The marketplace is becoming less cash driven every day. Practically every retail outlet accepts debit cards, sometimes called check cards, and for those that do not, there will typically be an ATM within walking distance where you can withdraw cash. Depending on your current age and situation, there are some different steps you can take to secure your own card.
Open up a checking account at a local bank. Most banks will require you to be at least 18 to open an account and obtain a debit card. Different banks may offer incentives for opening up checking accounts, so call several and compare offers. You might come away with free checking, interest checking, monetary incentives for opening an account and free checks.
Visit the bank and inform the teller that you would like to open up a checking account. You will need a driver's license, your social security number and proof of residence. Some banks may require the social security card itself.
Fill out the application. You will have to make a minimum deposit, usually around $100. The teller will provide your account number on a temporary card. Your debit card will be mailed to you, typically in eight to 10 days. When you open a new account there is typically a 10-day hold put on a portion of your deposit while the account is being established. If you need to access your money sooner, only make a small deposit and keep the rest of your cash on hand or in another institution.
Request a card in your name. If you have a joint bank account, but you do not have your own debit card, all you have to do is make a request for a card. You can do this by calling up your bank's customer service department and verifying your identity by answering security questions. You can also request a card by visiting your local branch and giving them your license and account number.
Establish your PIN number. That's the number that will prevent unauthorized individuals from using your debit card. Identity thieves can be highly creative, so get advice from your bank on how to create a strong PIN.
People from 13 to 17 may also be able to open their own accounts and get debit cards; otherwise, they can open joint accounts with their parents. In addition, some banks such as Chase offer high school checking accounts to help kids learn financial responsibility. The minor's parents must co-sign on the account in order to open it. Once established, the account owner will be issued a debit card. Many local banks and credit unions have similar programs.
Memorize your personal identification number (PIN) and never write it on a piece of paper that you keep in the same wallet as your card.
Be careful to pay attention to your account balance when using your debit card as their will likely be fees for over drawing.
- Wells Fargo: Prepaid and Debit Cards
- Bank of America - How to Open a Checking Account (Online Application)
- High school checking account
- NerdWallet Finance: NerdWallet’s Best Checking Accounts and Debit Cards, Summer 2014
- Lifehacker Personal Finance: How to Avoid Getting Screwed When Using Your Debit Card