Direct Express — How to Get Your Federal Payments Quicker

While direct deposit to your bank account is a relatively efficient way to receive your benefits, it’s not always timely. A paper check can get lost or stolen.

Direct Express is a prepaid debit card endorsed by the U.S. Government as an alternative to a traditional direct bank deposit. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a Direct Express debit card.

Direct Express Information

If you receive federal payments, you have two methods to receive payment: direct deposit to your bank account or enrollment in a prepaid debit card.

Direct Express is a prepaid debit card offered to benefit recipients from the U.S. Government in partnership with Comerica Bank. 

This partnership helps reduce paper check fraud and provides easy access to federal assistance for thousands of people.

Enrollment in this program allows you, the recipient, to access your federal benefits payments without a bank account. This direct debit program is available to bank account holders as well.

If you think you may qualify for federal benefits, you may also qualify for free wireless service from StandUp Wireless. You can check your eligibility now by clicking here.

How it Works

A Direct Express debit card works the same as any other debit card. You can use your card at any merchant or service that accepts MasterCard.

Every month, your federal assistance will deposit onto your Direct Express card rather than in your bank account. This helps avoid any payment delays due to bank processing.

With the Direct Express card, you can purchase gas, groceries, clothing, or any item where Mastercard is accepted. You also can withdraw your federal benefits payments from an ATM.

Direct Express Perks

One of the major perks of Direct Express enrollment is money management. Receiving federal payments separate from your banking allows for easier budgeting.

A person who receives payments through this method can map out how and where they spend their benefit allowance.

Another major perk of Direct Express enrollment is the “low funds notification.” Say you’ve lost track of your budget. Once your account drops to 50 dollars or lower, Direct Express will notify you via text message.

Be aware that some out of network banks will charge an ATM withdrawal fee. To avoid this, find your closest fee-free ATM. Many convenience store chains like 7-11 have these machines on-premise.

Cash-back is another feature of the Direct Express card. At participating stores, you can withdraw funds during purchase with no additional fees.

With your Direct Express card, you can also purchase money orders from the U.S. Post Office for any reason.

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Direct Express App

Direct Express offers a free mobile app available on iPhone and Android cellular devices. With this app, you can view recent transactions and Direct Express direct deposit information.

With the app, you can search for in-network ATMs and transfer your benefits to your bank accounts.

To download the app, you’ll need an iPhone with an operating system of 7.0 or higher or an Android phone with an operating system of 4.0 or higher.

If your device meets those specifications, all you’ll need to sign in is your Direct Express login information and your Social Security number.


Enrollment in the Direct Express app also entitles you free access to the PayPerks program.

PayPerks is a collaboration between Comerica Bank and MasterCard launched in 2013 for use with all direct debit cards associated with federal, state, and local assistance.

The program provides users with an interactive, illustrated curriculum designed to educate participants about financial stability.

Through this program, you can learn how to check your card balance and pay your bills online.

There are also courses available that teach a cardholder how to create a working budget and create a savings strategy, as well as how to protect their online identity.

Enrollment in PayPerks has another benefit. Depending on the last six digits of your Direct Express card number, you can win sweepstakes with successful course completion.

Depending on your card number, you may be eligible for cash prizes deposited back into your account or gift cards from major retailers.

With PayPerks, you can win money by learning how to save money. That’s a pretty good deal.

Direct Express Cardless Benefit Access

You might forget your card. There is a possibility you might lose it. These two scenarios can lead to a delay in accessing your money. That can be a financial disaster.

With Direct Express, you don’t have to worry about it. This program, formerly known as Direct Express Emergency Cash, allows a cardholder to access up to 1,000 dollars of their benefits through a wired money order.

This is especially helpful should you find yourself in a situation where you may have bills due, need access to grocery money, or any other expense while you wait for your new card to arrive.

One of the great features of this cardless access program is that it is available to use in all 50 states as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. If you are traveling and lose your card, you can have a money order sent to you.

There is a fee for this service. Depending on the amount requested the fee can range from 8.50 to 12 dollars per transaction.

Direct Express

If you receive federal assistance, you should consider the benefits of using a Direct Express card.

The timely payments, the easy-to-use mobile app, security, and the PayPerks educational program are all reasons to forgo traditional paper checks or bank direct deposit.

There is also the added benefit of budgeting ease. With how widely accepted Direct Express cards are, you can keep track of how you spend your benefits.

For more information on the federal assistance program Lifeline Support for Communications, check out our website.