The invention of debit cards has become an essential part of our everyday lives. Overtime they shortened queues at banks and made funds in our bank accounts accessible at all times. They also replaced the use of cheques and cash to make payments.
As the usage of debit cards picked up and more business players entered the segment, their functionalities changed.
To classify, here are 5 commonly used types of debit cards in India:
1. Visa debit cards
Debit cards stylised with "VISA" on them are issued by banks in association with Visa Inc, which is an American multinational financial services company. Due to the brand's wide presence, these are the most globally accepted cards to make online and offline electronic payment transactions.
These cards use the Visa payments gateway which comes with their high security and 24x7 assistance.
Visa debit cards come in varieties like Classic, Gold, Platinum, etc which are customized with benefits based on the type of bank accounts the customers hold. One can contact their bank to find out the kind of cards they can offer.
Visa is one of the most popular payment gateways in debit cards issued by Indian banks. These cards also come with an overdraft facility.
The Visa Electron debit card is a variant of the Visa debit card but does not come with the overdraft option. Most Indian banks provide account holders with this card the restricts that users to spend only up to their balance.
The best part about Electron cards is that there are no interest charges on cash withdrawals using them.
Note that Visa Electron debit cards are not accepted in Australia, Canada, the US and Ireland.
2. MasterCard debit cards
Just like Visa, MasterCard is a popular American payments company which is accepted even at some foreign online retailers that ship to India. The company is known for its fast and secure payment gateway and have world-class customer service.
MasterCard debit cards also come with benefits and reward programs that are specific to the type of card they avail from their bank.
3. RuPay debit cards
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) started RuPay as part of India's card scheme with a vision to have a domestic, open and multilateral system of payments. Considering that close to 90 percent of the transactions in India are domestic in nature, RuPay was started to reduce the cost of these transactions that were higher due to the dominance of international card schemes.
Since it is a more recent payment gateway system, it is currently accepted mainly within India and at a few locations abroad that RuPay has tie-ups with.
In India, many public, private, co-operative and regional rural banks issue RuPay cards to its customers. These debit cards are issued with Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts.
RuPay debit cards are accepted at all ATMs, Point-of-Sale terminals and by most online merchants in the country.
4. Contactless debit cards
These are debit cards which come with built-in radio frequency module that allow you to make payments by simply waving the card over the machine. However, one needs to just hold it close to an RFID reader at the merchant outlet.
The mechanism is similar to that of the employees' ID card sensing used by companies to provide access to its premises.
These are considered safer than traditional debit cards as you do not need to hand over your card to a cashier or enter a PIN. This secures it from some common frauds where the card can be duplicated.
Major banks like SBI and HDFC Bank issue these contactless cards and are accepted at large multibrand outlets in India.
5. Maestro Debit Card
These are similar to MasterCard debited cards. They can be used at ATMs across the world and to make payments for online purchases. Maestro debit cards are accepted for payments at domestic and international PoS outlets.
These cards are known for their highly secure payments platform.