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eftpos vs. Debit Card

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Last editedSept 20212 min read

In Australia, eftpos cards are often compared to debit cards. While there are plenty of similarities between these two payment methods, there are also a couple of important differences that it’s important to stay aware of. Find out everything you need to know about eftpos cards vs. debit cards with our helpful guide, right here.

What is EFTPOS?

Firstly, let’s get into the weeds with EFTPOS. Essentially, EFTPOS (which stands for ‘Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale’) is a payment method for goods and services. It’s essentially the payment system that enables you to use cards when you make payment, so if you’ve ever paid for shopping with a card, you’ve probably used EFTPOS. However, when people talk about eftpos, they’re also referencing a privately-run Australian debit card system – eftpos (lowercase).

What are debit cards?

Most of us are familiar with the concept of debit cards, but as a quick refresher, debit cards are payment cards that are linked to bank accounts. Unlike credit cards, which withdraw money from your agreed credit limit, debit card transactions withdraw money that is held in your current account.

Debit cards vs. eftpos cards

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of eftpos cards and debit cards, let’s take a look at Eftpos vs. debit cards in a little more detail.

Essentially, the eftpos system functions like a debit card system. Cards are linked to current accounts, you can only spend what you have in your account (although some people may have overdraft limits), and all transactions pull money directly from the account. In this sense, when it comes to eftpos cards vs. debit cards, they’re more or less the same thing.

However, it’s important to note that eftpos cards are for domestic use only – they are only accepted in Australia by merchants who have the necessary equipment for accepting eftpos brand cards. You won’t be able to use your eftpos card outside of Australia, which limits its overall usability, especially if you spend a significant amount of time travelling internationally.

There are a couple of other important differences between eftpos cards and debit cards, which we’ve outlined in the following table:


Debit cards

eftpos can only be used in card terminals.

Debit cards can be used in card terminals, as well as online and via other payment channels, like phone payments.

eftpos enables cardholders to take cash out when they check out at retail outlets.

Generally, it is not possible to withdraw cash at retail checkouts.

The eftpos system is composed of seven banks/networks based in Australia.

Debit card networks operate internationally.

Eftpos cards may be vulnerable to fraud.

As they’re backed by international brands, debit cards are usually well protected against fraud and other forms of financial crime.

As you can see, eftpos vs. debit cards can be a pretty complex topic, and there are lots of things to consider. If you’re a merchant, it’s super-important that you’re able to accept both eftpos payments and international debit card payments – especially if you deal with tourists or international buyers on a regular basis. In addition, eftpos cards can’t be used online, so if you’re involved in e-commerce, you’ll need to ensure that you are able to accept other forms of card payment.

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