Debit & check cards are similar to credit cards, except that when used, they deduct money from your account. They have several advantages over paper cheques: you can use them to shop online, they are easier to carry around and they give you added protection. These cards work fast, so there’s no need to write out cheques or fumble for change. You can use them for almost anything, since they’re accepted at millions of business and other places worldwide.
Debit & check cards were pioneered in the 1980s by Visa to offer their customers a secure and handy substitute for chequebooks and great amounts of cash. They have become a smart alternative to traditional credit cards since credit card transactions give rise to debt and interest charges. Many banks also offer prepaid debit cards, an alternative for persons who do not have checking accounts, but need to carry out financial transactions using plastic, especially for online purchases.
When you use debit & check cards you can view and track spending any time you want once you subscribe to online banking. Most banks will repay you for fraudulent transactions if your card is ever lost or stolen. Many places that don’t accept paper checks will take debit & check cards, including fast food restaurants and gas stations. You can also use them in automated banking machines worldwide.
You can tell a debit or check card from a credit card by looking carefully at the face of the card, which should have the word ‘debit’ printed on it. There is no difference between a debit and a check card according to Visa, an international payment processor. Cards carrying the Visa or MasterCard logo are safest because both these companies offer a zero-liability clause for fraudulent transactions.
Remember that all transactions are debited directly from your account, so you must maintain a balance to pay for every purchase and any applicable fees associated with using your card. You should also adequately secure your card just as you would cash. Notify your bank at once if you believe your card has been lost or stolen or if someone has used or may use it without your permission.
Many banks offer free email and mobile phone alerts when your debit or check card is used. You may also be able to check your account anywhere and anytime by sending a text request to your bank, which will in turn text your account balance right back to you. Some banks may get in touch with you to confirm that a debit card transaction that is uncharacteristic of your usual spending habits was actually made by you.
Your cardholder agreement should have information about any fees you will be charged for card use, and you should carefully review it before using your card. You should also create a recordkeeping system for your transactions, and always take sales receipts when you make purchases, since these will help you keep track of your purchases. A debit card is a convenient way to make payments, and it will serve you well once you keep it secure and use it responsibly.