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Debit Cards, Definition & costs

What is a debit card?

A debit card is a payment card linked with your current and savings accounts that allows you to purchase items without the use of physical paper money (cash) but only from money that you already have in your account. The main features of a debit card are:

  • Bank Accounts: You can link a debit card to multiple accounts within the same bank to perform payments, and some banks allow you to withdraw money from their ATMs without fees.
  • Payment Network: A payment network is where your debit card can be accepted for payment. The two largest payment networks are VISA & MasterCard, with most debit cards being issued in those two networks.

Are debit cards safe to use?

Credit & debit cards account for over US$ 3 trillion in annual transactions, so they are very widely accepted and used. Credit & debit card fraud only accounts for 1% of total transactions, as such credit card usages are relatively safe.

Debit cards have built in security measures to minimize theft:

  • Card CCV: This is the debit card security number on the back of the card that follows the debit card number.
  • One Time Password “OTP”: Most online transactions now require an OTP whereby when you are performing the transaction the website asks you for a password which is sent by the bank to your mobile for use with that particular transaction.
  • Chip: Most new debit cards include a chip that requires a pin to process a payment.
  • Bank: Banks also do a lot of the risk management on their end by monitoring transactions as well as ensuring the full information of user matches the card holder (i.e. asking for address and mobile numbers when purchasing online)

The most important factor in the safety of using debit cards is how you use them. There are basic safety rules to follow:

  • Do not share your debit card number with anyone
  • Do not share your PIN number with anyone
  • Do not use your debit card online in any websites you are not familiar with

What’s the main difference between Debit and Credit Cards?

The main difference between both is the availability of credit or a loan. Debit cards only allow for transactions from your cash in your existing accounts, while credit cards allow for transaction based on a loan limit from the bank.

What are the typical documents needed?

The documents needed for a Debit Card are basically having a bank account. The documents for a bank account are:

  • General (for all):
    • Valid National Identification (National ID or Passport)
    • Proof of Address (Rental contract or utility bill)

How much does a debit card cost ?

There are two main variables to take into account when looking at the cost of a debit card:

  1. Issuance Fees: are the fees a banks charge you to issue you a credit card in the first place and can vary not only between banks but between different debit cards within the same bank.
  2. Renewal Fees: are the fees banks charge you to renew your card after it expires.

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