ATM Cards vs Debit Cards- What’s the Difference?

byPriyanka JuyalLast Updated: April 17, 2024
ATM card AMC

Debit cards and ATM cards have a similar appearance and design, but did you know that these similar-looking cards work very differently? ATM cards are designed specifically for ATMs, whereas Debit Cards are multifunctional.

Learn the key differences between ATM cards and Debit cards below!

Difference Between ATM vs Debit Cards

To summarise the features and benefits of debit cards and ATM cards, here is a comparison of the two: ATM cards and Debit cards.

What is an ATM Card?

An ATM card is a plastic payment card issued by the consumer’s bank that allows users to withdraw money from ATMs. An ATM card should not be confused with a debit or credit card, so it can be further defined as

  • An ATM card allows you to withdraw money only from the ATM
  • You can check your account balance using an ATM card.
  • In case you use an ATM out of your bank’s network, you will be charged some fee for cash withdrawal
  • To withdraw money from an ATM, one must enter the 4-digit unique ATM PIN
  • An ATM card does not provide an overdraft facility
  • Following the ATM cash withdrawal, the user receives a notification
  • ATM cards are not widely accepted and have a limited reach

Specifications of an ATM Card

ATM card is more than just a card; it is a compressed version of all the necessary user information. This is how it appears:

The Front Side of the ATM Card

  • Logo of the bank that has issued the card
  • Payment system (Visa or Maestro)
  • Validity of the card 
  • 16-digit card number
  • Cardholder’s name
  • A chip with detailed information about the account

The Backside of the ATM Card

  • Strip meant for cardholder’s signatures
  • Emergency number
  • Other information

Benefits of an ATM Card

An ATM card can provide you with the following advantages:

  • Instant cash withdrawal
  • A person with a bank account can obtain an ATM card, which allows him to obtain cash at any time
  • An ATM card can be used to inquire about the account balance
  • Any ATM at any bank can be used to withdraw money (however, the user must pay a minimal fee to do so)
  • Mini statements for recent transactions can be checked at the ATM
  • Every ATM card has a 4-digit unique PIN that prevents someone else from performing an ATM-based transaction
  • Your ATM Card gets blocked after 3 unsuccessful PIN attempts; preventing the user from losing money in the event of ATM card loss or theft.

Limitations of an ATM Card

While there are multiple benefits, there are a few limitations of having an ATM card too. Here are a few of them-

  • There is a daily/monthly/yearly cash withdrawal limit on ATM cards.
  • The ATM card levies a fee when used at an ATM that is not part of the bank’s network.
  • ATM cards are prone to theft or fraud. One can misuse it if the PIN is not strong 
  • The lack of or limited availability of computerised ATM branches in rural areas nullifies its prominence.
  • Non-availability of funds in the ATM leaves no option for an ATM cardholder to get cash 

What is a Debit card?

A debit card is a plastic payment card issued by a bank that allows you to make purchases without using cash. A debit card can be used at an ATM as well as for online and offline transactions by entering the information and/or swiping the card. Any debit card transaction, whether it is a cash withdrawal from an ATM or an online/offline payment, the amount is deducted directly from the user’s linked bank account.

Debit cards can be further explained as: 

  • Every debit card transaction necessitates the use of a PIN
  • The user receives an instant notification about the transaction
  • A debit card can be obtained by anyone who has a bank account. 
  • A debit card can be used to pay utility bills as well as to book a flight, bus, or train ticket
  • A debit card can be used to recharge a mobile phone
  • You can view your account balance by inserting a debit card into an ATM or using a mobile banking app/internet banking
  • A debit card user cannot spend an amount that exceeds the current balance in his/her linked bank account

Specifications of a Debit Card

A debit card resembles an ATM card in appearance. Here’s what your debit card looks like:

The front side of the Debit Card

  • 16-digit embossed or printed card number
  • Validity of the card
  • Type of card
  • Issuing bank logo
  • Hologram

The backside of the Debit Card

  • CVV number
  • Strip for signature
  • Hologram
  • Customer care information, helpline numbers

Benefits of a Debit Card

Here are a few reasons why you should get a debit card:

  • Debit cards can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs and for online and offline transactions
  • A debit card holder can use the internet banking service
  • One can change the PIN whenever required to avoid security concerns
  • The card can be used at any time and from any location
  • Users can freeze or block their debit cards in the event of theft by connecting with their respective banks
  • Few debit cards offer reward points for certain transactions
  • Depending on the card, debit cards are accepted internationally

Limitations of a Debit Card

Regardless of their many advantages, debit cards have a few drawbacks:

  • A debit card holder does not receive credit, unlike a credit card holder
  • If the CVV or PIN is exposed, the chances of fraud increase
  • After a certain number of free ATM transactions, one must pay a fee to withdraw money from an ATM

Similarity Between ATM vs Debit Card

Here’s how a debit card and an ATM are the same-

  • ATM cards and Debit cards have similar appearance
  • ATM cards and Debit cards can be used at any time and from any location
  • The bank provides both of these cards
  • Whether it is an ATM card or a debit card, both charge fees when used outside of the bank’s network
  • Both of these cards can be used to check your balance
  • Every transaction requires the entry of a PIN

What is an ATM card?

An ATM card is primarily used for withdrawing money from one's own bank's ATMs or the ATMs of other banks. It cannot be used for any other type of transaction.

How to use an ATM card?

To use an ATM card, insert it into the ATM, enter the required information such as the withdrawal amount, account type, and PIN, and then proceed. Finally, collect the cash from the ATM.

Is it safe to share the CVV number?

No, it is not safe to share your CVV number with anyone. Sharing your CVV number can lead to the misuse of your ATM, debit, or credit card. It is advised to keep your CVV number confidential.

Is it possible for someone to use my debit card without my PIN?

Yes, certain contactless debit cards allow users to swipe the card without entering the PIN. However, there is a limit set by the bank for such transactions.

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