DirectExpress® Debit MasterCard® Card Program: 94% Customer Satisfaction Rating for Sixth Consecutive Year

Since 2009, Treasury's DirectExpress® pre-paid debit card program has conducted annual customer surveys to monitor and determine overall customer satisfaction. In 2014, for the sixth consecutive year, the DirectExpress® program has scored a customer satisfaction rating of 94% or higher.

In this most recent 2014 survey, 95% of cardholders said they were satisfied or very satisfied. This customer satisfaction rate is significant and speaks directly to the success of this important program.

About the DirectExpress® Program

In 2010, in an effort to better serve taxpayers and beneficiaries, Treasury launched an "all-electronic" initiative in accordance with an act of Congress (Public Law 104-134). Under this initiative, the Treasury moved millions of federal benefit payments, including Social Security and Veterans payments, away from paper checks to more cost effective, secure, and convenient electronic options.

Today, Treasury is making 98 percent of monthly federal benefit payments electronically, the vast majority choosing direct deposit to an existing bank or credit union account. This translates into real cost savings. For every paper check that is converted to an electronic payment, the American taxpayer saves about $1. The all-electronic initiative will save taxpayers approximately $1 billion over a 10-year period.

The availability of the DirectExpress® is essential to the success of the all-electronic effort. The program provides an alternative for millions of un-banked federal benefit recipients to receive their monthly payments safely and securely each month on the card with minimal fees or no fees, and with the same consumer protections as an account at a financial institution.

Over five million benefit recipients have enrolled in the DirectExpress® program. This includes a significant percentage of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security recipients who rely on these funds to pay for rent and other basic living expenses. Providing continuity of lifeline payments for millions of cardholders without disruption is an important activity of the Treasury.

Here are some facts about the population of DirectExpress® cardholders1:

  • 81% of DirectExpress® cardholders are unbanked (report not having a checking, savings, or other account with a bank or credit union).
  • 53% of DirectExpress® cardholders fall into the age category of 45 to 64; only 16% are over 65.
  • 60% of DirectExpress® cardholders are female.
  • 46% of DirectExpress® cardholders live in the south, 21% in the Midwest, 17% in the west, and 15% in the northeast.
  • 47% of DirectExpress® cardholders also receive government benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
  • 61% of DirectExpress® cardholders receive Social Security benefits; 62% receive SSI.
  • 40% of DirectExpress® cardholders have a smartphone (up from 32% in the 2013 survey).
  • 78% of DirectExpress® cardholders with a smartphone use it to access the internet or use an application.

The DirectExpress® program has been a tremendous success. Cardholders are receiving their payments more safely, securely, and reliably. Those lacking a traditional bank or credit union account are not left out of the financial main stream. At the same time, the government is making payments more efficiently and at much less cost to taxpayers.

Moving ahead, we'll continue to look for more ways to enhance the DirectExpress® cardholder experience. Identifying and realizing these improvements is a win-win for all of us.

Walt Henderson, Director
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Strategy Division
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
Department of the Treasury

1 Research conducted by KRC Research on behalf of MasterCard Worldwide and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. Telephone survey of a random sample of DirectExpress® cardholders conducted in October 2014. Margin of error +/- 3.10%.

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