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FAQs - Card and PIN* questions

What is a Debit Card? Is this another form of Credit Card?

A debit card is a plastic card that is linked to your Current or Savings account and allows you to withdraw money instantly at ATMs and banks worldwide; you can also pay for goods from retailers at home, abroad and online.

Ulster Bank debit cards are known as a serviceCARD, debitCARD and cashcard.

A credit card allows you to buy items using funds borrowed from a Bank / card issuer which will be paid back at a later date.

My Debit card expires soon, when should I expect to receive a replacement?

Your renewal card will be sent out automatically and you should have this at least 1 week before your previous card expires. If you are concerned that you have not received your renewal, contact your branch they can advise when the card should be with you.

My debit card is damaged, what should I do?

Simply call your local branch and they can arrange for a replacement card to be sent out to your address, always ensure the branch have the correct and most up to date address.

I need to change the name on my card, how can I do this?

You must call into your local branch to do this. Proof of change may be requested.

Does my debit card act as a Cheque Guarantee?

The Cheque Guarantee Scheme closed on 31st December 2011. Cards issued after that date do not include a cheque guarantee logo. Cards with the logo will be replaced as they reach the expiry date shown on the front of the card.

How do I report my card Lost or Stolen?

You need to call the Lost/Stolen Emergency number immediately.

1800 245 399

Emergency Cash:

If your card is lost or stolen, we will offer you a service to enable you to withdraw a small amount of cash at one of our ATMs to tide you over. This service is free.

If I find my card again can I start using it again?

No as soon as you contact the Lost/Stolen number your card will be cancelled. The customer service agent will have ordered you a replacement card that will be with you in 7-9 working days.

Can I change the name and narrative on the card you sent me?

Yes; if you need to change the name on your card, or if you would like to add another narrative onto your card (this may help distinguish between accounts) please call into your local branch, proof of name change may be required.

I have signed the magnetic strip by mistake will this damage my card?

Signing or writing on the silver magnetic strip should not prevent your card working in normal circumstances; however please ensure you sign the signature strip. However, if you are planning to go abroad ask your branch to replace your card at least two weeks before you are scheduled to go.

My Card will not work in the shops or at ATMs*?

There could be several reasons why your bank card isn't being accepted at shops or cash machines. You may not have sufficient cleared funds in your account to cover the transaction. Your card may have been refused because of a temporary problem with the merchant's terminal or at the ATM. If your card details were manually keyed they may have been incorrectly input by the retailer. Contact your local branch they will be able to advise you of any issues with your card or account.

My PIN is blocked? What should I do?

If you enter your PIN incorrectly 3 times in a row at any retailer, you will need to unlock your PIN at any Ulster Bank, RBS or Natwest ATM by selecting 'Account Services' and 'Unlock PIN'. A message will be displayed to confirm that you have unlocked your PIN.

Don't know your PIN? Contact your branch who will need to send you a 're-advice' of your PIN. Once you receive this, please follow the above instructions to unlock the PIN.

If you enter your PIN incorrectly 3 times in a row at any ATM, you will need to ask the branch to send you a 're-advice' of your PIN.

Can I change my PIN*?

Should you want to choose your own PIN, you can do this at any Ulster Bank, RBS or NatWest ATM by selecting 'Account Services' and 'change PIN' then follow the instructions on screen.

Remember to choose your PIN carefully and never carry a copy of your PIN with your cards.

Can I use my Debit card abroad?

Image of Ulster Bank cardsd showing the Visa logo

Your Ulster Bank debit card can be used around the world in over 30 million outlets across 160 countries and you can withdraw cash from more than 1 million ATMs globally - anywhere you see the Visa logo. So just use your card abroad as you do at home! To find out where you can use your card visit www.visaeurope.com and follow the link to the ATM locator.

How can I activate my debit card?

You will receive a letter with your new debit card which gives you four ways to activate your debit card:

  • Activation via SMS
  • Activation via Online Banking (you need to be registered for Anytime Banking to use this service )
  • Activation via post
  • Activation via Branch

How can you activate your debit card with an SMS?

This service enables you to activate your debit card easily and securely by sending a text to an Ulster Bank short code. The short code is a unique 5 digit number which is provided on the letter that you receive with your debit card. The short code for Ulster Bank is 53627.

In your text, you need to provide the following details:

  • Branch Sortcode
  • Account Number
  • Last 4 digits of your debit card PAN number

In the following format, including spaces in between each set of numbers: e.g: 123456 1234568 1234

You will receive a response within a few minutes regarding your debit card activation request.

What happens if you send the wrong information?

You will receive a debit card activation failed SMS message which states:

"Activation error: Please check your text contains: 6 digit sortcode, 8 digit account number and the last 4 digits of your card number only and re-send".

Who is this service available to?

  • New customers with an inactivated debit card
  • Existing customers who need to activate a new card as their previous one has been lost or stolen
  • Customers with Irish mobile numbers. International numbers are not eligible. Please note: If you attempt to activate your debit card from an international number, you will not receive an SMS response from the Bank

How long will it take for your debit card to be activated once an SMS request has been sent?

You will receive the confirmation message as soon as the card is activated. In most cases this should be within one minute.

How many attempts are permitted for the debit card activation via SMS process?

Three. If all three attempts fail, you will receive a "debit card activation limit exceeded" message informing you to select one of the other options detailed on your letter or call Telephone Banking for further information.

On which mobile number will you receive the activation alert?

You will receive the debit card activation SMS message/s on the mobile number that you used for the request.

What should you do if no confirmation message is received despite sending the message in the correct format?

This could happen due to a system outage or issues with your mobile phone network. In this case, you may make enquiries about the status of your request by contacting your local branch.

Do you need to register your mobile number before you use the service?

No, you can send the activation request through Irish mobile number.

If you have more than one card requiring activation, what do you need to do?

You can activate multiple debit cards on a separate request as long as they do not exceed the SMS activation limit of 3 attempts per debit card.

What will happen if you send a duplicated debit card activation request?

No action will be taken for the second request if the card has already been activated by the first request. You will receive a message to advise you that the activation attempts have exceeded message as there are no more debit cards to activate.

What will happen if you send a debit card activation request during a system outage?

The request will be queued and will be processed once our system is up and running. There might be a slight delay to the debit card activation request in these circumstances. In some circumstances, it could be that our systems will not have received the request.

You may make enquiries about the status of your request by contacting your local branch.

What are the charges for this service?

Ulster Bank do not charge for the Debit Card Activation service, however you will be charged tariff by your standard network provider for sending (and where appropriate) receiving messages. You should contact your network provider if you are unsure of your tariff.

Losses from card fraud have reduced significantly over the past couple of years due to increased awareness from card users and improvements to fraud avoidance processes employed by banks and retailers. We try our best to avoid inconveniencing customers but need to prevent fraudsters from stealing from our customers and us. The section below gives information on how you can help, some of the measures we employ and what to do if you are affected by them.

What can I do to avoid being a victim of card fraud?

  • Do not allow anyone else to use your card and do not disclose your PIN, passwords or security information to anyone.
  • We will never ask you to disclose your PIN, passwords or security information. If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of a caller or an email you have received, take their details and call us.
  • Remember your PIN and destroy the notice securely as soon as you have memorised it.
  • Never write down or give your account details, PIN, passwords, CVV or other security information to anyone.
  • Keep your card receipts and other information about your account containing personal details (for example Statements) safe and dispose of them carefully by taking simple steps such as shredding printed material.
  • Be aware that your post is valuable information in the wrong hands. If you don't receive a bank statement, card statement or any other expected financial information, contact us.
  • You will find the Irish Payment Services Organisation website www.safecard.ie a helpful guide on what to do if you suspect card fraud.
  • To help protect you from fraud, we may occasionally block ATM and card transactions temporarily if we identify any unusual transactions on your account. If this happens to you please call 0044131 339 7609, we will ask you to verify your transactions by asking you some security questions.
  • When purchasing goods on the internet or by telephone you may be asked to provide the last 3 digits printed on the signature panel on the reverse of your card. This number, known as the Card Verification number or CVV, is used by retailers to confirm that you have the card in your possession and should only be provided to reputable retailers and service providers.
Image of someone shielding a keypad as they enter their PIN number

Use cash machines with care; Be aware of those around you. Don't allow yourself to be distracted. If you suspect the machine's card slot has been tampered with, don't use it.

  • Often fraudsters will try to find out your PIN by putting a camera above the keypad at the ATM - to thwart the fraudster, cover your hand when keying your PIN as shown below.

Verified By Visa. What is this?

Your Ulster Bank debit card offers you increased security through Ulster Bank Secure and the Verified-by-Visa Programme. This service provides added protection to internet purchases by allowing you to use a password to authenticate payments.

For more information on Ulster Bank Secure and how to register visit www.ulsterbanksecure.com

What is a CVV Number?

Image showing the CVV number on the back of a card

CVV stand for 'card verification value' and is used as a security feature. When purchasing goods on the internet or by telephone you may be asked to provide the CVV or Security Code number. The CVV is the last 3 digits printed on the signature panel on the reverse of your card. This number is used by retailers to confirm that you have the card in your possession and should only be provided to reputable retail and service providers.

My card has stopped working while on holiday?

To help protect you from fraud, if we suspect your card or your card details have been stolen by fraudsters we may occasionally put a temporary block on your card being used. This may happen if your card is being used in an unusual way or in a country in which we know fraudsters are operating. If this happens to you please call;

0044 131 339 7609

It may be worthwhile keeping this number handy by adding this number to your mobile phone.

How do I avoid card fraud when travelling?

  • Let us know you are going abroad; contact your branch to advise them of your travel arrangements and also to ensure we have your mobile number so we can contact you if we suspect your card is being used by fraudsters.
  • Use cash machines with care; when you're abroad, take the same precautions at cash machines as at home. Be aware of those around you. Don't allow yourself to be distracted. If you suspect the machine's card slot has been tampered with, don't use it.
  • Always Check receipts; be sure to always check your bills and receipts to ensure you have not been overcharged.
  • Beware of double charging; should a vendor make a 'mistake' and ask you to sign a second docket or enter your PIN a second time, ensure they have given you a printed cancellation receipt for the previous transaction.

My travel company has just gone out of business, do I have Purchase Protection?

Yes, when you use your Ulster Bank debit card (serviceCARD or debitCARD) to pay for goods/services and they fail to arrive, are damaged or a service was not provided; we may be able to help you recover the payment. This includes purchases from companies that have then gone out of business.

You must contact the retailer or service provider first to try to resolve the problem, if this proves unsuccessful then please contact us on;

1890 252 968

A transaction has shown up on my statement that I didn't perform?

Should you notice unusual transactions on your account please call us on;

0044 131 339 7609

Do I get charged for using an ATM? Where can I find information on charges?

The table below list all charges for using your debit card;

Transaction Type
Inside the Eurozone
Charge *ERTF Fee

Cash Withdrawal:

  • At an ATM
  • In any Ulster Bank, RBS Group, NatWest Branch
  • Using you card in any other banks, travel agents, bureau de change or other outlets displaying the Visa Logo
  • Foreign currency withdrawal from a cash machine


No Charge**


No Charge



No Charge



2% of transaction amount. (min €3, max €12)


No Charge


No Charge



No Charge



1.5% of transaction amount
Point of sale transaction No charge No Charge
Purchasing foreign currency or travellers cheques using your debit card: ***
  • In any Ulster Bank, RBS Group, NatWest Branch
  • Using you card in any other banks, travel agents, bureau de change or other outlets displaying the Visa Logo



No Charge, however standard branch charges will apply



No Charge, however standard branch commission rates will apply.

*Exchange Rate Transaction Fee
**We will not charge you for using your card to withdraw Euro at an ATM inside the Eurozone but other companies may charge a fee. You will be advised on screen about any charges before you withdraw cash.
***Travellers cheques are not available from Ulster Bank Branches


The below table outlines the Debit card charges Abroad

Transaction Type (Outside the Eurozone) Charge *ERTF Fee
Cash Withdrawal which is not at a Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest or Ulster Bank cash machine** 2% of transaction amount. (min €3, max €12) 1.5% of transaction amount
Purchasing foreign currency or travellers cheques using your debit card: 1% of transaction amount. (min €0.25, max €6) 1% of transaction amount, (min €0.25, max €6)
Purchases (point of sale transaction) 1% of transaction amount. (min €0.25, max €6) 1% of transaction amount, (min €0.25, max €6)
Cash Withdrawal from any Ulster Bank, RBS or NatWest Cash Machine in the UK No Charge No Charge***

*Exchange Rate Transaction Fee
** Local banks may charge a fee
***Transaction is converted to Euro at a Rate determined by Ulster Bank

What is the Stamp Duty for Debit cards?

Government Duty on debitCARD
ATM use only - €2.50 Point of Sale use only - €2.50
Use of both POS and ATM - €5.

Government Duty payable on serviceCARDs.
ATM use only - €2.50 Point of Sale use only - €2.50
Use of both POS and ATM - €5.

Government Duty payable on cashCARDs
€2.50 per annum


Why are retailers charging me for using my debit card?

Retailers are permitted to add a charge for accepting any form of payment they feel adds to the cost of doing business. Laws, introduced in 2010 to support the European Payment Services Directive, allow them to do so. The retailer should advise you of the charge when accepting your card so that you can choose an alternative means of payment. By completing the purchase you accept the charge. If you disagree with the charge you should tell the retailer.

Is there a limit on card transactions?

To protect you from fraud we may apply a limit to the value or number of transactions you may undertake using your card over a period of time. These limits will vary depending on the location and the nature of, or pattern to the transactions. If this happens to you please call us on;

0044 131 339 7609

How much can I lift at an ATM?

The amount you can withdraw from an ATM is linked to the account type you have. If your account has a daily limit of €500, and one card on the account is used to withdraw €400, the remaining amount that can be withdrawn on any card attached to the account is €100. If you are unsure of the withdrawal limit on your account, contact your branch or refer to details in the Helpful guides on the Debit Card pages

Need to get in touch?

Emergency Numbers