When you buy goods or get cash with a debit card, the money is taken from your bank account right away. With a credit card you get a monthly bill. If you don't repay the amount owed in full on a credit card, or if you take out cash, the charges are very high.
Debit cards are linked directly to your bank account. You can use them to buy goods or withdraw cash and the amount is taken from your account right away.
You can also use debit cards to get 'cashback' from certain shops (you buy goods and also ask for money back from the cashier). The total amount is deducted from your account right away.
When using a cash machine or paying for goods with a debit card, you'll need to enter your PIN (personal identity number). When buying goods, you usually enter the PIN into an electronic hand held device, but in some cases you may have to sign.
Most bank accounts offer debit cards. Most debit cards double up as 'cheque guarantee cards', guaranteeing that your cheque will be honoured by your bank up to a stated amount.
This will depend on the type of debit card you have:
If you don't have an overdraft agreement, or you exceed the agreed limit, your bank may allow the payment to go through, but you'll usually pay much higher fees than if you had an agreed overdraft.
Debit cards can be used to make payments by phone or over the internet. In this case you'll need to provide certain details that are printed on your card. Find out more, and view an example debit card on the.
Credit cards allow you to 'buy goods now and pay later' – called 'buying on credit'. A credit card isn't linked to your bank account. Like debit cards, they can be used to buy goods in shops over the telephone and internet, with the same details being required. You can also get a 'cash advance' by drawing money at bank cash machines.
Your bank may offer you a credit card, or you can apply for one to any institution offering one. The credit card provider will normally run checks to see if you've had problems repaying debts - a 'credit check' - before offering you one.
Think carefully before using a credit card. If you don't repay your bill in full by the date shown, you're charged interest on the whole amount of the bill for that month. The rates of interest - indicated by the 'APR' (annual percentage rate) - can be very high indeed.
If you take cash out with a credit card, you're charged daily interest from the moment you take out the cash, until the credit card bill is paid in full. This is an expensive way of borrowing money.
Some credit cards also charge you an annual fee simply for having the card.
If you can't afford to repay your credit card bill you could quickly fall into debt.