Debit card

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Debit card

A card that resembles a credit card but which debits a transaction account (checking account) with the transfers occurring contemporaneously with the customer's purchases. A debit card may be machine readable, allowing for the activation of an automated teller machine or other automated payments equipment.

Debit Card

A card entitling the owner to make automatic withdrawals from a bank account to make purchases or to receive cash. That is, when one uses a debit card, the issuing bank transfers funds from the holder's account to the seller electronically. The holder of a debit card may therefore use it to buy a good or service. Debit cards operate much like credit cards but, while credit cards are essentially short term loans, debit cards are more like electronic checks. They are also called check cards, bank cards or, less commonly, asset cards.

debit card

A plastic card that may be used for purchasing goods and services or for obtaining cash advances for which payment is made from existing funds in a bank account. Because a debit card provides about the same float as a checking account (one to three days), it is a less desirable method of payment than a credit card. These cards are often part of the comprehensive all-in-one accounts offered by many brokers.

Debit card.

A debit card -- sometimes called a cash plus card -- allows you to make point-of-sale (POS) purchases by swiping the card through the same type of machine you use to make credit card purchases.

Sometimes you authorize a debit card transaction with your personal identification number (PIN). Other times, you sign a receipt just as you would if you were charging the purchase to your credit card. You can also use the card to make ATM withdrawals.

When you use a debit card, the amount of your purchase is debited, or subtracted, from your account at the time of the transaction and transferred electronically to the seller's account.

You have some of the same protections against loss with a debit card as you do with a credit card, but there is one important difference. While $50 is the most you can ever be responsible for if your credit card is lost or stolen, you could lose much more with a lost or stolen debit card if you don't report what has happened within two days of discovering it.

If you delay reporting a missing card, you could lose up to $500. And if you wait more than 60 days after receiving a bank statement that includes a fraudulent use of your card, you could lose everything in your account including your overdraft line of credit. You can find the specific rules on the Federal Trade Commission website at

In addition, if you purchase defective merchandise with a debit card, there are no refunds. Most credit card issuers do not, generally speaking, make you pay for defective products.

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