PayPal is a popular way to pay people online and also a useful resource for freelancers to get paid electronically. Funds can be transferred electronically from your PayPal account to your linked bank account at anytime. However, there can be a significant delay between when you initiate a PayPal transfer and when it shows up in your account. To help alleviate this issue, PayPal offers a debit card linked to your PayPal account.
I recently got my own PayPal debit card and have had a chance to use it and see how all the little tricks work. Technically, I got a PayPal Business Debit Card, but I don’t see any differences from the regular one.
Is a PayPal MasterCard Debit Card a Good Deal?
PayPal is no different than any other for-profit company, they want to make money. They take a commission on certain types of payments and charge fees for things like receiving international currency in your PayPal account and for letting customers or clients pay you via credit card.
The PayPal debit card is another way for PayPal to make money while giving you more ways to access the funds in your PayPal account, which the company hopes in turn will encourage you to use it more. Like other credit card companies, PayPal earns fees from the retailer every time you use your PayPal MasterCard.
The big lure of the PayPal Debit MasterCard is that you can use it to pull cash out of your PayPal account by ATM instantly. The catch is that PayPal charges you a $1 fee for each ATM withdrawal, in addition to any fees charged by the ATM itself. Unlike many bank ATM cards, the PayPal ATM card is not a member of any ATM network, so no ATM is a free ATM for PayPal debit cards unless it is a surcharge-free ATM.
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In fact, when I recently started an ATM withdrawal and then changed my mind after seeing that the ATM charged $3 for a withdrawal, I clicked decline. But, since the ATM processed that as a withdrawal and then a credit, PayPal charged me the $1 fee anyway!
I am currently trying to get that refunded. Which, brings me to another drawback to the PayPal debit card.
PayPal is an eBay owned company that does everything online. That isn’t bad in itself, but PayPal sticks closely to the less if more business strategy of online business. There is no 1-800 number or anyone to call at a bank to take care of issues. You get to use the automated online links for predefined issues, but for something like an incorrect ATM surcharge, you’re stuck with emailing and waiting for an answer.
The one dollar surcharge makes the PayPal debit card a bad deal for withdrawing money. Be sure to only make large withdrawals, or if your time permits, just make the free withdrawal transfers to your bank account instead.
The other option is to take advantage of the MasterCard part of the card that lets you charge things instead.
PayPal Debit Card Features
There are some valuable benefits from using the PayPal debit card. First, as a MasterCard, you can use your PayPal card just like a credit card at any merchant, online or offline, that takes MasterCard. Good luck getting Red Robin to let you pay for your meal with PayPal without the card.
Second, the PayPal Debit MasterCard offers 1% cash-back on all purchases made with the card. However, you get this feature ONLY IF you sign-up for cash back rewards online.
The sort of PayPal debit card scam here is that you have to link your PayPal account to an eBay seller account that accepts PayPal as a preferred method of payment. This is not a big deal if you already have a PayPal account and don’t mind making it a preferred method of payment, but it seems like a bit of a credit-card company trick to withhold your chance to earn one-percent cashback until you do something with eBay.
For those of us that use PayPal for payments and not for online auctions, this is an unnecessary step to get one of the benefits of the PayPal debit card. However, if you plan to use your PayPal MasterCard to charge things, take the extra time to setup an eBay account and link it to your debit card to get your 1% cash back. You never have to sell anything, you just have to link the accounts. Just open an eBay seller account and then never use it.
There is another catch to PayPal Debit Card cash-back. It only counts on transactions where you do NOT use your PIN number. So, tell the cashier to use credit, or hit the cancel button on the little payment screen when it asks for your PIN number or you are throwing your cashback away.
The good news is that once you have activated PayPal cash back, it is seamless and easy. The 1% cash back gets credited to your PayPal account balance every month, so there is no waiting until the end of the year or waiting for a check in the mail.
PayPal Debit Card ATM withdrawals are limited to $400 per day and the maximum daily spending limit for the card is $3,000.00.
You can link a backup form of payment to your PayPal card if you choose. Basically, you link another credit card to your PayPal card and if you don’t have enough money in your PayPal account for your transaction, PayPal will pull in the money from your backup credit card.
Personally, I would just use the backup credit card directly, but I can see situations in which someone might want to take advantage of this feature.
PayPal Debit Card Email Notifications
One other interesting feature of the PayPal debit card is that it sends you an email confirmation for every purchase you make. On the one hand it’s great to have that notification. On the other hand, do you really need an email each time you buy a hotdog or fill your car with gas?
Obviously, email filters and such make managing the PayPal notifications easy, but it is something to know before you get the PayPal debit card and start using it everywhere you go.
I downloaded the PayPal Android app and it lets me see transactions as soon as they show up on the system and monitor my account balance and transactions from my phone. Obviously, you can also manage your PayPal account online.
Finally, the one other bad thing about the PayPal debit card is that as an accessory to your PayPal account, it only offers online statements for the last three months. Most banks and credit cards keep your statements online for much longer.
All PayPal accounts only offer the previous three months of statements online. Unless your PayPal account is seldom used, for record-keeping purposes, you’ll need to get into the habit of saving your online e-statements before they get too old and disappear from the system.
In the end, there is no reason to not have a PayPal debit card is you frequently get money in your PayPal account, just know the gotchas and be smart to avoid unnecessary fees and take advantage of your cash back rewards.