Banking Basics: Debit Card Tips and Tricks

You’ve just received your new debit card in the mail, but now what? Your first step is activating your card so that it is ready to use! Without activation, it will be declined. The PIN number to activate it with usually arrives a few days after the card. After you have received it, call the number on your card from your phone number on file with us.

Once your card is activated, you can start making purchases! However, before you go on a shopping spree, here are some additional tips and tricks.


PIN Security

Your PIN (personal identification number) is a security code used to verify your identity. It is extremely important to keep your PIN number a secret! Do not write it on your card or keep it in your wallet, as the purpose is to add an extra layer of security. If you are afraid someone has learned your PIN, contact us immediately at (920) 729-2999 to change it.


Fraud Monitoring

Our debit card vendor monitors your purchases 24/7. If they are suspicious of a transaction, they will deny it and reach out to verify the validity of the transaction. If they are unable to make contact, they will block your debit card until contact can be made to verify the transaction in question. This is why it is important to keep your personal info, like phone numbers and address, up to date. In addition to this monitoring, it’s always a good idea to monitor your account for any transactions you do not recognize. To report your card lost or stolen after credit union hours, call our fraud management service, SHAZAM.


Card Expiration

The front of your debit card lists a good thru date. This is your cards expiration. For example, if your card has an expiration of 4/23, that means before May 2023, a new card will be automatically mailed to replace your expiring card. Your card will work until the last day of the month it expires.


PIN vs Credit Transactions

It can be confusing when offered “credit or debit” at a point of sale while using your debit card. When most hear credit, they think credit card. However, with a debit card, credit means something different.

When you choose debit, you will be prompted to enter your four digit PIN. Typically, choosing this option means that the funds from your purchase will immediately be deducted from your checking account. You should use your PIN whenever possible. Your debit card does have daily PIN limits attached to it though, so make sure to call the credit union at (920) 729-2999 if you intend to spend more than $2,000 in a day.

When you choose credit, you will not have to enter your PIN, but you may have to sign for your purchase instead. The company can immediately hold funds from your account, but the payment may not withdraw right away. This is why your checking account has an actual and available balance. The actual amount is the total funds in your checking, but the available amount is what you have the ability to spend while the rest is on hold for purchases you’ve made. A great example is when paying at the pump for gas. When choosing credit, the pump typically only authorizes your account for $1. It may look like you have more in your account than you do until they take the full amount you pumped. For these reasons, it’s a great practice to monitor your accounts daily via online banking.


ATM Usage

Your debit card can be used at an ATM to pull funds from your account. At Evergreen Credit Union, members are not charged when using an ECU ATM or an ATM in the Alliance One Network.* Be aware that ATMs outside the Alliance One Network may charge their own machine fee. Those fees are outside the Evergreen Credit Union fee schedule.

Tip: Not by any Alliance One ATMs and away from the credit union? To avoid ATM fees, you can also take cash back from most stores at the point of sale. After you insert your card, the store may ask if you’d like cash back. By selecting YES, you can designate how much you’d like and it’s included in your purchase grand total with no fee.



Evergreen Credit Union membership is open to everyone who lives, works, or attends a 2 or 4 year college in Outagamie, Waupaca, Waushara, Calumet, or Winnebago counties in Wisconsin. Information valid as of 1/3/22. Terms and availability may vary by financial and utility providers. Please consult your financial institution for eligibility and rates.

*Please refer to our service fee schedule for current rates: