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  • A card with direct access to a customer’s financial account, usually a checking or savings account. It generally can be used to withdraw money from ATMs, and/or for retail purchases - where funds are almost immediately withdrawn from the customer's account. Some cards require a personal identification number; others require a customer's signature.

    State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance - Cite This Source - This Definition
  • A debit card allows the account owner to access their funds electronically. Debit cards may be used to obtain cash from automated teller machines, or purchase goods or services using point-of-sale systems. The use of a debit card involves immediate debiting and/or crediting of consumers' accounts.

    National Credit Union Administration - Cite This Source - This Definition
  • A debit card - sometimes called a cash plus card - allows you to make point-of-sale (POS) purchases by swiping the card through the same type of machine you use to make credit card purchases.

    Sometimes you authorize a debit card transaction with your personal identification number (PIN). Other times, you sign a receipt just as you would if you were charging the purchase to your credit card. You can also use the card to make ATM withdrawals.

    When you use a debit card, the amount of your purchase is debited, or subtracted, from your account at the time of the transaction and transferred electronically to the seller's account.

    You have some of the same protections against loss with a debit card as you do with a credit card, but there is one important difference. While $50 is the most you can ever be responsible for if your credit card is lost or stolen, you could lose much more with a lost or stolen debit card if you don't report that has happened within two days of discovering it.

    If you delay reporting a missing card, you could lose up to $500. And if you wait more than 60 days after receiving a bank statement that includes a fraudulent use of your card, you could lose everything in your account including your overdraft line of credit. You can find the specific rules on the Federal Trade Commission website at

    In addition, if you purchase defective merchandise with a debit card there are no refunds. Most credit card issuers do not, generally speaking, make you pay for defective products.

  • Browse Related Terms: ATM Card, Automatic Bill Payment, Available Balance, Balance Transfer, Billing Error, Debit card, Electronic benefits transfer (EBT), Previous Balance, Residual interest

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