Although the term is used relatively often, technically there is no Maestro Card.
However, many EC cards are equipped with the Maestro function by banks and indicate this by the Maestro logo on the card.
Free maestro card
A real free Maestro card (and not a V-PAY card) is now only available from very few banks.
We recommend Norisbank for a free Maestro card.
The origin of the Maestro EC function
Here is a small explanation. Debit cards or EC cards are issued by banks and savings banks to their customers for cashless payments. In contrast to a credit card, a debit card debits the corresponding account immediately or at least within a few days. In the case of credit cards, the billing period is usually one month. The name EC card has its origin in the use of Eurocheque, to which the card was handed as a legitimation. Today the abbreviation is used for the Electronic Cash function, which is another feature in the debit card system.
The debit card service Maestro was created by Mastercard International and Europay in 1991. The Belgian company Europay International was responsible for the Eurocard and Eurocheque means of payment and held the license for the Mastercard in Europe. The company was acquired by Mastercard International in 2002.
What the Maestro function is used for?
In Europe as in North America (USA), the Maestro function on the debit card is used to process payment transactions electronically both nationally and internationally. For this purpose, inquiries are sent to the card-issuing credit institutions via so-called switches, which in turn are operated by other companies, and their response is forwarded back to the respective port. In other countries, national debit systems are sometimes used that operate independently of the Maestro debit system. Here, the Maestro function is used to ensure the payment process in international transactions, such as withdrawing money from an ATM abroad.
Maestro Card abroad
Use abroad is an important function of the Maestro debit card service, although Maestro now also processes the vast majority of all transactions in domestic German payments.
The use abroad has been restricted for some time by various banking institutions. The Postbank, for example, now only allows withdrawals from ATMs in Europe in order to prevent misuse. Who wants to use its EC card with Maestro symbol in the further foreign country, should consult first with its bank. As a rule, the card can be activated for this purpose, so that it can be used at ATMs abroad with the corresponding Maestro function.
The security of the EC card with Maestro function is a topic that has long been circulating through the media and which is controversial. Of course, the banks that issue the cards are in the crossfire of criticism, since they are ultimately responsible for managing the funds on the current accounts. Whereas in the past, banks were happy to pass on the responsibility to the customer and demand practically 100% proof that he or she had handled the card responsibly, a number of court rulings and, not least, public opinion have ensured that banks and savings banks now largely compensate the damage in the event of misuse.
Block Maestro Card
How can the Maestro EC card be blocked in case of misuse??
There are several possibilities of misuse of an EC bank card. One variant is theft, in which case the thief also needs the PIN. In contrast to a credit card, an EC card without the PIN is largely worthless to a thief. However, there are some tricks and tricks, such as the observation of the cardholder at the ATM by a person or an inconspicuously installed mini-camera up to the complete technical device, which is put over the original input terminal of the machine and with the help of which the card including PIN is copied.
If you suddenly notice money movements during online banking that were not made by him or her, or if the card has been stolen or lost, both the various banks and Maestro Germany offer a blocking service that can be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For the domestic market, this is the number 01805 021 021. From abroad the number +49 1805 021 021. To block the bank card, the account number and the bank code are required. For security reasons, these two numbers can be noted separately, for example in the smartphone.
The user of the Maestro card or the EC card should not let it out of his or her sight, both at home and abroad. If you use it to pay in a store, for example, you must make sure that the salesperson inserting the card into the terminal in front of the customer to prevent the data from being copied. Always keep the receipt from the payment process, as the date and exact time are noted on it. When using ATMs, especially abroad, it is best not to ask for help from others, especially if it is offered without being asked. If the user does not get along with the machine, it is better to cancel the transaction first and turn to someone who is more likely to be trusted. Possibly a policeman or at the airport an employee of the airline company.
The choice of ATM for withdrawing cash is also a security aspect. Very lonely devices naturally offer opportunities for an unobserved robbery, consequently busy locations are more suitable. When entering the PIN, it is best to cover your hand and take a quick look behind you to make sure that no one is watching with interest. Stow away the cash from the ATM immediately. A recount directly at the ATM can quickly lead to the money being snatched out of the hand.