A debit card (also known as a bank card, plastic card or check card) is a plastic payment card that can be used instead of cash when making purchases. It is similar to a credit card, but unlike a credit card, the money is immediately transferred directly from the cardholder's bank account when performing any transaction.
Some cards might carry a stored value with which a payment is made, while most relay a message to the cardholder's bank to withdraw funds from a payer's designated bank account. In some cases, the primary account number is assigned exclusively for use on the Internet and there is no physical card.
In many countries, such as most of Western Europe, the use of debit cards has become so widespread that their volume has overtaken or entirely replaced cheques and, in some instances, cash transactions. The development of debit cards, unlike credit cards and charge cards, has generally been country specific resulting in a number of different systems around the world, which were often incompatible. Since the mid-2000s, a number of initiatives have allowed debit cards issued in one country to be used in other countries and allowed their use for internet and phone purchases.
Debit cards usually also allow instant withdrawal of cash, acting as an ATM card for this purpose. Merchants may also offer cashback facilities to customers, so that a customer can withdraw cash along with their purchase.
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