Why are you so keen on using debit cards?


Maybe my information is out of date, but the only reason I continued the sign-up process when I got to the payment page is because I have just set up a new bank account for travel money that will never have a lot of money in it, and I was able to use the debit card for that account.

I have since found that you do actually offer direct debit payment - the sign up page makes it sound like this isn’t even possible. So normally I would have stopped the sign-up process and written off Bulb as unusable.

If I had used my main bank account card and the details got stolen then the thief has the potential to empty my account. From what I’ve heard it’s much harder to get a refund from debit card fraud than credit card fraud, and in the meantime your main bank account could be empty making it much harder to carry on as usual while things are resolved. For these reasons I never give my main account debit card details to anyone online.

Hopefully you do have good answers to these concerns, and if so, I’d consider putting a bit more information in your sign-up process as I can’t be the only person turned off by the debit card requirement.

I agree with Daniel. I have read your reasons for using debit cards rather than Direct Debit. They seem to be entirely for the benefit of Bulb and ignore the risks for your members. Of course, that would be different if you had a binding guarantee that you will fully compensate your members for any debit card fraud, including consequential fraud if, for example, the thief has, or could have, stolen the information from you.

I also believe that paying by debit card benefits Bulb more than the customer. Paying by direct debit gives you protection under the Direct Debit Guarantee. Paying by debit card means it is left to the customer to prove an awful lot to tha bank, should fraud or issues occur.

Hi folks, we have discussed this in other topics,

If you would prefer to pay by direct debit just give us a call and we can get you switched over to direct debit no problem.


Hi James,

Thanks for the reply. I did search for previous posts but nothing useful came up.

The thread you’ve linked to doesn’t appear to address my concerns with using a debit card though, it just re-iterates the positives. Hopefully at some point you will be able to make a more convincing case for why debit cards are safe, or allow direct debits during the sign-up process. Until then I won’t be able to recommend Bulb’s online sign-up, which is a shame as it’s otherwise a very slick process.

If you’d prefer further discussion to happen on the thread you’ve linked I’d be happy to switch to that.

Hi @daniel6828

It’s true that debit cards aren’t covered by the “direct debit” guarantee but this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to claim back money after an errored transaction. We would, of course, refund any transaction made to our bank that you have not given permission for (we may even be quicker at processing it than your bank).

Moreover, debit cards are a very secure form of payment (more details are needed to set up a recurring payment than needed to set up a mandate) and so are less likely to be caught in a fraudulent transaction in the first place. We’re not alone in this thinking as many online subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime follow the same method.

Direct debits are slow moving beasts as they involve going through the BACS process for each transaction. This means you have less control over your payments. We want to bring the control back to you so you adjust payments at any time and avoid hidden charges. I hope you can see that these reasons aren’t just a benefit for us!

Debit card versus credit card is a different question altogether. At this time we can only set up a recurring payment from the former.

At the end of the day, it’s your choice whether you’d rather have DD or Debit card payments set up. Both are secure payments and in a worst case scenario, you’ll get your money back either way.

Hi @Helen,

Thanks for your reply. To be clear, my only real concern is that you (or your payment provider) might keep a copy of my debit card details to allow the recurring payments. I’m not particularly worried that you might make a mistake and overcharge me, that would be obvious and should be easy to resolve. My concern would be other people getting hold of my card details and then using them to withdraw money or make purchases. In that case I’d be left trying to convince my bank that it wasn’t me that had used the card.

Because you said “set up a recurring payment” I’ve done a bit more investigation and it seems that it may be that you only need the card details for the initial set-up and from then on use a unique number provided by the card provider or bank just for you. If that is the case then I would be much less concerned.

Are you able to comment on how the debit card details are used and whether they are retained after the initial set-up?

@daniel6828 we completely agree that security should always be a top priority.

After you submit the details through the sign-up process, everything gets immediately encrypted by Stripe (our debit card payment provider). This means that it makes it impossible for us to get the details again. We think that this gives our members the best security they can get to avoid any problems in the future.

Thanks @sj_han

It’s good to know that bulb don’t store any card details, however I would still like to know whether Stripe store the actual card details, or just a token. I can’t find anything on Stripe’s site about this, other than that it looks like they never store CVV numbers (https://support.stripe.com/questions/why-are-my-customers-charges-marked-as-recurring).

Doing some research it seems that sometime around 2015 the card networks started offering the ability to requests a token from the card network itself for a customer’s card details (e.g. http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/02/24/visa-readies-network-tokenization-launch-in-europe-sets-the-stage-for-apple-pay-debut). Do you know whether Stripe make use of this facility?

@daniel6828 that’s no problem at all.

They indeed use tokens from the card network itself to keep the subscriptions active. The tokens are encrypted and house no details of the card itself. A smart use of the token means that if the debit card expires, a new token for the new card will be generated. Unfortunately, we don’t have that smart bit yet but we’re trying to see if we can :slight_smile:

@sj_han Thanks for all the information. I don’t know how typical I am, but as I said in my first post, the only reason I didn’t give up on bulb at the payment stage was that I’d just set up a new account that would never have much money in it.

If there had been a note or tool tip on the payment page saying something like “Your card details are only used to set up a recurring payment and will not be stored by us or our payment provider” I would have been much more comfortable with the process.

@daniel6828 - I think that’s a really good idea about the note re. debit cards & security. The use of Debit cards made me flinch slightly and pause when I was thinking of switching to Bulb. Very glad I went ahead though and it’s reasurring to read how secure the process is that Bulb have in place.

Ah, thanks for the vote of confidence @matthew1325

@daniel6828 thanks for this good suggestion. I’ll pass it on to the team and we can discuss. We try the join journey as simple as possible, but we also definitely also want our members to feel in safe hands.