Don’t be a fool about debit cards this April – National Consumers League

April 1, 2008

Contact: 202-835-3323,

Washington, DC – Debit cards are convenient and safer to carry than cash, and they’re more widely accepted by merchants these days than personal checks. But just because they look and feel like a credit card doesn’t mean they work exactly like one, and not understanding the differences could cost you, warns tips featured this month in the National Consumers League’s “2008 Consumer Calendar: Do We Have Tips for You!”

NCL teaches consumers how debit cards work and how to use them wisely with tips, such as:

  • Know your balance, and know what overdraft fees you’ll face if your bank lets you withdraw more than you have. When making a purchase with a debit card, make sure there’s enough money in your account to cover it. Deduct debits from the balance in your check register promptly.
  • Don’t forget about checks you’ve already written. Even if they haven’t cleared yet, consider that money gone.
  • Know if there’s a cost for using the card. Some card issuers charge monthly or even per-transaction fees that are automatically deducted from your account.
  • Notify the issuer immediately if the cost is lost or stolen. Under federal law, the amount you could lose if someone uses your debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss once you discover it. Your card issuer may have “zero” liability policies that give you extra protections.

The nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, NCL works to educate people about how to make wise decisions in today’s marketplace. Each month, NCL’s Web site,, will feature the calendar and tips for the month. Covering a range of subjects from medication safety, to avoiding scams, the tips are sponsored by major companies, government agencies, and organizations. The April tips about debit cards were sponsored by Visa and its Practical Money Skills for Life program.

The print version of the calendar was distributed to consumers free of charge through agencies and organizations around the country. There are no printed copies of the calendar remaining.


About the National Consumers League
Founded in 1899, the National Consumers League is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization. For more information, visit