Direct Express Is the Easiest Way to Receive Social Security Benefits

Direct Express is the newest and safest way to receive your social security benefits. Here's how you can enroll and receive your payment automatically

Robin Hill-Gray - Author

Nov. 2 2021, Published 9:01 a.m. ET

older woman paying pharmacist with debit card
Source: getty

Direct Express allows Social Security recipients to have benefits deposited directly and securely onto a prepaid debit card, promising its users security and ease. Here's how to enroll and receive a Direct Express Card. We will also explore the benefits of using the Direct Express card to receiving a check.

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Elderly couple discussing a credit card

How to use the Direct Express card to receive Social Security benefits.

To sign up for Direct Express, the beneficiary must first indicate that they would like to receive their benefits via direct deposit. From there, the user can decide if they want to use the Direct Express prepaid card or have the funds deposited into their personal bank account.

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Account provides customers with tips for paying for gas with a Direct Express card

Unlike a traditional direct deposit, you don’t actually need a bank account to receive a Direct Express card; instead, the money is deposited directly at midnight on the scheduled day of your payment. Note that the financial service provider for the Direct express Card is Comerica Bank.

The card is secured by a personal ID number that protects your account and the money is FDIC insured. If your card is ever lost or stolen, it can be replaced.

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Direct Express card features are similar to a normal debit card.

The Direct Express card does not have a registration fee or a monthly fee. Free services include: a one-time ATM withdrawal for each deposit (ATMs within the Direct Express network), notification of deposits, optional low balance alerts, 24hr toll-free customer service, mobile app availability, purchases at retail locations, cash back with purchases, and cash withdrawals through a bank or credit union.

Direct Express Benefits card
Source: Social Security Administration

Direct Express Card promotional photo

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According to the Social Security Administration website, the only services with fees are:

  • ATM cash withdrawal: $0.85 for each transaction made after the first for a given deposit

  • Cash at any Walmart money Center or customer service desk: $0.85 each time

  • Monthly mailed paper statement: $0.75 each month

  • Transfer funds to a personal account: $1.50 per transfer

  • Card replacement (after one free each year): $4

  • Overnight delivery of replacement card: $13.50 each time

  • International ATM withdrawal $3 plus 3 percent for each withdrawal

  • International transaction: 3 percent for each transaction.

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According to the Social Security Portal, unlike a traditional direct deposit, account numbers and routing numbers are not made public to cardholders because only federal payments can be put on the card, and you cannot add your own funds onto the card. Another point to note is that you cannot sign up for online bill pay with the Direct Express card because the account number is not made available. If that's an important feature to you stick with traditional direct deposit with your personal checking account.

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Woman using her card by phone

How to sign up for Direct Express:

To sign up for Direct Express, the beneficiary must already be enrolled in direct deposit. Upon completing that step, you can enroll in Direct Express and receive a card.

To complete these steps, visit the website or sign up by phone at 1(800) 333-1795. Since social security paper checks are no longer in large use, consider signing up for direct deposit to your personal account, or Direct Express prepaid card to receive your benefits in the safest and most convenient way possible.


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