Spend your money when you want, where you want with a debit card

A debit card lets you spend your own money everyday, online and overseas.

Last updated:

A debit card offers the convenience of making purchases online, in-store and overseas, without the added pressure of interest charges that come with a credit card. Debit cards also give you easy access to the funds in your account, and more.

What is a debit card and what does it allow you to do?

When you open a Singaporean bank account, the bank will issue you a debit card to use as a way to access your money. You can use your debit card to get cash, make purchases and manage your money on a day-to-day basis. The debit card is linked to your transaction account and the terms and conditions associated with your account explains how you can spend your money.

Your debit card is linked to your everyday bank account and can be used to make withdrawals from ATMs, EFTPOS, payWave or PayPass.

How is a debit card different from a credit card?

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

Debit cards are a good way to take advantage of the accessibility of a credit card, without having to pay any interest on the amount spent, or worry about your credit rating. It can also be 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 and sends you a bill each month for you to pay back.

Can I choose my own PIN for my debit card?

Yes, in fact, most banks recommend that you change your PIN regularly for security reasons. When you receive your debit card in the mail, your bank typically provides you with a pre-selected PIN and instructions on how to change it.

You can link almost any everyday transaction account to a debit card. The account needs to have a Singaporean SWIFT code and the account must be in the same name as what’s on the card. It can also be a joint account if desired.

How do I get a debit card?

To get a debit card you first need to open a transaction account. Once you’ve selected the transaction account, you can complete an application via your chosen bank’s website. A debit card is typically sent to your residential address within two weeks of completing the application.

What does it mean if I overdraw on my debit card?

Overdrawing usually occurs when you’ve used your debit card when your transaction account balance is zero, which usually brings your account into a negative balance. If you have an overdraft attached to your account, this balance starts to accrue interest. It’s important to try and avoid overdrawing your account because the fees for doing so can be high.

Can I use my debit card when I have no money in my account?

If you have an overdraft attached to your account, you will be able to use your debit card when your balance is S$0. However, this will attract interest and a hefty fee. It’s important to always ensure you have enough money in your account for automatic payments, such as your phone bill. If the issuer tries to deduct the money from your account and it’s empty, you will likely be charged a penalty.

What is a cashback debit card?

Some debit cards offer cash back on Visa payWave or Mastercard PayPass purchases under S$100 in Singapore.

You normally need to make a minimum deposit into your transaction account every month to get the cashback 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 do I know if my debit card has PayPass or payWave?

Take a look at your debit card and see if it has the payWave or PayPass symbol on the front. If it doesn’t, call your bank to see if you can get a new card.

What are foreign transaction fees and which banks do not charge these?

Foreign transaction fees are applied when you use your debit card to make purchases overseas, or online with a website that doesn’t accept Singaporean dollars. It’s a fee charged for having to convert the currency, and it’s usually around 3% of the value of the transaction.

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.

What are the features of a debit card?

When you are looking for a transaction account, the type of debit card that comes with it should play a role in your decision:

  • No monthly fees. Look out for fee-free bank accounts to ensure you don’t get charged for having a debit card.
  • Third party logo. Having either Visa or Mastercard stamped on the card will increase the flexibility and benefits in spending that a debit card provides.
  • One or multiple ATM networks for free. This is linked to the bank you choose, but you will want to find a debit card that has access to a large number of ATMs for free.
  • Contactless technology. Some debit cards enable you to make purchases using Near Field Communication (NFC) without having to swipe your card or enter a pin. Called tap & go, the feature lets you pay for items, usually costing S$100 or less, by holding your card to a reader.
  • Fraud protection. You need to protect your debit card from theft and improper use. Make sure you have a unique PIN number set and keep your debit card safe.
  • Other security measures. Check what security features your bank provides with your debit card. Your debit card should have secure PIN and chip technology. Also, check to see if you are responsible for unauthorised charges.
  • Student debit cards. As a student, you can receive a range of benefits from your debit card, including no monthly fee.

What are the advantages of using a debit card?

  • You have easy access to cash. Your debit card allows you to withdraw money from your account without having to go to a bank.
  • You can make purchases overseas or at local shops. With a debit card you don’t need to carry cash in order to make purchases.
  • You can shop online. If your debit card has a credit card logo, you can use it to make purchases online.

What are the drawbacks of using a debit card?

  • There are often monthly fees. Read the terms and conditions carefully to discover if your bank charges fees for using your debit card.
  • You have to use an ATM in your network. Banks have their own network of ATMs and using your debit card outside of the network could result in added charges to your account.

Debit card fraud: is your money at risk?

  • What are the dangers of using a debit card?

    As a link to your personal or business funds, you should be careful in the way that you use your debit card. Some things to avoid are:

    • Overdrawing too much and being charged dishonour fees. If you are not keeping careful track of the money available in your bank account, you may accidentally go over the limit which could result in bank fees.
    • Ensuring it doesn’t get lost or stolen. If your debit card is lost or stolen and because your debit card is linked to your transaction account, you could have your funds withdrawn without your permission. Luckily, banks today have technology to identify unusual transactions and will typically notify you of the transaction.
    Back to top

    Frequently asked questions

Back to top

Read more on this topic

  • OCBC Plus! Visa Debit Card The UOB Plus! Visa debit card could be an ideal choice if you frequently shop at FairPrice, online or in-store. Plus, save on fuel when you spend using this card.
  • HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card The HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card is a multi-currency debit card that makes it easy to transact in different currencies.

Ask Finder

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site