Electronic Account Cards

The electronic card you are given when you open a current account might be a cashcard or a debit card. A cashcard will allow you to withdraw money from your account over the counter at your bank or building society or via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). It may also allow you to deposit money into your account. However, it will not be possible to make purchases in shops or stores using your card as a method of payment. A debit card on the other hand enables you to make cash-free purchases.

When you wish to make a purchase in a shop or store but do not have sufficient cash, you can give your debit card as payment. The shop assistant will make a copy of your card details, either by swiping the magnetic strip on the card through the till, or by placing your card in a machine which reads the card details on a microchip in the card. You will be asked to prove your identity, either by signing a payslip or by entering your Personal Identification Number (PIN) into the card machine. If your details are correct and there are sufficient funds in your account to cover the purchase, your card will be accepted as payment.

The payment is automatically deducted from your current balance, and so your card will usually be refused if the requested payment amount exceeds the funds available. However, there are instances where a bank will honour the payment, but as a result cause an account holder to go overdrawn (see Overdrafts and Overdraft Charges). Debit cards can be used for almost all retail transactions, as long as the store where you are making your purchase accepts debit cards as a method of payment. There will usually be a notice detailing the payment methods accepted. Debit cards are also accepted abroad, wherever you see the appropriate debit card logo, although fees will usually apply for international transactions (see International Transactions).


For detailed information on Debit Cards see the article 'Debit Cards'.