Debit cards are many peoples introduction into banking. I got my first debit card when I was 11, but realistically you can get one now even younger (my 7-year-old nephew recently got one).
With more than 1 billion debit cards in the world right now, they are one of the most common and convenient ways to pay for what you need. But before you can use the card you have to activate it.
If you don’t activate your debit card, you won’t be able to use it. However, you will still have to pay any associated fees and could be more likely to experience fraud.
While there isn’t a set time limit for activating your debit card you should aim to activate it as soon as possible (more on how to complete this process below).
An if you don’t plan on using the debit card at all (perhaps you’ve changed your mind) then you should contact the bank either by phone, online or in-person to let them know to avoid any problems arising (more on these potential problems below).
How To Activate Your Debit Card
The process of activating a debit card varies depending on the provider (Visa, Mastercard etc.) and the bank (Natwest, HSBC etc.)
When your debit card arrives in the mail it will include information on how to activate it. However, if you lose this letter you can find details about the process which is specific to your debit card online.
Simply Google: How to activate [bank name] debit card.
Look for a result from the issuing bank (i.e. if the debit card is by HSBC look for a search result from HSBC) and click through. This should direct you to a page with the multiple different activation processes that you can use.
Why You Should Activate Your Debit Card
It can be easy to simply leave your debit card in the draw if you have decided against it. However, there’s a number of reasons that not activating a card (or not cancelling it if it’s no longer something you want) is a bad idea.
If you plan to keep the card you’ll need to activate it prior to use you won’t make purchases both physically or online otherwise.
You’ll Still Be Responsible For Any Fees
If the debit card has any associated fees then these will still be payable even if the card has not been activated.
I find many people question “Why should I pay for a card I’ve never even used” however, you’ll have already signed to the agreement (fees included) when it was taken out.
As most of these cards include benefits such as travel insurance and gadget insurance and these covers and benefits begin when the debit card purchasing agreement is signed you are charged.
However, there can be even bigger consequences in this case. As if the balance on your account runs below zero without a pre-arranged overdraft then you’ll be charged an unarranged overdraft.
Unarranged overdrafts are often charged at £10 a day although they vary between banks.
If you went into an unarranged overdraft due to fees associated with an debit card on an account you’ve not checked on May 1st and these fees were £10 a day you’d owe the bank more than £300 at the end of the month.
All of this could happen without you even realising it if you have not activated your debit card and failed to regularly check the balance. This not only costs you a big chunk of cash but it also negatively impacts your credit rating.
An Increased Risk Of Missing Fraudulent Charges
If you haven’t activated the account and aren’t checking the statements online or when they are delivered in the post then you might not realise that money has been taken out of your account without your knowledge for weeks or even months.
At this point filing, a fraudulent claim can be difficult, and in the meantime, multiple other fraudulent activities could have taken place. Another reason why checking your bank account statements on a regular basis is incredibly important.
As a reminder even if you have activated your card you should call the bank if you believe the card has been lost or stolen. This will minimise the risk of any fraudulent transactions taking place.
Because It’ll Still Be On Your Credit File
Even if you don’t activate a debit card you’ve still opened the account with the bank. As a result, the account will still be on your credit file.
Opening multiple accounts in a short space of time or having a large amount of credit on your account which isn’t being utilized regularly can put off some lenders.
As a result your credit score will likely be reduced making it harder for you to finance future purchases. This is especially important if the debit card has an overdraft – the same applies to unused credit cards too.