All debit cards work in the same basic way: they allow you to access the money in your linked transaction account to shop, pay bills and buy things online. However, not all cards offer the same value, so when comparing cards with Savvy, think about the following aspects:
Most debit cards are issued free of charge when you open an everyday bank account. They are typically no-fee, which means they come with no annual or ongoing fees. However, check the conditions attached to the transaction account you open to make sure you understand overdrawn fees, transaction fees or currency conversion fees which may be applied if you use your card overseas.
Look at the rewards, incentives and benefits on offer with the debit card and think about how you’ll use it. Some cards offer cashback if you use your card to pay utility bills, up to a set limit per month. Therefore, if you’re going to be using your card to pay your bills online, this may be the best type of card for you. Other debit cards offer frequent flyer points based on your card spending, so if you’re saving up points for your next overseas trip, this may be your best option.
Many people now link their debit card to a virtual wallet on their phone or wearable smart device. This offers the convenience of not having to carry your debit card around with you, as you can pay simply by holding the virtual card on your phone to the EFTPOS terminal. However, you’ll need to check what payment options your card offers so you can make sure it is compatible with your phone. Payment options include Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayID, Samsung Pay, FitBit Pay and Garmin Pay.
Visa or Mastercard?
Both these companies offer very similar debit and credit cards. You may not be offered a choice about which type of card you receive, as the major banks and financial institutions tend to offer either one or the other, depending on which company they are affiliated with. However, some banks do give you an option to choose, so it could come down to which type of card you are familiar with using.
Fraud and purchase protection
Almost all debit cards offer fraud protection in case scammers get hold of your financial information and illegally withdraw funds from your bank account. If your account is hacked, you’re usually protected from financial loss and will be reimbursed by the bank.
However, some debit cards also come with additional protections which can include:
- Extended warranty – this is an offer to double or extend the warranty on a new item you buy with your debit Visa or Mastercard
- Price protection – this can include an offer to refund the price difference if you’ve bought an item using your debit card, and then within 30 days find it offered cheaper elsewhere
- Purchase protection – this offers protection against theft, damage or loss within a certain time limit on your new purchases.
Additional security features
When comparing debit cards, it’s also important to think about the security features that come with the card. For instance, the best debit cards can be quickly locked using online banking or a mobile app as soon as the card is lost or stolen. This can prevent thieves from using your card to make unauthorised purchases. In addition, most debit cards require a PIN to withdraw cash from an ATM and to make tap-and-go purchases over a specified limit, which is usually $200.