What is a debit card?

A debit card is attached to your everyday bank account and allows you to spend your money online and in-person by tapping or swiping your card. You can withdraw cash from ATMs and retailers like Woolworths and Coles. Almost all Australian bank accounts come with a debit card as standard.

But, not all debit cards are the same. Some accounts may charge monthly fees, work with a bigger variety of digital wallets, have extra perks attached or even give you rewards on your spending.

You can compare the most popular cards using the comparison table above, or look at our handpicked top cards for these categories:

 

Best debit cards for kids

ANZ Access Advantage (min. 12 years old)
MyState Bank Glide Account (min. 13 years old)
Westpac Choice Account (min. 14 years old)
BankSA Complete Freedom (min. 14 years old)

 

Best debit cards for students

Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom Student
ANZ Access Advantage

 

Best debit cards for overseas travel/spending

HSBC Everyday Global Account
Citi Global Currency Account

 

Best debit cards for digital wallets

MyState Bank Glide Account
Westpac Choice Account
NAB Classic Banking with Visa Debit
ANZ Access Advantage

 

Best debit cards with rewards

HSBC Everyday Global Account
Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom Student
NAB Classic Banking with Platinum Visa Debit

 

Best high-interest savings accounts

MyState Bank Glide AccountVirgin Money Go Account (when linked with a Virgin Money Booster Account)
Citi Global Currency Account

 

Do debit card accounts pay high interest on my savings?

No, most everyday transaction accounts pay little to no interest on your money. That’s what high-interest accounts are for, which are online savings-specific accounts that don’t come with a debit card (so you can’t spend your savings!). You can compare high-interest accounts here and read our full reviews of each one.

 

What’s the difference between debit and credit cards?

1. Debit cards let you spend the money you’ve stored in your everyday bank account. Credit cards are the opposite: you ‘borrow’ money to spend with, and pay it back to the bank later (sometimes with interest on top).

2. Getting a credit card requires a credit check, where the bank will look at your financial history to decide if you’re a good candidate. Most debit cards and bank accounts only require proof of identity, age and residence.

3. Lastly, debit and credit cards aren’t interchangeable. Many people have both: debit cards to access their own funds, and credit cards to pay for larger items, earn rewards points or for inclusions like free travel insurance. You can compare and find out more about credit cards here.
 

What should you look for in a debit card?

You’ll need to work out what features are important to you. Here are some ideas:

- What kind of digital wallet do you use?
- Will you be doing a lot of overseas spending?
- Will you need on-the-spot payment with Osko or PayID?
- Do you want to earn a little more interest on your savings?
- Do you want an app that helps you budget and track expenses?

 

Note down some features you value above others to help you narrow down your search. There are rarely penalites for closing a debit account, so you can always test-drive other debit cards if you’re not 100% happy.

FAQs

What do I need with me to open an account?

Opening a bank account and debit card is easy. You’ll need to meet any eligibility requirements (such as the minimum age), and have proof of ID and an Australian residential address.

Just click the ‘Apply Now’ button and you’ll be redirected to the bank’s website, where you can start your online application. It generally takes less than ten minutes to apply and have your account up and running.

 
Do debit cards have daily limits?

Yes, most limit the amount of cash you can withdraw to around $1,000. You can ask your bank to increase the limit, but that puts you more at risk if someone steals your debit card.

 
Will I pay a fee if I spend more than I have in my account?

Some banks have an overdraft facility in place, which means you can spend more than you have and the bank will charge you a fee for it. Often, you can ask the bank to cancel any overdraft ability.

 
Can I link any debit card to any bank account?

You’ll have to use the debit card that’s linked to the bank account. So, first find the account you like, and you’ll be issued the Mastercard or Visa debit card that comes with it.

 
Can I use a debit card to buy things online?

Yes, most cards are accepted online these days, although the odd business or two might require a credit card. Enter your card number, the expiry and the CVV (the 3-digit number on the back of your card) at checkout. Just remember, you’ll need to have the funds in your account for the payment to be accepted.

 
Should I choose a Visa debit card or Mastercard debit card?

Ultimately, there isn’t much difference between Visa and Mastercard. They’re both payment giants that are accepted almost anywhere in the world.

For you, the bigger factor is the bank account - also called an everyday transaction account - that’s linked with the Mastercard or Visa debit card. Compare the bank accounts first to find features you like. Consider monthly fees, rewards, free ATM access, charges for overseas spending, and digital wallet compatibility.

 

Debit cards make everyday life easy.

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