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Debit Card Finder

Make purchases without carrying cash with your debit card.

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Fact checked

Our pick for a debit card: HSBC Premier Checking

HSBC Premier Checking logo

$1

Deposit to Open

  • Up to $700 in cash back
  • Earn 3% cash back on qualifying direct deposits
  • Emergency cash at branches across the globe
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Debit cards are a secure and convenient way of accessing your everyday spending without carrying cash. Like a credit card, you can use it to make direct purchases over the counter, online and over the phone. Unlike a credit card, the funds are drawn directly from your linked checking account, so you’re not obligated to make interest payments on your purchases.

Most debit cards come with a checking account, so to get a debit card that works best for you, compare the features of the corresponding checking account.

Compare checking accounts that come with debit cards

Name Product Monthly fee ATMs ATM transaction fee Out-of-network ATM fee ATM fee rebates Foreign transaction fee
HSBC Premier Checking
$50 per month
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
$0
0%
Get a 3% cash bonus, up to $600 (max. $100 per month) during first six months after account opening. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by September 30, 2020, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
Chase Total Checking
$12 per month
Access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches nationwide
$0
$2.50 in the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands; outside the US, it's $5 per withdrawal and $2.50 per transfer or inquiry
3%
Get a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit within 60 days of opening your account. Chase's simplest checking account is easy to use and gives you access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 4,900 branches. Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
$0
Fee-free ATM withdrawals at Allpoint ATMs
$0
$0
1%
A spend and save combo account with no monthly service fees, free access to every ATM in the world, unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC. The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account offering of Aspiration Financial, LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Aspiration is not a chartered bank.
BBVA Online Checking
$0
No ATM fees nationwide at more than 64,000 AllPoint, participating 7-Eleven and BBVA USA ATMs
$0
$3
3%
A full-service account with convenient, surcharge-free access to two massive ATM networks
HSBC Advance Checking
$25 per month
Surcharge-free HSBC ATMs nationally and internationally, plus up to four rebates a month for using non-HSBC ATMs in all US states except New York
$0
Up to four a month for using non-HSBC ATMs in all US states except New York
3%
Get up to $270 (max. $50 per month) for eligible new customers who open an HSBC Advance checking account. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.
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How do I compare debit cards?

While most debit cards do the same thing, features may vary based on the bank or credit union and the type of account it’s linked to. How you plan on using the card will determine which features are most important:

  • Credit card logo. Debit cards that are imprinted with a credit card logo such as Visa, American Express, Discover or Mastercard give you more flexibility in your spending options. The money is still being withdrawn directly from your banking account, but you have the ability to purchase or withdraw money wherever that credit card is accepted.
  • Linked account. Most debit cards are linked to your checking account. Some can be linked to both your checking and savings, but they might come with extra fees and limitations.
  • ATM accessibility. Debit cards are also used to draw money directly out of your account through an ATM. Factor in the proximity and availability of ATMs before you choose a bank or debit card. Some allow you to have access to a large number of ATMs for free. Bankwest and Commonwealth Bank’s ATM network is currently the largest in the US.
  • Transaction fees. Your bank or credit union may charge fees for transactions such as point of sales purchases, cash back, foreign currency conversion, ATM withdrawals within and outside of the bank’s network, as well as fees for using the the card overseas.
  • Security features. Debit cards provide direct access to your banking account, and need to be secure in order to avoid fraud and mishandling. Check the type of security features being offered by the bank for the debit card to ensure that your account is secure.
  • Overseas use. Not all debit cards are formatted to be used overseas. Make sure that this is one of the features, and look carefully at the fees and charges made to your account if and when you make overseas transactions.
  • Rewards. Some financial institutions offer rewards like cash back and discounts from your favorite stores.
  • Debit cards for students. As a student, you can receive a range of benefits from your debit card, including no monthly fee.

What is a cashback debit card?

Some debit cards offer cash back on Visa payWave or Mastercard PayPass purchases under $100. You normally need to make a minimum deposit, usually $1,000 or $2,000, into your transaction account every month to get the cash back reward on eligible purchases. In the case of joint accounts, either account holder can make the deposit requirements for the cash back to apply.

How does a debit card work?

Debit cards are linked to a bank account and allow you to shop in stores or online, withdrawing purchases from your own balance of funds.

How do I use a debit card for a purchase?

To use a debit card, you need a linked account to draw money from and a PIN.

  1. Swipe or dip your card and enter your PIN if asked.
  2. Your information is sent securely to a card processing network that:
    • Ensures the transaction data is correct.
    • Analyzes your transaction for fraud.
    • Forwards your info to the issuing bank.
  3. Your bank confirms the card is valid and funds are available.
  4. The transaction is approved.

In some cases, the cashier or card reader may ask if you want to use your card as a debit or credit card. If you use it as a credit card, you may need to provide a signature to verify your identity.

Whichever option you choose, you need enough money in your account before you can use your card. (A debit card doesn’t give you a line of credit, even if you use it as a credit card.) For the most part, there’s not much of a difference between using your card as a debit or credit card.

What’s the difference between using a debit card as credit or using it as debit?

When you buy something in-person, you have the option to run your card as credit or debit. If you run it as debit, you’ll enter your PIN and the money will be taken out of your account immediately. You’ll also have the option to get cash back if the merchant allows it.

If you use it as credit, you’ll sign for the purchase. The payment is then processed through the credit card network and withdrawn from your account within a couple of days. Running your card as credit usually gives you the same anti-fraud protection that comes with credit cards, but check with your bank to be sure.

What’s the difference between a debit card and a credit card?

A debit card works similarly to a credit card, except that you’re using your own money instead of the bank’s money, which means you don’t need to worry about interest charges. With a debit card, you’re using your money in real time.

It is also a good strategy to prevent you from racking up debt, as a debit card only allows you to spend the money you have in the account at the time of purchase. A credit card, in comparison, will allow you to make purchases up to your credit limit and then send you a bill at the end of the month for you to pay back.

Also, getting a debit card is easier than getting a credit card because you don’t have to meet minimum income or age requirements.

What’s the difference between a debit card and an ATM card?

A debit card is tied to your checking account whereas an ATM card is tied to your savings account. Both let you withdraw money at an ATM, but a debit card takes it a step further by allowing you to pay for purchases online and at point of sale locations. You can’t use an ATM card for anything besides ATM withdrawals.

What’s the difference between a debit card and a prepaid debit card?

Debit cards and prepaid cards serve the same purpose — they allow you to pay for purchases and withdraw money at ATMs. The difference is, a prepaid card isn’t linked to a bank account. Instead, you preload money directly onto the card and use it to cover purchases.

Prepaid cards prevent you from overspending because purchases that would bring your card balance below $0 are automatically declined. It’s easier to overspend with a debit card because many banks and credit unions offer overdraft protection to cover the overdrawn amount.

If you have a Chexsystems record and are having a hard time getting approved for a checking account, a prepaid card may be a better option. Most prepaid card companies don’t run credit checks and you can even have your paycheck direct deposited onto the card.

Why should I use a debit card?

Because your debit card is linked to another account (often a checking account), it’s a safer alternative to checks or cash that are easy to misplace or lose. Debit cards issued by major credit card providers — like Visa or Mastercard — can be used everywhere credit cards are accepted, including online.

What else can I do with a debit card?

Use your debit card to withdraw cash from your account at participating ATMs:

  1. Insert or dip your card into the ATM.
  2. Enter your PIN.
  3. Follow onscreen prompts for withdrawing cash.

With your debit card, you can also deposit checks, review your account balance or transfer money from linked accounts.

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What are the pros and cons of debit cards?

Pros

  • More convenient than cash. Instead of carrying a lot of cash in your wallet, you can simply swipe your debit card.
  • More secure than cash. A would-be fraudster won’t be able to use your debit card unless they know your PIN.
  • Avoid spending money you don’t have. If you have trouble with overspending, a debit card could be a solid choice. If you don’t consent to overdraft protection, you can only draw from money you’ve already deposited, unlike with a credit card (which gives you a line of credit).
  • Avoid cash advance fees. If you use a credit card to collect money from an ATM, you’ll likely pay hefty cash advance fees. You won’t pay these with a debit card (though you may still pay ATM fees).
  • It’s easy to get one. If you have poor credit, it can be difficult to get a credit card. It’s far easier to get a debit card — just open a checking account.
  • Low fees. Many credit cards have annual fees. Debit cards tend to have low fees or no fees at all.
  • Link to a savings account. Some debit cards can be linked to savings accounts, which can help you save for the long term.
  • Interest free. Make purchases online and over the phone without incurring any interest fees.

Cons

  • There is no opportunity to build your credit. Because debit card usage is not reported to the credit bureaus, responsibly handling your debit card will not help your credit score.
  • There is no grace period on purchases. Whenever you use your debit card for a purchase, the money comes out of your checking account almost immediately, reducing the amount of cash you have available for other purchases. Using a credit card gives you a small grace period to delay payment for purchases. If you’re willing to pay interest on the balance, you can revolve your balance from month to month as long as you make the minimum payment each month.
  • Debit cards have less fraud protection than credit cards. By law, you can be liable for up to $500 of fraudulent debit card transactions depending on when you report the fraud. (In some instances, you could be liable for all of the fraudulent transactions if you wait several months to report your lost or stolen card). With a credit card, your maximum liability is $50 depending on when you report the fraud.
  • Car rental is more difficult with a debit card. Depending on the car rental agency’s policies you may have to pay an additional deposit when you use a debit card to rent a car. This leaves part of your checking account balance unavailable until after you’ve returned the rental car and the transaction processes completely. In addition to the deposit, you may also have to provide additional documentation to prove your identity and the rental agency may require you to go through a credit check before renting you a vehicle.
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How do I get a debit card?

To get a debit card, open a checking account at a bank of your choice. Some banks will automatically send you a debit card; with others, you’ll have to request your card.

Once you receive your debit card, follow the included instructions to activate your card. Your bank will provide you with a pre-selected PIN and instructions on how to change it.

What bank accounts can I link to my debit card?

You can link almost any everyday transaction account to a debit card. You need an account and routing number and the account must be in the same name as what’s on the card. It can also be a joint account if desired.

What is the CVV number on my debit card?

The Card Verification Value (CVV) is a three digit number found on the back of your debit card. On American Express debit cards, the CVV is four digits. This number is used to verify your debit card and helps to reduce fraud, by proving to the merchant that you have the physical debit card with you when making a purchase online or over the phone.

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What kind of fees are charged on my debit card?

One way for debit card companies to make money is to charge fees. Keep an eye out for the following:

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What are debit card surcharges?

A surcharge is an additional amount a business charges when you pay for a purchase using your debit card rather than another payment method — for example, cash. When you buy goods or services using a debit, credit or prepaid card, the merchant typically incurs its own processing costs on your payment. Many merchants consider these fees the cost of doing business, while others pass along the fee to the customer by imposing a surcharge on card-based transactions.

Are debit card surcharges legal?

No. Surcharges and minimum purchase requirements are legal for credit cards only. And even then, only under specific conditions. This restriction applies even if you use a debit card after selecting “credit” on a point-of-service terminal.

Businesses are unable to get around the law by giving surcharges a different name, like handling or service fees. Report merchants charging you a surcharge on a debit card purchase to the card-processing networks.

Important mistakes to avoid with debit cards

Debit card fees are inconvenient, but it’s possible to avoid them by following these tips.

Compare your options

Fee schedules, amounts and charges vary by bank and account. Compare multiple options to find an account with reasonable or no fees.

Opt out of paper statements

Switch to e-statements to reduce fees, help the environment — and avoid paper statement fees.

Stick to in-network ATMs

There’s a good chance you’ll be charged for using an out-of-network ATM, so try to stick with your bank’s ATMs. Or find an account that doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees.

Avoid using your card abroad

If possible, leave your card at home when traveling abroad. Instead, take out cash before you leave for a trip, use a prepaid travel card or sign up for a credit card that rewards you for worldwide travel.

Look for fee waivers

Many banks waive monthly and other fees if you meet certain conditions, like maintain a minimum account balance. Narrow down an account by searching for conditions you can meet.

Watch your balance

Fees for overdrafts and nonsufficient funds can be expensive. Keep an eye on your balance to avoid transactions that will take it below zero.

Decline the surcharge

Surcharges on debit cards are illegal. Don’t be afraid to tell the retailer that it’s not allowed and you’ll take your business elsewhere.

Report a lost or stolen card immediately

If you wait to report a lost or stolen debit card, you increase your chances of fraudulent activity, and you could be held liable for some charges because you waited to make a report.

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What is debit card fraud?

Debit card fraud happens when someone illegally obtains your card information and uses it to make purchases. You usually don’t know it’s happened until you see unusual activity on your bank statement. It’s important to notify your bank as soon as you see fraudulent charges, so they can deactivate your card and send you a new one.

Can I get a refund on fraudulent transactions?

This depends on your bank and the situation. Many of the bigger banks offer a 100% money-back guarantee on fraudulent transactions if you comply with the card’s conditions of use. For more information, speak to your financial institution.

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Bottom line

Debit cards are a convenient way to make purchases and manage your cash. But depending on your bank, you could end up paying a fee to use yours. Keep an eye on your balance and understand the terms and conditions for your card to avoid paying more than necessary. To find a card with lower fees or better convenience, compare your debit card options against your needs and lifestyle.

Frequently asked questions

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    TimothyJuly 10, 2019

    I want to know which one of the three debit cards is best to have:

    -Paypal Mastercard
    -Greendot Visa
    -CashApp Visa

    I have all 3 with my name engraved on it because I was with a friend and we didn’t know what to look for to compare since I had my Greendot for over a year and the other 2 a few months apart. And now I’m like, which should I keep so I can close the accounts and shred the other 2 cards?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJuly 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Timothy,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Having Paypal and CashApp doesn’t cost you additional charge as they are both debit cards. It depends on your needs if you should keep them or not. Say for example, having Paypal Mastercard would let you receive your money from Paypal instantly even on holidays unlike sending your Paypal money to your bank’s debit card, which basically takes 2-4 business days. You may call these providers to help you decide in cancelling or keeping them as well as assisting you on how you may cancel your account with them.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    JudyJanuary 21, 2019

    I use RBC Visa credit and debit cards
    I don’t see them listed anywhere in the info
    Can I use them in India?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ValJanuary 24, 2019Staff

      Hi Judy,

      Thank you for leaving a question. RBC Royal Bank® Client Cards are widely accepted in the U.S. and around the world at ATMs that display the PLUS‡ symbol. Wherever you go, you have quick and convenient access to your Canadian dollar accounts.

      Outside of Canada, many financial institutions only accept 4-digit PINs. If you use a PIN longer than this, you should change it before you travel. Visit any RBC Royal Bank branch to update your PIN.

      Learn more about using ATMs around the world.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Val

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