A fundamental consideration from the very beginning of the Direct Express® program was to ensure cardholders were able to access their benefits via their Direct Express® prepaid debit card without incurring fees. For that reason, the Direct Express® card has been designed so that cardholders are entitled to free usage and cash-back at the point-of-sale, free withdrawals of cash from bank tellers, and one free ATM withdrawal per deposit, each month, as well as a number of standard free services (see below).

Adding optional features to the card has been one way in which Direct Express® has sought to increase the card’s usefulness as a financial tool and bring it more in-line with a standard, bank-issued debit card – something that cardholders have reported as desirable. Some of these optional features carry fees, so a great deal of effort has gone into ensuring cardholders understand that these additional features are only for those that want them and are prepared to pay for them, so cardholders who do not wish to incur fees, never do so. This has involved sharing of detailed information on the usdirectexpress.com website, the use of dedicated Direct Express® Financial Education modules, and other cardholder communications.

The following graphic, lays out some of the free services available to cardholders, and the optional features that carry fees. Additional free services not noted in the graphic include automatic deposit notifications, automatic low balance notifications, and access to the web account and the Direct Express® mobile  app.