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Debit card

I keep reading ATM debit cards will only draw funds from checking account. I am traveling to Poland soon and I only have a debit card for my savings account. Do I need to open a checking account? I know I used this card in Europe before with no problem. What's up?

Posted by
4546 posts

I suspect what they really mean is that ATMs will not give you a choice of the account from which to withdraw and will default to the primary account.

Most people have their checking account designated as the primary account on their debit cards.

Posted by
7205 posts

you must tell your bank to tie it to a specific least that has been the issue we've run into. Tell you bank to make your checking account the "default" or "primary". But if you've used the card in the past with no problem then it has obviously already been set up correctly and you don't need to do anything else.

Posted by
5301 posts

I think you first need to talk to your bank.

The standard arrangement is that you have a bank, you open a checking account and likely have a separate savings account linked to that account, if you have a debit card (may be administered by Visa or Mastercard) it is good for use at ATMs and most at Point of Sale (POS) terminals at stores. In this case the Checking account is Primary, if you run short, you may have an automatic transfer from savings, but often if no funds are in Checking, then no cash.

In your case, if you have only a savings account, there may be no issue (the account is still linked) but talk to your Bank, does your card work in Europe? Nobody here can answer that, your bank can. You do need to have access to some financial networks (Star, Cirrus, Plus, etc) It may also be that it does not work in some countries, you likely have a daily limit, you might have to notify them, plus a half dozen things not mentioned. Bottom line, talk to your bank first, make sure you talk to someone with some responsibility or knowledge.

Even then, I always travel with Debit cards on two different accounts, a good strategy for security and risk mitigation, so maybe opening a second account at another institution would not be a bad idea.

Posted by
333 posts

I opened a special checking account just for traveling and use those debit cards in Europe. I've not been to Poland, but in Russia and western Europe, savings did not show up on their ATMS. I agree with the others and talk to your bank. They'll want to know your travel info and dates anyway so they don't block your account for suspicious activity.

Posted by
31293 posts

An ATM (debit) card normally accesses your primary account. Based on what you've posted, it sounds like that is your savings account (and your only account?) so that should work. You can check with your bank for further information.

I find that it's a good idea to pack along a backup ATM card as well, in case of problems with the main card (I've had that happen). You might want to review your daily withdrawal limit with your bank prior to the trip.