What does ETA mean in banking? It stands for Electronic Transfer Account. The acronym ETA came about when congress made a law that required that all federal benefit payments, like Social Security be paid via electronic transfer. This meant that the government wanted to move away from mailing checks to doing federal benefit payments via direct deposit. The law went into effect on March 1, 2013 and from that point on, all new benefit recipients were required to sign up for direct deposit and those currently receiving checks were encouraged to switch to direct deposit. Since not every one qualifies for checking and savings accounts from traditional banks, the government, through the United States Treasury Department came up with two other options to help the unbanked or those with low income to still afford to get their benefit payments via direct deposit. Those other options are the Direct Express Account and ETA Account. We will now explain what they all mean below:
You now have four different ways to receive your federal benefit payments:
- 1. Bank Account
Most federal benefit recipients now get their payments direct deposited through traditional checking or savings accounts with a bank or credit union. If you are currently applying for federal benefits and have a checking or savings account, once you are approved for benefits, you can call the Go Direct Helpline at (800) 333-1795 to set up your direct deposit.
- 2. Direct Express Account
The Direct Express account is another option for getting your federal benefit payments. It functions like a bank account, with a debit card you can use to make purchases in person, online and over the phone. You can also pay your bills through the direct express bill pay function. There are fees associated with the Direct Express account but there are very low and most transactions are free. For more on Direct Express Account, click here.
- 3. ETA Account
The ETA account is a low cost account for receiving federal benefits. It has limited functions as compared to to the traditional checking or savings account or even when compared to the Direct Express account. The basic use of an ETA account is to recieve benefit payments and make withdrawals. You do not get the ability to write a check or use check writing privileges. One of the best things about the ETA account is that you will not be charged more than $3 for account maintenance fees. Click here to open an ETA account.
- 4. Benefits Security Card
If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee, you have an additional choice of receiving your Federal payments, state benefit payments or both on the Benefit Security Card. The card allows you to make purchases at withdraw money at ATMs and more. Contact your state’s Benefit Security Card office below for more information.
Benefit Security Customer Service Help Line by State:
North Carolina 1-888-622-7328
You asked us “what does ETA mean?” and we’ve provided you the answer, including how the ETA account is just one of four different ways you can receive your federal benefit payments. If you have any more questions about ETA, you can ask them below in our comments section.