What's the difference between your debit card and your credit card?

What's the difference between your debit card and your credit card?

A debit card is not the same as a credit card. To start with, your credit card looks different as it is embossed. It also works differently to your debit card. Read on for a summary of the differences.

The unique features of your credit card

Het verschil tussen je bankkaart en je kredietkaart uitgelegd.
  • Your payments do not leave your account straight away.
    • You can choose to repay the full amount of your purchases in one go each month.
    • Or you can spread the amount over a number of months.
  • You can withdraw money and make payments all over the world. Most banks block the use of credit cards in the United States. Find out how to activate your credit card for us in the US.
  • Withdrawing money with your credit card costs money - even in Belgium.
    Only when you make large withdrawals outside Europe is it cheaper to use your credit card than your debit card.
  • You agree with your bank how much you are allowed to spend on your credit card each month.
    The monthly limit depends on your financial capacity.
  • Depending on the credit card you choose, you may receive extra benefits and free insurancee. For example, you might be insured against your purchases being damaged or stolen, or you may receive travel cancellation insurance.

Debit or credit?

One useful tip for when you are abroad is that credit card companies often also issue payment cards, or debit cards. Because there are such things as Visa and Mastercard debit cards, however, in some countries (such as the US) you will be asked "Debit or credit?" when you use your credit card to make a purchase. When people ask that question, they are really asking if you want to pay using a credit card or a debit card. You should always answer 'credit'.

The unique features of your debit card

  • Your payments leave your account straight away.
  • Your card is linked to one of your current accounts.
  • You can normally only make payments and withdraw money in Europe.
    Look out for the Bancontact or Maestro logos. What if you want to make payments worldwide? Click here to find out what you need to do.
  • It's cheaper to withdraw money from an ATM in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe with a debit card than with a credit card. It's also better to use your debit card for small withdrawals in countries outside Europe.
  • You can  personalise your card with a cool photo.
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