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Best Debit Cards of May 2024

Compare cards by fees, ATM networks and opening deposits.

Up to 4.60% APY

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on SoFi's secure site
  • 0.50% APY on checking balance
  • Up to 4.60% APY on savings
  • $0 account or overdraft fees
  • Get a $300 bonus with direct deposits of $5,000 or more

Best for sign up bonus

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  • $300 bonus offer when you meet requirements
  • Open an account with as little as $0
  • Avoid fees with overdraft protections

Compare debit cards

Use this table to compare accounts by fees, interest and ATM access.

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
SoFi Checking and Savings
Finder Score: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
SoFi Checking and Savings
$0 per month
4.60% on balances of $0+
0.50% on balances of $0+
1.20% on balances of $0+
Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until December 31, 2024.
Chase Total Checking®
Finder Score: 3 / 5: ★★★★★
Chase Total Checking®
$12 per month
(can be waived)
New Chase checking customers enjoy a $300 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and make direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 90 days of coupon enrollment.

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 The money is still being withdrawn directly from your banking account, but you have the ability to purchase or withdraw money wherever that credit card is accepted.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.

What is a cashback debit card?

A cashback debit card earns cash-back rewards when you use it to purchase goods or services. Cashback debit cards aren’t nearly as common as cash-back credit cards, though there are a few to choose from. Two of the most popular cashback debit cards are the Discover Cashback Debit card and the Axos CashBack Checking account debit card.

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.

Why should I use a debit card?

You should use a debit card because it’s safer than carrying around cash and easier than paying with a check. Debit cards are also issued by major credit card providers — including Visa and Mastercard — which means they can be used everywhere credit cards are accepted. However, paying with a credit card is safer than paying with a debit card because credit card companies often provide fraud and purchase protection. If someone steals your credit card information, they aren’t taking your actual money.

How do I use my debit card at an ATM?

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’s the difference between debit cards and other types of cards?

This table showcases the major differences between debit cards, credit cards, prepaid debit cards and ATM cards.

Type of cardBest forEarns rewardsCan use at ATMsBuilds credit
Debit cardThose who want to use money from their checking accountSometimes
Credit cardThose who want to build their credit score using a revolving line of credit
Prepaid debit cardThose with no credit, bad credit or a bad banking historySometimes
ATM cardThose who want to withdraw cash from their savings accounts

What are the pros and cons of debit cards?

Debits cards offer several advantages over other payment methods, but they have some drawbacks as well.


  • Increased convenience. Swiping a card is quicker than paying with cash or checks, especially when you use a digital wallet.
  • Avoid debt. Debit cards prevent you from spending money you don’t have. But you could be at risk of overdraft charges.
  • Access to cash. If you need to get your hands on some cash, you can use your debit card at any ATM.
  • It’s easy to get one. As long as you’re old enough to open a checking account, you can get a debit card.


  • Doesn’t build credit. Debit card usage isn’t reported to the credit bureaus, so using one won’t help you develop a credit history.
  • No grace period on purchases. Unlike credit cards, when you use a debit card for a purchase, the money comes out of your checking account almost immediately.
  • Less protection than credit cards. You can be held liable for up to $500 of fraudulent debit card transactions, but your maximum liability with a credit card may be as little as $50.
  • Car rental is more difficult. Some car rental agencies may charge you more to rent a vehicle with a debit card than they would with a credit card.
  • Low rewards. Most debit cards don’t offer rewards and those that do usually pale in comparison to the best credit card rewards.

4 types of debit cards

There are four types of debit cards on the market. While all debit cards allow you to make purchases, each type has different functions, features and security measures.

  1. Check card. A check card is a debit card that functions the same way as writing a check. It’s linked to your checking account and withdraws money every time you swipe.
  2. ATM card. Many banks and credit unions offer a combo ATM and debit card. In other words, your ATM card that you use withdraw cash doubles as a spending card at retailers.
  3. EMV card. Essentially a check card, an EMV card is equipped with a computer chip for a more secure payment.
  4. Prepaid card. A reloadable debit card that doesn’t have to be linked to a checking account, but generally come with more fees than traditional debit cards.
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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.

How old do I have to be to get a debit card?

Typically, you have to be at least 18 years old to get a debit card, though some states only require you to be 16 and others require you to be 19. Many banks also offer debit cards for kids as young as 13, but only if they open a joint bank account with a parent or guardian. Other options for kids are prepaid debit cards that come with chores and allowance tracking features.

Can I have multiple debit cards with one account?

Yes, you can ask for additional cards (typically up to two cards) for family members or business associates, but as the primary account holder, you will still be responsible for any actions taken using those cards.

What bank accounts can I link to my debit card?

You can link almost any everyday checking 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 Discover, Mastercard or Visa 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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6 common debit card fees

One way debit card companies make money is by charging fees. There are some ways to avoid bank fees, but you might not be able to dodge all of them. Aside from monthly maintenance fees tied to a checking account, here are common fees for debit cards.

  1. ATM fees. You may be charged a $2 to $5 fee if you withdraw cash using an ATM outside your bank’s network — on top of a potential ATM operator fee. Other ATM transactions like balance inquiry or account transfer can also incur fees.
  2. Foreign transaction fees. Purchases and withdrawals made in foreign currencies or with a foreign merchant are subject to a foreign transaction fee — usually around 3% of the total transaction.
  3. Overdraft fees. If you make a debit card purchase that exceeds your account balance, your bank may process the transaction and charge you an overdraft fee. You can avoid overdraft fees by opting to have your bank decline any purchases that exceed your account balance. You can also link your checking account to a savings account to use as overdraft protection.
  4. Cash reload fee. Prepaid cards often charge fees for topping up your card’s balance.
  5. Insufficient funds fees. If you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a charge on your debit card, you may pay an NSF fee.
  6. Card replacement fees. You might end up paying a fee to replace a lost or stolen card — and there may be an additional fee to have your new card rushed to you.
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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.

8 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.

What should I do if my debit card is blocked?

You will need to contact the bank or financial institution that issued the card as soon as possible to find out why the card has been blocked.Back to top

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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