Get your Social Security benefits on a debit card

Hand inserting card in ATM machine

If you're still getting a check through the mail, the government's Direct Express debit MasterCard may be for you.

It allows your benefits to be automatically credited to the card, which can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs and banks or to shop at virtually any store that accepts plastic.

A specially designated network of some 56,000 ATMs provide one free cash withdrawal a month and charge just 90 cents for all other withdrawals.

You also can go to any MasterCard member bank and use your card to get cash from a teller without paying a fee.

Those are very generous terms for a prepaid debit card, and the Treasury Department expects the debit card fees to be less than most Social Security recipients pay to cash their checks.

That's why the government thinks its debit card is a particularly good deal for the 4 million beneficiaries who don't have bank accounts and can't have their benefits direct-deposited.

To sign up for the Direct Express card, call 877-212-9991 or go to

Here's where you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the program.

Veterans also can sign up to get their Veterans Affairs Compensation or Pension benefits on a Direct Express debit card. Call 1-888-544-6347; online sign-up isn't available yet.

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