Getting your first debit card is exciting. Not only will you have your own checking account, but you’ll also have more control over your money. It’s helpful to know the basics before you sign up and start swiping, however. Here’s a closer look at how to get the card and use it effectively.

How Does a Debit Card Compare to a Credit Card?

While both offer convenient, secure payments, a debit card only uses the funds in your checking account. A credit card, meanwhile, essentially lends you money that you have to pay back later. Unlike credit, there’s no debt to pay at the end of the billing cycle since you aren’t borrowing the money from a lender. 

When you need cash, debit cards offer access to your funds at any ATM. If you draw cash from your own bank, it’s free, but making a withdrawal at an ATM that isn’t connected to your financial institution may come with a small transaction fee, which will be charged to your checking account.

How Can You Get a Debit Card?

Your first step is to open a checking account. Banks usually offer debit cards free of charge when connected to your account. Once you receive the card within a few days, set up a PIN to access cash at ATMs. Some locations require your PIN to complete purchases as well.

checking accountMake sure you understand any fees or limitations involved. Out-of-network ATMs and international transactions will probably have a charge attached. There may be daily limits on how much cash you can withdraw, and you may also have overdraft or non-sufficient fund charges if your balance drops below a certain level.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Debit Card?

By using debit instead of credit, you’ll avoid interest and other fees. The transaction is complete, and there’s no debt owed at the end of the month. Debit cards help you keep track of your spending, which is a great teaching tool for budgeting and allotting funds for essentials, such as bills, entertainment, and groceries. Payments occur in real time, and you can check your financial health immediately.

Debit card payments are quick and easy. You don’t have to carry large amounts of cash, and your payments are secure and protected. Especially with chip technology, even if the card is stolen or lost, it’s much harder to access the funds without the PIN.

Some banks now offer rewards programs attached to debit cards. Points are accumulated from purchases that can be redeemed later for gift cards, travel, and more.


To get your savings and checking account set up and connect your debit card, head to Havana National Bank. Located in Mason County, IL, and serving San Jose, Green Valley, and the surrounding areas since 1875, this hometown community bank offers old-fashioned personal customer service with modern technology. Specializing in agriculture, their motto is "Proud of our past, committed to your future." Call (309) 543-3361 for more on your banking options or visit them online for their full list of financial offerings.