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

ATM Cards vs Debit Cards

Debit cards and ATM cards are quite similar in look & design, but do you know that these similar-looking cards actually work very differently? ATM cards are specifically made for ATMs whereas Debit Cards are multifunctional.

Learn the complete difference between ATM cards and Debit cards below!

What is an ATM Card?

An ATM card is a plastic payment card issued by the consumer’s bank, thereby enabling the users to withdraw money from the ATM. An ATM card should not be confused with a debit card or credit card, hence, it can be further explained as-

  • An ATM card allows you to withdraw money only from the ATM
  • Using an ATM card, you can check your account balance using the ATM
  • In case you use an ATM out of your bank’s network, you will be charged some fee for cash withdrawal
  • One needs to enter the 4-digit unique ATM pin number to withdraw money from the ATM
  • There is no overdraft facility given with an ATM card
  • A notification is sent to the user after the ATM cash withdrawal
  • ATM cards are not accepted everywhere, they have limited reach

Specifications of an ATM Card

An ATM card is not merely a card, it is a compressed version of all the necessary user details. Here is how it looks like-

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 offer you the following benefits-

  • Instant withdrawal of cash
  • A person with a bank account can have an ATM card which gives him the access to cash at any time
  • Users can inquire about their account balance using an ATM card
  • Mini statements for recent transactions can be checked at the ATM
  • 24*7 cash withdrawal facility
  • One can withdraw money from any bank’s ATM machine (however, the user must pay a minimal fee to do so)
  • Every ATM card has a 4-digit unique PIN number that restricts another person to perform the ATM based transaction
  • Your ATM Card gets blocked after 3 unsuccessful PIN number attempt; thus preventing the user’s money in case of loss or theft of the ATM card

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-

  • ATM cards have a daily/monthly/yearly cash withdrawal limit
  • The ATM card charges a fee for using an ATM that’s out of the bank’s network
  • ATM cards are prone to theft or frauds. One can misuse it if the PIN is not strong
  • The non-availability or limited computerized branches of ATM machines in rural areas nullify 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; thereby allowing one to make transactions without the use of cash. A debit card can be used at an ATM and for online and offline transactions by filling in the information and/or swiping the card. Any form of debit card transaction, whether it is cash withdrawal from the ATM or online/offline payments, the amount gets deducted from the user’s linked bank account directly.

Debit cards can be further explained as-

  • A PIN number is required for the completion of every debit card transaction
  • Instant notification is sent to the user regarding the transaction
  • Any person with a bank account can have a debit card. However, with a Paytm Payments Bank savings account, every user gets a free digital debit card with an option to obtain a physical debit card too
  • One can pay utility bills using a debit card along with making payments for flight, bus or train ticket booking
  • Mobile recharge can be done through a debit card. You can choose to enter your debit card’s details in your Paytm mobile application, which will save it for all future transactions and get timely reminders for your mobile recharge or bill payments
  • You can check your account balance by inserting a debit card at an ATM or by using a mobile banking app/internet banking
  • Just like there is a limit on the maximum amount that can be spent using a credit card; likewise, a debit card user cannot spend an amount that exceeds the current balance in his/her linked bank account using a debit card

Specifications of a Debit Card

A debit card is similar to an ATM card in appearance. Here is how 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 for you to get yourself a debit card-

  • Debit cards can be used at ATMs for cash withdrawal and can be used for online, offline transactions
  • A debit card holder can make use of the internet banking facility
  • One can change the PIN number whenever required to avoid security concerns
  • The card can be used anytime and from anywhere
  • Users can freeze or block the debit card in case of theft by connecting their card with their respective banks
  • Few debit cards offer reward points on making certain transactions
  • Debit cards are accepted internationally depending upon the card one holds

Limitations of a Debit Card

Irrespective of all their benefits, there are a few limitations of debit cards as well-

  • Unlike credit cards, there is no credit given to a debit card holder
  • Chances of frauds become higher if the CVV number or PIN number is exposed
  • One needs to pay a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM after a limited number of free ATM transactions

Difference between ATM vs Debit Cards

To conclude the features and benefits of debit cards and ATM cards, here is a comparative difference and similarity between both- ATM card and Debit card.

ATM CardsDebit Cards
ATM cards can only be used at ATM machinesDebit cards are multifunctional; they can be used at-ATM cash withdrawal
Online portals
Offline/physical stores
Internet or net banking is not allowedInternet or net banking is available with debit cards
There may be or may not be a signature strip in an ATM cardThere must be a signature strip on a debit card
ATM cards can be used within the national boundaryDebit cards can be used within the national boundary and internationally too

Similarity between ATM vs Debit Card

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

  • Both ATM cards and Debit cards are similar in appearance
  • ATM cards and Debit cards can be used anytime and from anywhere
  • Both of these cards are provided by the bank
  • Whether it is an ATM card or a debit card- both the cards charge fees when using out of the bank’s network ATM machine for cash withdrawal
  • Both these cards can be used for balance inquiry
  • A PIN number must be entered every time to make any transaction
What is an ATM card?
ATM cards are specifically made to withdraw money from one’s bank ATMs or from another bank’s ATM. Apart from this, an ATM card cannot be used as any other form of transaction.
How to use an ATM card?
Insert the ATM card in the ATM machine, enter all the details required such as the amount to withdraw, account type, PIN number and click on ‘Proceed’. Once done, collect your cash from the ATM.
Is it safe to share the CVV number?
No, sharing your CVV number with anyone can result in the misuse of your ATM, debit or credit card. Make sure you never share your CVV number with anyone.
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 the need to enter the PIN. However, one can only use the card till a certain amount set by the bank.
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