Using Debit Cards To Pay For Prepaid Service!
Debit cards are an
interesting topic because they have evolved so much over the
years, and have long since behaved more and more like credit
cards. Surprisingly, or at least interestingly, the average
person is not aware of the different flavors of these cards.
There are essentially two types:
- This is the classic (now legacy) ATM card that your bank
issues to you when you get a bank account. Whenever you use
it in a store, the terminal will prompt you to enter your PIN (Personal
Identification Number). You'll typically see logos on the
indicate on what networks the cards are compatible (ex. STAR, NYCE,
PULSE, etc.) If you don't remember it, you're
basically out of luck. Note, however, that this type of card
actually quite rare these days in favor of banks issuing the following
- Look at the front, bottom right-hand side of
Does it have a Visa or MasterCard logo (a.k.a. flag) on it?
so, this is what the industry refers to as a "flagged" card.
What does this mean? It means that
when you swipe your card in a store, you can either:
- Select "debit"
and it will prompt you for your PIN, and essentially act exactly like
ATM PIN-based cards described above.
"credit" and you will not be prompted for your
PIN, but rather you'll be asked to sign the receipt as you would for a
credit card. These are referred to as "signature debit"
When you're in a retail store, the experience can be
depending on whether you have a classic PIN-based card or a flagged
Note that with either type of card, the money is withdrawn
from your bank account immediately (unlike a credit card where you get
a bill later that you then have ~30 days to pay).
On the other hand, when you use your card card directly
wireless carrier, the experience doesn't noticeable change.
The reason why I say that it's not noticeable, is that there
are actually different regulations that companies must follow depending
on whether you're using credit or debit. Many
companies these days will only accept flagged cards. The
reason why is that these cards can be treated in exactly the same way
as credit cards. In fact, if you tell them it's a credit
card, they'll never know the difference (of course, your card will have
to be the flagged type of card for it to actually work as a credit
If your wireless carrier does have an option for
legacy debit card, and you
select that option, your experience will vary slightly from the credit
card process due to these regulations. Chances are, though,
that unless you study the two processes carefully, you'll never notice.
Note, also, that as companies are eliminating the acceptance
encouraging the use of debit; they'd rather have you use a classic
ATM debit card than a check!
One good tip to take away here is to note that if
your wireless carrier
does not say that they accept debit cards, don't worry. If
you have one of these flagged cards, just pretend as though it's a
credit card and you'll be on your way with no problems!
One of the great benefits of using your debit card
is that you don't
have to worry about getting a bill like you would when using a credit
card. So the risk of not paying your bill and negatively
affecting your credit is not there. HOWEVER, if you don't
your funds effectively, a debit card transaction can result in
Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF), which can get you into trouble with your
wireless provider, and cost you NSF fees ($25-$35) from your bank!
have a bank account and so no access to debit? A
prepaid debit card may be a great option for you. Learn more