How to Make & Receive Payments by Debit Card

by Ronald Kimmons ; Updated September 26, 2017
The ability to make and accept debit card payments streamlines the payment process for both parties.

As technology continues to develop in the business world, people are increasingly turning to the convenience of paying with plastic instead of paying with cash or checks. The cards that people use fall into two basic categories: credit and debit. Both of these methods of payment make the payment process much easier for both buyers and sellers. However, the debit card payment process has a number of aspects specific to it, and buyers and sellers must understand these things to proceed.

Making Payments

Apply for a debit card. If you have a checking account at a major bank, this shouldn't be a difficult task. You don't have to meet the same level of standards to get a debit card as you do for a credit card. Debit card services and the checking account linked to them are usually free as long as you meet certain requirements, such as setting up a direct deposit of your paycheck into the checking account or making a minimum number of debit card purchases per month. If your bank wants to charge you for debit card service, consider opening an account at a bank that offers it free of charge.

Activate your debit card. Insert your new card into the ATM at your bank and follow the directions to set your personal identification number (PIN). Remember this number.

Make sure you have enough money in your account. Unlike credit cards, debit cards only allow you to spend money that you already have. Your bank usually provides account services on its website, allowing you to access your account by personal computer or mobile device and check your balance.

Use your debit card for on-site purchases and Internet purchases alike. For on-site purchases, swipe your card's magnetic strip through the reader and enter your PIN. For Internet purchases, you must normally enter your 16-digit card number, your name, the security code number near the magnetic strip and other personal information tied to your checking account. If you don't want to give your information out to every website you wish to purchase from, get an account with PayPal or a similar Internet financial service provider.

Receiving Payments

Set up a merchant account. This allows you to receive payments from both credit and debit cards through a card reader. The merchant account service you choose assesses fees every time you make a transaction. These fees differ from one merchant account service to another.

Buy a card reader. Merchant account services sometimes provide you with free card-reading machines when you sign on with them.

Set up an account with an Internet financial service. PayPal, PaySimple and Pay by Web all offer services for companies doing business on the Internet. These services allow you to accept debit card payments from all of the major card companies and stand as a buffer between you and your customers. Since people may be leery about giving their credit card information out to random websites, these Internet financial service providers allow them to pay you without entrusting you with their information. This extra level of safety makes people more willing to do business with you. If you do business primarily over the Internet, you may not need to do the previous two steps.

About the Author

Ronald Kimmons has been a professional writer and translator since 2006, with writings appearing in publications such as "Chinese Literature Today." He studied at Brigham Young University as an undergraduate, getting a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese.

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