How it is called (in the US) when you go to the bank or an ATM to add cash to your VISA/MasterCard debit card? That is, when you add cash to the bank account which is tied to that card.

Is it either of these two, or is it something else?

  • to refill my debit card
  • to add funds to my debit card

11 Answers 11


Your question reveals a mindset about debit cards that simply doesn't exist in the US. Here, bank accounts came first, many many decades before anyone dreamed of electronic transactions. Thus, people have debit cards because they have bank accounts, not the other way around. You don't go out and get a debit card; you go out and open an account at a bank. This also means that you simply don't talk about refilling a debit card, because it was never filled in the first place.

You can say something like "I need to put money in my account" or "I need to go to the bank to make a deposit", but at no point would you mention your debit card, any more than you would mention your car keys when you're planning to drive somewhere.

There are some debit-card-like things that do have an upper limit and can be "refilled" — store gift cards, whatever they're calling food stamps nowadays, MetroCards, that sort of thing — but they're not called "debit cards", at least not without qualification.

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    not true, Martha, see my comment under your comment under Kris' answer. – Kristina Lopez Nov 30 '12 at 15:56
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    There are segments of the population that use a card with no associated bank account. These Stored Value cards are given as gifts to the young, used to pay wages by some employers to those who choose not to open a bank account, and used to give unemployment benefits in some U.S. states. – rajah9 Nov 30 '12 at 15:57
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    @KristinaLopez: see my edit -- in my experience, those types of cards aren't called "debit cards". – Marthaª Nov 30 '12 at 17:49
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    Stored value cards are a recent development, the popularity of which is pertinent to the apps generation not boomers. e.g., foodstamps are now ebt debit cards - they get topped-up or refilled by the govt every month. – Blessed Geek Nov 30 '12 at 17:52
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    +1 Well said. This also applies to many other countries, probably to most. We don't "fill up" debit cards in Holland either: a card is just a way to access your account. Gift cards and pre-paid cards are called that, not debit cards. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 30 '12 at 20:01

If this a debit card that is linked to an existing account, you might say you were "adding funds to my account" or "making a deposit."

If this is a Stored Value card (perhaps bought from the store or used to disburse wages), then several providers say add funds to my card (e.g., Walmart). At Cardrex you may reload your card.

Square 1 calls itself a "Stored Value Debit Card provider." (These are neither mass transit cards nor store gift cards. They bear a MasterCard or Visa logo and I believe that this may be what the OP was aiming for.) It asks in its FAQ, "How Do I Put Money On My Square 1 Stored Value Card?"

In its answers, here are some other synonyms that Square 1 uses:

  • Put Money on
  • Loading funds
  • Adding funds
  • Have money placed on.

EDIT 1: Another term: reload

EDIT 2: Adding that Square 1 calls its cards "Stored Value Debit Cards" and listing Square 1 synonyms.

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    The company refers to it as "Stored Value Debit Card." – Kris Dec 1 '12 at 12:33
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    Yes, assertions to the contrary, Square 1 calls it a Stored Value Debit card. It is not linked to a traditional bank account. The answer to the FAQ I quote above says "As a Square 1 Cardholder you have multiple options to loading (adding) funds to your Square 1™ Stored Value Debit Card. You can...arrange to have money placed on your Square 1™ Stored Value Debit Card." So there are several answers for the OP: Put Money on, loading, add funds to, have money placed on. – rajah9 Dec 2 '12 at 22:38
  • You can edit-in that detail into your answer for all to see. – Kris Dec 3 '12 at 7:01
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    Like I said, "...but they're not called 'debit cards', at least not without qualification." – Marthaª Dec 3 '12 at 14:41
  • Kris, edited as requested. @Martha, I agree that there is a qualification. And I concede that debit cards preceded stored value debit cards. I am seeing the usage of "debit card" shifting diachronically ("debit card" only introduced in 1983/7, depending on whether you believe the Danes or the Brits; Stored Value cards mid 90s). Common usage is blurring into the notion that a piece of plastic with a mag stripe, 16 digits, and a Visa logo is a debit card. The stored value card walks and quacks like a debit card; in the collective mind of Gen iPod, it is a debit card. – rajah9 Dec 3 '12 at 15:04

You have used the correct term from the user point of view. As a card-user you are expected to speak plain English.

I refill my card.
I recharge my card.
I top-up my card.

The correct 'technical' term will be some thing related to "crediting your card account".

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    Do you really use any of these, in the USA, in reference to debit cards? – Marthaª Nov 30 '12 at 15:46
  • @Marthaª You would better use. People at the bank don't expect you to come with competency in banking terminology. They expect you to know what you are saying. It's true in any geography, including the US. – Kris Nov 30 '12 at 15:50
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    "top-up" is a common UK term, which I've never heard in the US. – Yamikuronue Nov 30 '12 at 19:30
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    "So people on ELU think anything spoken outside the US is not English." I think that ELUers in Australia, NZ, UK and the US can all get an occasional surprise to learn that something sounding distinctively foreign is actually quite common in another part of the world. More often than not, though, we find it interesting, and appreciate the chance to expand our knowledge and horizons. I'm not aware of any allegations that "anything spoken outside the US is not English." – J.R. Dec 1 '12 at 20:17
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    @Kris, in addition to what J.R. said, this question is specifically about US English. – Marthaª Dec 2 '12 at 16:22

I have a debit card and the bank's web site refers to this as "depositing to the debit card". I also work with a company that sells gift cards, which are essentially store-specific debit cards, and they refer to this as "incrementing the card" internally and as "adding to the card" when talking to customers.

I have a pre-paid cell phone and the phone company talks about "refilling the account".

It is also common to talk about "crediting an account", though this is perhaps a bit more generic.

In short, I don't think there's a single, consistently-used phrase in English. All of the above are used and understood.


In Canada, it is common to reload your debit credit card or reload your Starbucks card, or reload your prepaid phone card.

Reload, in the same meaning you would reload a gun, reload a stapler, reload a mechanical pencil, etc. Reload, as in "to add to".

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    "Debit credit card" sounds like a contradiction in terms: is it a debit card (you're spending your own money) or a credit card (you're spending the issuer's money)? – Marthaª Nov 30 '12 at 20:53
  • @Marthaª: If I had to venture a guess, I think there's a missing "/" there; i.e.: "it is common to reload your debit/credit card," where "debit/credit card" refers to, say, any number of reloadable prepaid Visa cards. – J.R. Nov 30 '12 at 21:30

In these situations I say that I deposited cash (or a check) into my bank account. It's implicitly understood that your debit card is linked to your bank account, so the debit card itself isn't mentioned.


I would go with "I replenished my debit card."

From Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:



  1. Fill (something) up again.

  2. Restore (a stock or supply of something) to the former level or condition.


You could say: - I am going to the bank to credit my account.

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    Nobody I know would say that. They'd say, "I am going to the bank to make a deposit." or even more informally "I gotta go put money in my account." – Jim Nov 30 '12 at 14:56
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    The bank folks talk bankese all right, but not the customers. – Kris Nov 30 '12 at 15:16
  • How about, I am going to credit my banker for his efforts in getting me a loan? – Blessed Geek Nov 30 '12 at 17:48
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    @Jim My bank calls it this on the monthly statements (there are "credits", "checks", and "debits" sections), and I use the same terminology. +1 – Izkata Nov 30 '12 at 18:11
  • @Izkata- Yes, your bank will call it that, but no normal person does. – Jim Dec 1 '12 at 1:09

In Australia people say "top up" your account!

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    Aref, welcome to ELU. When answering questions, it helps to read them closely: if you'll notice, the asker in this case is interested specifically in US usage. – Marthaª Dec 3 '12 at 23:08

Ironically, It's "Credit". "I just credited my debit card with 200 dollars."

Everything else on here is either jargon or incorrect.

Here's the dictionary's way of defining Credit from Dictionary.com

Under the ways Credit is used in accounting (to Credit a debit card is an act of accounting)

10 accounting

a. acknowledgment of an income, liability, or capital item by entry on the right-hand side of an account

b. the right-hand side of an account

c. an entry on this side

d. the total of such entries

e. Compare debit ( as modifier ): credit entries

you credit the entries (money) into an account (debit card)

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    Jargon or slang terms are perfectly acceptable answers when the question is "what is it called". – MetaEd Dec 1 '12 at 12:44

I think "pay into one's account" is the idiom you're looking for. I don't know about America but that's what you would hear in the UK.

  • Welcome to EL&U. Please note that this is not a discussion forum, but a Q&A site, and the original question (from 2012) ask what the usage would be in American English. I encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center to learn more about how this site functions. – choster Oct 23 '15 at 16:21

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