Why Debit Cards Have a Limit And How Can You Increase It?

Article Summary:

Debit cards offer a convenient way to access cash and make regular purchases. However, most financial institutions impose daily spending limits on debit cards to protect your account from fraud. This safety measure means that if you attempt to spend an amount greater than your daily limit, the transaction could be denied. Thankfully, you can temporarily or permanently increase your debit card limit by contacting your bank.

Maybe this has happened to you before. You’re standing at the register, ready to buy a big-ticket item — like a flat-screen TV — when suddenly your card is declined in front of a whole line of people. You know you have the money in your account, so why is your transaction declined?

Even if you have the money in your account, you could have a declined transaction because of your debit card’s spending limit. To avoid this situation, it’s important to know what your debit card’s daily spending limit is before making any large purchases. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about debit card limits, how to increase them, and ways to manage your debit card responsibly.

Why are there debit card limits?

Most debit cards have daily spending limits ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. While this may seem like an inconvenience, there’s actually a good reason for having these limits in place: They help prevent fraud and theft. For example, if someone steals your debit card and tries to make a large purchase, the transaction will be declined if they reach the daily spending limit.

Apart from security reasons, debit card limits can also keep you from overspending. Limiting the amount of money that can be accessed each day makes you less likely to make impulsive purchases you can’t afford.

Pro Tip

Make sure you don’t confuse your daily debit purchase limits with your daily ATM withdrawal limits, as these can be separate limits that don’t impact each other. For instance, you may have a daily debit purchase limit of $5,000 and a daily ATM withdrawal limit of $500.

However, some institutions include ATM withdrawals in your daily debit purchase limit. To avoid overspending, carefully review your institution’s policies and spending limits.

Debit card limits at major banks

Here are the debit card purchase limits and ATM withdrawal limits at some of the major financial institutions.

Financial institutionDebit purchase limitATM withdrawal limit
Ally Bank$5,000$1,000
Bank of America$1,000 to $5,000$1,000
Chase$3,000 to $7,500$500 to $3,000
Citibank$5,000 to $10,000$1,500 to $2,000
Capital One*$5,000$600 to $1,000
Discover Bank$5,000$510
HSBC$3,000 to $5,000$500 to $1,000
Huntington National Bank$400$400
KeyBank$2,500$1,500
PNC Bank$100 to $9,500$100 to $1,500
Regions Bank$808$5,000
Santander$2,500 to $11,500$1,000 to $2,500
Truist$25,000$3,000
TD Bank$5,000$750
US Bank$10,000$500
USAA$3,000$600
Wells Fargo$600 to $10,000$300 to $1,010
*Limit includes ATM withdrawals.

IMPORTANT! Your daily debit card spending limits can vary depending on your account type and financial history. So even if your institution is listed above, you should still contact them directly to figure out what your exact daily limit is.

How to increase debt card limit amounts

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to spend more money than your debit card’s daily limit allows, don’t worry — you can usually request an increase from your bank.

  1. Find your limit. Unlike credit card limits, which are usually located in your mobile banking app or bank statement, your daily debit purchase limit may be harder to find. Some ways to figure out your debit card limit include calling your financial institution, reading the account agreement, or visiting a physical branch in your area.
  2. Ask to raise your limit. Once you learn what your current limit is, call your bank and ask to raise your debit card limit. You may also have to explain why you want to increase the limit. They’ll likely ask you a few questions to verify your identity and then increase the limit on your card.
  3. Decide how long the limit will stay raised. Most financial institutions are willing to either temporarily or permanently raise your spending limit, depending on your needs. Since daily debit purchase limits are imposed for security reasons, to limit your exposure to fraud, consider asking the bank to only temporarily raise your limit instead of permanently.

Before hanging up, be sure to ask about when the limit raise will take effect. This way, you’ll know when to make your purchase without getting your card declined.

Related reading: Though you can only withdraw from savings accounts six times per month, there aren’t any limits on the amount of money you can take out. To learn more, check out our article on withdrawal limits for your savings account and money market account.

Tips for using debit cards

Debit cards are a handy alternative to cash and checks. Here are a few tips to help you use your debit card responsibly and avoid any headaches down the road.

  1. Know your cash withdrawal limit. Most banks set ATM withdrawal limits so that you can only withdraw cash up to a certain amount each day. Know this daily ATM withdrawal limit and plan accordingly so you don’t find yourself stranded without cash.
  2. Keep tabs on your account balance. Many banks offer mobile apps that make it easy to check your balance before making a purchase. Make sure to check your account balance regularly to avoid hefty overdraft fees if you accidentally spend more than what’s in your account.
  3. Notify the card issuer of travel plans. If you plan to use your debit card while traveling, it’s a good idea to let your bank know beforehand. Tell them where you’ll be traveling and the dates you’ll be gone so they won’t flag your account for suspicious activity if they see charges from unfamiliar locations.
  4. Don’t share your PIN. Never write your PIN on your card or anywhere else where it could be easily found. Also, don’t share your PIN with anyone, not even your close friends. If you think your PIN has been compromised, contact your bank and change it immediately.
  5. Consider prepaid debit cards. If you have trouble sticking to a budget, consider using a prepaid debit card instead of a traditional debit card that’s linked to your checking account. That way, you can load only the amount of money you want to spend onto the card.

If you have trouble overspending, a prepaid debit card may be best for your spending habits. Take a look at some of the cards below to compare your options.

FAQs

Can you buy a car with your debit card?

Technically, it’s possible to buy a car with a debit card. However, most dealerships refuse to accept debit card payments because of the high swipe fees. These fees can reduce the dealership’s net profit on a sale, making it unprofitable to accept debit card payments.

Plus, debit card payments are riskier than other forms of payment since fraudsters can dispute the charges after the fact.

How do you fix a declined debit card?

If your debit card was declined, you should first check that you’ve entered your card information correctly. If everything looks right, then check if you have enough money in the checking account that’s linked to the debit card. Also, ensure you aren’t exceeding your debit card spending limit and that your card hasn’t expired.

If there’s still a problem, contact the institution you bank with, and they should be able to help you sort it out. In the meantime, try using a different payment method.

Will a debit card be declined for insufficient funds?

Yes. With debit card transactions, the funds are withdrawn from checking accounts. In other words, your card will be declined if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the purchase cost.

Unlike credit cards, which allow you to borrow money up to a certain limit, you can only spend what you have in your checking account. So even though debit cards can prevent you from overspending, you need to be mindful of your account balance to avoid having your card declined.

Can a bank deny you access to your money?

Yes, though uncommon, your financial institution can deny you access to your money. There are three common reasons why an institution can freeze your bank account:

  1. Suspicious or illegal activity. If the bank sees something in your transactions that raises a red flag, they may decide to freeze your account until they can investigate further.
  2. You owe creditors money. Once a creditor gets a judgment against you in court, they can ask the bank to freeze your account to satisfy your obligations.
  3. You owe the government money. Unpaid student loans or taxes can lead to a tax levy, which allows the government to seize funds from your bank account to satisfy the debt.

Do I need to notify my bank when making a large purchase on a debit card?

Yes. When it comes to making large purchases with your debit card, it’s always a good idea to notify your bank in advance. This way, they can ensure that the transaction goes through without any issues.

Because debit cards have daily limits on how much you can spend, your card may be declined if your purchase exceeds this limit. You can avoid any potential problems or delays by notifying your bank ahead of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Most debit cards have daily spending limits in place to help prevent fraud and theft.
  • Debit card limits can also keep you from overspending by limiting the amount of money accessed daily.
  • If you need to spend more money than your debit card’s daily limit allows, most financial institutions are willing to either temporarily or permanently raise your spending limit.
  • To use your debit card responsibly, know your cash withdrawal limit, check your account balance regularly, keep your PIN safe, and notify the card issuer of any travel plans.
View Article Sources
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  2. Debit Cards Frequently Asked Questions — Washington State Department of Financial Institutions
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  5. Can You Get a Debit Card with a Savings Account? — SuperMoney
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  8. How Much Cash Should I Have On Hand? — SuperMoney
  9. How to Budget Money on a Low Income — SuperMoney
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  11. How Can I Withdraw Cash Without an ATM Card? — SuperMoney
  12. Do Savings Accounts Have Withdrawal Limits? — SuperMoney
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  14. Best Prepaid Cards — SuperMoney