Tired of carrying cash or writing checks all the time? Try a debit card. You can use it to shop at bookstores, supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, online—anywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted—and to get cash from ATMs around the world.
With a debit card, the purchase amount is automatically deducted from your checking account. There’s no credit involved and no interest charged. And transactions appear on your checking statement, so you can easily track your spending.
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Benefits of debit
Be sure to call your financial institution directly about your debit card’s specific benefits.
- Payment convenience and safety: No need to carry a checkbook or large sums of cash when you shop.
- Wide acceptance: Debit cards are more widely accepted than checks, making them perfect for travel.
- Easier qualification: Since debit cards use your own money, not your credit, they're often easier to get than credit cards.
Debit card facts
Before you use your debit card, keep this information in mind:
- Debit vs. credit: Debit and credit cards look alike, but theyre two entirely different payment methods. While a credit card is a "buy-now, pay-later" tool, a debit card draws funds from your checking account.
- No grace period for a debit card purchase: Since your purchase is automatically deducted from your checking account, make sure you have the money available to cover the full transaction amount at the time of purchase.
- Possible monthly or per-transaction fees: Carefully review your cardholder agreement. Your issuer is legally required to disclose any fees you will be charged for card use.
Tips for responsible debit card use
Be smart with your debit card:
- Choose a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN). Avoid obvious choices, such as your address, phone number, or birth date.
- Keep your PIN private. Memorize it. Don't write it down, and never tell it to anyone.
- Know your current account balance. Don't forget about checks that have not yet cleared your account.
- Always take sales receipts and carbon copies. They may contain valuable information a thief could use to make purchases on your account via mail, phone, or the Internet.
- Record your transactions in your check register as soon as possible. Remember to include any debit card fees that may apply. Then store your receipts safely in one place in case you need them later.
- Review your statements carefully. If you suspect a mistake, call your financial institution immediately. And always follow up with a confirmation letter.
- If your card is lost or stolen, contact your card issuer immediately. This reduces your liability if fraud losses occur.
Apply for a debit card
To apply for a Visa Debit card, simply visit your financial institution where you have your checking account. Or, review Visa’s list of financial institutions that issue debit/check cards and apply for your card online.