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Can I use a Debit Card for PayPal?

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Question: I often buy things online with PayPal. Can I use a debit card for PayPal purchases?

Answer: yes, you can use a debit card on PayPal. However, it might be an extra and unnecessary step: PayPal wants you to link your bank account anyway (and sometimes it’s cheaper to use PayPal this way), and a debit card pulls funds from the same place – your bank account.

In order to use a debit card for PayPal transactions, you’ll need a real debit card: one with a billing address that matches your home address, and one that has a 3 or 4 digit security code on the back. You can’t use prepaid debit cards or other temporary types of debit cards.

If you’re making purchases, there’s nothing wrong with using your debit card on PayPal. In fact, it's safer to use PayPal than it is to use your debit card for direct online purchases (because the seller, and any hackers in between you and the seller, won't have access to your debit card number). However, PayPal charges a fee if you’re just sending money to somebody (a friend you owe a few bucks to, for example). There is no charge to transfer money if you just use your bank account though.

Note that PayPal only allows a debit card to be linked to one PayPal account. If you and your spouse share a card and your spouse has linked the card already, you can’t use that debit card on your own PayPal account.

To use your debit card to PayPal, you’ll need to add it to your Profile. To get there, click on “My PayPal” or “My Account.” Next, find the “Profile” section and look for “Update Card” (possibly under “My Money”). Finally, click the “Add a Card” button. You can enter debit card information as if it was a credit card.

For more information, see:

Many debit cards offer consumer protection, which can help when sellers fail to deliver goods that you've paid for. However, the money still comes out of your checking account, and it might be a while before you get it back. If you want maximum protection, use a credit card instead of a debit card (and pay the card off every month, of course).

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