Guide: How to Get a Debit Card (Getting the Best Debit Cards)


Finding the best debit card is one of the most basic and important aspects of building a sound financial discipline.

Almost every bank and credit union out there will offer you a free MasterCard debit card or Visa Debit card when you sign up for a checking account.

 Since the cash economy is increasingly being replaced by plastic, learning how to get a debit card is an essential part of your financial survival. 

However, not all of the best debit cards are made the same. Different companies offer debit cards suited for different purposes and financial goals. Learning which best debit card will work most efficiently for you and learning how to get a debit card with great perks can be a challenging experience, especially with so many different options out there. 

In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will answer the question, “What is a debit card?” before going on to list the benefits of the best debit cards for your financial livelihood.

We will then examine some of the qualities you should be on the lookout for in your search for the best debit card as well as list some of the basic requisites you will need to get a debit card. 

We will finish by looking at the best debit cards by specific category, including prepaid cash cards, the best debit card rewards, international debit cards, online debit cards, and disposable credit cards.

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What Is a Debit Card?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a UPS-led survey regarding online shopping. According to WSJ, “For the first time, consumers say they bought more of their purchases on the web than in stores, according to an annual survey of more than 5,000 online shoppers by United Parcel Service Inc.”

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Image source: Trip Knowledgy

Online shopping requires that you use some sort of plastic payment, whether it be the best debit cards or credit cards.

Whereas credit cards permit you to make purchases with money that you don’t have (and will have to pay for come month’s end, debit cards allow you access to a pool of accumulated funds or savings that you either have in a checking account or have preloaded onto a prepaid cash card.

The dangers of overusing a credit card are well known as the interest rates on late payments can be punishing. Using the best debit card for your personal financial goals, however, allows you the ease of buying with plastic while reducing the risk of overspending and building up debt. 

The majority of banks and credit unions offer the best debit cards which are backed by well-known financial companies offering Visa credit cards, MasterCard debit cards or other major companies. 

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The Benefits of the Best Debit Cards

One of the main benefits of learning how to get a debit card is the ease of use. Whereas purchasing with cash requires you to carry around large wads of bills and visit the bank every time you need more money, the best debit card allows you to simply swipe and pay. 

Almost all major businesses accept plastic payment, making your consumer life easy and undemanding. As long as you have a MasterCard debit card, Visa Debit card or a best debit card offered by some other trusted company, you should be able to use your debit card pretty much anywhere. 

Furthermore, once you learn how to get a debit card, you will have an electronic record of every purchase you make. For people who have a hard time keeping track of their spending or sticking to a budget, the best debit cards or the top prepaid cards can help you develop better financial discipline and spending habits. 

Also, since debit cards only allow you to spend money that you actually have, it is much more difficult to fall into deep financial debt troubles. Many online debit cards or the best debit cards linked with a checking account will allow you to set up a direct deposit and automatic bill pay. 

You can arrange to have all or a portion of your weekly or monthly paycheck deposited directly into your checking account and then set up an automatic payment for your most important bills. Once those major bills are paid for, you can use the remaining balance on your debit card for other, everyday payments. 



What to Look for in the Best Debit Card

According to consumercredit.com, 80% of consumer spending in the U.S. is cashless, and 8 out of 10 people reported using their debit card for everyday purchases. With the rapid growth of a cashless economy, you will need to quickly learn how to get a debit card and what to look for in the best debit card out there that meets your financial needs.

If you are looking to get your first debit card or trying to find a better debit card for your individual needs, you should consider what type of account will be linked to your debit card. Since the majority of the best debit cards are offered by banks to people who open a checking account with them, you will need to find a checking account with low fees. 

If you use the ATM machine several times each week to take out cash, you will also need to find a debit card and checking account that won’t charge excessive ATM fees. Many online debit cards are linked to a large ATM network.

If your debit card doesn’t have access to a large ATM network, you should find an account that will reimburse you up to a certain amount for ATM transactions outside the network. 

For people who aren’t able to get a debit card linked to a checking account due to bad credit, a top prepaid card may be another option. If you opt for prepaid cash cards, make sure you search for the best debit card that won’t charge you excessive fees. 

If you are someone who frequently travels internationally, an international debit card may very well be your best option. While other debit cards might charge you a hefty fee every time you use your card outside the United States, an international debit card won’t charge you for out-of-country purchases, thus saving you from damaging fees. 

The best debit card for you will largely depend on your own personal life situation, your financial needs, and how you plan to use the debit card in the long run. 

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What You Need to Get a Debit Card

Since almost all banks offer debit cards to people opening a checking account, all you will need is a personal ID and your Social Security number.

For people who choose to not get a debit card through a bank, prepaid cash cards may not ask for a Social Security number. Applying for an online debit card will obviously require you to provide an address and Social Security number in order for your identity to be proven and so that your card can be mailed to you. 


What Is the Best Debit Card for You?

Depending on your personal financial situation, lifestyle, and financial goals, the best debit card for you may be a prepaid cash card, a disposable credit card, an international debit card, an online debit card or a card that offers quality debit card rewards. Below, we offer information on each of these types of debit cards.

  • Top Prepaid Cards

There a number of prepaid cash cards out there. While some offer free reloads or low monthly fees, others may very well charge you a whole host of fees that will have you paying out of your nose.

Activation fees, monthly maintenance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, reload fees, etc. are only some of the fees that you may end up having to pay with these cards.

The Bluebird with American Express and Walmart is one of the best top prepaid cards.  Besides having low fees, it also gives you free access to over 24,000 MoneyPass ATM machines. Furthermore, there a number of options to reload your card for free. You also won’t need to do a credit check to sign up for this top prepaid card. 

  • Debit Card Rewards

Since banks don’t make as much money off of debit cards as they do on credit cards, it is increasingly difficult to find a card that offers quality debit card rewards. Whereas credit cards come with an assortment of rewards and perks, debit cards usually don’t. 

Consider trying to get a debit card with a certain store where you tend to shop often.  Some stores and retailers may offer certain debit card rewards for frequent shoppers, including allowing you to earn points for each dollar spent with your card.

Thebalance.com offers a quality review of the best companies offering debit card rewards, ranging from cashback rewards to a point system. 

  • International Debit Card

For frequent travelers, learning how to get a debit card that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for using your card out of country is a must.

The best international debit cards will allow you peace of mind in traveling without large amounts of cash as well as not charging you excessive fees every time you buy a coffee on a street corner in Paris. 

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Furthermore, you should also be looking for how to get a debit card that will give you a fair exchange rate for purchases made out of country.

Nothing is worse than getting stiffed on the exchange rate and ending up paying double the price. 

According to NerdWallet, Charles Schwab is one of the best banks for an international debit card as “The banking unit of this securities broker doesn’t charge a fee when you use a foreign ATM.

In fact, it offers unlimited reimbursements for ATM fees from cash withdrawals worldwide, regardless of the network used. And it doesn’t charge currency conversion fees for debit card transactions.”

  • Online Debit Card

Online debit cards are another option for people searching for how to get a debit card that will allow them to easily reload money onto their cards.

According to The Balance, “you can often reload these cards by transferring money from your bank account, depositing cash at certain locations or by having your pay direct-deposited to the card.” 

  • Disposable Credit Card

Disposable credit cards are similar to prepaid cash cards in that you use the money that you upload onto the card. Whereas most prepaid cash cards are reloadable, a disposable credit card is a one and done deal. 

Many times, you can find disposable cards from retailers and stores that you visit often.  They can be given as a gift card or used by yourself to help you put a limit on how much you spend at that specific retailer. 

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How Finding the Best Debit Card Can Financially Work for You

Whichever debit card you end up choosing, it is important that you find the best debit card that will work for your personal financial situation.

Choose a card that won’t charge many fees while still offering you the greatest liquidity and ease of access to your funds.  Learning how to get a credit card that works best for you will make your financial life much easier to navigate. 

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