Checking Account vs Debit Card

Read Time: 4 Min

While checking accounts and debit cards are often presented by banks as a package deal, it’s important to understand the difference.

a customer hands a debit card to a barista at a coffee shop

A checking account provides you with access to funds through deposits and withdrawals. When you open a new checking account, you can apply to receive a debit card.

Think of your debit card like a key to accessing the funds in your account. A debit card is a payment card that is linked to the funds in your account and can be used to withdraw or deposit cash at ATMs and be used at both in-person and online retailers. When you use your debit card to pay for goods or services, those funds will be deducted from your checking account balance.

What is a checking account?

A checking account is a type of bank account that allows both withdrawals and deposits. These accounts can be accessed in several ways, including checks, debit cards, and ATMs and can be opened with no minimum deposit or for a small minimum deposit, depending on the type of account. Also keep in mind that some checking accounts may also have minimum balance requirements in order to avoid maintenance fees.

Unlike other types of bank accounts, checking accounts do not limit the number of withdrawals and deposits that you can make. Checking accounts can be set up in person at a local bank branch or online, making them easy and convenient to establish.

Some typical features of a checking account include personal checks, the ability to set up direct deposit of paychecks, and the ability to transfer or wire money§. Huntington Bank offers online banking and bill pay options with scheduled payments to help you pay your bills on time, as well as digital banking tools that can help you reach your financial goals.

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What is a debit card?

A debit card is a type of payment card that conveniently facilitates secure and easy payments both online and in-person. Debit cards differ from credit cards in that the money attached to the debit card comes directly out of a checking account rather than being borrowed and paid later.

A key feature of debit cards is that they allow you to make withdrawals easily at ATMs by entering a pre-set PIN¥. Huntington offers special debit card features to help you decide which type is best for you.

Can you have a debit card without a checking account?

Yes. If you do not have access to a bank account, whether it be due to identity theft recovery or otherwise, pre-paid debit cards can be a great alternative. Pre-paid debit cards need to be loaded with money, and you can buy one at a local store or online††. A pre-paid card can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, just like a standard debit card.

Is the checking account number on a debit card?

No. The number shown on the debit card is the card number, not the checking account number. The checking account number can be found along the bottom of a check, on a bank statement, or through an online banking platform. If you are unable to locate your account number, you can contact your bank’s customer service department§§.

Can you have multiple debit cards for one checking account?

An individual bank account is opened by one person and owned by that person, and the funds can only be accessed by that individual with one debit card. But for a joint checking account, banks can provide you with a debit card for each person listed on the account¥¥.

How can I withdraw money from a checking account without a debit card?

There a few ways to make a withdrawal without a debit card or ATM card. Tellers and employees at a bank branch can be very helpful in making withdrawals. If you have a checkbook, writing a check made out to cash will get your cash without an ATM. You can give your check to the bank teller or to a cashier at a local retailer to receive your funds in return†††.

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Peter Carleton. “Checking accounts vs. debit cards: 5 big differences.” Updated April 16, 2020.

Jake Frankenfield. “What Is a Checking Account?” Investopedia.com. Updated April 14, 2020.

§ Chris Moon. “What is a Checking Account and How Does it Work?” ValuePenguin.com. Accessed April 2020.

¥ Spencer Tierney. “What Is a Debit Card?” NerdWallet.com. Updated January 28, 2019.

†† “Prepaid Cards” Consumer.gov. Accessed on August 26, 2020.

‡‡ Justin Pritchard. “How to Live With No Bank Account.” TheBalance.com. Updated March 19, 2020.

§§ Shen Lu. “Where Is The Account Number on a Check and What Is It For?” MagnifyMoney.com. Updated January 31, 2019.

¥¥ Amy Wright. “Understanding joint bank accounts – How do they work?” BBVAUSA.com. Updated June 8, 2018.

††† Lori Hubbard. “How to Withdraw Money Without an ATM Card.” PocketSense.com. Updated October 20, 2018.

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