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Federal benefits payments will be made only by direct deposit or the Direct Express debit MasterCard after March 1, and the Credit Union National Association has answered one key credit union compliance question ahead of this deadline.

CUNA Senior Vice President for Compliance Kathy Thompson in a recent CUNA Comp Blog post reminded credit unions that federal benefits recipients with the Direct Express MasterCard will be able to make no-fee cash withdrawals from any bank or credit union through a teller where the institution displays the MasterCard acceptance mark.

Therefore, Thompson said, credit unions that display the MasterCard acceptance mark will be required to provide cash to Direct Express cardholders, with no fee attached, whether the cardholder is a member or not. "If your credit union has an agreement with MasterCard that requires you to honor these cards, that trumps any field of membership issue," she said.

CUNA has recommended that any credit union with an agreement with MasterCard read its agreement to ascertain the credit union's contractual responsibilities in honoring the Direct Express debit card. MasterCard representatives can also help address any compliance concerns, Thompson noted.