The US Treasury now requires that federal benefit payments (including Social Security, VA benefits) must be made electronically. The Direct Express card is a prepaid card that is offered to those who receive federal benefit payments as an option to receiving checks in the mail. In this post, we will review the top 10 complaints about Direct Express.
There are currently 5 million Americans who use the Direct Express debit card to receive federal government benefits.
As the number of people using the card has grown, so has the complaints about the card. Over the last 5 years, we have heard from our readers regarding issues they are having with their Direct Express card. Here are the top 10 complaints about Direct Express from the list of complaints we’ve received.
Top 10 Complaints About Direct Express
Hard to Reach Customer Service
A lot of the issues that Direct Express cardholders have to face is made worse by the difficulty in reaching customer service, especially by phone.
We have documented how hard it is to talk to a live customer service person in multiple articles over the years, including this one and this other one.
And for issues like fraud where time is of the essence, not being able to reach customer service quickly is a real problem that frustrates many cardholders.
We have received hundreds of complaints from frustrated cardholders about poor customer service from Direct Express and we think this is the number one issue the company has to fix.
Finding Free Network ATM
Even though Direct Express claims to have an extensive network of surcharge-free ATMs, finding an ATM near you can be a challenge.
For those who do not live near a surcharge-free ATM, getting cash can be expensive, with some banks charging as much as $5 per transaction. If you have to take out cash three or four times a month, that adds up.
Considering that the Direct Express card is being marketed as a safer alternative to checks and check-cashing, forcing people to take out a lot of cash because they want to avoid ATM fees is counterproductive. This puts their benefits at risk
Replacing Lost or Stolen Card
If you find yourself in a situation where your Direct Express card is lost or stolen, getting a new one can be a bit of a challenge. That’s because first, it’s hard to get a hold of customer service so you can report the issue and have the card de-activated.
Second, it takes a while before you receive your replacement card.
In addition, while there is no fee charged for the first card replacement within a year, once you use your free card replacement for the year, you will be charged $4 for any additional card replacement request.
That is also a source of irritation for most cardholders given how often some cardholders have watched helplessly as their debit cards have been compromised multiple times within a single year.
Even worse, if you want your replacement card mailed to you sooner, you have to pay a fee for them to ship the card to you via FedEx or UPS (with a tracking code).
Otherwise, you just have to wait and hope your card arrives sooner. Some people have had to wait as long as 3 – 4 weeks after they requested a replacement card to receive one in the mail.
Confusing and Long Dispute Resolution
One of the biggest issues that cardholders have to deal with is the confusing and long dispute resolution process.
We have detailed the entire process in this article. There are multiple issues about this process that irritate cardholders.
First, even though you are required to complete a dispute form before the dispute resolution department will review your issue, there is no downloadable dispute form on the Direct Express website.
There is also no fax number on the website to send in a formal complaint.
The only way to dispute a charge on your card is to call Customer Service, and as we have mentioned above, that is a challenge in and of itself.
This leaves customers very frustrated at a moment when they need a quick resolution to their issue so they can gain full access to their money.
For reasons that Direct Express has not been able to explain, the Direct Express Debit Card is more often targeted by online criminals for fraud.
Granted, nowadays, you are at risk anytime you use your debit and credit cards for purchases both in person and online.
It is also true that hardly a week goes by without some major company reporting customer accounts being hacked.
However, there seems to be a growing problem with Direct Express accounts being compromised, based on the growing volume of complaints we receive.
Funds are being stolen from customer accounts with frequency and it’s becoming very difficult to get the issues investigated and the funds restored to customer accounts.
That is why it is important for the dispute resolution process to be streamlined so customers can get their issues resolved quickly.
Getting Direct Express Routing Number
Most Direct Express cardholders assume that since the card is advertised as a debit card and an alternative to a traditional bank account, they can add money to their Direct Express account. That is not the case.
Unlike a traditional bank checking or savings account where you can transfer money to the account from other bank accounts, you are not allowed to add any funds to your Direct Express debit card account except for federal government benefit deposits.
That is why the Direct Express account routing number is not available anywhere online since you are not allowed to add more money to your account except for what you get in federal benefit payments.
Frustrations with Bill Pay
Because Direct Express is advertised as a debit card that allows you to pay bills online, most customers have come to wrongly believe that you can set up online bill pay with your card using the account number and routing number.
It is true that you can use your Direct Express debit Mastercard to pay bills online. But there is a caveat – you can pay bills with your Direct Express card, as long as the company you are paying accepts Debit MasterCard.
Another option is to use the Direct Express card to pay bills online via the Direct Express website – where you will find online bill pay instructions.
When you are a victim of fraud, time is of the essence. However, Direct Express requires cardholders who have experienced fraud on their account to complete a fraud packet.
As we have stated above, you have to call customer service to get the packet. You have 10 days to return the fraud package to Direct Express dispute resolution once you receive it.
Failure to send it within 10 days will likely void your claim. This is where most customers have a problem. They are not able to get it mailed in within the 10 days.
This creates a whole set of issues. For most, since their account are locked while Direct Express investigates the fraud, they are left with nothing while this plays out.
Even if you are able to get your fraud packet in, you have to wait 45-90 days for Direct Express to investigate your claim. If you are lucky, they may give you a temporary credit into your account for the money lost.
However, if they decide the claim against you, then that temporary credit is taken back from your account. This then puts cardholders in an even worse situation.
Given Direct Express without Consent
Over the 5 years that we have been blogging about Direct Express, we have received lots of complaints from people who claim they were forced to take Direct Express.
This is mainly from people who claim they signed up for Social Security Direct Deposit with their local bank or credit union to receive their Social Security benefits.
However, instead of getting their payments into their bank or credit union account, they were sent benefits via a Direct Express card, which they did not request.
For these people, the Direct Express card has been more than they bargained for. With issues reaching customer service, confusing dispute resolution process to name a few.
Due to the growing incidence of fraud, Direct Express regularly cancels customer cards and mails them new cards, often without informing the cardholders that their cards have been canceled.
This, therefore, creates a situation where cardholders are trying to use their cards to make purchases only to find out it is not working.
After a few tries, they then call customer service. That is when things get interesting. Customer service will inform them that their card was canceled and a new one has been mailed.
The problem is that there is no indication when the new card will arrive.
Some can take a long as two weeks to arrive, meaning that they cannot access their funds during that time. For some people who are on fixed income, this creates major problems.
How to Speak to a Live Person at Direct Express
If you are having any of the issues mentioned above and would like to reach customer service and speak to a live human, we can help.
We have written an extensive article that walks you through what you need to do to reach a live person. Click here to read that article.
Direct Express Dispute Resolution Process
If you are getting ready to file a dispute with Direct Express Dispute Resolution Department, there are important facts you should know about.
First, there is actually no downloadable dispute form on the website to formally report your suspicious activity.
There is also no fax number on the website to send in a formal complaint.
The only way to dispute a charge on your card is to call Customer Service at the number below:
— Customer Service: 1-888-741-1115
— Hearing impaired: 1-866-569-0447
For more details on the dispute resolution process, click here.
We hope you found our top 10 complaints about Direct Express informative. If you have other issues regarding your Direct Express card you would like to tell us about or add to our list, please do so in the comments section below.
6 thoughts on “Top 10 Complaints About Direct Express”
Never had an issue love the card
just why is direct express still allowed to run a business (scam) without our honorable gov reps doing something? they are sure quick to jump on other things
Why can’t we call the 1-888-741-1115 number I need someone to call me back or e mail me back asap need to know were the $343.00 gone to
I need my ard to work now emergency. Money on card but card wont work
Outrageous that this corrupt financial organization handles the retirement benefits of Veterans and older Americans, HOW DARE THEY create stress and possible financial harm.? The U.S. Treasury should be ashamed of themselves.
They are completely incompetent. I called to get a pending charge removed and they did not have the ability to view the same online register that I was seeing. Therefore they could not address the problem and when they did, it was all double talk. Get rid of these dummies. NOW! Are they contributing to the homelessness and mental health problems of our citizens by mismanaging their retirement?
Hello Direct Express! I have called you guys at least 5 times asking for paperwork so I could close my daughter account. Jana Marie was killed in a car accident on September 20th 2018. I still don’t have the paperwork I need. When I last spoke to customer service they said the paper would be here by the middle of the week, Customer service said it was sent out on the 10th of October. It is now the 27th of October and still no paper, This unacceptable. I am a grieving the death of my daughter and trying to handle her affairs. I am sick of the run around from your company. Will you please get me the paper work I requested for my child. Thanks Shalyne Berry the mother of Jana Marie Berry!!
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