Debit card: what is it and how does it work?

Debit cards allow you to withdraw cash at an ATM, pay in stores without cash and make purchases over the Internet.

A debit card is a small plastic card issued by a bank with a magnetic strip and an electronic chip that allows banking transactions. This type of card makes it easier to have greater control over expenses, since charges are made instantly.

The electronic chip records the card access data, the PIN code, the cardholder's full name and the card number. In addition, the debit card number, expiration date (month/year), CVV (card verification value) and sometimes the cardholder's full name are printed on the debit card itself. All debit cards are unique, personal and non-transferable.

How does a debit card work?

A debit card can be used to withdraw money at ATMs and to pay at both physical and online stores. Once the purchase is made, the amount of the purchase will be deducted from the balance of the bank account.

This type of card has limited operations depending on the balance available in the bank account associated with the card. In other words, if the amount of the purchase is greater than the money available in the account, the transaction cannot be completed.

A debit card is, after all, a way of replacing cash to make payments in a faster, more convenient and simpler way. It is the type of bank card most commonly used by an institution's customers.

If you do not yet have one, when you open a Sabadell Online Account, the holder receives a free debit card, with no issue or maintenance commission and with which it is possible to withdraw cash at the more than 2,500 ATMs that the bank has throughout Spain at no cost.

What are the advantages of using a debit card?


All purchases made both in physical and online stores are instantly charged to the bank account associated with the card, which allows you to have greater control over your expenses and to know your account balance at all times through the bank's app. It is also possible to set a spending limit for both purchases and cash withdrawals.


Linking the debit card to the cell phone allows the user to operate with it in a more convenient way and even to do so in those situations in which the card has been left at home or if it has been lost:

Withdraw cash without a card. In the case of Banco Sabadell, it is possible to withdraw cash without a card through its Instant Money service at more than 2,500 ATMs throughout Spain using a password. Thanks to this tool, the cardholder can withdraw money himself or allow someone else to do it.

Pay for purchases with the cell phone. It is possible to make purchases in physical establishments that have a dataphone only using the cell phone, through apps such as Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

Send money. The user can also send money through Bizum, for example, and pay for purchases without a card.


Operating with a debit card is a completely secure transaction. The debit card associated with the Sabadell Online Account has an authentication method so that only the cardholder can use it. It also has a protection system against theft or loss, which allows users to operate with peace of mind. In these situations, it is possible to temporarily turn off or permanently block the card from the bank's own app. In addition, the bank has a permanent hotline (900 712 356) to receive help, cancel cards or report any problems.

The Banco Sabadell debit card also includes two free insurance policies, one for travel accidents and the other for everyday accidents.

How is a debit card different from a credit card?

What distinguishes a debit card from a credit card is that the latter's operations are not limited by the balance available in the bank account. That is to say, the holder of a credit card can pay for a purchase for an amount greater than the money deposited in his or her bank account.

In these cases, the bank advances the customer the money needed to pay for the purchase. In short, it is a way of obtaining short-term financing. In general, banks require the repayment of the money advanced within 30 days of the loan.

In any case, with the Sabadell Online Account, the holder has the possibility of having the help of a manager whenever needed, by requesting an appointment from the website itself or through the banking app. It is also possible to go to one of the more than one thousand branches that the bank has throughout the country. In short, it combines the best of a digital account with all the benefits of an expert bank.