We help you calculate the maximum amount that could end up in your bank account if another stimulus payment comes your way.

Angela Lang/CNET

Talks to pass new relief legislation are now butting up against the campaign for the Nov. 3 election, but both Republican and Democratic leaders still say they want to approve more stimulus money in a second check. It all depends on an overarching bill.

“I believe a targeted package is still needed, and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday in prepared remarks before a congressional committee. Meanwhile, new jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 were 870,000, up 866,000 from the prior week. 

While so much is still up in the air, we can predict that the total amount of money you could be eligible to get as an individual or family may be subject to new eligibility requirements for your dependents. Try CNET’s stimulus calculator for an estimate specific to your situation, and read on for more explanation. And here are the most important facts about stimulus checks. This story updates often.

How to figure out if your payment could surpass $1,200

The $1,200 figure for individuals is based on guidelines from the last stimulus bill and two proposals, and uses your adjusted gross income, or AGI, to help determine the total you could personally expect. 

But the total amount also varies depending on your family circumstances, like more money if you file jointly with your spouse and money for dependents as part of the total sum. A new change could bring more money total if dependents of any age qualify for this extra sum in a new check.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


We lay out some potential scenarios below, based on our stimulus check calculator, which you can also use to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation. 

Stimulus check calculations

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5
Filing status Single Head of household Married Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $55,000 $80,000 $110,000 $110,000 $200,000
Dependents under 17 (CARES Act) 0 1 2 2 2
Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act) 0 0 0 2 0
Estimated check amount $1,200 $1,700 $3,400 $4,400 $900

3 ways you could get your stimulus payment from the IRS

Being owed a check is one thing, but receiving it is another. Here’s how the IRS is likely to send a second check, based on the first.

Direct deposit to your bank account: The IRS already has a system in place to electronically transfer the funds into your checking account. That is, if you already provided those details if you registered for direct deposit with your first check or as part of filing your IRS tax return. This is expected to be the fastest way to get your stimulus check — look for the registration tool to reopen if another check passes.

A paper check in the mail: If you don’t share your direct deposit details with the IRS, look for a physical check in the mail. You’ll wait longer for it, and if you’re recently moved, you’ll need to file a change of address with the US Postal Service, since the IRS will mail your check to your last known address.

EIP card: The IRS sent about 4 million people a prepaid economic impact payment card in the mail. This is money you can spend like cash on a debit card. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes. It took longer to receive than a paper check or direct deposit.

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, follow these steps.


The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 

James Martin/CNET

How Americans used the first round of stimulus checks

A recent survey looked at how Americans are using their stimulus checks. According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

  • 15% of recipients said they spent or would spend most of their checks.
  • 33% said they mostly saved.
  • 52% said they paid down debt.

In general, the report found that lower-income households were significantly more likely to spend their stimulus checks, higher-income individuals were more likely to save it and those with mortgages or who were renters were much more likely to pay off debt.

According to the US Census Bureau, here’s the breakout for households that spent their stimulus checks on items other than savings or paying down debt.

  • 80% of those who spent their checks reported using it on food.
  • 77.9% spent it on rent, mortgage and utilities.
  • 58.2% bought household supplies and personal care products.
  • 20.5% purchased clothing.
  • 8.1% spent it on household goods — such as TVs, electronics, furniture and appliances — or recreational goods, including fitness equipment, toys and games.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

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