How exactly do I pay with a debit card from my bank?

My mom told me that I should never have to enter my pin when using debit card, but I did today at WalMart. Did I screw up?

Is there any general knowledge I should know about this thing?

  • Just a heads up for future readers though, this would depend on the card providers, which are generally the same per country. I assume you're from the US, but in Australia, purchases under $100 with debit cards normally don't need PINs.
    – Zaenille
    Aug 20, 2014 at 2:46
  • I also assume the US. In many countries both credit and debit cards use PINs. Aug 20, 2014 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


Debit cards will often use a swipe, chip or tap along with a PIN to take the money out of your bank account. There is data in the stripe or chip as well as some form of ID required.

I suspect your mom meant "Credit Cards." From Wikipedia

For example, if you swipe a debit card at Wal-Mart or Ross in the U.S., you are immediately presented with the PIN screen for online debit; to use offline debit you must press "cancel" to exit the PIN screen, then press "credit" on the next screen.

  • Ahh, maybe I misheard or she said something wrong. Thanks
    – user19092
    Aug 19, 2014 at 21:57

The debit card can be used either under signature mode or pin mode.

Many people are confused about the difference between Credit and Debit when paying with their debit cards. The answer is simple:


When you choose the "credit" option, it is processed through the Mastercard® network and you will receive a signed receipt at the end of the transaction.


When you choose the "debit" option, it is processed through the ATM network. You will be asked to enter a personal identification number (PIN) to complete the transaction. This is the perfect option if you need cash back.

Which should you select?

Foothill highly recommends that you select "credit" whenever possible. With no PIN required for "credit" transactions, you can reduce the possibility of someone learning your Personal Identification Number. In addition, by choosing "credit", you are protected under Mastercard's Zero Liability guarantee. Under Mastercard's Zero Liability guarantee, you won't be held responsible for fraudulent charges made with your card.

  • Do I need my bank's approval to use it as credit? Is the credit automatically withdrawn then? What if my signature sucks?
    – user19092
    Aug 20, 2014 at 5:19
  • @user19092 In practical terms, in the US, nobody verifies the signature matches, and typically it comes out of the account a few days later than debit would due to differences in the system, but it will eventually be subtracted from your balance in the same way as debit. Check with your bank to make sure though. If you have a credit card logo on your debit card, it'll probably work just fine as credit. Aug 20, 2014 at 15:16

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