Lowe's Promoting Block Tax Refund Advance Loan

Adam Rust

Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores is distributing promotional materials for the H&R Block Refund Advance Loan  to its employees.

Reinvestment Partners, the parent non-profit organization of WiseWage, operates a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site where it prepares tax returns for free. It has received some visits from employees of Lowe’s. In more than a few cases, they have worked with employees of Lowe’s. They have seen coupons from Lowe’s employees.

Those incidents cast an interesting light on Lowe’s. First, because VITA sites are meant to serve low-income filers, it shows that many of the people working in their stores receive low wages.

Secondly, it seems like an unusual partnership with an otherwise unrelated business.

Last, it raises the question of Lowe’s motives. Is Lowe’s receiving referral fees to direct their associates to Block?

According to H&R Block’s website, clients who use a Block Refund Advance Loan can receive the proceeds of their loan within hours.

Consumers must apply in person.

The terms of the H&R Block Refund Advance Loan:

• The loan bears no interest

• Approval is conditioned by underwriting

• The size of the loan is conditioned on the size of the expected refund. Loans come in four sizes: $500, $750, $1,250, and $3,000.

• Proceeds are delivered to an H&R Block Emerald Card.

The RAL is available from January 4th to February 28th.

Accounts That You Can Use to Receive Your Tax Refund
Picture of card
Tax Loan RAL Coupon Lowes

The loan may be free, but because Block loads the funds onto its fee-riddled prepaid debit card, filers may still pay fees in the end.

Lowe’s associates who opt to receive a free Block RAL will have to access their funds through an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard.

• They will pay a $3 fee to withdraw funds by ATM as well as any fee charged by the host ATM provider.

• They will pay a $1.50 if you attempt to withdraw funds from an ATM but are declined due to a lack of funds. Additionally, the host ATM provider may add on another fee.

• They will pay $35 to withdraw funds at the counter inside a bank.

• They will pay $0.95 to use electronic bill payment and another $2.00 if they want the payment to arrive in one business day.They will pay $15 if your recipient cannot accept funds electronically and must instead receive your payment by paper check.

• They will pay $1.50 to check a balance at an ATM, plus any additional fees charged by the host ATM provider.

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Adam Rust has worked to defend consumers against harmful financial practices since 2005. He has written extensively about overdraft fees, payday lending, credit insurance, student loans, prepaid debit cards, high-cost installment loans, and subprime mortgage lending. The New York Times interviewed him when it reported on the CFPB's rulemaking on prepaid debit cards; subsequently, his research paper framed the debate on consumer protections.

He serves on the Board of the US Faster Payments Council. He is Director of Research at Reinvestment Partners in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of BankTalk. He is the author of "This is My Home: Challenges and Opportunities of Manufactured Housing" and has testified to Congress on how to redress some of the problems with manufactured housing. See more on his LinkedIn profile.