Over 4 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients who do not have bank accounts will now have the option of having their monthly benefit transferred to a prepaid MasterCard debit card instead of receiving a paper check.
According to the Treasury Department this means that those without bank accounts will not have to use check-cashing facilities or carry large sums of cash.
The cards can be used like regular debit cards. Recipients may get cash, pay bills and make purchases anywhere MasterCard debit cards are used. The cards will be FDIC-insured and each card will have its own PIN number for use at ATMs and stores. The card can also be replaced if it is lost or stolen.
Similar to those who have their Social Security benefits directly deposited into their bank accounts, debit card recipients will no longer have to worry about their checks being lost or stolen because their benefit will transfer to their card automatically at the first of the month.
While there are no sign-up fees, some transactions like ATM withdrawls will have a cost. Suggested methods by the Treasury Department to get around such costs include getting cash back with purchases at stores or making free cash with-drawls through bank or credit union tellers.