As online shopping and digital payments continue to grow, the importance of different debit card features is also changing.
Debit cards are now the most common payment option in Australia, with RBA statistics showing there were 3.22 billion debit card transactions for the 2012-13 financial year – an increase of 14.6% on the previous year’s results. Credit cards, in comparison, had 1.58 billion transactions, highlighting the popularity and prevalence of debit cards.
While the majority of transactions still take place in person, online shopping is also on the rise. The latest research from NAB shows Australians spent $14.4 billion between January and October 2013, up $2 billion on the same period in 2012.
The preference for paying with debit cards, combined with the growing online retail world has led to an increased focus on certain debit card features, so here we take a look at the top five things to consider when choosing and using a debit card online.
1. Debit Card Fraud Protection
Card fraud has risen along with the popularity of online shopping, with the Australian Payments and Clearing Association (APCA) reporting significant overall increases in fraud incidences. What’s more is that the overall amount of payments card fraud in 2013 increased by 1% to $280.5 million.
These statistics, along with the steady stream of news reports about international credit card crime rings, highlights just how important it is to consider debit card fraud protection. Specific features, like 24/7 fraud monitoring services and zero liability policies, are top of the list when it comes to considering what card to use when shopping online.
2. Internet Banking
While online banking has become an essential offering for all debit card providers, the specific features can make a big difference. Does your debit card issuer offer instant online transfers between accounts? Or real-time transaction updates? What about online security alerts?
The different features available through your debit card’s internet banking service can help you manage your money and security as well as helping you keep on track with your spending and saving goals.
3. No Foreign Transaction Fees
Shopping online gives you access to stores all around the world, which means you can find products and prices to suit your needs. But the downside to buying from international retailers is that there are often additional costs.
Foreign transaction fees apply to many credit cards and most debit cards issued in Australia, adding around 3% more to every purchase that you make. While the rate applied does vary between cards, the Citibank Plus debit card is the only option that currently waives this charge completely, so it could be a good debit card to consider if you do a lot of online shopping.
4. No Overdrawn Fees
The online retail world often has a range of sales and specials that can save you money on products, shipping and more for a limited time only. While these deals are great, it can be very tempting to buy everything at once. In turn, that can mean you are more likely to go over your debit card account limit and end up paying more fees in the process.
Fortunately, not all debit cards charge fees when your account is overdrawn. The Citibank Plus, ING Direct Orange Everyday and the NAB Classic are some of the debit cards that have no overdrawn or dishonour fees – although interest could be charged if your account stays over its limit for too long.
5. Multiple Currency Options
The growing popularity of prepaid debit cards is partly fuelled by unique and convenient features, such as multiple currency pre-loading. Prepaid debit cards like the Velocity eWallet, Qantas Cash card and Australia Post Travel Card range let you load multiple currencies onto them so that you can switch between funds depending on where you are shopping.
The only thing to remember about these cards is that they can charge loading fees or other transaction fees, so comparing options and weighing up the pros and cons is still important to help you get the best bang for your buck.
While most people stick with just one debit card account, it is important to find options that are convenient and affordable for your lifestyle. Considering these five features, and any others that could make your life easier, will help you figure out if your current debit card is right or if it is time to make a change.