Debit cards - the whole picture

As it happens, Australia is still scrambling onto the debit card bandwagon, but overseas they're expected to become the number one method of payment.

Debit cards - who are they for?

If you one to indulge in a spot of credit card abuse from time to time, debit cards are a great alternative, allowing you to spend only the cash you have with the convenience of a Visa or Mastercard. It's a simple way to monitor your spending habits and never slip out of credit control.

Debit card features

Debit accounts typically enjoy all the facilities of a credit card, including:

  • internet shopping, phone purchases
  • overseas transactions and withdrawals
  • 'credit only' shopping

Plus some debit card accounts offer:

  • line of credit (facility to overdraw to a pre-arranged limit)
    • note that overdraw fees may apply - and sting!
  • charge back (facility to force a refund from a retailer if goods are, for example, not delivered, or damaged)
  • fraud protection for unauthorised transactions

Debit card reward points

Yes! Some debit cards offer rewards, same as a credit card. You'll need to select the 'credit' payment option on EFTPOS to access this.

  • note that major retailers are increasingly reluctant to offer these 'credit' payment options, as they get charged fees by Visa and Mastercard. Woolworths, for example, will only let you access 'savings' from your debit card - all of the same convenience, yes, but not the rewards.

Debit card fees

Prepaid debit cards can also save you on fees.

  • Fee-free EFTPOS purchases (simply select 'credit' rather than 'savings')

Types of Debit Card

Well, it's pretty much the credit giants, at this stage, and you're looking at:

  • Visa debit cards
  • Mastercard debit cards

Visa and Mastercard offer faintly different small print, but the big differences between debit cards arrive at the provider level (ie, banks).

Debit card providers

Most financial institutions have a debit card facility attached to their transaction accounts, and it's typically easiest to set up a debit card account with your current provider. Search Australia's largest customer review database - ours! - to read debit cards reviews.

Compare today's top debit cards