While different from cash, debit cards are a common method of payment that allows you to spend money from your bank account in real time.
Using a debit card feels like using actual cash, except it comes in the form of a shiny, plastic card. Because your debit card is linked to your bank account, paying for things with your debit card means that you’re spending the money in your bank account in real time. Just like when spending cash, most of the time, you can’t spend what you don’t have.
How Your Money is Stored with Debit Cards
Debit cards are issued by banks, which means you need a checking or savings account with a bank to use one. A debit card doesn’t “store” your money–you can think of it more as a tool.
In actuality, your bank stores your money. Each time you use your debit card to buy an item, your funds are being transferred from your account to the seller almost instantaneously. Every time you deposit money into your bank account either physically or through online banking services, money becomes available for use on your debit card after the bank determines that the funds are good.
Shopping with a Debit Card
Shopping with a debit card is great for budgeting and convenience. As previously mentioned, when you use your debit card to buy something, the bank automatically deducts the funds from your bank account and transfers it to the seller.
Shopping with a debit card offers greater convenience than physical cash because you don’t have to carry wads of cash. If you lose your debit card, the bank will replace it, but if you lose cash, it can’t be replaced.
Still, using cash to go shopping is also suitable for many reasons. Spending cash allows you to stay within a budget. You’ll also never accumulate or go into debt if you only spend the cash you have on hand. Cash purchases do not affect your credit score, however shopping with cash has its limits: you can’t use it to make online purchases, and it’s not the most secure form of payment.
What Happens if My Debit Card is Stolen?
If your debit card is stolen, report it to your bank immediately. You can report a stolen debit card to your bank by calling, visiting your bank’s website, or stopping by a bank location. Nowadays, most banks have online banking that allows you to manage your debit card using your computer or mobile phone. If you report your debit card as stolen quickly, you likely won’t be held responsible for any unwanted transactions on your card and you’re less likely to lose any money. Your bank will cancel your debit card, which means whoever has your card cannot make any purchases on it. You will then receive a new debit card from your bank.
On the other hand, if you lose cash, there is not much else you can do other than file a police report. This can be a long process, in which you may have to spend time talking to a police officer and then keep a record of your report. There is no guarantee that you will find the culprit who took your money - which means your money may be gone for good.
Using a debit card is like using actual cash. As long as you have money in your bank account, you can use your debit card to purchase and pay for all types of expenses and items, online and offline. Debit cards are generally more secure than physical cash, because you can cancel your card with the bank almost immediately thanks to online banking services.
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