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Debit cards are convenient money management tools, that allow you to access your funds and are safer and easier to carry than cash. Unlike credit cards, a debit card is linked to the funds in your checking account, which means you're only able to spend what you have. However, you may need to increase debit card limit amounts to make certain purchases.

Credit card purchase approvals depend on how much available credit you have. But debit cards work a bit differently. With a debit card, there is no credit limit as long as the purchase does not exceed the available balance in your linked checking or savings account. That is unless you try to make an unusually large purchase that exceeds your daily or per transaction spending limit, and the transaction is denied regardless of your bank balance.

Built-in Protection to Safeguard Your Money

You're likely familiar with a common debit card limit from withdrawing cash at an ATM. Many checking and savings accounts impose a daily limit, anywhere from $300 to $1,500 or more on ATM cash withdrawals. There are two main reasons behind ATM withdrawal limits. One is practical: an ATM can only hold so much cash, so a daily limit keeps a machine stocked with cash longer. The other is security: a lower limit contains the damage that a thief can inflict with a stolen card and PIN.

Banks impose debit card purchase limits — often $2,000 to $7,000 per day — for similar reasons. Imagine if a thief stole your debit card and used it to make a substantial fraudulent purchase. Your checking account would be debited this large amount, further affecting your finances. If the thief stole your credit card instead, you'd have an easier time dealing with the card issuer to battle the fraud. While your available credit would be affected, your cash would not. If you're not sure what the exact limit on your card is, you can always call your bank and ask. Or, alternatively, refer to the fine print in the initial offer or in your account details.

How to Increase Debit Card Limit Amounts for Larger Purchases

If you foresee a need to make a large debit card purchase, make sure you know your bank's daily and per-transaction limit policy. Once you know whether or not the transaction will be restricted, reach out to your bank and discuss the planned purchase. Many banks will increase debit card limit amounts if asked, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Since this protective measure can help limit exposure during theft or fraud, it may be a good idea to raise your threshold temporarily.

Some banks offer debit cards with higher limits for those who anticipate regular large purchases and offer fraud protection similar to those offered by credit card issuers. Whatever your needs, make sure you know your limits and speak to your bank before risking a declined transaction.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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