Maestro is a debit card product by Mastercard. So far I have only seen or heard of cards which are one of the following:

  • Linked to a checking account at the same bank that issued the card
  • Linked to an arbitrary checking account which the card owner can choose and change (decoupled debit card)
  • prepaid cards

In all three cases there is a balance against which any transaction that is made with the card will be charged immediately. The only form of credit that could be involved here would be an overdraft credit which has been granted to the underlying bank account (as it is quite common in German checking accounts for example). But that credit would not be a feature of the card itself but the account that it is linked to.

The Santander CleverCard [German] however, is not linked to a specific bank account but still offers a credit line. The card balance can be paid back in monthly installments exactly as with a regular credit card.

Why would a bank issue a debit card that works like a credit card? Only reason I can think of is that debit cards do not have some features of a normal credit cards like chargeback rules or added insurances and also have a different set of processing rules which probably makes them cheaper to issue and definetly cheaper to accept for merchants. But does Mastercard not have regulations that require cards using the Maestro brand to be debit-only? If not, why are there not more of such offers?

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