Australian consumers are paying off their credit cards according to the latest Reserve Bank payment data. The average balance accruing interest on credit and charge card accounts has fallen to $1992. While the total annual spend on Australia's 16 million credit and charge cards rose 4.9 per cent to almost $300 million in June, the growth in debit card use has been spectacular. There are 42.9 million debit cards on issue in Australia. Total annual spend on debit cards rose 9.8 per cent to $238.7 billion in June. Apparently Australians are turning to debit cards to manage their spending and keep their debt in check.

What is a debit card?

A debit card withdraws money from your bank account when you make a purchase at a shop. There are two main types of debit card:

Eftpos card

Eftpos is an Australian payment system owned by the banks. By selecting the savings or cheque button at the point of sale, shoppers can choose to have their purchase debiting directly from their transaction bank account by Eftpos. Eftpos is currently working on major improvements to allow Eftpos card holders to buy goods and services online.

Visa or Mastercard debit card

A Visa or Mastercard debit card (a 'scheme debit' card) is a card linked to your transaction banking account that works like a credit card except for one important detail. The money for purchases comes from your bank account, not a credit (debt) account. You can use Mastercard or Visa debit cards by selecting the credit button at the point of sale, or online just like a credit card.

How to get a debit card

Your bank account will offer you an Eftpos card. Many transaction banking accounts also offer Visa or Mastercard debit cards. If you don't have an account with a Visa or Mastercard debit card, compare accounts today at Infochoice. Infochoice lists all the major transaction account products from all the significant banks and credit unions in Australia. By clicking through on a product name, you can read all the detailed information about an account, including what type of debit card the account features. For example, the ANZ Access Advantage account features a Visa debit card that can be used anywhere in the world that Visa is accepted. Source: