There are several different types of bank cards available which allow you to access your money. Current accounts usually include the option of an ATM card and often a debit card. Most banks offer both ATM and debit facilities on the one card. For more information on the cards available:
Debit cards allow you to get cash from an ATM or pay for goods and services without using cash. The money usually comes out of your current account immediately, although it may take a few days for the transaction to appear on your statement.
Most debit cards have ‘chip and pin’ feature – a small electronic chip in the card and a 4 digit personal identification number (PIN). When you use your debit card to buy something, you insert your card into a keypad which reads the chip. You are then asked to enter your PIN on the keypad to confirm the transaction amount. You use the same PIN when using your debit card to take out cash at an ATM.
You can also use your debit card to get ‘cashback’ from some retailers. This is where you pay for your goods but also ask for a certain amount of cash to be added to the amount of the transaction. It can be convenient if you do not want to go to an ATM, or there are none nearby. It also helps you reduce bank charges as you will pay for one transaction, not two. Not all retailers will offer cashback. It is a service the retailer can choose to offer you, but the retailer is under no obligation to provide it. The maximum amount of cash they will give you is also at their discretion and the amount of cashback a retailer will give you will vary between shops.
Most banks and building societies in Ireland issue MasterCard or Visa debit cards which can be used anywhere in the world where Visa or MasterCard are accepted, including in shops, at ATMs and online.
Some banks also offer ‘Contactless Payment’ with their debit cards- this lets you pay for small purchases in retailers by holding your card beside the keypad without having to enter your PIN. For added security you will be asked to enter your PIN after a certain number of uses. There is a maximum value for these transactions, typically €30. For amounts over this you will always have to enter your PIN.
Contactless payments may not be taken from your account immediately after the transaction takes place and may not appear on your bank statement for a number of days. You should ensure you have enough funds in your account to cover the contactless transaction to avoid unnecessary bank charges.
If your bank has issued you a debit card which can be used for contactless payments, check to see what each transaction will cost you. Some banks might not charge any transaction fees for contactless payments for an introductory period. After this, you may be charged a standard debit card transaction fee for any contactless payment. Standard debit card transaction fees can range from 20 to 28 cent per transaction, so these fees can quickly mount up if you pay for lots of small items using contactless payment.
From 1 January 2016, a new government stamp duty of €0.12 applies to all ATM withdrawals (this is in addition to the charge your bank will impose). This is capped at €2.50 for ATM cards and €5 for combined (ATM and Debit) cards. This stamp duty iscollected in arrears – i.e. a customer can expect that a charge arising during 2016 will be charged to their account on 31 December 2016.
ATM cards let you withdraw money from your account at any time. You can use your card at any ATM. You can also use your card in your own bank’s branches if you prefer to take out money inside the branch. There may be a limit to how much money you can withdraw in one day and in one transaction.
You can use your ATM card at ATMs abroad if it has a Maestro, Link or Cirrus symbol on it. Get more information on using your cards abroad.
Credit cards are a convenient and flexible way to pay for things without having to carry cash. And if you use them wisely, credit cards can be one of the cheapest sources of credit available. You can get more information on how credit cards work and how to get the best from them.
If you take out a credit card, you may also be offered payment protection insurance (PPI).
Prepaid cards offer some of the same features as debit and credit cards, but you don’t need a bank account to operate one. You top-up your card with your own money, which you can then spend by using the card. As you are simply spending your own money, you can never run up debt or spend more than you have in your account.
Prepaid cards usually carry either the Visa or Mastercard symbol and can be used for purchases wherever a credit card is accepted. You can use them to pay for things in shops, online or to withdraw money at ATMs. Some cards also have chip and pin features.
Prepaid cards may provide a convenient solution for you if:
- You cannot get a credit card
- You do not want a credit card
- You have a credit card but do not want to use it online.
You could also use a prepaid card as an alternative to a debit card, for example, if your debit card is not accepted online. However, be aware that the charges can be higher than bank account charges.
Getting a card
To comply with anti-money laundering legislation, you must prove your identity when buying a prepaid card, so check with the seller to see what documentation is acceptable. Prepaid cards are usually only available to people aged 18 and over.
There is generally a once-off cost to buy a prepaid card, and then other fees can apply, depending on the card:
- Inactivity fee – a charge you pay if you don’t use the card. In some cases it can cost you up to €4 a month.
- Card purchase fee – this is a charge you pay when you buy a card and is an average of €6 per card.
- Top-up fee – this fee depends on the top up amount and the way you top-up. You can top-up in store, online or by using your debit and credit card.
- Ongoing administrative fees – most cards don’t have administrative charges but some do and they can be combined with the card purchasing fee, which can be expensive.
- Purchase transactions – the majority of cards don’t charge transaction fees but some do.
- ATM/Cash withdrawal charges – this can be quite expensive, ranging from 99c to €4 per withdrawal.
- Foreign exchange transaction – this is a charge you may need to watch out for if using your card in another country.
Find out about the cost and the ongoing fees before you buy a card, so you know exactly how much the card will cost you to use.
Different terms and conditions apply to different cards and not all prepaid cards are the same, so be sure to ask if something is not clear or you need more information. There are complaints procedures in place for prepaid cards if you are not happy with the product or service. You can get details of the complaints procedures from your prepaid card issuer.