Banking Category Banking: the easy, simple banking guide

How to Use a Debit Card Machine

A debit card has two main uses: You can swipe it at stores to pay for purchases by taking money directly out of your bank account, or you can use it at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to withdraw or deposit money into your bank account without having to go inside the bank. Debit cards are not the same as credit cards, even though many people use them at the store in the same way.

Go to an ATM for your bank during daylight hours and wait until you are alone to walk up to it. Because people can get money at ATMs, they are sometimes targets for robbers looking to make a quick buck. These tips will help you to stay safe while using ATMs.

Insert your card into the slot where the machine asks you to. Some machines only require you to swipe your card, while others actually take your card into the machine until you complete your transaction. Do not worry; the machine did not "eat" your card.

Type in your PIN (personal identification number), which is your secret code to use your debit card. When you opened your account at the bank, you probably selected a four-digit number for your PIN. You will need your PIN number to complete this transaction. Nobody can take money out of your account without having both your debit card and your PIN number. While you type in your PIN at the ATM, cover the keyboard with your other hand to hide the numbers from anyone who might be watching.

If you do not know your PIN, you must get it from your bank before you can use your debit card.

Use the options on the screen to navigate through the transaction that you want to complete. Some ATMs use a touchscreen, while you will have to use the buttons on the keypad to navigate through others.

Get your card back from the ATM. On some ATMs, you select the option that says "Get Your Card Back" when you have finished. Other ATMs will return your card automatically. Do not walk away and leave your card in the machine. Even though nobody can use an ATM without your PIN number and card, they can still use your card to steal your money.

Check your bank balance before you leave home. While you can spend up to your credit limit on a credit card, the limit on your debit card is the amount in your bank account. Spending too much can leave you with expensive overdraft fees from your bank.

Select the items that you wish to purchase and have the cashier ring them up.

Select "Debit" using the appropriate buttons on the keypad when the machine asks you if your card is a debit card or a credit card.

Most stores have a pinpad at each cash register where you can pay with a debit or credit card. Swipe your debit card the same way that you would swipe your credit card. Make sure the strip is facing the right way, or your transaction will not go through. There is usually a diagram on the machine telling you which way to orient your card.

Enter your PIN using the buttons on the keypad. Try to shield the keypad from view so that other people cannot see the numbers you type.

Select the button for the appropriate response when the machine asks you if you want cash back. If you need to get cash, use the keypad to enter the number of dollars you want to withdraw from your bank account. Most stores will not allow you to get more than £65 to £130 back.

Check to make sure that your total is correct when it flashes on the machine, and press "Yes" or "Correct Amount" to confirm your transaction. Remember that any cash back that you received is added to your total.

Things Needed

  • Debit card
  • PIN (personal identification number)

About the Author

Ethan Schwartz has been a scientific and freelance writer for a year, writing scientific literature for "Gene Therapy" and articles on education, health and personal finance for eHow. Schwartz graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences and will begin medical school in July 2010.

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