Putting the squeeze on your debit card

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NATIONAL Westminster customers who have given up cheque books in favour of debit cards may be having second thoughts, writes Vivien Goldsmith.

The bank has just written to its customers saying that in future money will be swiped out of their current accounts the following day instead of having two days' grace.

Originally the banks and building societies told customers that using a debit card was just like having a plastic cheque and the money would similarly take three days to leave their accounts.

Delta, issued by Lloyds Bank, Abbey National and Nationwide Building Society, takes three days and still operates on the old-fashioned Visa machines.

A spokesman for NatWest said: 'We don't see the processing time as an issue. Customers like the convenience of carrying just a plastic card rather than a cheque book. They also don't have to worry about the pounds 50 limit.'

Midland Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland also take cash out of accounts the next working day. But Clydesdale Bank's Switch card still uses a three-day timetable.

NatWest customers who want to have the use of their cash for a little longer could use their credit cards and take advantage of the interest-free credit period for those who pay the entire monthly bill. But the bank does not offer any direct debit system to ensure that you do not forget to pay in full and avoid interest charges.

But gold card holders - who must earn pounds 25,000 a year - can use the charge card to make purchases and arrange a direct debit to pay the bill in full each month.

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