Do you have a Debit Card for your checking account with a Visa/MC logo? A Warning to Heed!

Late yesterday afternoon I called my bank to alert them that I would be traveling soon to Europe (always do this with cards you're taking on a vacation, BTW) so I wouldn't run into any issues.

But this time with all of the reductions of credit going on I decided I couldn't risk finding out that a credit card I took with me reduced my credit line and left me hanging. So I also told them I'd be taking my debit card.

This is where the "ah ha" came in. The rep asked if I had a secondary checking account that I wanted to make the primary account for my debit card while I was traveling. Huh? Then he explained that if I lost the card it couldn't be used as a debit card without the PIN # but it could be used as a charge card and potentially wipe out my checking account. My bank set me up with another checking account on the phone and made the existing card link to that account as the primary account. I'll get another debit card for it in the mail, and I can always change the primary account back to my regular checking account. But why would I?

Now I don't know about you, but I'd never thought about that and no one at the bank ever brought it up, they just sent me a new debit card a long time ago that now also had the Visa emblem on it.

So a word to the wise - check your debit card and if it has a MC/Visa emblem talk to your bank about it. As far as I'm concerned it isn't just an issue for traveling overseas it's a serious issue, period. You can lose your debit card just as easily as a credit card. And think about this in closing...it's YOUR money that would disappear, not the bank's. Would there be any recourse or protection as with a credit card? My guess is a resounding NO.


Melissa said...

If your debit card has a Visa logo and fraud occurs on your account. You simply dispute those transactions through your financial institution. If you report it within 48 hours after the loss occured, then you can lose no more than $50.00.

Mary said...

Hi Melissa, thanks for the comment. Yes, that is the case, BUT if someone uses the card quickly and buys big ticket items there can be a huge amount that disappears from your checking or savings account; the problem is that although you will get it back you could have lots of payments and checks bouncing in the meantime. I have at least 2 credit cards that have 3.9% interest until paid off, but if a payment doesn't get made or bounces that rate would adjust to over 20% and there would be nothing I could do about it. So it's more the vast amount of your money that could disappear from your account and the ramifications.