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5 Tips to Use Your Debit Card Like a Pro

Whether you’ve just been given your first debit card or you’ve been using one for a couple of years now, we’ve got some tips to help you avoid extra fees, keep your money safe, and stay on top of how much you’re spending – so you’ve always got enough in the bank when you want to use your card.

  • Use RBC ATMs

    If you’re an RBC customer and need some cash, you can withdraw the money you need for free at any RBC ATM (as long as you’re sticking to the transaction limit that comes with your account). If you use another bank’s ATM, you’ll get charged an additional fee, usually ranging from $3 to $5. While it might not seem like a lot, those extra few dollars can snowball pretty fast if you make it a habit. And watch out for no-name ATMs you find at some restaurants and convenience stores – they may charge even more!

    With more than 4,200 ATMs across Canada and easy ways to find one close to you (see point #5), an RBC ATM likely isn’t too far out of your way.

  • Get Cash Back

    OK, so sometimes you’re just not going to be close to an RBC ATM. We get that. But instead of visiting another bank’s machine and getting charged a fee, you can ask for cash back at bigger stores (like grocery stores, big box shops and some clothing stores). When you pay with your debit card, just ask for cash back before finishing up your purchase. Not only do you avoid the transaction fee, but the withdrawal doesn't count toward your monthly debits.

  • Keep track of your transactions

    If you’ve got a student bank account that has a set number of free transactions each month, you’re probably getting a great deal on your account and saving money on a monthly fee.

    Want to keep those savings alive? First, understand what transactions count toward your limit – for example, e-Transfers don’t count (they’re always unlimited), and anytime you tap to pay you’re not using up one of your transactions.

    Second, make sure you stay within the limit for those transactions that do count, since extras will come with an extra cost. Try to keep tabs on your debit card purchases (mobile and online banking are great for that), get cash back when you can, and plan out your withdrawals so you’re not hitting the ATM every day.

  • Protect your card and PIN

    This is a big one – and we go into protecting yourself in more detail here, if you’d like to dig a bit deeper on this. But as a starting point, here are a few pointers. Don’t tell your PIN to anyone – not even your friends. It’s even OK to keep it from your parents. Don’t write it down or put it in your phone, and don’t ask your friends to get cash for you by giving them your card and PIN. You lose control over your card – and the money it can access – pretty quickly that way.

  • Use mobile banking

    With mobile banking, you can easily keep track of your balance, the number of transactions you’ve made, and where you’ve been spending your money, so you can always feel confident that you’ve got cash on hand when you go to use your debit card. You can also use it to find the closest RBC branches and ATMs so you can avoid feeling stuck if an RBC ATM isn’t in plain sight. Chances are, there’s one around the corner.

Using a debit card gives you freedom and flexibility – no more asking your parents every time you need cash! But it also comes with some new responsibilities. Keep these tips in mind and you should be ready to use your card with confidence.