How to Get a Debit Card

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
November 17, 2023

Debit cards and credit cards are two common ways to pay. However, debit cards are on the decline. Debit card perks are fewer, you won’t get rewards, there’s no access to a line of credit and you can’t build up your credit score.

There are drawbacks, for sure, but here is one good reason to consider bringing back this old-school payment method — consumer debt. American credit card debt has reached over $1 trillion, according to Experian, and the average person now has a credit card balance of over $6,000.

Debit cards, which don’t allow you to withdraw more than you have in your bank, might be a great reason to switch from a credit card to a debit card. Benzinga walks you through how to get a debit card once you’re ready to abandon credit cards for good.

Why You May Need a Debit Card

Debit cards are tied directly to your checking account, and when you use yours, money for the transaction immediately comes out of your bank account. Debit cards allow you to have some of the same perks as a credit card, but you can’t go into debt.

You might want to consider a debit card if you’ve had credit problems in the past. Here are a few reasons why you might need a debit card:

  • You can't spend more than you have: There’s no ability or incentive to spend more than you have on a debit card. Banks even offer options for you to overdraw the account for purchases that are just over your balance.
  • Debit cards are safer to use than cash: You won’t see that money again if a thief steals cash out of your wallet. You can cancel your debit card if it’s stolen and the bank will reimburse you for your loss.
  • Debit card purchases are easy to review: You can do this by logging into your online checking account. You can review your transaction history at any time and alert your bank to suspicious activity.
  • You can monitor your transactions online: Unlike when you have cash, all of your purchases are recorded within your online debit card account and retained for years. This ensures an accurate record of where your money goes.
  • The transactions are secure: They use the same Visa or Mastercard payment processing systems. Banks offer you protection against stolen cards and unauthorized purchases and usually credit your funds back in a couple of days.

What to Consider Before You Apply

Psychologically, it hurts most to part with cash and hurts least to swipe a credit card, but debit cards fall right in the middle.

You can use debit cards abroad with the same currency conversion ease offered by credit card companies. Most debit cards use secure EMV technology to create a unique token for each purchase, individually approving the transaction while limiting the amount of data shared with the retailer. Debit cards don’t have an annual fee and some even offer rewards programs.

The biggest drawback to using a debit card is that it’s tied directly to your bank account, and it’s possible to overdraw your checking account.

How to Get a Debit Card

The easiest way to get a debit card is to contact your bank. Call your local branch where you already have an account or request a debit card online and one will be sent to you. The card will usually have either the Visa or Mastercard logo on it and can be used for purchases online, in person, for recurring transactions and at an ATM.

Bank Branch Debit Card

The banker will have you fill out some simple forms if you’re opening a new checking account in a branch, review your identification documents, take your initial deposit in cash or a check and ask whether you need checks or a debit card. The bank will be able to provide you with your new account number and a temporary debit card and will mail your new debit card to you.

Some banks will also take your photo in the branch and print it on the front of your personalized debit card, which offers an additional level of protection against theft.

Online Card

You’ll have to provide the same information and prove your identity if you choose to open an online checking account as you would in a brick-and-mortar branch since federal requirements still apply.

You can usually open up an additional account online with your current bank, particularly because you already have a relationship with that bank. New customers must fill out an online form and upload photos of their identification documentation. The bank will mail you your debit card once your account is open.

Don’t have an existing bank account due to misuse of previous checking accounts? Don’t worry, there are plenty of banks that offer second-chance checking accounts. You can open a second-chance checking account in person or online and get a debit card, too. Try a digital financial platform like MoneyLion that offers virtual debit cards as well as physical cards.

Choose Debit Cards Over Alternative Options

Debit cards have many advantages over carrying cash or using credit cards. It’s easier to overspend with a credit card because plastic pays in seconds, but an immediate debit of your bank account makes you more aware of your purchase. There’s no risk of ending up in debt, and it is easy to track purchases from your checking account using online banking.

Applying for a debit card is simple, and you’ll almost always be able to get a debit card once you apply for a checking account. Just make sure that you find the right card to suit your needs, whether that comes with a free checking account or rewards for using your debit card.

Debit Card Options

Here are some beginner-friendly suggestions.


There was a time when opening a bank account for kids was difficult. Parents pulled together change and aded a few dollars, went to the bank and got started. These days, kids can manage money using something like the Greenlight Debit Card. As a parent, you can register for a Greenlght card, give it to your child and deposit money as needed.

Your child(ren) use the card as a payment card just like any other debit card. Also, they can easily access their allowance, money they earned through a job or take payments for babysitting, etc.

Greenlight also features budgeting and financial education resources. Kids learn how to do more than just deposit and spend money. Parents never need to worry about lost cash, and kids have just as much spending power as adults. is a financial app that makes the concept of managing your money that much easier. Teens and adults can both use these accounts, making it possible for the family to work on money management together.

While this isn’t a traditional checking account, it allows you to:

  • Sign up quickly
  • Get a debit card in short order
  • Spend and save
  • Earn points on every purchase
  • Set up direct deposits for even your child’s work paychecks
  • Get paid 2 days early
  • Use the ATM card for free across America
  • Get your gas hold refunds back almost instantly

Remember, adults you can sign up for free, but there’s a yearly fee when you want your teen to have an account you can monitor. It also works well for divided families because more than one adult can monitor the account at the same time, while teaching their teen about using a debit card responsibly.


When you use Revolut, you gain access to a mobile app that allows you to manage all your money in one place. This is a simple platform that makes it easy to:

  • Transfer money between accounts without the need of the recipient’s bank account info
  • Save money
  • Invest in stocks and other assets
  • Travel without worry
  • Convert currency
  • Pay and get paid anywhere around the world
  • Get a prepaid debit card anywhere

Using Revolut makes it far simpler to manage your money because you don’t need to sign up for several different services. Now, you can do everything you need all in one place.


Fierce is a free app that also allows you to sign up for a free checking account and gain high yields on your savings. You can even invest through the app, and there is a debit card that comes with your checking account that allows you to handle all your money in one place.


Upgrade offers a range of financial tools like personal loans, student loans, checking and savings accounts. Plus, you can get a bank debit card that you can use to manage your daily routine. You earn 2% cashback on everyday or routine purchases while earning 1% on everything else with this debit card. Plus, you set up direct deposit, move all your money to the platform and get a better handle on where your finances are going, what you’re saving, where your money is going and more.

Looking for more resources on debit, credit and banking? Check out Benzinga's guide on whether a debit or credit card is right for you. Or, for money management, check out our top picks for the best budget apps.

Frequently Asked Questions


How old do you have to be to get a debit card?


The minimum age requirement to get a debit card varies depending on the bank or financial institution. In most cases, you need to be at least 16 years old to have your own debit card. However, some banks may allow minors as young as 13 or 14 to have a debit card, but with certain restrictions and parental consent. It is important to check with your specific bank or financial institution to determine its age requirement for obtaining a debit card.


What do I do if I lose my debit card?


If you lose your debit card, contact your bank immediately to freeze the card and prevent unauthorized transactions. Monitor your account activity regularly and request a replacement card to minimize financial loss and identity theft.


How is a debit card different from a credit card?


A debit card allows you to spend only the money you have in your bank account, while a credit card allows you to borrow money up to a certain limit. With a debit card, funds are immediately deducted, while with a credit card, you can carry a balance and make minimum payments. Using a credit card responsibly can help build credit history, while a debit card does not affect your credit score.

Hire a Pro: Compare Financial Advisors In Your Area

Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is legally bound to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Melissa Brock

About Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a versatile freelance writer and financial editor, recognized for her expertise in higher education, personal finance, and investing. With over a decade of experience in online content creation, Melissa has established herself as a trusted source for insightful financial advice and educational resources. Her writing prowess extends to diverse topics, including trading, cryptocurrency, and college savings. Melissa’s commitment to empowering readers with practical knowledge and actionable insights is evident in her contributions to various reputable platforms. As a dedicated financial editor, she meticulously covers the complexities of personal finance, ensuring readers have the tools they need to make informed decisions. Melissa’s work exemplifies her passion for educating and informing audiences on matters of financial literacy and investment strategies.