There are many ways you can access and deposit money into your checking account. Debit and/or ATM cards are two of the most popular.
Most banks will offer you a debit card, also known as a check card, when you open your checking account. A debit card provides you with another way to access your money other than writing checks or making payments online.
Debit cards will also usually double as your ATM card, allowing you to withdraw or deposit money at an ATM machine.
Debit cards look like credit cards (they will have a Visa® or MasterCard® logo on them), and they are accepted anywhere credit cards are accepted. You can use debit cards to withdraw money or make purchases without accumulating interest because the money comes directly from your checking account. They might look like credit cards; however, you should be aware that they will not help you build credit. And, believe it or not, it is possible for you to overdraw your checking account if you don't have sufficient funds in your account at the time of your purchase or withdrawal.
Because a debit card is so easy to use, it’s even more important that you keep track of what you’re spending. If you're not tracking ALL of your purchases, including debit card transactions, checks written and online transactions, and then balancing your account often, you could find easily yourself overdrawn and that is the last thing you want. Read more on how to balance your account.
An ATM card allows you to remove money from your checking account, but only through an ATM machine. Unlike debit cards, ATM cards do not have the Visa® or MasterCard® logo and, in most cases, may not be used to make store purchases directly.
ATM cards give you easy access to your money, but be careful because that easy access might cost you. Make sure that you are aware of any fees that you will be charged when you use your card. For example, if you take out $20 for lunch at your own bank’s ATM, it’ll just cost you $20. However, if you take out $20 using a different bank’s ATM, it might cost you more like $24—the other bank might charge you $2 for using their ATM, and your own bank might charge you $2 for using the other bank’s ATM. Those fees will vary from bank to bank, so it could cost you even more than that.
Because of the convenience of using your ATM card, it’s important that you keep track of how much money you withdraw from your account. Read more on how to balance your account.
TIP: Just because you use your debit card to make a purchase, doesn't mean you'll be automatically declined if you don't have enough money in your checking account. Debits can still go through, even on an empty account, which could cause you overdraft fees.