Electronic Transfer Account (ETA) is a bank account designed by the United States Treasury Department Treasury for recipients of Federal Benefits payments as a low cost option for them to receiving their government benefit payments by direct deposit.
The account was designed after the federal government made it a requirement that all recipients of social security or any federal government benefits program switch to Direct Deposit by March 1, 2013. That means that the government was no longer mailing paper checks to anyone. This presented seniors or those receiving benefits with two options as the video below shows. You either get your money through direct deposit or sign up for a direct express debit card account which is also managed by the Treasury Department through an agreement with Comerica Bank.
There is a third option that many people don’t know about, and that is the Electronic Transfer Account. This is a way to get your federal benefits electronically to comply with the law but at a fraction of what it may cost you to use a traditional bank account (checking or savings) or use the direct express debit card. The ETA account is not like a traditional bank account because it has several limitations when compared to a traditional bank account. For the most part, all you can do with it is to receive the federal government benefit and then take out cash.
To open an ETA account, you need to first find a participating bank, contact the bank and the open the account directly with them. Once that process is complete, you can then contact the social security administration or the federal benefits administrator for the benefits you are getting and sign up for direct deposit as show in the image below.
One of the greatest benefit of the ETA account is that the account fee the bank can charge you cannot be more than $3. That is a big deal and why some people have chosen to use this program to get their federal benefits. Best of all, your ETA account is federally insured.