Types of Debit Cards

Find out about the different types of debit cards available in Australia and compare them with Savvy. 

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, updated on September 13th, 2023       

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Compare debit cards

If you are looking for a debit card, use our table to compare Australia's best debit card offers with $0 monthly fees, free ATM withdrawals, cashback offers, budgeting apps, security features and much more. Start your debit card search with us now.

site-logos Up Everyday Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Osko,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 0%
Go to site

Use invite code SAVVY10 for $10 upon successful sign-up. (Refer to offer T&Cs on Up website)

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site-logos ING Orange Everyday
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
Read review

Rebates on ATM fees anywhere in Oz. No ING international transaction fees. Zero monthly fees.

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site-logos NAB Classic Banking Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0.01%
Read review

No monthly account fees ever, with no conditions. Free use at over 7,000 ATMs around Australia. No overdrawn fees if you happen to go over your account balance. Open an account in less than 7 minutes.

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site-logos St.George Complete Freedom Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
Read review

Get $40 with a new Complete Freedom everyday bank account.

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site-logos Westpac Choice
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $5
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 $0
Read review

Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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You should always consult a given offer's PDS or further documentation in the process of deciding on which loan to choose, as well as seeking independent, professional advice. If you decide to apply with one of the lenders listed above via our website, you will not be dealing with Savvy; any applications or enquiries will be conducted directly with the lender offering that product.

Compare different types of debit cards

There are many different types of debit cards now available in Australia. Because we use our debit cards so frequently, finding a card that matches your spending habits is vital if you are to get the best deal. You can compare a range of different types of debit card here with Savvy to help you find a card that perfectly fits in with your lifestyle. Start the process with us today. 

What different types of debit card are available in Australia?

There are many different types of debit cards available in Australia today. Some of the most popular are: 

Standard bank-issued debit cards 

A standard plastic debit card is issued by either Visa or Mastercard and is linked to an everyday bank account. It allows you to draw on the funds in your bank account in various ways, including: 

  • withdrawing cash from an ATM 
  • paying for goods or services using EFTPOS terminals 
  • shopping online 
  • using any card-based swipe and pay terminals, such as those found on public transport to pay for tram, bus or train tickets, or at petrol stations to pre-pay for fuel 

You can only authorise payments on your card up to the limit of the funds you have in your linked bank account. If you try to spend more than you have, your transaction will be declined due to a lack of funds (unless your account has an overdraft facility). These are the best type of debit card for most people in Australia, as they offer a versatile, fee-free payment solution. You can compare a wide range of debit card offers right here with Savvy today to help you make an informed decision on which is best for you. 

Prepaid debit cards 

Unlike a standard debit card, which is linked to a bank account, a prepaid debit card can be loaded up with cash which can then be spent in the same way as any other debit card. When the card runs out of funds, it can be recharged or topped up either online or at a post office. There are many different types of prepaid debit cards, ranging from those issued at post offices to cards issued online by card providers themselves (such as Mastercard and Visa) and other non-bank companies. 

As there may be recharge fees to top up a prepaid debit card, as well as membership fees charged by certain providers, such cards are more expensive to use than normal debit cards. However, they can be useful for children or anyone else who doesn’t have a bank account. 

Travel or international debit cards 

There are also debit cards you can use overseas far more cost-effectively than standard debit cards. These cards are issued through banks or non-bank financial institutions specifically for use when travelling. They often allow you to store multiple currencies in the linked bank account, so you can pre-load your travel card with funds at a time when exchange rates are beneficial.  

Once overseas, you can choose which currency to pay in and, in some cases, no overseas transaction fees will be charged. This won't always be the case, though, as some international transaction fees are up to 3%. In addition, if you use an ATM overseas which isn’t affiliated with your bank, you could be charged international ATM fees of up to $5 or more per withdrawal. Many travel debit cards also allow you to use ATMs overseas free of charge, as well as contactless tap-and-go payment systems in multiple countries.  

Virtual debit cards 

Virtual debit cards are debit cards that are stored in a digital wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet. These are a new digital version of your debit card, which means you can use your phone just like a debit card to pay for goods and services at EFTPOS machines. Linking your debit card to your phone means you no longer have to carry the actual plastic card around with you, which may be more convenient for some people. The card itself is functionally the same as any physical card.

How do I compare the different types of debit card available?

All debit cards work in the same basic way: they allow you to access the money in your linked transaction or savings 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: 

Fees  

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. Check that you understand overdrawn fees, transaction fees and currency conversion fees which could be applied if you use your card overseas. However, if you choose to get a travel debit card or a prepaid debit card issued by a non-bank financial institution, there could be monthly administration fees and recharge fees applicable. 

Rewards  

Look at the rewards, incentives and benefits on offer with the debit card and think about how you'll use it. Some cards offer a cashback if you use your card to pay utility bills, up to a set limit per month. Other debit cards offer frequent flyer points based on your card spending.  

Payment options  

Many people now link their debit card to a virtual wallet on their phone or wearable smart device. Check what payment options your card offers so you can make sure it’s compatible with your phone. 

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 an extended warranty, price protection or purchase protection. 

Additional security features  

When comparing debit cards, it's also important to think about the security features that come with the card. The best type of debit card can be quickly locked using online banking or a mobile app as soon as the card is lost or stolen. 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. 

Why compare debit cards with Savvy?

Common questions about types of debit cards

How long does a debit card last?

A debit card is usually issued for a period of two to three years. On the front of the card is a four-figure expiry date, which often has to be recorded when making an online purchase.

Which types of debit card can I link to my phone?

Most debit cards can be linked to a digital wallet on a phone, but not all cards work with all phones, so when choosing your debit card, check for compatibility with your phone.  

Do all types of debit card come with a CVV?

Yes – almost all debit cards of whatever type usually have a Card Verification Value (CVV) on the back of the card. This offers another level of security by helping to ensure that the person using the card has the actual card in front of them. 

What is a secondary debit card?

A secondary debit card is another debit card issued which is linked to the same bank account under another name. Such cards are issued for joint accounts, where there’s more than one person listed as account-holder, or frequently for business accounts where multiple staff need to access one company account. 

What is the best type of debit card for my child?

Most banks and financial institutions will offer standard debit cards for kids from the age of 12, which come with a range of useful features, such as parental supervision, spending limits and restrictions on what can be purchased. If your child doesn’t meet your bank’s age requirements, prepaid cards can be issued to those as young as nine, although these are a more expensive option as mentioned above.