Most bank accounts come with a form of card payment. This is sometimes a credit card, but is often a debit card. You must apply to open a bank account and be accepted before you can receive the related debit card. The time between opening an account and receiving a card can vary, and you should ensure you have sufficient funds available to cover the interim period.
A debit card is a bank card that is directly linked to your account. When you use your debit card to make a purchase, whether online or in a shop, the funds for that purchase are immediately deducted from your account. If you do not have sufficient funds in your account, the transaction will be declined or you will incur fees for going overdrawn in your account. A debit card differs from a credit card as the latter lends you the money to make the purchase and you repay it at a later date, typically monthly.
The bank will post your debit card out when they have confirmed that your account application has been successful. You may receive a confirmation email or letter, depending on the method you used to make an application. The card will be posted to the address your provided when applying for an account. Banks have different time scales for sending your card. Santander, for example, will post you card within 7 to 10 days after sending your account confirmation. Between 5 and 10 days is fairly standard across account providers.
You will also be sent a PIN to operate your card. This is a unique numeric code that identifies your card and authenticates the user. The PIN will be sent to your address in a different envelope from your card for security purposes.
When you receive your debit card you will need to activate it. You will need the card and the PIN that you were sent separately. You can usually activate your card in a number of ways. HSBC bank, for instance, offers the option to activate your debit card online, over the telephone or at a cash point machine.