In using the debit cards, "I think we need to be careful that saving the state money in processing isn't just shifting the cost of processing to people on unemployment," McMahon said.
People can avoid fees by using their cards for point-of-sale transactions, rather than withdrawals at ATMs, he said.
In some areas of the state, it might be hard for people to avoid using out-of-network machines, McMahohn said.
WorkForce West Virginia gives people information on how to avoid or reduce fees, Sisk said. Users also receive materials from the bank.
People who need a replacement card are not charged for one, and all users can check their balance online for free, Sisk said.
In an email to the Gazette, Sisk said the agency is "always looking for ways to improve services to our customers."
States negotiate the debit card fee structures through the bidding process.
"When the debit card contract is sent out for re-bid this fall, we will accept the bids with the lowest overall fees to the customers just as we did when accepting the bid from Chase," Sisk said. "We will also take steps to make sure the bank that wins the bid has sufficient numbers of ATMs around the state in an effort to reduce fees."
Chase contracts with 14 states for unemployment debit cards, said Chase spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean. Most of those states offer alternatives to the cards, she said.
NCLC found that California and New Jersey have the best debit card programs. Both contract with Bank of America.
In five states, card users face $10 to $20 overdraft fees: Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon. U.S. Bank issues those states' cards.
Tennessee's program, provided by Chase, has the most "junk fees" for services such as balance inquiries and ATM withdrawals, according to the report.
Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.