A debit card is a plastic card that provides an alternative payment method to cash when making purchases. Functionally, it can be called an electronic check, as the funds are withdrawn directly from either the bank account or from the remaining balance on the card. In some cases, the debit cards are designed exclusively for use on the Internet, and so there is no physical card. In many countries the use of debit cards has become so widespread that their volume of use has overtaken or entirely replaced the check and, in some instances cash transactions. Like credit cards, debit cards are used widely for telephone and Internet purchases and unlike the credit cards, the funds are transferred immediately from the bearer’s bank account instead of having the bearer pay back the money at a later date. Debit cards may also allow for instant withdrawal of cash, acting as the ATM card for withdrawing cash and as a check guarantee card. Merchants may also offer cash back facilities to customers, where a customer can withdraw cash along with their purchase.
The way a debit card works is basically the same in most respects. You make your purchase, plug in your number or swipe your card and the purchase goes through. The merchant, again, will get paid by the company who issued you the debit card. Here is where the difference is. With a debit card the money already has to be in your account. In other words, you’ve already paid in a certain amount of money to be available to your debit card. By using the card the money is simply transferred out of your account and your balance is reduced until it reaches zero, at which time you have to pay more money into the account or the card can’t be used.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Debit Cards
The advantages of a debit card are that you know you have the money in your account to pay for the item and you don’t have to worry about future bills or finance charges. It’s as good as cash without having to carry cash around with you.
The disadvantages of a debit card are that if you don’t have the money in your debit card account then you can’t use it. In a sense it’s pretty much the same as if you don’t have cash on you.