Woman using debit card in a store

Debit Card Series Part I: What It Is

November 17, 2020 by Hunter Swanson

Debit cards have been incredibly helpful during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of using cash for purchases, you can swipe your card and enter your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for most of your purchases, or you can even sign for it depending on the merchant.

Debit cards make managing your money convenient, quick, and easy.

Although most of us are familiar with debit cards, we want to make sure everyone understands the basics. This series will focus on the three things you need to know about a debit card:

  • Part I: What Is It?
  • Part II: What Should You Know About It?
  • Part III: What Do You Do With It?

When you open an account with us and you’re offered a free ATM or debit card, you will want to know two things: What is the difference and why would I use one over the other?


What is a Debit Card?

A debit card gives you immediate access to the money in your checking account. So instead of borrowing with credit, withdrawing cash, or writing a check, you can use your debit card to pay for things on the spot.

A defining feature of the debit card is the need for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). This is a security code that belongs to you that permits your card access to your finances.

Your PIN is especially important with an ATM card because you will always need to use it to withdraw cash from the ATM, which is usually the only place this card is accepted.

Again, you can also sometimes sign for a purchase when using a debit card, depending on the merchant and how they process your payment.


Why Should You Use a Debit Card?

Three main reasons: convenient, immediate, and easy access to your money.

Convenient

Debit cards let you buy things without carrying cash. You can use it in most stores to pay for something with just a swipe and your PIN number.

Immediate
The card then takes the money out of your checking account. There are no bills to pay and no credit to keep track of, just a simple exchange.
Easy Access

Debit cards also let you get cash quickly. You can use your debit card at an ATM to get money from your checking account, up to $1,000 per day.* You also can get cash back when you use a debit card to buy something at a store. There are two possible limiters to this: the merchant might have a cash-back limit, or you may not have the funds in your account.


A debit card is a great option for those of us that are always on the go or trying to simplify our spending experience. Also, if you find yourself carrying a balance on your credit card, think about leaving that at home and using your debit card instead.

For more information on the perks of a Spectrum Credit Union debit card, check out our member’s checking page. We also recommend reading the rest of our Debit Card series: Part II: What Should You Know and Part III: What to Do.


*After eight transactions per month per card, a $1.00 fee will be charged for each transaction at a non-Spectrum CU owned ATM. Maximum daily withdrawal limits subject to change without notice.

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