There are several ways to use your debit card without a PIN, but you typically can’t withdraw cash. However, the good news is there are at least two ways to get around the PIN requirement if you are willing to get a little creative.
There are two main types of chip credit card technology: Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN. Chip-and-PIN requires a four-digit pin for transactions, while Chip-and-Signature only requires a signature to verify transactions. Debit card transactions use Chip-and-PIN technology but they can also use Chip-and-Signature if you run them as a credit card (but not for cash).
What happens if you forget (or don’t have) a PIN number for your debit card?
Without a PIN you will not be able to use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM (or at a store). It’s just how the technology works. Does it mean you won’t be able to use your debit card if you forget your PIN? No, you can still use it, but it will be much harder to get cash. However, you can use your debit card if you run the transaction as if it were a credit card. Also, smaller purchases (under $25) typically do not require a pin.
Unfortunately, you cannot use cards to withdraw cash from an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) or get cashback at a store without a pin. So, what are your options?
How to get money from your debit Card Without Pin
You can’t get cash from a debit card using an ATM or at a store without your PIN. However, there are some workarounds to consider. Here are five options:
- Use your debit card as a credit card.
- Withdraw cash from your bank using a bank teller (AMTs will not work).
- Buy a money order.
- Cardless-enabled ATMs.
- Pinless debt card transactions.
Use your debit card as a credit card (without a pin)
As we mentioned above, debit cards use Chip-and-PIN in the U.S, and credit cards use Chip-and-Signature. However, debit cards can also be used without the PIN if you select the credit option and run it as a credit card when purchasing at a store or online.
Here is how it works. Even though you are paying with your debit card, select “credit.” This will bypass the store assistant, site, or pump from asking you for your PIN.
A card can either use a Chip-and-Signature or a Chip-and-PIN, or even both. These verification modes help financial systems confirm the account holder is using the card and not a hacker or fraudster. If you run your debit card as a credit card, your debit card will switch from Chip-and-PIN to Chip-and-Signature to verify your transaction. If you are making a purchase at a point-of-sale that doesn’t support signatures, such as online or at a gas station without a touchscreen, the transaction will run as if it were a credit card.
The advantage of this transaction method is that it provides you with some level of protection against fraudulent charges since you sign your purchase yourself and you lower the risk of your PIN falling in the wrong hands. Furthermore, you can report any suspicious transactions on your account with your bank before it clears.
On the other hand, using your debit card as a credit card can be disadvantageous to the merchant. For instance, the merchant gets charged higher fees.
Visit your bank branch and withdraw cash
One of the easiest ways to withdraw cash from a debit card is to visit a branch of your bank or credit union and request a withdrawal. The teller will request your PIN number, but they can generally find a way to work around it if you explain you don’t have the PIN and have an alternative way to provide your identity. Ask the teller for help and give them your card and a government-issued photo ID.
Buy money orders with a debit card
Another way to bypass the PIN requirement is to purchase a money order from a company like Western Union or MoneyGram. Note that not all companies will accept debit cards for these transactions, but it’s worth a shot. Alternatively, using an app such as Venmo, PayPal or Cash App can also help you pay people and businesses when you don’t know your card’s PIN. Those services often charge a fee, but the transaction may be processed as a regular card payment rather than a cash advance.
Some banks are now offering cardless ATMs to their customers. This makes accessing your cash even easier. Here’s how it works. The cardless ATM generates a QR code and displays it on the screen. You can then use your mobile banking app to scan the code for identity verification. Once your identity is verified, you can withdraw your cash or make any other ATM transaction you need. Unfortunately, this option only works if you have a bank that offers this service. This method may also require you to set up the service online or at a local branch.
PIN-less debit transactions
Although rarely used, it is possible to use a debit card without a PIN or running it as a credit card. This is called a PIN-less debit transaction. This method is restricted to a small range of merchants within certain industries that work with repeat customers who have been previously vetted, such as utilities, government agencies, education providers, insurance providers, and mortgage companies.
Frequently asked questions about debit cards and PINs
How can I check my debit card balance without a PIN?
Whenever you make purchases with your debit card, it’s typical you’d like to know what your remaining balance is to prevent you from unforeseen situations. You may want to know this after processing your debit card as credit also. Regular inspection also helps you notice any fraudulent activities going on with your account so that you can get ahead of the situation and immediately report any red flags.
Several options let you know how to check your debit card balance without a pin. You can achieve this by:
- Checking your balance online: Online banking is already here! The digital age has made life easier for many. Now you can transact and monitor your dealings online. With internet banking, you can check your debit card balance without a pin. All you need to do is log in using your online credentials to access your account information. You can also pay bills, transfer money, and achieve much more.
- Using a Mobile App: These days, most, if not all banks, have apps that anyone with a smartphone can access. Your bank’s app lets you check your account balance online using your smartphone or tablet and lets you deposit checks via the app!
- Set up alerts: Whenever transactions are made on your account, you would get a notification of your remaining balance. Some may find it tiring logging in to check their debit card balance after every purchase. Setting automatic text or email alerts is the best way to know the difference when something happens to your account. For example, you can sign up to receive alerts when there is a sizable withdrawal or when someone uses your card to buy something in-store or online. It also safeguards your debit card by helping you detect fraudulent activities on your card to get ahead of the situation in time.
- Talk to a teller: If you have time to visit your nearest bank branch, visiting your local branch and asking a teller to print your bank statement is a good analog option. However, keep in mind that it’s time-consuming, and some banks may charge a fee. You are better off with our self-service banking options listed above.
Can you get cashback at a store without your PIN?
As discussed earlier, retailers will allow you to process your debit card as a credit card to pay for your purchase. However, you would still need to provide the PIN to add cashback to the transaction. Retailers play by the same rules.
Can I use my debit card without a pin?
Yes, you can use your debit card without a PIN. However, you will not be able to withdraw cash from an ATM or store without your PIN. There are ways to work around this limitation. See the tips above for more details.
How can I use my debit card without a pin?
You can run it as a credit card transaction. For more details on the pros and cons of doing this and how it works, check the step-by-step guide above.
Can you use a debit card online without a PIN?
When shopping online, you won’t need a pin. Online transactions these days have made life much easier for the average person, not only because it is convenient, but it’s also pretty time-conserving. Making transactions online with your debit card is another innovative method of using your debit card without a pin or via your bank’s mobile app. Online payment gateways show a general card option instead of a debit or credit card.
To complete an online purchase, you will only have to enter your debit card number, the expiration date, and CVV. The CVV is, as usual, a three or four-digit card number on the back of the card. American Express is the only card that uses a four-digit CVV code. Their CVV code is on the front right side of the card.
Then again, such convenience comes with a high risk of fraud. We discussed earlier the rate at which cybercrime increased in the past year, with more people making purchases online. If you, unfortunately, fall victim to identity theft or your debit card gets stolen, fraudsters can make purchases with it.
For a more secure option, consider linking your credit or debit card to an online payment platform like PayPal. Then you can shop online via your PayPal account.
Alternatively, you can also make purchases via your bank’s mobile app. Once you log in, you can access your account details and shop online from your debit card account without the pin.
How to use a debit card at a restaurant without a PIN?
Making payments at a restaurant is similar to making payments at a retail store. Using your debit card with point-of-sale (POS) machines requires the swipe-and-pin verification method. However, you can choose to swipe-and-sign instead. If you select the swipe-and-PIN option, your payment will process as a debit transaction. The bank will draw the money from your account faster to settle the bill, usually by the end of the day. This option is particularly beneficial to the merchant because they pay less in transaction fees when choosing that option for your purchases. Some restaurants prefer if customers only pay with cash to improve their margins.
You can bypass the PIN requirement by running it as a credit payment. This option will usually mean the merchant has to pay a higher fee to process the payment.
How to use debit cards at a gas pump without a PIN?
The same payment procedure used in restaurants and retail malls applies to gas stations as well. All you have to do is insert your card into the card reading machine, and when prompted to enter your pin, skip that verification option by hitting the “Green” button. This option will make the device operate your debit card as credit, and you are good to go! Afterward, sign the receipt to approve the payment.
Note that when you use a credit or debit card to purchase gas, there is an authorization hold placed on the card. This means you authorize the merchant to process an electronic transaction of a specified amount (usually more than the expected transaction amount) and hold this balance until the transaction clears. To illustrate, a gas station can put a $50 hold when processing a card even if you only buy $20 of gas. The $50 hold will stay on your card until the purchase clears, which can take two to three days.
How to protect yourself from PINless debit card fraud
PINless debit card fraudulent transactions can occur if your card gets stolen or someone copies your credit card details.
Although a thief can’t withdraw cash or get cashback at a store without the pin, they can still go on a shopping spree with it. This act is dangerous because they can rack up charges on your card by making unauthorized purchases online and at brick-and-mortar stores. Remember that a debit card links to your checking account and draws money from your account to pay for the purchase. That means your account can dry up in no time. PINless debit card fraud can be dangerous.
How can you detect and prevent fraud? Below are five ways to protect yourself from PINless debit card fraud:
- Track your balance daily: Earlier in the article, we discussed setting up alerts for checking your account balance. Sign up for online banking or get your bank’s mobile app. You can check your balance at any time and see all the recent transactions. It makes it easier to detect any fraudulent activities on your account. Call your bank right away if you notice any red flags.
- Set message and email alerts: Sign up for banking alerts so that your bank can send you an email or text notification whenever a purchase or withdrawal hits a specific limit on your account.
- Link your card to a payment platform: Instead of giving your credit card details to every merchant online, link your card to a payment platform like PayPal; it adds an extra layer of security. The only message the merchant will see is your PayPal email.
- Use a credit card instead: Credit cards do not draw money from your bank account. A benefit of credit card issuers is that they offer better protection against fraud. You can initiate a chargeback for any fraudulent transactions before you pay off the monthly loan. The issuer will act at once to settle the dispute because they want you to pay their due money.
- Have separate accounts: You will be out of money in no time if your checking account becomes vulnerable. To avoid this, have a different account with most of your money. Transfer money into your debit card account just before you need it. If someone steals your card for fraudulent spending, you will still have some cash to meet your financial obligations as your bank or credit union pursues the matter.
- Steer clear of scam websites: Avoid phishing websites run by con artists that resemble your bank’s official sites. They plan to steal your debit card data and try to access your account to steal your money. Visit your financial websites by typing in the web address and not through an email or text sent to you.
- Avoid financial proceedings on public networks: When performing online or mobile banking, make sure you use a secured network. Avoid transacting on unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi. We’d suggest using a VPN to hide your financial information and location. A VPN creates anonymity, just like when watching Netflix in another country.
If you forget your debit card pin, don’t panic. You can still use a debit card without a pin. Here are some options.
- Use it to make purchases as a credit card.
- Withdraw cash from your bank using a bank teller (AMTs will not work).
- Withdraw cash from a cardless-ATM using a bank app and your phone.
- Buy a money order with your debit card.
Ife Riamah is a personal finance writer that specializes in taking topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them fun and easy to understand.