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Does Your Debit Card Have a Daily Spending Limit?

You have the money in your checking account, but that doesn’t mean you can access it. It’s better to know your daily spending limit on your debit cards before you have an embarrassing moment at the store.

Does Your Debit Card Have a Daily Spending Limit-Does your debit card have a daily spending limit? Most likely, yes. A debit card spending maximum is set by the individual bank or credit union that issues the debit card. Some debit cards have spending capped at $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000 daily.

Try to spend more than the maximum allowed, and your debit card will be declined even if you have enough money in your checking account. Very embarrassing. There are, however, some steps you can take to deal with debit card spending limits.

Why worry about debit card spending limits?

It’s not every day we need to spend more than $1,000 on a debit card. But it happens. Especially if you do not have or wish to use a credit card for major purchases, you may find yourself needing to pay a big car repair bill, book a vacation, or make another large purchase that will cost more than your debit card spending limit.

Ask your bank or credit union what your debit card limits are

Before you can deal with a debit card spending limit, you need to know what it is. A few banks publish this information on their Web sites; many do not. So you’ll need to call up your bank or credit union or ask a teller the next time you’re in. Be sure to determine both your ATM cash withdrawal daily limit and you debit card spending limit. They’re different.

Typically, your cash withdrawal limit will be lower. Many banks set ATM withdrawal limits at $500 in a 24 hour period. Sometimes it’s $1,000. Typically, your ATM spending limit will be higher. Also ask your bank if ATM transactions count towards your daily spending limit. (If so, and you have a $1,000 total spending limit, when you withdraw $200 from an ATM you could not then make a $900 purchase on your card).

Ask to change your debit card spending limits

Most banks will increase or debit card limits if you ask. This increase can be either permanent or temporary. If you ask for a spending limit increase, however, be sure to find out when the increase will take effect. Sometimes it’s instantaneous, other times it may take 24 or 48 hours, so if you go to make a big purchase right after hanging up with the bank, the transaction may still not go through.

Read more:

Still using only your debit card for daily purchases? Debit cards can be great at times — and sometimes credit cards are a better choice (if you use them responsibly):

Published or updated on December 18, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Spencer says:

    Had this happen to me a couple times — fortunately, wasn’t too embarrassing as the people working there were incredibly friendly, and reminded me to get in contact with the Bank to confirm if I had any daily limits. I’m sure they’ve seen this same problem many times before – Sure enough, I did indeed have a daily limit. Just completely forgot about it, which caused me to dig through old files and later found a page that clearly stated how much my limit was.

    Always check to see if you have a daily limit – it may save you possible embarrassment in front of friends, family, or anyone else. Hard to tell how many people don’t realize they have a daily limit, and then think something’s wrong with their account because nothing will be approved.

  2. Linda says:

    It happened to me at my son’s wedding rehearsal. We had traveled and I paid for the hotel with my debit card. Then I was supposed to pay for the rehearsal supper. They came with the bill, and declined my card. I was SO embarassed in front of all my relatives and his fiancee’s family. Even my ex-husand. The restaraunt was nice enough to take a check from me. And I found out later that the credit union I go has a daily limit. Never again will I take that chance. Now if I have a couple things I need it for, I just have to use my credit card, and then immediately pay it back online.

  3. alex says:

    i went to costco to buy a hdtv, and i was so embarrased that my card was declined, even though I had money on my account, still i could not buy it. :(
    bank of america sucks

  4. Mary Fallon says:

    I was not aware that my Wells Fargo bank account had a debit card spending limit of $500 per day until yesterday when I was purchasing a motor scooter online. I called my bank and explained the situation to them and asked that the purchase be allowed for this one time. THEY REFUSED! How is it legal for a bank to tell me that I cannot spend the money in my account in ANY way that I chose to??? I deposited cash into the account just for this purchase and had more than enough money in the account to cover the purchase!! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!! According to the bank the limit is set according to your credit score. WHAT DOES MY CREDIT SCORE HAVE TO DO WITH ME SPENDING MY MONEY?? I WASN’T ASKING FOR CREDIT, I HAVE NEVER USED CREDIT IN MY LIFE AND NEVER WILL. I WILL BE CLOSING MY ACCOUNT TODAY WITH WELLS FARGO AND WILL TELL ANYONE WHO ASKS ABOUT THIS!

  5. Lisa Hignutt says:

    The banks do have a point. If your card is stolen and your account is emptied out, you are only liable for $50. However, the bank is liable for the rest. They are trying to protect themselves and you really can’t blame them since debit and credit cards are stolen so often. It is your money but it is their money if your card is compromised. I am not really defending them, I just simply want people to know that they do have a reason for what they are doing.

    • Mary Fallon says:

      My bank(Wells Fargo) refused a debit card purchase because it was over the daily ALLOWED LIMIT on my account. I called them and explained what I was purchasing and asked for the limit to be raised for this one purchase. THEY REFUSED! I felt as you do that they might have had a valid reason,, such as protecting me from theft, but after speaking with them and offering to come in if necessary to get this purchase approved and they still would not allow it……I am closing my account today! IT IS MY MONEY AND NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL ME HOW MUCH I CAN SPEND!!!!

  6. Shawn says:

    The spending limit is there in case the card is lost, stolen or compromised. It prevents a thief from emptying your checking account in one day. This is why I have a credit card AND a debit card. I use the credit card for large purchases and pay it off each month so as not to pay finance charges.

  7. Joshua L Brown says:

    Daily limits are a BIG pain in the A$$!! How is someone gonna tell u how much of ur money u can spend??!! RIDICULOUS!! It’s like being on a Elementary school field trip where they tell u when to pay for things and when not to. ABSURD!!

  8. ahndk says:

    i ran into a debit card spending limit with capital one. needed to pay rent, could only pull out 400 or so. verbally wrestled with the less than reasonable customer support agents who repeatedly told me they could not increase the limit. i persisted and someone finally temporarily upped it for the day. as for the immediacy, the person had to tell me to “ok, try it now” about 5 times before it actually ended up going through.

    i wonder how many times the woman behind the glass has seen the watched the same situation occur.

  9. Mark says:

    I actually ran into this problem a few years ago when I bought a big screen television. I had the funds available but my debit card wouldn’t allow the transaction because it went over my daily spending limit. The debit card was through my local regional bank. After this happened, I proceeded to open an account at a national bank and have never had this problem again.

    • L.T. says:

      That’s happened to me as well. All I had to do was to call the bank and request a ‘temporary” increase so I was able to make that big purchase.

  10. Wow, I just finished reading that. Thanks for sharing. That makes me so glad to use a small credit union and not BofA. I can deal with crap customer service when it comes to airlines, cable companies, even credit cards, but when it’s YOUR money in THEIR bank and they treat you like that it’s almost criminal.

    If you don’t have time for the story, it basically says “Everyone in the United States that uses Bank of America has a daily spending limit [on debit cards] of 5000.00 no matter what.”

    And it sounds like it’s a BIG pain in the ass to make an exception.

  11. Grant says:

    According to this story, BofA accounts have a daily limit:

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