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Virtual Debit Card or Physical Debit Card? Which One is Best for You

Debit cards have made transactions seamless. With a debit card, you no longer have to visit the bank to withdraw cash or take a pile of banknotes when you go shopping. Earlier all debit cards were physical debit cards but keeping in mind the changing times, banks have introduced virtual debit cards to their customers.

While the essence of the physical debit card and virtual debit card are similar, there are hosts of differences between the two types of debit cards. In this article, we will try to understand the differences between a virtual and physical debit card and how you can make the best of it.

Read: Your Debit Card Is Now Safer

What is a virtual debit card?

A virtual debit card is a soft copy or online version of a physical debit card. Just like a physical debit card, the virtual debit card comes with a card number, validity and CVV. We can find the card number in the front image of the card. To access your CVV number, flip the image of the debit card and click on the ‘Show CVV’.

As virtual debit card remains inside your mobile banking app, there are negligible chances of debit card misuse. With the virtual debit card, you don’t have to worry about losing your debit card. You can purchase things online, pay bills online, and carry out any online transactions through your virtual debit card.     

Banks offer a virtual debit card to their customers free of cost. This makes it a cheap payment option for individuals who carry out online transactions. 

What is a physical debit card? 

A physical debit card is a regular debit card offered by banks to their customers. Customers can withdraw cash from ATMs, carry out transactions at point-of-sale (PoS) terminals and online transactions.

Customers have to key in the card number, the validity of the card and CVV number to process any online transactions. In case of offline transactions, cardholders need to key in their PIN to carry out the transactions.

Differences between Virtual and Physical debit card


Virtual debit cards are more secure than physical debit cards. It is because a virtual debit card remains within the mobile banking app. To access the virtual debit card, one needs to open their bank app with their login details. This makes it almost impossible for fraudsters to access your debit card. You don’t have to worry about losing your virtual debit card. Unless you lose your phone!

Physical debit cards are prone to theft and misplacing it. With the increase in fraudulent activity, hackers have become expert in cloning physical debit cards. Hence, it is important to take necessary measures such as checking for any suspicious elements around the ATM.

Cost or Annual Fees 

Most virtual debit cards are free and don’t have any annual fees. As a virtual debit card is an online avatar of the physical debit card, it is cheaper for banks to manage virtual cards.

Physical debit cards carry an annual maintenance fee. The annual fee is debited directly from the customer’s account.  

Cash Withdrawal 

While online transactions are gaining traction in our country. Cash is still preferred and widely accepted as a means of transaction. Physical debit cardholders can withdraw cash from ATMs. You need a physical card if you carry out multiple cash transactions.

Transactions at PoS Terminals

If you frequent shopping malls or supermarkets and don’t want to carry cash, you can opt for a physical debit card. Physical debit cards make shopping a cakewalk. You just have to add your PIN on the PoS terminal to complete the transaction.


Virtual and physical debit cards have their pros and cons. If you carry out most of your transactions online and afraid of losing your debit card, a virtual debit card will be a good option for you. However, if you deal with cash and shopping malls are like your second home, applying for a physical debit card will be a better option.


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