Debit card is popularly known as easily accessible plastic cash, which offers electronic access to your savings account in any bank via ATM machines or card swipes. It has functions similar to those of credit cards, with the major difference being the fact that the amount is directly and immediately deducted from the user’s account instead of the money being paid by them at a later date. They have got names like bank cards, cash cards or check cards. With the widespread usage of debit card in the world, a debit card issued from one country is often valid to be used in some other country. Debit cards may also be used for making payments of the purchases made over phone or internet. You can apply for debit card online or offline. Nowadays you might not even need to apply for a debit card to get one, because it is readily offered if you open a new savings account.
The primary four issuers of debit cards around the world are – American Express, Discover Card, Master Card and Visa. Apart from these there are some country specific debit cards popular in those countries along with a few more. To name a few UnionPay in China, RuPay in India and Maestro in the United Kingdom are some of the country specific debit card issuers.
Benefits of Debit Cards
- Using Debit card is a safe and secure option and it is a good alternative for cash, because it reduces the risk of fraud, theft and misuse.
- Debit cards are easy to carry, can be handled easily and can be conveniently utilized while travelling in comparison to cheque book or cash.
- With a huge number of ATM machines available all around, Debit card offers both the ease of instant cash and the provision of merchant transactions at Point of Sale (PoS) terminals.
- Using debit cards for purchase is also a rewarding experience because of its features like cash back offers, bonus points, free insurance coverage along with a range of redeeming options for the points accumulated.
- Debit cards also helps in keeping a track of your spends. Regular email and SMS alerts with the details of transactions made through debit card helps in maintaining a record of your expenditures. Also one can make the most of their debit card by making use of a feature called customization of add on benefits.
- Using debit cards ensures that you spend responsibly, because the permissible limit of spending depends upon the money in your account. Recorded transaction makes the task of maintaining budget and money management much easier.
Types of Debit Cards
Debit cards in India have a number of variants. They can be majorly classified on the basis of technology used, on the basis of payment platform and on the basis of usage.
I. On the basis of Technology used
Contactless Debit Card- These debit cards make use the technology of radio frequency identification (RFID) or near field communication (NFC) secure transactions. Transactions through these cards can be made just by a tap.
Magnetic Stripe Debit card- It uses the technology of tiny iron based particles on a magnetic band. It is also known as swipe card and can be swiped past a magnetic reading head for any transaction.
- Chip and Pin Debit card- This debit card makes use of a more evolved version of technology. It has a chip in it which can store and transact data in an encrypted format. For each transaction to be made via this, it also requires PIN (Personal Identification Number).
II. On the basis of Usage
Prepaid Debit Card- This card unlike other debit cards is not linked to your account. For using this card you need to pay in advance and load money into your card. Thereafter you can use the money in it. The most common form of prepaid debit card is the Forex (Foreign Exchange) Card which is a convenient way to carry and spend money overseas.
International Debit Card- A debit card which can be used overseas to conduct transactions as well as withdraw money at international bank ATMs is usually called an International prepaid Debit card. An extra charge called Foreign Exchange Markup is added to the total transaction value. This markup can be up to 3.5% of the transaction amount. Additional charges are payable when you withdraw foreign currency overseas using your debit card
Virtual Debit Card- These are not physical debit cards and can be accessed via phone or internet for making online payments, but that too only once.
- Business Debit Card - Cards issued only to corporate people for uses pertaining to business purposes are known as Business Debit card.
III. On the basis of Payment platform
Visa Debit Card- It is a debit card issued by Visa. Visa is payment platform based out of North America. These cards offer a Verified by Visa (VbV) platform for online transactions.
Visa Electron Debit Card- It is a sister card to Visa debit card. The only distinguishing feature of it is the fact that funds need to available in the account at the time of payment since there is no overdraft limit.
Maestro Debit Card- It is popularly known as the worldwide trademark of master card which essentially requires debit card PIN for any transaction to be made using it.
Master Debit Card- It is a type of card which provides secure and convenient access to your funds. It is of two types- Cirrus Debit card and Maestro Debit card.
- RuPay Debit Card- It is a debit card launched under the domestic card scheme of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It supports online transactions and payments over the discover network.
Apart from these, debit cards are also allotted the name of metals. For example there are Gold debit cards, Titanium debit cards or Platinum Debit cards. These cards have nothing to do with the metal in particular, but are named so according to the benefits offered to the cardholder. These benefits vary from bank to bank or company to company.
Dos and Don’ts of Debit Card
- Immediately report loss of your card- In case you lose your debit card, you must immediately report it to the financial institution, so that the needful can be done and frauds could be prevented.
- Keep a track of your emails- Fraudulent transactions, if any are taking place through your debit card can be easily discovered by regularly checking your emails. An email to intimate cardholder is generated each time a transaction is made using the card.
- Authenticate each transaction- Follow RBI mandated authentication norms for every PoS (Point of Sale) transaction by entering PIN or giving signatures and completing the entire transaction.
- Follow SMS alerts – Set up SMS alerts from your bank listing details of each of the transaction made on any of the purchase. This will help you track your debit card spends.
- Keep tracking your money –You must check your account statements at regular intervals for knowing well about how much and where have you been spending. Apart from this if you find any unauthorized or irrelevant transactions, report it to the financial institution immediately and prevent yourself from becoming a victim of any fraudulent transaction.
- Don’t disclose your PIN- Your Debit Card PIN (Personal Identification Number) is a secret you must keep to yourselves. The first rule in the list states that you should never share your PIN over social media, phone, email or any such thing and instead memorize the 4 digit code by heart. Never should you write your PIN on any medium whatsoever.
- Don’t use unsafe online platforms: Cyber security is a rising concern in today’s scenario. Although a range of options are available for online shopping, cyber safety is not guaranteed by every payment portal. Hence you must be very cautious while using your debit card for making an online payment. Always do it through a portal which has secure online payment symbols, and on a website which has the authentic 2 step verification process. This is necessary to prevent leaking of the debit card credentials to unreliable sources.
- Don’t cause any physical damage to your Debit card- The magnetic stripe or the chip in your debit card can be destroyed on being exposed to sharp objects or magnetic materials. The physical damage caused because of these can make your debit card a useless piece of plastic. Also close contact with electronics like mobile phone can also pose damage to your debit card. Therefore preventive measures must be followed to keep your debit card safe and secure.
Fees and charges associated with Debit Card
Although these charges vary from bank to bank, there are a few common charges associated with debit card which most of the banks levy. Here is a list of such charges:
- Annual Maintenance Fee- A yearly fee charged for the usage of debit card. It usually ranges from Rs 100 to Rs 500 and varies according to the policies of different banks.
- Card replacement Fee- Fee charged for replacing your debit card with a new one. Few banks like HDFC charge no fee in case of physical damage but charge a fee of Rs 200 for the lost card. Other banks like SBI charge somewhere between Rs 100-300 for its various cards in case of both physical damage and card lost.
- Duplicate PIN or regeneration of PIN Fee- In case you forget your PIN, a duplicate PIN can be sent to your address by charging a nominal fee of Rs 50-100.
- Domestic Transaction Charges- Various banks have different policies for levying charges based on number of transactions. Transactions made on the same bank’s ATM are usually free, however a certain limit per month is defined for free transactions from other bank’s ATM. A charge ranging from Rs10-Rs 30 per transaction is levied in such cases.
- International Transaction Charges- Charges for cross currency markup, debit card balance check, and cash withdrawal using your debit card at foreign countries are levied for every transaction. These charges may be percentage based or a flat transaction fee.
- Personalization Fee- You can also get your photograph placed on your Debit Card. Only a few banks offer this exclusive feature and charge a nominal personalization fee for offering this service. These cards are called Personalized Debit Card.
- POS Fee- No extra fee is charged for making purchases through your debit card. However, for fuel based transactions an extra surcharge at the rate of 2.5% is levied.
Debit card v/s credit card
Debit Cards and Credit Cards both look alike bearing a unique 16- digit card number, month and year of expiry and a 3 digit CVV (Card Verification Value) number on the back of the card. While they resemble each other look wise, features of debit card and credit card and their usage pattern varies drastically.
Debit cards on the other hand are directly linked to the bank account of the user. Money for the debit card transactions is directly debited from your bank account which is linked to the debit card . These debits are however subject to maximum wi thdrawal or purchase limit per day decided by the bank.
Credit cards on the other hand are like a line of credit offered by the banks and are linked to a credit card account that features a pre-defined limit. This card is issued by the banks on the basis of eligibility and credit history of the applicant. Once swiped, the bank pays the amount to vendor and the debits are added to the card holder’s account, which, in turn the cardholder needs to pay back to the bank within a stipulated time period.
Credit card actually offers borrowed money which you must pay back in total at the end of your statement period. In case of debit card, it is not permissible for you to use money which is not in your account.
The perks, costs and protections offered by debit cards and credit cards vary according to the bank policies, thus making their suitability for a person vary. Credit cards are known for offering more benefits and rewards as compared to what debit card offers. But credit card is a preferable choice only for people having good financial discipline. For the ones who are more likely to use cards without proper planning for repayment or are impulsive shopaholics, debit card is a better option to prevent them from spending beyond their means.
For any fraudulent transactions, the risk involved in case of debit cards is comparatively lesser. Because in case of debit cards the money in your account is at stake, but in case of credit cards your potential liability is based on your entire credit limit. But it is not the same case always; even a debit card fraud may drain your entire account balance and pose greater harm to your finances.
Most banks offer better than minimum protection at their individual levels for both credit cards and debit cards. Apart from this there are also CARD PROTECTION PLANS offered to ensure quick actions against any sort of fraudulent transactions.
How to prevent Debit Card Frauds?
- Avoid using any online portal for making payments unless you are too sure about it.
- Avoid making use of card reading instruments that are damaged, mismatched or seems to have an ill-fitting at any publicly accessible kiosks placed outdoor. Such kiosks may have hidden skimmers which may leak your debit card credentials to unauthorized sources.
- Be precautious while handing over your cards to someone, especially if it leaves your sight. For example while giving your card to a waiter/waitress at a restaurant, keep a track of the time they take to get back to you.
In most cases it is suggested to make frequent use of a debit card tied into a separate account which has limited amount of money meant exclusively for debit transactions.
How to use Debit Card?
- Swipe your card or insert it into the machine according to the kind of technology it uses.
- Follow the instructions displayed on the screen
- Choose your preferred language
- Choose the type of your account
- Select the kind of service you wish to proceed with like withdrawal, mini statement or balance enquiry.
- Enter your 4 digit PIN (Personal Identification Number)
- In case of cash withdrawal, enter the amount you wish to withdraw and then proceed.
- Complete the entire procedure and after you are done with the transaction, make sure to collect your cash and card.
At POS (Point-of-sale)
- Offer your card to be swiped or inserted into the card reader machine.
- Post this the POS operator will enter transaction details which includes the payable amount.
- You will then be required to enter your 4 digit PIN(Personal Identification Number) to authenticate the transaction
- After this hit enter and wait for the payment slip to be generated. Sign it if required and keep a copy of it with yourself.
- At an authentic online portal, enter the necessary details like your unique 16 digit card number, date of expiry, name of cardholder and CVV (Card Verification Value) number.
- You will be directed to another page if all these details are found valid, here you need to enter your PIN or your unique password you had set for authenticating online payments. In some cases you might have to enter OTP(One Time Password) generated for this particular transaction and sent to you via SMS or Email.