Many accounts now offer debit cards, and so a card user may find that they have access to a number of debit cards. Should they apply for them when they already have a debit card on their transaction account?
Debit cards were traditionally offered on transaction accounts. This was because they did what cheque books did; withdraw money straight from a bank account. In fact they were seen largely as a replacement for cheque books. This meant that many people have traditionally had debit cards from their transaction account and nowhere else.
However debit cards are now offered by a wide variety of accounts. Debit cards are actually quite cheap for a bank to offer as the day to day running costs are largely covered by the merchant charges, the fee that is charged to a shop or service provider for processing the payments on the cards.
Accounts that offer debit cards include home loans, lines of credit, investment accounts, loan accounts and savings accounts. This is a far wider coverage than a traditional cheque book.
However the question then becomes whether secondary debit cards should be taken. Many people only see the need for one debit card. After all the day to day transactions can be quite easily covered using a transaction account, and that is the point of a transaction account.
One reason for having a separate debit card is for work and business expenses. This will mean that these can be quite easily added up in order to make expenses claims or to claim deductions against tax. The debit card records can also act as a secondary receipt if other receipts are lost – although primary receipts are always preferred.
Going on holiday or travelling abroad for business is another reason to get a secondary debit card. There are specialist debit cards that are available in foreign currencies that offer considerably better foreign exchange rates than a debit card and do not charge foreign transaction fees when used in the country (although they may do this in Australia).
It is also a good idea to have a debit card in case the main debit card is lost or stolen. Many people do not report lost debit cards as they are afraid that if they find it again it will take another week until they get their replacement card, and they will be cut off from their funds, which can mean other services are hit. With a spare card this is no longer an issue.