Can I lend someone my debit card?
December 30, 2008 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Can I lend my girlfriend my debit card? She is visiting from overseas and might want to go buy groceries or stuff while I'm at work. We don't have a bunch of cash to hand nor any great desire to visit an ATM and withdraw some. Can I just lend her my debit card and tell her the PIN? It has my name on it, and it's pretty obviously not her name...
posted by hAndrew to Work & Money (23 answers total)
Also, can she withdraw cash at an ATM (where she might be photographed)?
posted by hAndrew at 9:59 PM on December 30, 2008

When I use my PIN on my Visa debit card, nobody ever asks for ID, or even asks to look at the card. I think she'll be able to use it.
posted by jayder at 10:02 PM on December 30, 2008

i don't see why she couldn't withdraw from an atm, i've done it tons of times for friends/family. i think the cameras are only in those in case of vandalism, they're not watching every single person that takes money out.

and even if they were, they don't know what the person on the card looks like?

i've used other people's debit cards, along with mine, tons of times. people usually don't bat an eye if you know the pin. i don't think the name comes up when you run it? at least it didn't on the machines at my old job.

or she could just do self check-out?
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 10:05 PM on December 30, 2008

Yeah, no one cares.
posted by lee at 10:07 PM on December 30, 2008

She should be able to use your debit card in stores and at ATMs without any trouble at all. When my wallet went missing a while back, I used my husband's debit card everywhere I went until I got my new one.

The only problem she may encounter is if they run it through like a credit card (no PIN).
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 10:08 PM on December 30, 2008

Yes, I do this and it's never been a problem. One tip: make sure she knows your zipcode, as some point-of-sale machines will ask for it.
posted by bac at 10:08 PM on December 30, 2008

The only problem she may encounter is if they run it through like a credit card (no PIN).
When I first got my driver's license, my mom would sometimes give me her credit card and the keys to her car, and tell me to go get gas. She has an obviously female name, and I am male.

I probably did this, oh, a dozen times or so. Not once did any of the gas attendants bat an eye.

That was many moons ago, though.
posted by Flunkie at 10:19 PM on December 30, 2008

The only place I could see you having trouble is at some grocery stores, like Safeway, where they will ask you if its credit or debit, then might want to see the card/signature and/or ID. In that case, she may have to embarassingly back out of the sale (I've done this before. I was just honest and explained that it was my boyfriend's card and I'll be going now, sorry you have to put the groceries back, yadda yadda, mumble mumble. Then I tucked my tail and left.)
posted by iamkimiam at 10:26 PM on December 30, 2008

Thanks all. It seems unanimous that it's a good solution.
posted by hAndrew at 10:32 PM on December 30, 2008

I wouldn't worry about it, especially if you have given her the PIN. Even if she has to use it as credit, I doubt the cashier would even look twice at the name, let alone challenge the sale. She can do a horrible imitation of your signature and it will still process.

BAC makes a good point; usually all of our credit transactions run through smoothly but sometimes the register has problems with certain types of card. In this case, we need the card number (on the front), the three-digit code (on the back), and the zip code. It's rare that we need it, but you should let her know just in case.
posted by amicamentis at 10:35 PM on December 30, 2008

It used to be that protection against fraud (lost or stolen card etc.) was great on credit cards and not great on debit cards. I would check.
posted by snowjoe at 11:08 PM on December 30, 2008

Why not pick up a cash loaded disposable visa debit card?
posted by mmdei at 12:22 AM on December 31, 2008

+1 visa debit card
posted by bbyboi at 12:42 AM on December 31, 2008

In places where they might need a signature instead, remember to be polite to your cashier. We swipe the cards where I work, I won't even look at half of them, but if their noticeably bugging me, I'll check, and refuse it if I even doubt it's them, it mightn't be fair...But I do it almost subconsciously.

Of course, I'm sure your girlfriend would always show respect, so this is more another plus vote for lending it her. Even if she's going to use it places where she has to sign.
posted by Tingle at 1:59 AM on December 31, 2008

With Canadian banks, at least, if your card gets cloned and money is withdrawn from your account, the fact that anyone but you knows your PIN means that you're liable for the whole thing. I don't know if banks in the U.S. are as tight-fisted.
posted by oaf at 2:33 AM on December 31, 2008

Just going to add to what Oaf says. If in the future, you ever have unauthorized charges on your account, our bank would have you sign an affidavit saying that you've never given your card or pin to another person. If you change your PIN after she leaves, that would be enough to sign the statement with a clear conscience if something comes up.

If she loses your card, or uses it to buy internet porn, you'll be liable for the charges.
posted by saffry at 3:57 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

The terms of my debit cards (I'm in Canada) say that my protection against liability for fraudulent use of my card ends when I give someone my PIN. If this is what your terms say too, it would mean that if someone stole your card and emptied your bank account and the bank found out that you gave your GF your PIN (maybe by looking at video to investigate the fraud?) then you don't get the stolen money back, even though giving your GF the PIN had nothing to do with the fraud.
posted by winston at 5:00 AM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

My husband was the victim of debit card fraud. No one stopped the perpetrators until my husband noticed the fraudulent activity on his statement (which, fortunately, he checks online every day). So, again, no one cares until you complain, which you're not going to since you've given her permission.
posted by desjardins at 6:41 AM on December 31, 2008

When I said fraud, I meant that his card was physically stolen. They didn't have the PIN but were able to swipe it as a credit card.
posted by desjardins at 6:42 AM on December 31, 2008

If you're really worried, make sure she has some cash, just in case. But I agree with everyone that it shouldn't be a problem.
posted by robinpME at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2008

Have her go to a supermarket for groceries and then when she swipes the card it will say "do you want cash back?" and get cash that way.
posted by Zambrano at 9:26 AM on December 31, 2008

No one checks nearly as often as they should. I've used 'moonMan's credit card on trips and not gotten a second glance even though clearly, I am not a Portuguese man. Also, I worked retail and people were actually (pleasantly) shocked if I asked to see ID for an unsigned card or a card where the gender/name matchup seemed fuzzy. It almost never happens.

Tip: if she has to sign any slips, just have her sign your initials. It's easier than trying to remember to "sign" someone else's name.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:05 AM on December 31, 2008

My bank told me once if I came in and used my husband's debit card, there were required to confiscate it, even though it was to the same account! So they did check the names/IDs.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2008

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