When is a Check Card a debit card? When is a Check Card an ATM card? When is an ATM card a debit card? It sounds confusing.
In this portion of StreetWise, we'll take some of the mystery out of these services and show you how to get the maximum benefit from them.
Since there may be some variation among institutions, we'll describe what they are at DCU. We offer a DCU Visa® Check Card and a DCU ATM Card. (The equivalent MasterCard product to the Visa Check Card at many institutions is Master Money.) The confusion begins when you realize that both Check Cards and ATM Cards can both do debit and ATM card transactions. A DCU Check Card can do everything a DCU ATM Card can, but a DCU ATM Card cannot do everything a DCU Check Card can.
The term debit card is generally used to differentiate the product from a credit card. A debit card makes a purchase with the money in the holder's checking account while a credit card purchase creates a loan obligation. There are two kinds of debit transactions Visa and POS.
Visa debit transactions A Visa Check Card is accepted for purchases almost everywhere Visa Credit Cards are accepted, only the money comes out of your checking account. You can even make purchases online or by phone. If you are making a typical Visa purchase, you will hand the store clerk your Check Card and sign a receipt. In other instances, you would swipe or insert the card in a terminal at the checkout line or insert it in a gas pump and choose credit. You will not need to input a PIN (Personal Identification Number). The purchase will pass through the Visa payment system and typically come out of your checking account in two days or so. DCU ATM Cards do not have a Visa logo on the face and cannot do these transactions.
If you return merchandise you purchased with your DCU Check Card, merchants will issue you a Visa credit slip. This amount will be credited to your DCU checking account. Purchases and returns with your DCU Check Card are free transactions that will appear on your monthly checking statement.
POS debit transactions A POS (electronic Point-of-Sale) transaction does not involve Visa. The purchase is taken instantly from your account through ATM networks such as NYCE® or Cirrus®. If you are at a terminal or gas pump, you'll choose debit to go through POS networks. You will need to input your PIN. Because the cash transfer is instantaneous, many stores will allow you to withdraw some cash at the register with your purchase. That's a great way to avoid ATM surcharges. Both DCU Check Cards and DCU ATM Cards can do these transactions.
Both DCU Check Cards and DCU ATM Cards can make withdrawals, deposits, inquiries, and transfers at ATMs.
We recommend all members open a DCU checking account and carry a DCU Visa Check Card. It comes free with the account and has the extra functionality. However, we have members who don't want or qualify for a checking account, but do want ATM access. The DCU ATM Card meets that need. Also, young members can open a checking account as early as twelve with a parent or guardian as joint owner. They can qualify for an ATM card at that age, but must be at least 17 for the Check Card.
You have access to your accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with your DCU Check Card. Make withdrawals, deposits, transfers, loan and mortgage payments, or verify your balance at our conveniently located DCU ATMs. All transactions at DCU ATMs are free. All you need is your DCU Check Card and your PIN.
FREE Special envelopes are available at all DCU ATMs for deposits or loan payments involving cash or checks. Use one envelope per transaction. You may put multiple checks and cash in one envelope as long as everything will be deposited in the same account.
At non-DCU ATMs, you can make withdrawals, transfers, and inquiries with your DCU checking account or your Savings Account. You may also make DCU deposits at many machines on the CO-OPSM ATM network. Other accounts are not accessible through non-DCU ATMs. DCU does not charge for transactions at non-DCU ATMs if you qualify for Free Checking with Plus or Relationship benefits. We will also reimburse up to $5 per month in non-DCU ATM surcharges.
You can also avoid ATM surcharges by...
Use less cash Pay with debit or credit instead of cash. It is often faster (especially at the gas pump and at fast food restaurants) and you have an electronic record of where you spent your money.
Make fewer and larger cash withdrawals Surcharges are based on transactions and not the amount you withdraw. Plan your cash needs for a week or two. Make one larger withdrawal instead of a bunch of little ones.
Use machines in no-surcharge networks Sum and CO-OP are typical. In general, look for ATMs at credit unions and in 7-Eleven stores. They are more likely to be in no-surcharge networks. You always have an opportunity to back out of the transaction before you are charged.
By using a DCU Check Card regularly, you can take advantage of the following benefits:
Safety Your DCU Check Card eliminates the need to carry large amounts of cash. You can also leave that bulky checkbook at home.
Faster transactions With your DCU Check Card, you won't have to spend time writing a check. Just hand over your card and sign the slip. There's no need to show multiple forms of I.D. or verify your address and phone number. And, if you choose credit at the register or gas pump, you don't have to enter your PIN your payment still comes out of your DCU checking account.
Shop at home Whenever you order something by phone, you won't be limited to a credit card or COD. Since your DCU Check Card has an account number like a credit card, your order can be accepted easily. And your purchase will come directly out of your DCU checking account.
Lower Check Printing Costs If you use your DCU Check Card for daily purchases and reserve your paper checks for paying bills at home, you'll save money on check printing fees. Use Bill Payer with Online or Mobile Banking and you'll virtually eliminate checks.
Pay bills at home Instead of writing a check for bills, such as magazine subscriptions or medical invoices, just write in your DCU Check Card number and expiration date and sign in the space provided. Then record the transaction in your check register.
Easier record keeping with financial software If you use Online Banking to download statement information onto Intuit Quicken® software or use FinanceWorks inside Online Banking, you already know payee information on checks you write is not available electronically. You must match up the check number with your check register and type it in. If you pay bills with the DCU Check Card, the payee information does come across in your download, saving you typing when you update your electronic register.
Your DCU Check Card is more than a quick way to get cash at over 250,000 ATMs. It's a check replacement you can use almost everywhere Visa is accepted more than 14 million places worldwide. Purchases you make with it come right out of your DCU checking account. There's no annual fee.
For people in a hurry It's faster than a check at the grocery store. It's faster than cash at electronic gas pumps. Catalog purchases arrive faster when you can order by phone. Select credit instead of debit at the register or pump and you'll save a step. You won't need to enter your PIN and you'll still pay from checking.
For "pay-as-you-go" consumers A Check Card lets you do it conveniently. All purchases clear your checking account in a day or two. It's safer than cash and faster than checks.
For parents with kids away at school Limit how much they spend for books, fees, food, and clothes by the amount you put in the account. Your statement shows where the money went.
For things you don't want on credit If you don't like to charge things like food, stamps, or gasoline, use the Check Card. It's faster and welcome more places than checks.
For financial software users When you download account information from DCU Online Banking to Quicken or use FinanceWorks within Online Banking, Check Card transactions list the vendor's name and city checks don't.
If you're tired of writing or paying for checks Your Check Card can replace most of them.
For more information on Check Cards and ATM service, visit these links:
220 Donald Lynch Boulevard
PO Box 9130
Marlborough, MA 01752-9130
508.263.6700 | 800.328.8797
ABA Routing Number: 211391825
Federally Insured by NCUA
© 2015 Digital Federal Credit Union