What is Debit Card?

A debit card (also known as a bank card or check card) is a plastic payment card that can be used instead of cash when making purchases. It is similar to a credit card, but unlike a credit card, the money comes directly from the user's bank account when performing a transaction.

Some cards may bear a stored value with which a payment is made, while most relay a message to the card holder's bank to withdraw funds from a payer's designated bank account. In some cases, the primary account number is assigned exclusively for use on the Internet and there is no physical card.

Unlike credit and charge cards, payments using a debit card are immediately transferred from the card holder's designated bank account, instead of them paying the money back at a later date.

Debit cards usually also allow for instant withdrawal of cash, acting as the ATM card for withdrawing cash. Merchants may also offer cashback facilities to customers, where a customer can withdraw cash along with their purchase.


Types of Debit Cards in India

Visa Debit Cards

These debit cards are issued with the bank’s tie-up with VISA payment services providing the Verified by Visa (VbV) platform for online transactions.

Visa Electron Debit Cards

Visa Electron debit cards are very similar to Visa debit cards but these cards do not provide the overdraft feature.

MasterCard Debit Cards

A MasterCard Cirrus Card or a MasterCard Maestro Card gives customers access to their funds worldwide and they can perform online transactions using their bank accounts on the MasterCard Secure Code platform.

Contact less Debit Cards

Customers can make payments with just a tap or wave of their contactless debit cards near PoS terminals, with the cards working on Near Field Technology (NFC) thereby making electronic payments safer.

RuPay Debit Cards

Introduced as a domestic card scheme by the NPCI, RuPay debit cards facilitate online purchases and transactions on the Discover network and ATM transactions under the National Financial Switch network.

Maestro Debit Card

Founded in 1992, Maestro from MasterCard is a premier, international debit card service that has been popularly adopted at over 13 million locations spread across 100+ countries around the world. Maestro, as easily identified by the signature logo on all partner cards, helps the customer gain immediate access to his/her money through a robust, international network of compatible ATMs, POS outlets and online resources.


9 Ways to Protect Yourself against Debit Card Fraud


Would you give a thief direct access to your savings account? Unfortunately, you’re doing just that by using your debit card carelessly. With credit cards, you can flag suspicious charges on your bill and decline the charges before making your final payment.

On the other hand, debit cards take money directly from your account, which makes them juicy targets for cash-hungry fraudsters. Protect yourself from skimming, phishing, and other forms of fraud by following these tips:

  1. Regularly update the contact information (i.e. mobile number, e-mail, address, etc.) that you gave to the bank. This will make it faster for the bank to notify you of any suspicious transactions.
  2. Be smart with online transactions. Shop with credible merchants and look for secure transaction symbols like the “lock” icon on your browser. Avoid using public hotspots for online payments.
  3. Regularly check your account balance and transaction history. If you see anything suspicious, immediately report it to the bank.
  4. Take note of the emergency hotline/customer service number at the back of your card and call it immediately in case your card gets stolen.
  5. If you’re planning to use your card abroad, let the bank know your travel dates and destination.
  6. Watch out for anything suspicious on the ATM. Shake the card reader (where you insert your card) to ensure that there are no foreign objects attached to it. Check the pin pad if there are any hidden cameras or false key pads. If anything looks crooked, loose, or damaged, it might have been tampered.
  7. Be vigilant of your surroundings when approaching and using an ATM. Make it a habit to cover your hand and pin pad as you enter your PIN on the ATM.
  8. Never share your ATM PIN to anyone.
  9. If you receive a new card, make sure to destroy your old one. Make sure to cut across the magnetic strip and destroy the chip.

In the end, the best way to protect yourself from fraud is to apply for a card in a bank that puts emphasis on security. If you prefer using credit over debit, check out these security tips to help protect your credit card from hackers.


Difference between Debit Cards & Credit Cards


The major difference between Debit card & credit card is summaries in below table


Credit Cards

Debit Cards

Bill every month

Generated every month

No bill generated. Account statement generated instead.

Linked to

The issuing bank or financial organisation

The cardholder’s bank account.

Credit limit/spending limit

Credit limit assigned on a monthly basis.

Cash withdrawal and POS limit assigned on a daily basis. Some debit cards do not have that limit.

Interest charged

Only if you haven’t cleared you bill on time

As no amount is borrowed hence interest is not charged

Credit score

If you are consistently failing to clear your bill within the due date, it affects your credit score negatively. Please use the card responsibly to avoid the same.

As no credit is taken, hence no question of credit score.



FAQ on Debit Cards

The debit cards are used to withdraw cash from an ATM, purchase of goods and services at Point of Sale (POS)/E-commerce (online purchase) both domestically and internationally (provided it is enabled for international use). However, it can be used only for domestic fund transfer from one person to another.
PIN is the numeric password which is separately mailed / handed over to the customer by the bank while issuing the card. Most banks require the customers to change the PIN on the first use. Customer should not disclose PIN to anybody, including to bank officials. Customers should change the PIN at regular intervals.
Yes, customers can be charged for transactions at ATMs over and above the mandated number of free transactions
The limits on cash withdrawal at ATMs and for purchase of goods and services are decided by the issuer bank. However, in case of cash withdrawal at other bank’s ATM, there is a limit of Rs 10,000/- per transaction. Cash withdrawal at POS has also been enabled by certain banks wherein, a maximum of Rs.1000/- can be withdrawn daily by using debit cards.
If a complainant does not get satisfactory response from his/her bank within a maximum period of thirty (30) days from the date of his lodging the complaint, he/she will have the option to approach the Office of the Banking Ombudsman (in appropriate jurisdiction) for redressal of his grievance.
RBI has been taking various steps to ensure that card payment environment is safe and secure. RBI has mandated banks to send online alerts for all card transactions so that a card holder is aware of transactions taking place on his / her Debitcard.
Yes, some banks give customers the option of linking several bank accounts to a single debit card
Yes, any bank would block a customer’s debit card after three unsuccessful attempts at an ATM as a protective measure.