What's the difference between your debit card and your credit card?

What's the difference between your debit card and your credit card?

A debit card is not the same as a credit card. To start with, your credit card looks different because it's embossed and the way it works is different too. We've briefly set out the differences below.

The unique features of your credit card

Het verschil tussen je bankkaart en je kredietkaart uitgelegd.
  • What you spend is not debited from your account right away.
    • You can either repay the full amount of your purchases in one go each month.
    • Or you can spread the amount over a number of months.
  • You can withdraw cash and make payments all over the world. Most banks, however, block the use of credit cards in the United States. Find out how to activate your credit card for use in the US.
  • You agree with your bank how much you're allowed to spend on your credit card each month. This monthly limit depends on your financial capacity.
  • Withdrawing cash with your credit card costs money, even in Belgium. It is only when you make large withdrawals outside Europe that it is cheaper to use your credit card than your debit card.

Depending on the credit card you choose, you may get extra benefits and free insurance cover, including cover for purchases being damaged or stolen and travel cancellation insurance.

Debit or credit?

A useful tip for when you are abroad is that credit card companies also issue payment cards, or debit cards. However, because Visa and Mastercard debit cards exist in some countries (such as the US), you will be asked ‘Debit or credit?’ when you use your credit card to make a purchase. When people ask that question, they are really asking if you want to pay using a credit card or a debit card. You should always answer ‘credit’.

The unique features of your debit card

  • What you spend is debited from your account right away.
  • Your card is linked to one of your current accounts.
  • As standard, you can only make payments and withdraw cash in Europe where you see the Bancontact or Maestro logo.
  • If you want to make payments worldwide, check out what you need to do.
  • It's cheaper to withdraw money from an ATM in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe with a debit card than with a credit card. It's also better to use your debit card to make small cash withdrawals in countries outside Europe.
  • You can personalise your card with a neat photo.

Attention, borrowing money also costs money