nigel woollsey

Nigel Woollsey

Online Writer
Published: 27/03/2019

At a glance

  • Cash cards can only be used to make cash withdrawals from ATMs.
  • Debit cards can be used to pay retailers directly, as well as make ATM withdrawals.
  • Beware of charges when using debit cards abroad.

Depending on your age and the type of current account you have, you may be offered a cash card or a debit card by your bank or building society.

What's the difference between a cash card and a debit card?

In general, a cash card will only allow you to make ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) withdrawals.

A debit card will usually offer the same facility, but also allow you to pay directly for goods and services in any place where your card's payment network (Visa, Maestro, etc.) is accepted.

Pros and cons of Cash Cards

  • Enables you to withdraw cash and other operations at an ATM 24/7
  • You will be unable to pay for goods and services using your card instead of cash

Pros and cons of Debit Cards

  • Allows you to withdraw cash and perform other operations at an ATM 24/7
  • Can pay for goods and services using just your debit card instead of cash
  • Can pay for goods and services online and over the telephone
  • Keep an eye on your available balance - a debit card makes it easier to overspend than just using cash 

How to tell if you've got a debit card rather than a cash card

If you've got a debit card, your card will have one of these logos on the front:

Mastercard        

Debit Mastercard is linked to your current account and allows payment for goods and services as well as cash withdrawals at ATMs. Contactless cards allow payments of up to £30 without the need to key in a PIN number.

Cash can be removed from any ATM around the world that shows the Mastercard symbol.

Maestro

Maestro debit cards are offered by some UK banks and building societies. They may allow you to make payments even if you don't have quite enough in your account.

 

Money may be taken from your account immediately or at a later date, so keep an eye on your current account balance to make sure all your payments have cleared.

Visa

Visa debit cards are probably the most commonly issued debit cards in the UK. They may allow you to make payments even if you don't have quite enough in your account.

Money may be taken from your account immediately or at a later date, so keep an eye on your current account balance to make sure all your payments have cleared.

Visa Electron

Visa Electron is a type of debit card that does not allow you to spend more than what is in your account. You must have the full amount of your payment in your current account in order for the payment to be successful. Unlike Maestro and Visa debit cards, the money is taken from your account immediately.

Because of this, Visa Electron is usually issued to holders of basic bank accounts or current accounts for teenagers.

What about using my card abroad?

You may be able to withdraw cash and pay for goods and services (debit cardholders only) when you travel abroad.

However, bear in mind that there may be charges for doing this:

  • Conversion charges – your bank may charge you for converting your money to the local currency when you withdraw cash abroad or make a purchase.
  • Transaction charges – your bank may charge you for handling the transaction when you withdraw cash abroad or make a purchase.
  • If you withdraw cash, the local bank whose ATM you are using may also charge you a fee.

Moneyfacts tip

Moneyfacts tip nigel woollsey

Be aware that the Mastercard and Visa logos will also be shown on credit cards, so make sure you are using the correct card, as withdrawing cash on a credit card will incur fees and interest charges.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

blue spots

At a glance

  • Cash cards can only be used to make cash withdrawals from ATMs.
  • Debit cards can be used to pay retailers directly, as well as make ATM withdrawals.
  • Beware of charges when using debit cards abroad.

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