While your debit card may look a lot like your credit card, it’s very different indeed. Aside from the fact that using a credit card means accessing credit rather than using your own money, the features – and costs – involved are also worlds apart.
Credit cards sell themselves on their features, but they do so at a higher cost. Debit cards, on the other hand, tend to be offered for free, to be used in conjunction with a linked everyday transaction account. So, what features can you expect on your debit card if you’re not paying big bucks to access them?
Back in the day, if you wanted to access the funds in your bank account, you would have to visit a branch – during banking hours – and hand over your passbook. While using your chequebook was an option, it wasn’t a particularly fast way to pay.
Now, we have the debit card. Using your debit card, you can withdraw money from the ATM at any time of the night or day – or if you’re not that into cash, you can use your debit card to pay in person at the checkout, or online.
Whether you’re at home or overseas, as long as you have your debit card – and you have funds in your account – you can pay wherever Visa and Mastercard is accepted.
And, as improvements in technology continue, so do the ways in which we can use our debit cards. By syncing your card to your device, you can use Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay or any other type of ‘Pay’, for even faster payments online and instore.
Talking of faster payments, this is where contactless comes into its own. While you can use your device to pay using your card, you can also use your card itself to tap-and-go. Thanks to chip and PIN technology, all debits cards now offer contactless payments for quick and easy transactions at the checkout.
Now we’ve talked about the features you can use to spend on your card, let’s look at what features you can use to manage that spending.
As debit cards are linked to a transaction account, management of that account can be achieved in any number of ways. Phone banking is now pretty old school, but it’s still offered to those who prefer that to online banking.
Online banking – and smartphone apps – however, typically offer more functionality. Using these features, you can track your spending, pay bills and transfer funds. Depending on your account provider, you may also be able to lock and block your card when needed, and set spending limits.
What about an overdraft? When you use your debit card, you are using your own money. But what if that money runs out? Some account providers offer an overdraft facility to those who need it, allowing them to buy the essentials they need, even if it means they don’t have enough in their account to cover the cost.
A debit card is a direct link to your bank account. You don’t want just anyone being able to access it. Which is why most debit cards have a number of security features in place to prevent that from happening. Using a PIN adds a layer of security, while checking your spending for fraudulent transaction also helps.
However, both Mastercard and Visa – as well as the card providers themselves – put in place fraud monitoring systems, which work to detect fraud and prevent it from occurring. If you are a victim of fraud, Mastercard and Visa both have a Zero Liability policy ensuring you are not liable for fraudulent transactions on your card.
Visa and Mastercard Extras
While they are often underused, Visa and Mastercard ‘perks’ can add value to your debit card. One reason they are underused is that cardholders simply don’t know about them. To find out more, check out your issuer’s site. You could get your hands on exclusive entertainment offers, travel perks and dining deals – all you need to do is sign up.
Debit cards that earn rewards are few and far between – but they do exist. While they may not offer the same earning potential as rewards credit cards, they do help you get something back on your spending – and unlike rewards on credit cards, there is no annual fee or interest to worry about.