A debit card is a device that allows the cardholder (the person whose name is on the card) electronic access to his or her bank account (usually a checking account). Some of these cards are also of the prepaid variety (which means a value is stored on the card and deducted immediately, without need for a linked bank account). These cards are typically backed by one of the major credit card companies (Visa and MasterCard are the most common), which allows them to be used at any establishment where these brands of credit cards are accepted, and can be ran as credit in case the merchant is not equipped to accept debit cards (Which, in the case of Visa and MasterCard, is nearly everywhere).
Debit card use has become so widespread across the world that it has begun to phase out the use of paper checks, and even cash transactions, in some cases. In the beginning, several different systems were used for debit cards, which resulted in mass confusion and incompatibility across different countries and regions, but today the system has become standardized, so that consumers may use their debit cards with more confidence that they will be accepted.
Another major benefit of using debit cards is that they also allow for withdrawals of cash from the linked account (or prepaid balance) at ATM’s (though there may be a small service fee if the ATM in question does not belong to the issuing bank. Many stores also offer cashback options when using debit cards to pay for a purchase, saving the time and hassle of going to an ATM.