In appearance, check and debit cards look similar to traditional credit cards. Some debit cards have a Visa or MasterCard logo, but look closely and you find that debit cards have the word “debit” located on the face of the card. Debit and check cards function with the use of a PIN or a signature. If you're wondering, "What's a check card?", debit and check cards function like credit cards, the protections, advantages and disadvantages are quite different.
There Are Limited Differences
There is almost no difference between a check card and debit card. Both check and debit cards are tied to an active checking account, from which funds are withdrawn at the time of purchase. Debit and check cards are issued through your financial institution if you qualify for a checking account. Some financial institutions offer incentives and rewards for using your debit card.
As technology advances, card issuers are moving to chipped and contactless cards. This means PINs will decrease in use. Another increasingly common type of payment is the mobile banking app. As apps increase payment options, making plastic cards less necessary.
Read More: What Is a Debit Card?
Protections for Your Cards
Fraudulently used Visa and MasterCard debit cards have a zero-liability clause, but it is offered as a courtesy not a law. PIN-authorized debit cards processed through non-Visa and MasterCard networks may or may not have a zero-liability policy. In this case, customer liability is determined by the issuing financial institution.
Under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, debit card users' liability is limited to $50 of a fraudulent transaction if reported within two business days. If the user waits more than two business days but less than 60 days, they could lose up to $500. This means the user must pay for any transaction of $500 or less if fraudulent activity is reported more than two days after occurrence.
When you get a check or debit card, it comes with a PIN created by the card issuer. You receive your PIN in a separate letter a few days later, for security reasons. Card issuers suggest changing your bank-issued card to something only you know and can remember.
Advantages of These Cards
Visa and MasterCard debit cards are accepted anywhere with the Visa and MasterCard logo. You stay within your budget since you cannot spend more than what is in your bank account. A debit or check card functions as an electronic check when you make your check card purchase, explains National Iron Bank.
There is no need to finance your purchases with a check or debit card, as the card is tied to an open bank account. Debit cards carry no fee for withdrawing cash from your account.
Disadvantages of These Cards
The downside to using a debit card is the immediate loss of funds. Once funds are fraudulently withdrawn from the account, the user must take quick action to recoup the funds. In addition, anyone that knows your PIN can use your debit card, which makes it difficult to dispute charges.
Your funds are limited on per-day basis. Some credit unions have separate amounts when using the card as check card or “credit” card.
Residing in Clarksville, Tenn., Patrice D. Wimbush has been writing since 2002, with her work appearing on various websites. Her areas of writing expertise are contract and criminal law. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Murray State University and a Master of Arts in communication from Austin Peay State University.