Payment cards are the most common non-cash payment method used by Australian consumers today. Cards are used for in-store purchases, withdrawals at ATMs, and for purchases over the phone and over the internet.

There are some 55 million credit and debit cards on issue in Australia. On average, 19 million transactions are made at Australia's ATMs and in-store terminals each day.

Debit Cards

Debit cards are a convenient and safe way to access funds in deposit accounts. When you use a debit card, you are using your own money. The money is deducted from your account at the time you withdraw funds from an ATM, pay for purchases or make any other payments.

In Australia, financial institutions issue two types of debit cards: proprietary or domestic debit cards and debits cards by international card schemes. A summary of the key features is provided below.

Proprietary or domestic debit cards

Key Features

Managed by eftpos Payments Australia

"CHQ" or "SAV"
(button at terminals)

  • "Cash-out" facilities available at most in-store EFTPOS terminals in Australia
International card schemes
debit cards

Key Features

Managed by MasterCard / VISA

"CR" ^ (button at terminals)

  • Have the same functionality as credit cards, that is:
    • Can be used for purchases at contactless terminals, over the internet and by phone
    • Can be used overseas at in-store terminals to pay for purchases

"CHQ" or "SAV " # (button at terminals)

  • "Cash-out" facilities available at most in-store EFTPOS terminals in Australia

^ VISA and MasterCard have their own rules and requirements for their respective debit card systems.

# By entering "CHQ" or "SAV" scheme debit cards are processed through the domestic "eftpos" debit card system.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are the "buy now and pay later" payment option. They are accepted worldwide and can be used in person, by mail, phone and over the internet.

Financial institutions issue credit cards to their customers with an agreed amount of credit. Minimum repayments are due each month but the remaining outstanding balance can be repaid at the customer's convenience. Credit cards in Australia are operated by the international card schemes (including MasterCard, VISA, and American Express).

Some credit cards, often known as "combo" cards, also have domestic debit card functionality. This means that you can use the same card to access funds in your deposit account. To do this, you need to press "CHQ" or "SAV" (rather than "CR") at the terminal.

Charge Cards

The main difference between charge cards and credit cards is that charge cards must be fully repaid at the end of each month. Charge cards are issued by American Express, Diners Club, JCB and others. Each company operates its own infrastructure and has its own rules and requirements.

ATMs, EFTPOS and more

All Australian issued credit and debit cards can be used at any ATM and EFTPOS terminal in Australia. All ATM and EFTPOS transactions require a PIN for verification. Currently, there are more than 30,000 ATMs and 850,000 EFTPOS terminals in Australia.

Most of Australia's EFTPOS terminals have been upgraded to accept EMV chip-based credit cards. When using a chip card at these terminals, you will be asked to dip the card in the terminal, rather than swipe. Chip technology enables enhanced functionality and added protection against card fraud.

Contactless technology is also becoming increasing prevalent at certain retailers in Australia. Typically used to pay for small purchases, you simply tap your credit or debit card against the contactless reader at the checkout, and no further verification (PIN) is required.


PayPal is an alternative internet payment option. By using this service when shopping online, your credit or debit card details remain unknown to the seller.

More Information

For more information on your payment card, or how it can be used, contact your financial institution.