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Student Banking

Banking Basics: Debit and ATM Cards

Keep close track of your ATM and debit card spending

Debit and ATM cards are great for students: You get easy access to your money. Be sure, though, to track all your purchases and withdrawals—and be aware of fees.

Debit and ATM cards are 2 of the most popular ways to access money in your checking or savings account. These cards give you flexible access to your money, but you need to be aware of any fees that you may be charged when you use your card.

Debit cards

Most banks (including Bank of America) will offer you a debit card, also known as a check card, when you open your checking account. When you use a debit card, the money comes directly from your checking account, just like when you write a check.

Debit cards look like credit cards—they will have a Visa® or MasterCard® logo on them. However, they are definitely not credit cards. A debit card will not help you build a credit rating.

You can use a debit card to make purchases without accumulating interest because the money comes directly from your checking account. Debit cards can take the place of writing checks, paying with cash or using a credit card.

Debit cards will also usually double as your ATM card, allowing you to withdraw cash or deposit money at an ATM machine.

ATM cards

Some banks offer you an ATM card that allows you to withdraw money from your checking account, but only through an ATM machine. Unlike debit cards, ATM cards do not have the Visa® or MasterCard® logo and, in most cases, may not be used to make store purchases directly.

ATM cards give you easy access to your money, but be careful because that easy access might cost you. For example, if you withdraw money from your account at your own bank's ATM, you probably won't pay any fees for that transaction. However, if you withdraw money from a different bank's ATM, you could get charged a fee from that bank as well as from your own.

Credit rating

A numeric expression of creditworthiness based upon an individual's present financial condition and past credit history.


A fee charged for borrowing money. Also refers to money that a financial institution may pay individuals for keeping their money in an account there (such as an interest-bearing savings account).

Your money—your way

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