The best start

Why a debit card might be the right card for you

4 min read

When you're just starting out on your financial journey money can seem complicated – there’s a lot to take on board, like income, outgoings, taxes, KiwiSaver, and so much more. So sometimes it's best to keep things simple – at least until you feel like you’ve got your finances under control and you’re ready for the next stage in money management. That’s where debit cards come in to their own. Unlike credit cards, debit cards may not have exciting rewards attached to them, but what they offer in terms of helping you budget and reduce fees far outweighs a credit card any day. So, if you’re keen to avoid debt but still want some of the advantages of a credit card, a debit card could be just the ticket.

What is a debit card?

For the most part you can think of a debit card as being almost identical to your EFTPOS card in that it lets you instantly access money sitting in your bank accounts either at a shop or an ATM. However, debit cards also bring with them some of the same benefits that credit cards afford - things like being able to shop online and make contactless payments, except they don’t offer credit.

Easy access to your money

A debit card offers instant access to the money that’s sitting in your bank accounts and you can use it for free at retailers and ATMs all around New Zealand and overseas. However, withdrawing cash at an ATM or over the counter using a credit card is known as a Cash Advance, and this costs you money in interest – best to avoid these where possible. Check out our guide on how not to use your credit card for more information about cash advances.

Tip: You can easily select which accounts are linked to online shopping or contactless payments using internet banking or your mobile app.

Low annual fees

A debit card will typically cost you around $10 per year, and in some cases this fee can be waived for a period of time. Credit cards, on the other hand, could cost anywhere from $40 per year, up to a whopping $140 for platinum cards. Depending on how much you spend on your card each year, those fees could easily negate the rewards a credit card could offer.

See your spending in real time

This is where debit cards really add value. If you can see how much you’re spending each day by checking your internet banking, it’s a lot easier to understand what money you have coming in and going out, and so you can create a budget, see where you could perhaps curb your spending, and make some quick savings. Conversely, credit card statements tend to be sent out monthly, so it’s easier to spend more than you earn each month, which means, if you can’t pay the bill off in full, that you end up paying interest and racking up more debt.

Tip: If you like being able to shop online but don’t trust yourself with a credit card, a debit card can help you stay in the black. If you don’t have the money in your account, the online transaction simply won’t go through.

Applying made easy

No-one likes waiting for things, which is why debit cards are the card of choice for the impatient among us. If you already have an EFTPOS card, getting a debit card couldn’t be easier – just make a request online, wait 2 business days, and voila! Or simply pop into a store and get one there and then.

Applying for a credit card is a lengthier process, as it requires the bank to make rigorous credit checks. Your bank needs to be sure you're able to comfortably make the credit card repayments after all your other monthly expenses are met. They will run a credit report to look at your borrowing and repayment history - including previous loans and credit cards. This is all normally done while you’re in store meeting with a member of staff who will ask questions about your current income and monthly outgoings.

Same, same but different

Debit cards enjoy a lot of the same protections and privileges of credit cards. For example, most debit and credit cards offer fraud protection, you can use them both online and with mobile wallets, you can use them abroad, and they both work at contactless terminals. EFTPOS in comparison, has no fraud protection, most can’t be used online or at contactless terminals, and overseas transactions are limited to ATM machines with the International Plus logo only.

Flex it any way you like

BNZ Flexi Debit Visa is a little card with huge benefits. Have your money on-hand whenever you need it and use it to shop online, over the phone or with your mobile wallet.

Find out more today.