Online Debit Card Facts and 3 Account Options To Consider

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Jul 27, 2023
 • 
10
 Min Read

According to Paysafe’s 2022 Lost in Transaction survey, 59% of customers use debit cards, surpassing credit card users (51%). The company states that debit cards are the most prevalent choice for smaller charges, while credit cards are typically reserved for large-scale purchases.

The rise of digital transactions is changing the landscape, though. Some consumers are slowly moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar banks to digital-first solutions, such as online banks, online accounts, and online debit cards (debit cards issued by online banks).

In this article, you’ll get answers to the following common questions:

  • Can you get a debit card online?
  • How do you apply for and use an online debit card?
  • What are some of the best online checking accounts to consider?

Can You Get a Debit Card Online?

A photo of a person typing on a laptop keyboard

Source: Thomas Lefebvre

Most banks automatically issue a physical debit card when you open a checking account with them. If you don’t have one, you can request a debit card online, typically through the bank’s website, online banking platform, or mobile app. 

The physical card gets mailed to the address of your choice, separately from the PIN (for security reasons). 

How To Apply For a Debit Card Online

Each institution or company has its procedures and policies, so it’s important to follow the official instructions closely.

In general, the application process for a physical or virtual debit card includes these steps:

  1. Research—If you don’t have a bank account yet, investigate your options as not all debit cards are the same. For instance, some cards are designed for high-earners, travelers, or businesses specifically.
  2. Fill out the application—Find and select the “Open an Account”, “Apply for a Card”, or a similar option on the chosen bank’s website. The page will likely redirect you to an application form where you can choose the type of card or account. You’ll need to enter your personal details, such as your name, birth date, contact information, and Social Security number.
  3. Verify your identity—As a fraud prevention measure, you’ll likely need to verify your identity by providing identification documents or answering a security question.
  4. Review and submit—Make sure all the information you’ve entered is correct and you haven’t skipped anything. Read the terms and conditions carefully to familiarize yourself with your legal rights and obligations.
  5. Wait for confirmation and delivery—The debit card should arrive within a few days in most cases. If you haven’t received a confirmation message or email upon submission, contact the bank’s customer support. 
  6. Activate the card—The activation method varies from bank to bank. Some require a deposit during the registration process. Others let you activate the card upon arrival via a phone call, the banking app, or by using it at an ATM or making a purchase.

How To Pay With Your Online Debit Card

A photo of a buyer pressing a phone against a payment device, depicting a Google Pay transaction

Source: Clay Banks

Your online debit card, which is just a term for a debit card issued by a digital bank, can be used for online or in-store purchases like any other debit card. As long as you have a physical copy of the card, you can tap, swipe, or insert the card (depending on what technology the card is equipped with).

If the card is compatible with digital wallets like Google Pay or Apple Pay, you can connect it to your wallet and then use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology or “Tap to Pay” to complete your purchase.

When completing online transactions, you need to enter your card details which include the 16-digit card number, expiration date, and CVV. You may also be required to enter your billing address to complete the payment.

A photo of a person placing a phone against a payment terminal, depicting a contactless transaction

Source: Jonas Leupe

Digital Banks and Checking Accounts Worth Considering

For convenience, digital banking is becoming increasingly popular. In 2022, around 27% of banking customers in the U.S. reported using an online-only bank. Of all types of accounts, checking accounts are the most common and are often associated with debit cards.

If you need an online checking account with a debit card, we’ve selected some of the most reliable providers and reviewed the benefits they offer:

  1. Quontic
  2. Axos
  3. Discover

Keep in mind that the provided information is current as of June 2023 and is subject to change. Refer to the official website or contact the bank directly for the most accurate information.

Quontic

When it comes to checking accounts, Quontic Bank gives you three options:

  1. High Interest Checking—Allows you to earn up to 1.10% APY (Annual Percentage Yield)[1]
  2. Bitcoin Rewards Checking—Enables you to receive 1.5% in Bitcoin on eligible purchases[1]
  3. Cash Rewards Checking—Rewards you with 1% cashback on eligible purchases[1]

The bank offers debit cards with checking accounts, but it also enables you to make fast and seamless in-store payments with the wearable Quontic Pay Ring, which eliminates the need for carrying your debit card with you[1]

Quontic’s ATM network consists of over 90,000 units nationwide[3]. It doesn’t entail monthly, overdraft, or ATM fees[2].

Eligible accounts come with security monitoring, Mastercard® Zero Liability Protection, and ID Theft Protection[3].

Axos

Much like Quontic, Axos lets you choose between three checking accounts:

  1. Essential Checking—Early direct deposits (up to two days)[4]
  2. Rewards Checking—Up to 3.30% APY[4]
  3. Cashback Checking—Up to 1% cashback on eligible signature-based purchases[4]

With Essential and Rewards Checking Accounts, there are no monthly minimum requirements, maintenance fees, overdraft fees, non-sufficient funds fees, or ATM fees for domestic transactions[4]

Axos gives you access to an extensive ATM network with over 91,000 locations[5], 24/7 customer support, and various card management and security tools. The latter include biometric authentication and account alerts[6] [7] [8].

Discover

Discover offers only one checking account. The Discover Cashback Debit account includes:

  • 1% cashback on up to $3,000 in eligible debit card purchases a month[9]
  • Early Pay, i.e., the possibility of receiving direct deposits up to 2 days earlier[9]

You don’t incur any monthly requirement, maintenance, or insufficient funds fees[9]. You can also avoid ATM fees if you use those included in Discover’s network, which counts over 60,000 units[9].

Other benefits of opening the Discover Cashback Debit account include a debit card[10], privacy and fraud protection, and digital wallet pairing[9].

The Risks of Using a Debit Card Online

Card fraud has become common and only grows more sophisticated as technology advances. From phishing attacks to skimming, fraudsters use numerous techniques to steal cardholders’ information.

According to a Security.org 2023 research, about 65% of debit or credit card owners have been victims of fraud. 

To avoid financial loss and overall inconvenience, you should do everything possible to prevent your information from getting into the wrong hands. One of the easiest and most reliable ways to ensure your banking information stays protected from fraud attempts and data breaches is to use a virtual card when completing transactions.

How Virtual Cards Protect Your Online Transactions

A photo of a person entering data from a debit card using their phone

Source: SHVETS production

If you’re shopping online and the merchant suffers a data breach, your card details and other sensitive card or bank information could be exposed to and misused by fraudsters. You can limit this risk by using a virtual card—an auto-generated 16-digit card number with a CVV and expiration date that you can safely use for online or over-the-phone purchases. 

A virtual card is connected to an actual funding source (such as a bank account or a debit card). You can pay with a virtual card as you would with any physical card by using the virtual card details instead of your actual banking information at checkout. A potential data breach on the merchant’s website would result in only your virtual card data becoming exposed to fraudsters, while your real card and bank information would remain protected.

While both online-only and brick-and-mortar banks may provide a virtual card service to existing users, bank-agnostic virtual card issuers like Privacy offer you virtual cards with more customization options and robust control and security features.

Unlock a More Secure Shopping Experience With Privacy

Privacy Virtual Cards add an extra layer of security to your online transactions and protect you more than a regular debit card ever could. 

With Privacy, you can create up to 12 virtual cards for personal use and customize them to your needs. You can create Merchant-Locked Cards that lock to a specific merchant and can’t be used elsewhere. If you choose to generate a Single-Use Card, it will automatically close after the first transaction. Both types enhance the security of your transactions as a potential hacker wouldn’t be able to use your virtual card details at another merchant or at all. 

You can set a spend limit to help with budgeting, prevent overcharges, and avoid incurring hidden fees. You can share the card with your closest family members and rest assured they can’t spend over the designated limit as you remain in full control of the card settings.

Privacy allows you to pause and close your cards instantly and without affecting your actual card and bank account. This feature can be beneficial when preventing charges from an unwanted subscription service. Note that while Privacy will decline the charges, you need to personally cancel the subscription with the merchant.

Privacy is BBB®-accredited and abides by PCI-DSS security standards, protecting users’ data with robust safety measures such as encryption and Transport Layer Security (TLS) HSTS.

Other benefits include:

  • Browser extension—The Privacy web extension fills out virtual card information for you. It speeds up checkout time, saving you from having to remember card numbers or look for your wallet.
  • Smartphone app—The app for iOS and Android lets you create virtual cards on the go and alerts you whenever the card is used or declined, enabling you to keep close track of your purchases and detect unusual and potentially fraudulent activity fast.
  • 1Password integration—You can leverage the free integration with the password manager to store and manage your passwords and other financial data from a single dashboard.

How To Get Started With Privacy Cards

Here’s how to apply for a Privacy Virtual Card:

  1. Visit the Sign-up page
  2. Enter the required KYC information
  3. Connect a funding source (such as your bank account or debit card)
  4. Request and create your first Privacy Card

Check out Privacy’s pricing options below:

Tier Cost Features
Personal Free for domestic transactions  - Up to 12 virtual cards per month
- Ability to close and pause the cards and set spending limits
- Access to the browser extension and mobile app
Pro
$10/month - Everything in Personal
- Up to 36 cards per month
- 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling up to $4,500/month)
- Priority support
Teams
$25/month


- Everything in Pro
- Up to 60 cards per month
- Dedicated account management

References

[1] Quontic. https://www.quontic.com/banking/checking/, sourced May 2023 
[2] Quontic. https://www.quontic.com/banking/banking-features/, sourced May 2023 
[3] Quontic. https://www.quontic.com/schedule-of-fees/, sourced May 2023 
[4] Axos. https://www.axosbank.com/Personal/Checking, sourced May 2023 
[5] Axos. https://www.axosbank.com/Customer-Support/Personal-Support/FAQ, sourced May 2023 
[6] Axos. https://www.axosbank.com/Personal/Checking/Essential-Checking, sourced May 2023 
[7] Axos. https://www.axosbank.com/Personal/Checking/Rewards-Checking, sourced May 2023 
[8] Axos. https://www.axosbank.com/Personal/Checking/Cashback-Checking, sourced May 2023 
[9] Discover. https://www.discover.com/online-banking/checking-account/, sourced May 2023 
[10] Discover. https://www.discover.com/online-banking/faq/checking-account, sourced May 2023
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