What is a debit card?
Also known as a bank card or cheque card, a debit card allows the account holder to make payments and purchases without carrying cash or going to the bank. Unlike good old fashioned cash, every transaction made with a debit card will appear on a monthly bank statement, making it easy to keep track of purchases, payments and withdrawals. Purchases made with a debit card serve as payments made in cash as a debit card only allows the consumer to use money they actually have instead of using money borrowed on credit. With this card, you can enjoy the convenience of paying and purchasing directly out of your account.
Is it safe?
Debit cards have proven to be safer than cash and (back in the day) cheques. When you have a debit card, only you and the people you wish to share the information with have access to your account and the information inside it. They are also PIN protected and offer limits on withdrawals as well as purchases. These limits are decided by the account holder. However, in case of theft, don’t fret. Most banks offer zero liability, that means you pay nothing for fraudulent purchases.
Here’s how to use your debit card safely:
- Stay ahead of thieves; some of us still use the same password created by our parents for our very first bank account. It is important to change your password/PIN at least every 7 months.
- Problems should be reported immediately; as soon as unauthorised transactions are happening within your account, report them to your bank. This will not only encourage the bank to monitor the account but also supports your case to claim back capital of fraudulent transactions.
- Be careful to use public wireless networks for online banking; if you are using public wireless networks to check online balances and make purchases, make sure the signal you are using is password protected. This will decrease the chance of hackers to capture your online banking password.
Prepaid debit card vs debit cards
Debit cards are linked to a cheque account within a bank where as prepaid debit cards serve the same purpose without the risk of spending money, you don’t have. Consumers open a prepaid debit account to ensure rewards and less bank charges. Although prepaid debit cards still come with slightly higher fees than normal debit, having a prepaid debit card gives you the convenience of a debit card. In addition, prepaid debit cards come with fewer protection plans in the case of loss.
Online shopping and debit cards
Online purchases can be made with debit cards. Nowadays, most websites offer both credit and debit payment options. So, no need to rush out the door for purchases. The debit card is designed for ultimate convenience. In the case that there is no ‘debit card’ option, choose the VISA option and fill in the detailed steps that follow.
Factors to keep in mind when applying for a debit card
Most people miss the hidden extras available simply because they just don’t know about them. Banks can be confusing and complicated when it comes to fees and options that will work best for you.
Here are a few tips to make sure you are choosing the option that works best for you:
- Make sure you know what you need and why you need it to prevent extra costs and features you will not use in the future.
- When choosing, keep your current status in mind. Banks usually offer discounted rates for students, pensioners or dependants. Don’t miss out on discounted rates.
- Use the banking calculator to compare what you will pay at each bank every month. Find the best option for your pocket.
What you will need when applying for a debit card
Before applying, make sure you have done proper research regarding your needs and which bank offers the best option for those needs. Every bank has different requirements.
There are a few general things you will need to apply:
- Identification book
- Proof of residence
- Proof of income
- A minimum of R50 to activate the account (not all banks are the same)