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TheStreet Open House

Many Call Direct Deposit as Important as Being Paid

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Increasingly, paycheck aren't in the mail, but already in your bank account via direct deposit.

A survey from American Express reports that 49% of U.S. workers get their paychecks via direct deposit, offering consumers several benefits compared with paper-based paychecks:

  • Immediate access to cash from an employee's bank account.
  • A faster way to pay bills and buy goods online.
  • No waiting in line at banks to deposit a paycheck.
  • Eliminates the risk of losing a paycheck, or having it stolen.
  • No fees for cashing a paper-based paycheck.

One consumer segment that isn't benefiting from direct deposit is the so-called "under-banked" -- a demographic that includes 70 million Americans, according to American Express, and as a result pays an additional $89 billion in fees and interest by depending on pawn shops, check cashing services and payday lenders.

"Direct deposit can save you money," says Manisha Thakor, chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a holistic-based money management firm in Santa Fe, N.M. "Even a fee as 'low' as 1% for cashing your paycheck can result in your giving away hundreds of dollars each year."

"By having a portion of your paycheck direct deposited onto a high-quality prepaid card you can stop that fee leakage," she says. "You can then use your prepaid card to pay bills, shop and even store your emergency fund and other planned expenses, thus enabling you to carefully track and monitor your spending and savings for increased control over your daily finances."

According to the Amex report, Americans put a high priority on getting paid via direct deposit: 75% say that getting their paychecks deposited directly into their bank accounts is as important as getting paid, considering 77% of direct-deposit consumers get access to their cash up to two days quicker than employees who get their pay by check. They even call it more important than taking a vacation.

If your company doesn't offer direct deposit, you have leverage to change the equation. Amex says setting up a direct deposit program doesn't cost employers big fees. Banks prefer to handle money electronically -- it saves them money on operating costs.

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