How to Activate a Visa Debit Card Over the Phone

Activation assures issuers that the account holder has received his card.
Activation assures issuers that the account holder has received his card. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Debit cards make a convenient replacement for checks and cash. They also keep a purchase within your means to pay because you cannot buy something for more than you have in your checking account. Visa is one of a few groups that contract with banks to manage the issuance and use of debit cards. When you receive your new debit card, register its receipt with Visa by calling the number on the sticker and following instructions.

What Debit Cards Do

Your debit card may be issued by a bank or benefit system such as state assistance or a pension group. It provides direct access to cash, guarantees payment to merchants and acts as an electronic check and guarantee for people who either choose not to carry or do not qualify for credit cards. Because Visa authorizes it, many of the same protections offered to Visa credit card holders are extended to debit card holders.

Receiving Your Debit Card

When you open a new account or your bank replaces automatic teller machine cards with debit cards, you receive your new card in the mail, sometimes followed by a second mailing containing a personal identification number. Before honoring transactions, the bank needs to confirm that you have indeed received both, so you must register your card with the system, or activate it. You might be offered several methods to activate a card, perhaps including an online option -- if you have an online account -- or using the card with your new PIN at an ATM.

Phone It In

Look on the face of your new card for a white sticker with a Visa customer service telephone number and call the number. The program will initiate the registration process on a menu by asking you to read the account number. You might also be asked to report the security code, a three-number identifier next to the signature strip typically found on the back of the card.

Pull It Off

After you read the numbers, you will be told that your card has been activated and that you should remove the sticker and sign your card. If you don't sign the card, someone else could use it to make purchases where a signature but no PIN is required. Depending on your bank's service, the program might offer further services or options, such as instructions to change your PIN.

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