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Send money to or from a debit card

A debit card is an extension of your bank account, enabling you to transfer money electronically from your account when making a purchase. You can use your debit card for various transactions including international money transfers. Debit cards can be used to transfer money directly or as a payment method with online money transfer services. While using your debit card abroad can be convenient in certain situations, it may not always be an ideal send money to debit card instantly. You may have to pay a higher cost in transfer and exchange fees than if you were using another payment method.

Updated: 29/09/2022
Read time: 9 minutes
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Pros and cons of debit cards for sending money

Debit cards are similar to credit cards but are linked to your checking or bank account. The money is immediately deducted from your bank account when you make a purchase or complete a transaction using your debit card. A credit card allows you to borrow money up to a specific limit on your card, which then needs to be re-paid before a particular time or interest is added to the amount you have spent.

There are several positives and negatives attached to using a debit card for sending money overseas; each will play a factor in whether a debit card is the best way to send money internationally for your needs:

International transfers cost less than they do with credit cards
There are no annual fees
They are useful for emergency transfers direct from a bank account
You could be eligible for rewards when using a debit card with your bank
They are a widely accepted payment method and often offer an instant transfer
You are not borrowing money so don't risk having to pay interest on transactions
Debit cards tend to have higher international transfer fees than other options
You are limited to bank and checking accounts
Funds are taken immediately out of your account – credit cards give you a little more time to pay back what you've borrowed

How to transfer money using your debit card

You can use several traditional methods to transfer money internationally with your debit card. For all of these, the essential pieces of information you will need are:

  • The permanent account number: the 16-digit number which appears on the front of your card
  • The card’s expiry date
  • The security number (CVV): the last three digits printed on the signature strip on the back of the card

Occasionally you will also need to provide the bank account number and sort code that corresponds to your bank account: these are usually printed on the front of the card. Sometimes, your money transfer provider may also ask for your SWIFT code. You will typically be able to find the codes needed by logging in to your online banking and viewing your account details.

When using your debit card to send money, you’ll need to enter these details along with the amount you want to send, where you want to send it, and in what currency you want it delivered. Then, after you hit pay, you could be re-directed to your bank’s security page to verify your payment; this is a standard security measure.

Using your debit card to send money abroad

The main advantage of using your debit card to send money internationally is that it gives you options that relate directly to your bank account at the time you send. Most major money transfer providers support debit card payments, including WorldRemit who are well-known for their commitment to low fees, simple transfers and near-instant transfer times. If you’re looking to send money to debit card instantly, they are a great option.

How to receive money using a debit card instantly

If you want to receive money directly to your bank account or instant transfer – with immediate access via your debit card – all you need to do is give the sender your account details. These usually include:

  • Your name as it appears on your card
  • Financial Institution number (3 digits)
  • Branch Transit Number (5 digits)
  • Your Account Number (7-12 digits)

When sending funds, the payee enters your account information, and the money will be transferred directly to you, allowing you to use your debit card to spend the money the instant it is cleared in your account. This makes debit card transfers one of the most convenient ways to send and receive money, one of the biggest reasons for their popularity.

Be wary of high transfer fees

If you are using your bank to send or receive money, it’s important to do the relevant research on fees you and the recipient/sender are likely to incur. Banks will often charge much higher fees than money transfer providers, so comparing these is a good idea if you are set on sending or receiving money via your debit card.

Can you send money to a debit card instantly?

While debit cards can be fast and convenient, the time it takes to send money abroad depends on several factors. Paying for your transfer with a debit card is undoubtedly faster than paying via check, cash, or bank draft. Most card transactions are processed instantly, but it might take up to 24 hours for the money to move out of your bank account. 

However, other factors determine how fast your money transfer is processed. Common factors to consider include: 

  • Location: How fast you can send your money depends on the countries between which you are sending. For example, popular transfer destinations such as Canada and the USA are much quicker than places like Kenya and India, where money transfers may be less common
  • Your transfer provider: Transfer speed also depends on the service you are using. It is a good idea to compare transfer times between service providers and choose the one that fits your needs. For example, you may find that one provider specializes in your chosen money transfer route more than its competitors. Remember, some of the faster transfer options may cost more, so weigh up cost vs. time when comparing your options. We’ve put together a list of top 10 money transfer companies to get you started
  • The withdrawal method: Finally, transfer speeds may also depend on how your recipient wants to receive the money. If you’re using your debit card to send money to another bank account, it might be slower than bypassing banks and sending it directly to them with the help of a money transfer service

Can you send large amounts with a debit card?

Sending larger amounts

Money transfer providers will have high transfer limits than banks, so this is definitely worth bearing in mind if you are looking to send large sums internationally.

When you send money using a debit card, the money comes directly out of your bank account, and, in theory, you could send the total available amount in your account. However, most debit cards have a daily spending limit which is the maximum amount of money you can send or withdraw in 24 hours. The amount varies from bank to bank and depends on the type of checking account you have.

Some debit cards will have a daily spending limit capped at $1,000, $2,000, or even as much as $5,000, but most will have an international transfer limit which is lower than this amount. Therefore, if your daily spending limit is $5,000, you might have a daily transfer limit of $1,000. You can find out your spending limit by checking on your bank’s website, reviewing the paperwork issued with your card or calling your bank branch. 

If you want to make a significant transfer with your debit card, you can also request to increase your spending limit temporarily. This may, however, take time and incur additional fees. For this reason, a money transfer service can be more convenient as most have much higher transfer limits. For example, most providers allow you to send up to $15,000 per day with bank transfers or $2,000 per day if you choose to fund the transfer with your debit card. 

Sending larger sums

If you are looking to move a large sum of money internationally, paying by debit card may not always be your best option. A specialist provider such as XE is better equipped to help you send larger amounts of money abroad safely, with less of a fee, but will recommend you use a bank transfer rather than a card payment.rrThis is definitely something to consider when you are looking to move a large sum of money beyond borders.

How much does it cost to send money internationally using a debit card?

International transfers using a debit card typically have more costs attached than other means of payment but will still cost less than using a credit card. 

Charges might include online transfer fees (charged by your bank or money transfer provider), an exchange rate margin, and possibly taxes. It’s hard to accurately estimate how much these will amount to because the fees and margins vary significantly between individual providers. Our comparison tool presents precise comparisons between providers in real-time for anyone transferring funds using a debit card.

The cost of sending money abroad using a debit card also depends on which country you send it to. Transfer routes between popular countries and business destinations may cost less than transferring money to a remote corner of the globe.

Unless it is an emergency, it is always a good idea to do your homework in advance. 

Research your options and compare the costs between different banks and service providers. One of the best ways to do this before you actually have to make the transfer, giving you ample time to cross-compare and find out where you’re getting the best rates. We’ve put together a list of key points to consider to help you find the cheapest way to send money abroad.

Remember, you should do your research every time you’re planning to send money abroad. Just because one provider was the cheapest option last time doesn’t mean this will still be the case.

Summary: Is sending money with a debit card the best option?

Unlike credit cards, the money you spend or send using a debit card is deducted directly from your bank account. While most banks do not charge any annual or service charges for debit cards, international transfers can have a lot of associated costs, such as online fees and exchange rate margins. Most debit cards also have a daily spending and international transfer limit, making them less than ideal for large transactions. Debit card spending maximums are set by your bank or debit card provider, and they can vary greatly. Some debit cards may have a daily transfer limit as low as $1,000 per day. 

Fortunately, digital money transfer services make international transfers much more straightforward and cheaper than traditional methods. These online providers specialize in facilitating international transfers and can often offer you a better deal than your bank when using your debit card to make a transaction. It takes minutes to register on their sites, and many offer mobile apps too. In addition, these specialist companies offer much more value, including free international transfers, cheaper currency exchange, significant transfer limits and real-time alerts.

When it comes to finding the best deal, our simple and easy-to-use comparison tool will help you find your best option in seconds, from established banks to new and innovative digital brands.  

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Max Adams
Written by
Max Adams

Max is a content specialist with over 5 years of experience in Financial Sectors. His areas of expertise include Finance, Forex, Asia and Economic Ideas. He has traveled well in his day and is committed to making our users understand international financial rules.

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