What is the best Debit Card for me?
Debit Cards come in many 'flavours', so it is important to examine the features of each offering and choose the right Debit Card for your needs. Often it's trying to work out a balance between fees and charges and the facilities and extras you want with your card. Also important is to consider your existing banking institutions and whether they offer debit cards as it may save you from opening a new account. So please read through our guide below or for a fully featured all-rounder with super-low fees, take a closer look at our recommended debit cards offered by St George and Nab - the Complete Freedom and the NAB Classic Banking Account
List your answers to the following questions to clarify your needs before considering the available choices.
- Do you need a card for use online only (eg as a PayPal Debit Card), or do you want a physical card for use in stores and to withdraw from ATMs?
- Will a prepaid Debit Card better suit your needs? (Prepaid Debit Cards are easier to get, often more secure, and great for special purposes like travelling, managing spending allowances for children or expense allowances for employees, and separating funds for budget purposes but topping them up can be a pain)
- Do you travel often? Will you use your card abroad?
- Do you do most of your banking via the Internet (including using PayPal), or do you prefer over-the-counter transactions?
- How do you plan to top up your account with funds? Can you arrange a regular direct deposit of salary or investment income, or will you be depositing cash or making electronic transfers from other accounts?
- How many ATM and branch withdrawals do you expect to make monthly?
- Do you need to give other people a debit card to access your funds?
- How important are special benefits like purchase insurance, travel insurance, and extended warranties?
- Are you a lover of entertainment? Would special access to entertainment events enhance your lifestyle?
Fees are of key importance to most people, but advertisements referring to 'no fee' or 'low fees' can be confusing. Check the fine print and think about how you are likely to use your card. Will you be making frequent withdrawals from ATMs? Are you likely to be able to get to an ATM owned by your own bank for most withdrawals? Will you be travelling and using your card in foreign countries? What transaction fees apply for these services? Fee-based accounts might work out cheaper than free accounts with higher transaction charges.
If choosing a fee-based account, always ask about fee concessions. Students, pensioners, and veterans should take particular notice of fee concession offers.
Most issuers offer good security features, but it is wise to consider the reputation of the issuer carefully. Is the issuer likely to honour guarantees to refund losses from unauthorised transactions? Can you rely on the issuer for prompt and helpful advice and service if the card is stolen, you lose it, or you note suspicious transactions? You should also consider how easily you can contact the issuer, especially if you plan to travel.
Consider the features of the linked account(s). Does the account suit your general banking needs? Do you have a preference between Visa and Mastercard?
A choice of card colour and design is probably a minor consideration, but consider optional benefits— like discounts or special access to entertainment, insurances, and extended warranties—carefully. These benefits can be valuable! Frequent travellers, for example, could save hundreds of dollars on travel insurance just by choosing the right Debit Card and using it to pay fares! And how good would you feel if a costly item you just bought was stolen from your car and your Debit Card issuer offered to pay for full replacement?
If you're still not sure, then our recommendation would be either the Express or the Complete Freedom Debit Cards from St George. They have one of the lowest fees on the market (if not the lowest) and even the basic card has enough features for 95% of debit card users. So with a fee of just $3/month (this is even waived in some circumstances) make sure you put this card on your shortlist!