Stimulus check: Here's how to make sure you get your child-tax-credit payments

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Families eligible for the expanded child-tax credit, half of which is set to be paid out in advance monthly installments starting next week, can now update their direct deposit information online to ensure quick receipt of their stimulus benefits. 

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal on now allows parents and caregivers with qualifying children to add or update their bank-account information. All that's needed is an account number and bank routing number — both of which can be found on a personal check or within an online bank portal. 

(On paper checks, the routing number is nine digits long, usually printed on the bottom left in old-fashioned machine-readable type. It's set off by colons and will look like |: 123456789|:)

If the IRS already has direct-deposit information on file, child-tax credit benefits will be paid out to that account. Through the portal, recipients can check to make sure that the information is correct, can update the information with a different account, or can add a bank account if there's not one already linked. Any changes will apply starting with the August 13 payment. 

Families not enrolled in direct deposit will receive paper checks. However, the IRS is urging eligible recipients to opt for direct deposit to speed up payments and reduce the likelihood of funds getting lost in the mail. 

The portal also gives you the option to unenroll from advance child-tax-credit payments entirely. Families who do so will receive the balance of their credit as a lump sum when filing their 2021 taxes in early 2022. The deadline for unenrolling is August 2. 

The following groups may consider opting out of advance payments: 

  • Families who expect their 2021 income to be too high to qualify for the child-tax credit
  • Caregivers whose children are claimed on someone else's tax returns
  • Families whose primary residence was outside the U.S. for more than half of 2021

Who gets the child-tax credit?

The expanded child-tax credit, which was included in the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan, provides up to $3,600 per child ($300 per month) under age 6 and up to $3,000 per child ($250 per month) age 6 through 17. 

Those benefits will drop by $50 for every $1,000 in income for single filers earning more than $75,000 per year and married filers making more than $150,000 per year. Families with higher incomes are still eligible for the regular pre-2021 credit of $2,000 per child under age 17, but they won't qualify for advance monthly payments.

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.