One of the biggest sources of frustration for Direct Express cardholders is the issue of how to add money to Direct Express card. In this post, we will explain the issue in detail and provide the reason why Direct Express is set up this way.
Direct Express Card Restrictions
To understand the issue regarding adding money to Direct Express card, one has to understand the reason the Direct Express card exists in the first place.
The Direct Express card was set up by the US Department of the Treasury as an alternative to paper checks for federal benefits recipients.
If you receive one of the following federal benefits, then you are eligible to apply for Direct Express.
- Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income
- Veterans Affairs
- Railroad Retirement Board
- Office of Personnel Management
- Department of Labor (Black Lung)
Fixing a Specific Problem
Direct Express debit card was set up to fix a specific problem. As the federal government moved from issuing paper checks for federal benefits, there was one big problem:
The government was confronted with what to do about federal benefit recipients who do not have traditional bank accounts – like checking or savings account.
Since Congress had mandated that all federal benefits be received electronically, the government had to come up with a solution on what do do about those who cannot receive their benefits electronically.
The Direct Express card is set up to be a low-cost solution for those without a bank account to get their federal benefits electronically. Most transactions are free as shown below.
Even for transactions where you have to pay a fee, the costs are very low, compared to other prepaid debit cards out there.
Why You Can’t add Money to Direct Express Card
Since the Direct Express card is set up as a low-cost solution for federal benefits, the government has restricted the type of transactions you can have on the card.
One of the most frustrating restrictions is the inability to add money to the card.
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to add any funds to your Direct Express Card account.
Unlike a regular checking or savings account with a bank or credit union that allows you to deposit funds into your account, the Direct Express debit card is set up to only receive federal benefit payments.
That means that when you sign up to receive your Social Security or SSI benefits through Direct Express, that is the only money that will be available to you for spending on that account.
If you are earning additional money or have money coming from a non-federal benefits source and would like to deposit it into an account, you will have to open an account elsewhere.
You are not allowed to deposit any other funds, even cash to your Direct Express account.
The only other funds that can be deposited onto your Direct Express account are refunds for purchases you made with the card.
Is this Fact Known To Cardholders?
Based on the numerous complaints we get about this issue, it appears cardholders are not aware of this fact when they sign up for the Direct Express card.
As a result, customer service is bombarded with questions about why this restriction was instituted in the first place.
One recommendation is for Direct Express to make this fact clear when people sign up for the card. Hence the search for Direct Deposit Forms, which are not available.
We think it’s a big factor that should be disclosed upfront since some people go into this expecting to use the card in the same capacity as other prepaid cards, like the Walmart Moneycard or Netspend Prepaid.
If you signed up for Direct Express and are frustrated by the fact that you cannot add money to direct express card, let us know in the comments section below.