With a debit card, also known as a check card, you can shop at many merchant locations without having to carry cash or remember your checkbook and enjoy all the protections of using Visa, like our zero liability policy* against fraud. Just present your debit card anywhere you see the card's logo, and have the purchase amount deducted directly from your checking or savings account.
Disclaimer: The material provided below in this section should be used for informational purposes only and in no way should be relied upon for financial advice. Also, note that such material is not updated regularly and some of the information may not, therefore, be current. Please be sure to consult your own financial advisor when making decisions regarding your financial management.
Please visit the Practical Money Skills site to learn more about Debit Cards.
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What is a debit card?
Debit cards are payment cards that debit—or subtract—money directly from your account, as if you were paying with cash or a check. So, for your debit card to work, you must already have the money in your account to cover the transaction. Debit cards are sometimes referred to as check cards. Debit cards differ from credit cards in that credit cards are payment cards that draw from a credit line—money made available by your card Issuer. In many cases, you are given a grace period to pay for your purchases, and if you do not pay in full by the end of this period, you are charged interest. Certain credit card issuers may charge interest from the date of the transaction even if you pay your balances in full every month.
Benefits of a Visa Debit card
- Convenience - The Visa Debit card frees cardholders from having to carry bulky checkbooks, multiple identification cards and large amounts of cash.
- Security - Visa offers debit cardholders Zero Liability* in cases of card fraud, theft or unauthorized card purchases for signature-based transactions, provided cardholders promptly notify their issuer of such fraud, theft, or unauthorized purchase.
- Acceptance - The Visa Debit card can be used anywhere the Visa Debit cards are accepted symbol is displayed—at more than 24 millions of locations worldwide. Visa merchant locations around the globe.
- Budget tracking - The Visa Debit card helps track everyday spending as monthly bank statements list how much was spent and where.
- Fast, easy payment process - No checks to write, and no need to present an I.D. or other personal information at the sales counter.
Important facts about debit cards
- Debit cards have the same security protections like as credit cards. Just like credit card cards, debit cards have Zero Liability* fraud protection and dispute resolution options.
- Debit cards look similar to credit cards. Know what type of cards your financial institution has given you. You may already have a debit card without realizing it.
- There is no grace period for a debit card purchase. Since it´s directly deducted from your checking account, make sure you have the money available to cover the full transaction amount at the time of sale.
- Some debit cards have monthly or per-transaction fees. Carefully review your cardholder agreement, which should contain information about any fees you will be charged for card use. You may also be charged by the merchant to use your PIN for a purchase.
- Debit cards are generally used for everyday expenditures, instead of cash, checks and other forms of payment. Consumers use debit cards most frequently in department stores, grocery stores, restaurants, service stations, discount stores, catalog merchants, and drug stores. Increasingly, consumers are using their debit cards for Internet purchases, as well as for regular or “recurring” payments for things such as gym memberships, utility payments, and other standard living costs it's one less check to be write each month.
Responsible use of debit cards
- Create a record-keeping system. Know your current account balance. Don't forget about checks that have not yet cleared your account
- Always take sales receipts and carbons. They will help you keep track of your purchases and help you record transactions in your check register quickly.
- If your card is lost or stolen contact your card issuer immediately.
- Choose a PIN (personal identification number) that a smart thief couldn't figure out. Avoid obvious choices, such as your address, phone number, or birth date.
- Keep your PIN private. Try to memorize your PIN instead of writing it down, and never tell it to anyone.