Debit cards allow you to access your money even if there’s not a branch of your bank nearby. You can take out cash, transfer funds or deposit checks at an ATM, or make purchases by entering your PIN number or signing as you would with a credit card. However, there are a couple of important facts to know before you break out the bankcard far from home.
Fees and Fraud
Most banks charge a fee if you use your bankcard at an out-of-network ATM, so you can save a few dollars by taking out cash before you travel. Also, banks may become suspicious of fraud if they see the card used in an unfamiliar location for unusual purposes. Using it to purchase expensive electronics or jewelry at a store far from home may trigger your bank to freeze your account until they confirm you’re the one actually making those purchases.
Debit cards don’t offer the same protection against fraudulent use that credit cards do, particularly if your card is lost or stolen and you don’t report it quickly. If you use it in a different state and then misplace it, call your bank immediately rather than waiting until you get back home. That way, not only will you be able to get a replacement card, your liability for unauthorized purchases will be $50 if the missing card is reported within two days instead of $500, if you report the loss between three and 60 days.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images