Christmas Loans From H&R Block
Getting the Emerald Advance Line of Credit
The H&R Block Emerald Advance is a year-round line of credit. With it, you can borrow and repay between $300 and $1000 as many times as you need, depending on bank approval.
For 2015, the line of credit will be available starting November 23, 2015.
If you're approved, the money will be put onto an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard. Technically, this is not a holiday loan since the funds can be available year-round. However, it does become available again at holiday time to folks who want to open new accounts.
Year-round access might require an Emerald Savings account — be sure to ask about it while you're at the H&R office.
- You are required to pay off the card in full by February 15th, and you cannot use the line of credit between Jan. 27th and February 15th unless you qualify.
- The line of credit is subject to credit approval and there are some fees that apply so be sure to ask whoever you're talking to at H&R to explain all of them.
- The loan is not available in all offices. Call your local office ahead of time just in case.
- For more information and to schedule an appointment, go to the H&R Block website.
Current earnings statement (like a paycheck stub)
Unexpired government-issued photo ID ( like a driver's license)
Your H&R Block Prepaid MasterCard (if you have one)
Proof of Current Address (for new clients, like a utilities bill)
- The minimum monthly payment is $25 or 4% of the balance, whichever is greater
- The entire balance is due in full by February 15th, 2016
You can make payments by:
- Check or debit card
- Transfer from Emerald card
- Cash payment at MoneyGram or 7-Eleven locations ($2.99 fee applies)
- Tax refund (you can use this for pay down only, not for monthly payment
You could have access to the credit year-round if you pay down your entire balance by Feb. 15th, meaning you must owe $0, and meet some other requirements.
What You Can Do
November - December
Apply for Emerald Advance
December - January 27th
Use line of credit and make monthly payments ($25 or 4% of total balance)
January 27th - February 15th
Annual resting period
February 16th - November
Use your line of credit, if you're eligible
Information About Fees and Interest Rate (APR)
- $45 Annual Fee
You will pay this on the first day that your Emerald Advance is opened. The fee is $30 for clients who maintain their account year-round.
- 36% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) during the promotional period (Nov - Jan) for unsecured lines of credit
For partial-savings secured and full-savings secured, the APR is 18% and 9%, respectively. Ask the person you're talking to at H&R block about your options.
- $7.50 Late Fee
Payments received after due date may be assessed a late fee. These are charged monthly, up to a max of five times a year. There are no grace periods.
- $20 Returned Payment Fee
If you pay with a check and the check bounces, you'll be charged $20
Using the Advance the Rest of the Year
After February 15th, you can continue using the Emerald Advance in a couple of ways.
- You qualify under the Unsecured Method.
- You qualify under the Savings Secured Method.
- You qualify under the Partial Savings Secured Method.
Both the Savings Secured and Partial Savings Secured method require that you open an Emerald Savings Account and have a certain amount of money in it at all times. The amount of money you can borrow depends on the amount of money you have in your account.
There are also restrictions on withdrawing from your Emerald Savings Account based on the balance of your Emerald Advance. In general, you always need to have enough money in your Emerald Savings to pay off your Emerald Advance.
This can be kind of confusing, so make sure the person you're talking to at H&R block explains everything in detail and that you understand all the numbers and your options.
My Experiences With H&R Block
2008 - 2009
I have been filing my taxes with H&R Block ever since I can remember. I worked for the company years ago. I know the cost is crazy but I still do it because I can get part of my return the same day and I always need the money.
I also like to get their Christmas loan around November.
- In 2008, I got $1,200 which really helped a lot with Christmas gifts that year.
- In 2009, I got $800 because the credit limit had been lowered.
2010 - 2012
I went to H&R Block in 2010 because I was eligible for a first-time home buyers credit. I was a little late on filing for the house that I had bought the year before but I had so much going on in my life that I kept putting it off.
I had purchased my home for $15,000, so the IRS owed me $1,500. A person gets 10% back, or up to $8,000 for the purchase of the first home. Of course, after mailing my return, the IRS sent it back and requested the HUD settlement statement even though I had attached the purchase agreement. I suppose the IRS wanted to make sure the person actually bought the home, so that's fair enough. I'm sure I'll get the money back some day.
While I was at H&R Block, I decided to ask my tax preparer about my daughter's baby, who had only lived about six weeks. The tax preparer said that whenever a baby is born, as long as it is not stillborn, you may claim the baby for the entire year.
I also asked the preparer when H&R Block was giving out Christmas loans. The preparer said November 18, 2010. The year before, I'd driven to New York to get the Christmas loan since they were doing them sooner there, but in 2010, PA did the loans before New York.
- On November 18, 2010, I went to H&R Block and got the holiday loan.
- I got $900 in 2011.
- I got $800 in 2012.
I was told they are now basing the loans more on one's credit and that one in four people have been denied. I do not have the best credit and I was still approved, although I have received the loan every year.
I still got the loan in 2012 even though I hadn't filed my taxes with H&R block that year because I mailed in the $800 as soon as I got my refund.
My advice is to always make sure you pay the loan back by Feb. 15th because you never know when you will need it in the future.
You should also check because the date they start accepting applications varies from year to year.