Direct Express Cards: Access Social Security and other federal payments without a bank account
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Even if you don’t have a bank account, you can quickly access your benefits with the Direct ExpressÂ® Debit MasterCardÂ® program. The Direct Express card is a prepaid debit card that allows federal benefit recipients to access their payments from any ATM that accepts Mastercard. Using the Direct Express card also means that you don’t have to keep a minimum balance on the card and there are no monthly fees or registration fees.
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How does the Direct ExpressÂ® card work?
When you sign up for the Direct ExpressÂ® card program, monthly payments are automatically deposited into your account on the date of your payment. When you activate your card, you choose a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) that you enter when using your card at ATMs and point of sale. You can use your card to:
- Withdraw funds from any bank, credit union, or ATM that accepts Mastercard debit cards
- Buy from any location that accepts debit card payments
- Pay your bills online or over the phone
Learn more: Why does the government want to know how much is in your bank account?
Most of the services are also free; however, there may be fees with some transactions. These costs may include:
- After your one free cash withdrawal at an ATM for each benefit payment, additional withdrawals incur a fee of 85 cents per transaction.
- $ 4.00 to replace a card after a free card replacement each year. Expedited delivery costs $ 13.50.
- Withdraw cash over the counter at Walmart for a fee of 85 cents.
- Transfer funds for $ 1.50 by transfer to a personal US bank account.
- Monthly paper statements cost 75 cents per month. You can check your account balance for free online, by calling the Direct Express card’s toll-free customer service number, or by using the DX mobile app.
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There are a few restrictions, but not a lot. If you need to buy gasoline, you won’t be able to pay directly at the pump and will have to go inside to pay at the cashier. If you use the card to rent a vehicle, the rental agency may place an authorization on the debit card for up to $ 500 of your balance during the rental period. The funds are released when you return the vehicle, but your money may not be available for two weeks.
What if the card is lost or stolen?
If your card is lost or stolen, it must be reported to customer service within two business days to limit your liability for losses to $ 50. After two days, you could be held liable for up to $ 500 in losses. After 120 days, you may be liable for the full amount.
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How can I apply for the Direct Express card?
If you are receiving federal benefits, you can apply for the card. You can apply through your local federal payment agency or call the Direct Express Card Enrollment Center toll-free at 1 (800) 333-1795.
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Last updated: November 1, 2021