The Difference Between ATM, Debit & Credit Cards

Do you know the difference between ATM, debit and credit cards?

If you answered NO, you’re not alone.

Many people, young and old alike, don’t know the differences between these cards. Even though they may look the same, they’re quite different. Here’s why:

ATM card

ATM cards

ATM cards are linked to your credit union or bank account. You can use this card at an ATM to get cash or deposit money using a secret PIN (Personal Identification Number). You need to keep this number safe and never share it with anyone.

The back of your ATM card will display a list of networks where your ATM card can be used – like CO-OP®, Star® and Cirrus®. Some ATM cards can also be used at Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals located at the checkout stands of grocery stores and gas stations.

debit card

Debit cards

When you use a debit (check) card, the money is taken from your checking account. You can use a debit card at places where they accept credit cards like clothing stores and movie theaters. Although a debit card displays a Visa or MasterCard symbol, it’s not a credit card. The logos simply tell you the merchant displaying the logo may accept your debit card as payment.

credit card

Credit cards

Credit cards let you borrow money to buy things. You can repay the loan at the end of the month, or extend the loan over a longer time. If you don’t pay the money back at the end of the month, you have to pay interest. When you use a credit card, you’re usually required to show some form of ID, and you must sign a receipt stating you accept the loan.