Every year, the Direct Express® team surveys cardholders as required by the Fiscal Service. The survey measures the program’s success where it matters most – with the cardholders.  It asks questions such as:

  • Are cardholders satisfied with the Direct Express®card as a payment option?
  • Do cardholders understand how to best use the card?
  • How do cardholders use it? For example, how frequently are cards used for ATM withdrawals, in-store or online purchases, or to get cash back at point-of-sale?

The survey has also asked about the Direct Express® mobile app since it was introduced in 2015. It also asks about PayPerks, the card’s integrated financial capability program.

The survey results are used to continuously evaluate how to improve cardholder awareness of the card’s features and how best they can use the card.  The results may also be used to help identify future enhancements.


According to data collected in 2017, satisfaction with the Direct Express®debitcard remains very high:

  • 94 percent of cardholders declared themselves “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with Direct Express®
  • This figure rose to 95 percent for users of the Direct Express®Mobile App

Feature Awareness

  • Awareness of most key features of the Direct Express®debitcard has remained consistent since 2016.
  • Awareness that the card can be used for online shopping and purchases continues to increase year-over-year.

Card Usage

  • ATM withdrawals and making purchases remain the most common way to use the card.
  • Almost half of the cardholders also say they use their card to pay bills online or by phone.

PayPerks and the Mobile App

  • One-third of cardholders are aware of PayPerks integrated financial capability program.
  • Half of all cardholders are interested in receiving balance alerts on a smartphone.
  • Mobile app users, a sub-category of cardholders, are significantly more interested in receiving balance alerts via cellphone.
  • Over 80% of cardholders have a working cell phone and 60% have smartphones, which continues to trend up.
  • Nearly all mobile app users are very satisfied with the app, with seven in ten being verysatisfied.
  • Most say that the most useful feature of the app is the ability for users to check their balances.


The survey also helps Direct Express®to better understand the people it serves by collecting demographic and behavioral data. This year, the survey found:

  • Two-thirds of cardholders are “unbanked,” meaning they do not have a bank account.
  • For the vast majority of this unbanked population, their Direct Express® debit card is the sole means by which they receive funds and pay for basic living needs.
  • The Direct Express® debit card is often the unbanked cardholder’s first network branded payments card and an introduction to the financial mainstream.

This demographic information guides the development of resources such as PayPerks®learning modules that help cardholders better understand how the card can be used and the importance of protecting the card from theft and misuse. For many who have not had a bank account or a prepaid debit card in the past, this kind of education and guidance can be critical.


The 2018 Direct Express®cardholder satisfaction survey has been conducted and responses are being analyzed. Whether through insights that lead to a new PayPerks®module or new card functionality, the annual survey is vital to the development of the program. Even though the satisfaction rate remains a high 94%, the Fiscal Service and the Direct Express®program continue to identify potential improvements.  These improvements must balance functionality and access, with simplicity and security, to best serve the 4.5 million cardholders who rely on Direct Express®to manage their Federal benefit payments.

SOURCE: Direct Express