In general, you can activate a debit card by calling a specified number, using the card at an ATM or for a purchase with its PIN, or accessing an online account, but the process varies with the issuer. Bank of America, for example, offers all three options. You can call a toll-free number, 888-624-2323, or the collect number, 925-675-6195, if you're outside the United States, notes the bank's official website.
The details of the debit card activation process are slightly different at Wells Fargo, according to the instructions listed at the financial institution's website. This bank offers two options for activating a new debit card, and there are a few differences to the options provided by Bank of America. For example, when calling the toll free number, 877-294-6933, to activate the card, the cardholder has to make the call from the home phone number listed on the account. Alternatively, you can activate a Wells Fargo debit card by using it with its PIN at a Wells Fargo ATM. If it is a brand new debit card from a recently opened account, the bank sends the PIN code information to the customer in a separately mailed envelope from the card for security purposes.