In the previous section you learned about credit cards and the pros and cons to having one. We now turn our focus to debit cards.

A debit card is a useful tool and can help you avoid some of the more serious trouble that a credit card can bring; though this is not to say a debit card is without risk.

What is a Debit Card?

A debit card, also called a check or bank card, is simply a card that is linked to your checking account.  You can use a debit card online and at almost every store in the USA. Carrying a debit card is a good alternative to carrying cash.  If your wallet is lost or stolen you can cancel the card and have any fraudulent charges refunded.  With cash you are simply out of luck.

You can also use a debit card at automated teller machines (ATMs) to deposit or withdraw cash.  This is usually free of charge, but check with your bank to see if they charge fees for not using their ATMs.

Debit Card Fees

Debit cards are easy to use, but you need to be aware of a few fees up front.  Check with your bank to see if they have any fees not listed here.

  1. Overdraft Fees: Since debit cards are linked to your checking account you need to be sure you don't spend more than you have.

  2. Out of Network Fees: Have a Bank of America card and use it at a Chase ATM? You may get charged a fee, but the good news is that your bank may refund these fees at their discretion.

  3. Foreign Transaction Fees: There can be hefty fees if you use your card outside of the country. Check with your bank to see if they have a partner bank in the country you are visiting that allows you to withdraw cash without a fee.

How to Get a Debit Card

The good thing about a debit card is that you don't need to undergo a credit check to get one.  You will get one upon opening a checking account at your bank.  The process is pretty simple:

  1. Open checking account

  2. Receive debit card

  3. Activate the card (per bank's instructions)

  4. Enjoy!

If you are interested in getting a debit card check out the link above to compare checking accounts.

Useful Links

Compare different checking accounts for free.