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How to get a debit card online

Getting a debit card can be done in-person or online. These are the basic steps for how to get a debit card:
  1. Open a checking account.
  2. Fund your checking account.
  3. Request a debit card.
  4. Activate your debit card when it arrives by mail.

At Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal), we make getting a debit card online.

Call 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn about our mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, personal loans, checking and savings accounts, and other banking products. As a full-service financial institution, we look forward to helping you with all your banking needs.

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What is a debit card?

A debit card is a type of banking card that is typically connected to a checking account held at a credit union, bank, or other financial institution. With a debit card you can make purchases in-person and online. Plus, you can access your money from ATMs across the U.S. and around the world.

What can a debit card be used for?

A debit card can be used for making all types of purchases. Your total purchase amount it only limited by the amount of money in your account. If you try to purchase items costing more than the amount in your account, the transactions may not clear.
Some financial institutions will allow your purchase transactions to clear even if you do not have all the funds available in your account. In this case you will owe the bank the difference plus you may be charged overdraft fees (fees the financial institution charges if a purchase is made for more money than is in the checking account).

Getting a debit card

It’s easy to get a debit card and there are few debit card requirements. If you are opening a checking account at a credit union or traditional bank you will be offered a debit card when you open your account. Or you may request a debit card at any time. Most financial institutions let you apply for a debit card online.

Here are the basic steps for getting a debit card:

  1. Open a checking account. Checking accounts can be opened at credit unions, traditional banks, and other financial institutions. Be prepared to provide the account representative with a government-issued form of identification, your address, phone number, your Social Security number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  1. Fund your checking account. Be sure to keep your account funded with enough money to cover your current and anticipated expenses. Keeping your checking account well-funded will prevent you from being “overdrawn” which would result in penalty fees.
  1. Request your debit card. When opening the account, simply request a debit card, which will be sent to you by mail.
  1. Activate debit card. When you receive the debit card follow the instructions on the card. Typically, there will be a sticker across the card which contains the activation phone number you need to call to activate your card.

Advantages of debit cards

Secure. To access your money from an ATM or to make a point-of-purchase transaction you will need to enter your PIN. This makes debit cards quite secure. To ensure security, never share your personal PIN with anyone who is not a joint account holder.
No annual fee. When connected to a classic or traditional checking account, there is no fee to have a debit card, even if you don’t use it.
ATM withdrawals. Debit cards can be used at ATMs in the U.S. and abroad, and for purchases in stores and online.
Prevent credit card debt. Because debit cards withdraw money from your checking account you won’t accrue credit card debt.
Easier qualifications than credit cards. Getting a credit card requires that you consent to a credit check, and you will be asked to provide your annual income amount. There are few, if any, limitations related to getting a debit card

Disadvantages of debit cards


Overdraft fee. These are fees the financial institution charges if a purchase is made for more money than is in the checking account.
Insufficient funds fee. Also known as an overdraft fee, this fee is charged if you use your card to make a purchase when there aren’t sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the charge. Some financial institutions provide overdraft protection options, so you don’t have to pay a penalty.
Replacement card fee. Some financial institutions charge a fee if the card is lost or stolen and needs to be replaced.
ATM fee. There are two categories of ATM fees that may apply, fees charged by the ATM provider, and fees charged by your bank if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Monthly maintenance fee. Some debit cards that are connected to rewards checking accounts come with a monthly fee.
Foreign transaction fee. This fee is charged if you use your debit card to make purchases in foreign countries. This includes use of an ATM, and additional ATM charges may apply.
May be difficult to make large purchases. A debit card can only be used to make purchases that you have enough cash in your checking account to cover. For example, most people don’t keep enough money in their checking account to purchase a car.
Won't build credit. Debit cards don’t help you build credit because the money is withdrawn directly from your account. Credit cards let you build your credit history and credit score, if you pay your bill on-time and don’t “max-out” your credit card limit.
No rewards. If rewards and earning cash-back on purchase transactions is important to you, conder opening a CU SoCal Rewards Checking Account. Not all financial institutions offer debit cards with a rewards points program, but CU SoCal does. With a CU SoCal checking account and debit card, you accumulate cashback rewards each time you use your card.
Fewer protections against fraud. Because a debit card is directly associated with a checking account there is more risk to that account. For example, if you lose your purse or wallet containing your debit card, this could lead to someone using your identity to access your account. One way to protect your account is to never carry your personal identification number (PIN) along with your card.

How do debit cards compare

Here’s how debit cards compare to other common types of banking cards:
Debit cards Vs. credit cards. A debit card is like using cash and the money comes out of your checking account immediately. Credit cards are not directly connected to your bank account, so the balance of your purchases accrues until part, or all the balance is paid off.
Debit cards Vs. prepaid debit cards. A prepaid card contains only the amount of money you paid for it (less any fees) and cannot be used at an ATM.
Debit cards Vs. cash. Although using a debit card is like making a cash purchase, when you pay with cash you know the transaction is complete and there’s no risk for overdrawing your account.


What to do if my debit card is lost or stolen?

If your debit card is stolen, you should report it to your financial institution immediately so the card can be deactivated. A new card will be issued to you with a new number. If your debit card is lost outside of your home, you may request that the card be deactivated. If you think your card is misplaced in your home or car, you can call the financial institution to ask that the card be temporarily frozen to prevent charges from going through. Using your financial institution’s mobile app or online banking platform you can freeze the card yourself and unfreeze the debit card when you find it.

Do debit cards have an age requirement?

Debit card age requirements are set by each financial institution. Typically, the age to get a debit card is anywhere from 13 to 18 years old.

How long does it take to get a debit card?

Once you are approved for a checking account and the bank representative submits your debit card request, you should receive the card by mail in 7-14 days.

Do debit cards offer purchase protection?

Financial institutions provide some level of fraud protection if your card is lost or stolen or used by an unauthorized user. Purchase protection covers purchases made that break or become damaged. Purchase protection varies depending on the card provider.

Are debit cards free?

Yes. Financial institutions provide a free debit card when you open a checking account.
However, if you do not adhere to the rules of the account, fees may be charged for overdrafts.

Why savvy consumers choose CU SoCal

For over 60 years CU SoCal has been providing financial services, including mortgages, Home Equity Loans, HELOCs, car loans, personal loans, credit cards, and other banking products, to those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Please give us a call today at 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation loan consultation with a CU SoCal Member Services specialist.

Get Started on Your Checking Account Today!

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Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) is a leading financial institution empowering those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County to reach their goals and build strong financial futures. CU SoCal provides access to convenient money management services and offers competitive rates and flexible terms on auto loans, mortgages, and VISA credit cards—turning wishing and waiting into achieving and doing.


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