Thank you for your question! Transparency in our decision-making is extremely important to Members Credit Union. We appreciate this opportunity to display that principle.
We offer separate cards to make sure that all members, no matter what their account relationship with us may be, have as much access to their funds as possible in the most cost effective way possible for the credit union. Our current, three-card lineup provides the perfect balance between convenience, cost effectiveness, and consumer protection.
The VISA Credit Card allows members to access an MCU unsecured line of credit. The MCU Cash Card provides members who do not have a checking account to access their funds fee-free up to two times per month from ATMs. The Cash Card also provides access to your checking account with PIN-based (“debit”) transactions at retailers and ATMs. The VISA Debit Card allows an unlimited number of fee-free ATM transactions AND unlimited fee-free purchase transactions. ATM withdrawals are PIN-based transactions, while purchases are signature-based (“credit”) transactions. The VISA Debit Card is only available to members who have MCU checking accounts. MCU members with checking accounts can do everything with their VISA Debit Card that SECU members can with their card with the exception of the “cash back” option in check-out lanes. Only members who find the “cash back” option necessary will need to carry two cards.
The long answer is this:
Members Credit Union offers three different plastic account access cards: a VISA Credit Card, an MCU Cash Card, and a VISA Debit Card. These all have their unique uses, which I will now explain:
Our VISA Credit Card is exactly what it sounds like. It allows members access to an unsecured credit line anywhere VISA is accepted. When the card is used for a purchase, the balance on the associated account increases. This, likewise, increases the minimum payment and interest charges for which you are responsible to repay. This is a signature-based card, meaning that when it is used you must select the “credit” option at the point-of-sale (cash register, terminal, etc.).
I explained much of the usage differences between the VISA Debit Card and the MCU Cash Card on my post “Cars, Cards, and Laundry Detergent,” but let me describe the differences in an alternate way here:
The MCU Cash Card is a PIN-based card. This means that you must enter a PIN for Cash Card transactions to process. This card was intended to give ATM access to members without a checking account (and, thus, do not have a VISA Debit Card). Members can used these cards at thousands of surcharge free ATMs across the state at no charge up to twice monthly. There will be a $1.50 charge for each additional transaction to help offset the credit union’s cost of this service.
For members with an MCU checking account, the MCU Cash Card can be used fee-free for point-of-sale purchases. Remember: you must use the “debit” selection and enter your PIN, as this is a PIN-based transaction. Members are subject to daily, cumulative transaction limits, however. Please check with your nearest MCU representative for more on that. Because the MCU Cash Card can also access your checking account, some members use this card at a point-of-sale to take advantage of the option to get cash back from the transaction. This is only available with our Cash Card and the “debit” selection.
Our VISA Debit Card is available for members with MCU checking accounts. This card provides members with unlimited fee-free ATM transactions from surcharge free ATMs. Our debit card is PIN-based when used at ATMs, and signature-based when used at point-of-sale locations. This means that when you use your card at an ATM, you will be required to enter your 4-digit PIN to complete the transaction. When you use your debit card at a point-of-sale, you will need to select the “credit” option at the terminal.
There are two very important reasons our debit card is used in this way: 1) Signature-based transactions on the VISA network provide consumers with what are called “chargeback rights”. Chargeback rights essentially give you the ability to appeal, through Visa, for a reversal of any charge if it meets certain criteria. This ability to dispute charges, with the backing and power of Visa, gives members comforting consumer protection that is unavailable with PIN-based transactions. 2) Each signature-based transaction provides Members Credit Union with a small revenue source called interchange. Interchange is paid by the retailer to cover the costs of providing the transaction approval technology behind each card acceptance. This income, though not paid directly by members, allows our credit union to keep member loan rates low, deposit rates high, and our fee schedule as member-friendly as possible.