What If I Forget My Debit Card PIN? (Answered!)

Jason Andrews

Updated & Verified: May 15, 2021

what to do if you forget your pin

If you forget your PIN, this is what you can do

Forgetting your PIN for your bank debit card can be frustrating and depending on the situation, embarrassing and can cause a huge headache if you are in the process of trying to make a purchase.

As a general rule of thumb, you have several options if you forget your PIN. You can use contactless payment or your smartphone to make your purchase if available or you can try to reset your PIN by calling your bank or online/with your bank's app.

Equally important is knowing what you shouldn't do if you forget your PIN.

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What You Shouldn't Do If You Forget Your PIN (Important!)

Before getting started, it's important for you to know what you shouldn't do if you forget your PIN. 

One of the worst things you can do if you forget the PIN for your debit card is to try to guess what your PIN is.

Most debit cards will only allow you 3 tries to get your PIN right.

If you fail to do so within the 3 tries, you'll probably be completely locked out of your bank account as a security precaution which can introduce a whole host of additional problems and headaches.

That means if you get locked out, most of the other options discussed here will not help you with processing your payment and you'll just be out of luck until you get your account unlocked.

What to do if You Forget Your Debit Card PIN

If you forget your debit card PIN, what you can do about it will depend on your specific situation at the time. 

If you’re in a store trying to make a purchase (for example), you have several options for processing your payment still - even if you don't know what your PIN code is. 

If at home or not in the process of making a purchase, you’ll have more time and consequently additional things you can do to reset your PIN. 

If Trying to Make a Purchase and You Forget Your PIN

If you are trying to use your debit card somewhere and you can’t remember your PIN, you obviously have a limited amount of time to try to remedy the situation. 

In some cases, they may still be able to process your payment using a signed voucher. 

If not, you may still have a few options you can use for processing your payment even without your PIN.

Use Contactless Payment

Many people don't know what contactless payments are or how to use them - but most debit cards are capable of using them.

To use a contactless payment, you just tap your debit card on the payment processor - no PIN required.

However, this option depends on if the payment terminal you are using has the functionality built in. Many do, but not all of them.

These payment terminals utilize RFID technology and are significantly more popular in Countries outside of the United States (though the technology is available here too).

Use Your Smartphone to Make the Payment

If you have Google Pay (on Android) or Apple Pay (on iPhone), you could also use that to process your payment without needing to know your PIN.

To do this, you just need to open the relevant wallet app on your phone and hover your phone over the payment terminal.

Like contactless payments though, being able to do this will depend if the payment terminal are trying to use has this technology built in and available for use.

Keep in mind, some locations may limit the amount of your purchase when using this option for making a payment.

Use an Alternative Payment

The most obvious thing you can do if trying to make a purchase and forget your PIN is use a different form of payment like cash or a credit card.

If you don’t have any other way to make your purchase, you can try apologizing to the store clerk and explain that you can’t seem to remember your PIN and ask what you can do. 

You may not have any other options but as a last ditch effort, it may be worth trying anyway.

What to do Any Other Time You Forget Your PIN

If you aren't currently trying to use your debit card to make you purchase, you have a few additional things you can do if you forget your PIN.

Call Your Bank to Reset Your PIN

You can try to call your bank and explain to them that you can't remember your debit card PIN, 

They should be able to help step you through the process of resetting your PIN or at the very least how to go about it but you'll probably have to go through a verification process (which may vary some from one bank to another).

Reset Your PIN Using Your Banking App

In many cases, you can reset your debit card PIN by using your banking app. 

Exactly how to do this or where within the app will vary but if you do a little digging in the app, normally finding this option is fairly easy.

Once you find this option, just follow the on-screen instructions to reset your PIN. Make sure you change it something secure but easy for you to remember.

Reset Your PIN Using Online Banking

Similar to using your banking app to reset your PIN, you can also typically reset your PIN when logged into your online banking account.

How or where to go once logged in will differ depending on which bank you use - but in general the process is straight forward and easy to do.

Reset Your PIN by Using an ATM

Another option for resetting your PIN is to do so at one of your bank's ATMs.

You just need to use your debit card with the ATM like you normally would and then choose the relevant menu option to change your PIN. 

This option is of course less convenient than some of the other options available though. 

Tips for Choosing Your New PIN

When choosing your new PIN, it's important to choose one that you'll be able to remember but is also secure enough that other people won't be able to guess.

This means, you obviously shouldn't use something silly like "1 2 3 4". 

Instead, try using an important date as your PIN or a combination of important dates. However, it is recommended that you don't use your birthday or wedding anniversary as people may be able to find those online.

Instead use something more vague than that.

Use a combination of the most recent years your favorite sports team won the national championship (for example) or a combination of the years where you met and then married your significant other for your new PIN code. 

In closing

If you forget your bank account PIN, all is not lost.

You typically have several other options for making a payment in the meantime and resetting your PIN for the most part is a simple and straight forward process.

When choosing a new PIN, it's important to choose something memorable yet secure. 

References

1. Chime - https://help.chime.com/hc/en-us/articles/224860707-How-do-I-contact-Chime-

2. Equifax - https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-fraud-alerts/

3. TransUnion, https://www.transunion.com/fraud-alerts

4. Experian - https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html

About the Author

Jason is a journalist who specializes in covering credit repair, banking, and other areas of personal finance. In addition to a passion for personal finance, Jason also enjoys storm chasing and has seen over 60 tornadoes since 2006. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and two children.

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