Debit Card Rules

There are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to using your debit card. Adhering to the terms outlined in your agreement can help you avoid fees and limit your liability if you were to be the victim of fraud or identity theft. If you lose your card, contact your bank immediately so a representative can cancel it and issue you a new one with a different card number.

Debit Transactions

You can use a debit card to make purchases at retail outlets that accept Visa or MasterCard. When purchases are made, you have the option of making a debit or credit transaction. Debit transactions require a four-digit personal identification number (PIN), and the funds are deducted immediately from your current account. Some banks charge a fee, typically 25 cents to 50 cents, for each debit transaction.

Credit Transactions

Your debit card allows you to make credit transactions as well. These transactions don't come out of your current account immediately; they remain in a pending status for one to three days. The money is removed from your available balance during this time. There are no fees with credit transactions, and you don't have to enter your PIN.


Many people use debit cards because of the convenience. They offer an alternative to paying cash or writing a check, and you can conduct bank transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week via an ATM (automated teller machine). ATMs can be found in a variety of locations, and if you can't find one from your bank, you can use the ATM of another bank, but you usually will be assessed a fee, typically in the range of 90p to £2.20.

Unauthorised Transactions

If you lose your debit card, you must notify your bank no later than two days after you discover your card is missing to limit your liability to £32. A delay in notifying your bank could increase your liability to £325 or more. If there are unauthorised transactions on your account, you must report the charges no later than 60 days after you receive your statement. If the transactions involved were performed using the four-digit PIN, a zero-liability policy is in effect, meaning that most major banks won't cover all unauthorised charges or withdrawals completed with a PIN.

Non-Sufficient Funds

If you don't have sufficient funds in your account to pay for a purchase, the charge will still go through, and you are charged a fee for each transaction that goes through under those conditions. The fee, which varies by bank, typically ranges from £22 to £25.

Receipt Policy

When you make a purchase with your debit card, merchants usually give you a receipt. However, legislation has changed, and merchants have been given some leeway with this practice. If you make a debit card purchase that totals less than £9, merchants are no longer required to provide a receipt. The decision regarding whether to give a receipt will be up to the merchant.

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About the Author

Melvin J. Richardson has been a freelance writer for two years with Associated Content, and writes about topics such as banking, credit and collections, goal setting, financial services, management, health and fitness. Richardson has worked for several banks and financial institutions and gained invaluable experience and knowledge. Richardson holds a Master of Business Administration in Executive Management from Ashland University in Ashland Ohio.

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