Credit, Debit, and Bank Cards Explained

This pages helps understand the difference between various types of the open loop cards from the transit service standpoint.

Credit cards are associated with credit accounts. Their cardholders have buying capabilities significantly higher than transit fare amounts. These cardholders are not really concerned if they are overcharged at the moment of card tapping and refunded next day. Examples of credit cards include Visa (credit), MasterCard (credit), American Express, and Discover.

Debit cards are normally associated with bank accounts which may have relatively low balances. These accounts are debited at the time of card payment transactions. Examples of debit cards include Visa Debit, MasterCard Debit, Visa Prepaid, MasterCard prepaid, Maestro, Electron, Interac, The Exchange, Pulse, Cirrus, and Plus. Note that not all debit cards are or going to be contactless in the nearest future.

  • Some debit cards are prepaid cards, normally associated with anonymous accounts hold by banks or some other agencies.
  • There is another specific class of debit cards that we will call ATM cards or bank cards. These are cards that can only be used in Card-Present Environment which means no Internet or telephone shopping. Examples of open loop Bank Cards include cards issued by financial institutions participating in debit networks, such as ACCEL/Exchange in the U.S.A, Interac in Canada, MasterCard Maestro and Visa Electron in Europe.

Classic open loop systems can accept contactless credit cards (not all of them) and relatively small subset of contactless debit cards.

OpenFare, can accept all types of contactless credit and debit cards, including and ATM and bank cards.