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A bank card is a card issued by a bank and linked with a particular person's bank account. Bank cards are plastic with magnetized strips just like credit cards, but they work differently from credit cards, as they are linked to actual funds on deposit, rather than a line of credit. There are a number of different types of bank card in use, ranging from cards which can only be used to access someone's account through an automatic teller machine to cards which are used just like credit cards for purchases. Depending on the bank that someone uses, he or she may be offered several choices of bank card when opening an account.
Many credit unions and savings banks issue bank cards for identification. These cards can typically only be used inside the bank itself, or in automatic teller machines to access cash and account information. Depending on the type of card, customers may be able to use it for purchases, treating it like a debit card, or they may not be able to use their bank cards in this way.
Some banks issue debit cards, bank cards which can be used for purchases anywhere that a debit card will be accepted. A debit card directly debits funds from the user's account, acting like a check, except that it is instantaneous. In order to use a bank card as a debit card, a personal identity number must be entered. Not all businesses support debit cards; their ability to accept such cards depends on the merchant agreement they have with the company who supplies their credit and bank card terminals.
More commonly, bank cards can be used as debit or credit cards, depending on the desire of the account holder. This terminology is a bit misleading, as a bank card does not come with a line of credit. Rather, a bank card branded with a particular credit company such as Visa is merely treated like one by merchants, allowing people to make online purchases with their bank cards and to use their bank cards in stores which do not allow the use of debit cards.
In some cases, a bank will issue what is known as a secured credit card. Some people use secured credit cards to build their credit records. In this instance, the bank card is treated as a credit card, except that the line of credit is linked to the balance of someone's bank account. Since bank cards which also act as debit cards typically have daily transaction limits, a secured credit card can be a happy medium between a bank card and a credit card.