situations.

H&R Block loan review: A no-interest loan — with strings attached (2024)
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