What is the difference between a debit card and a checking account?

A checking account lets its owner(s) deposit and hold funds that can be withdrawn in many ways, including by check, electronic transfer/wire, and via a debit card linked to the account. However, a debit card doesn't have to be linked to a checking account. Pre-paid debit cards can be "loaded" with money (like a gift card) which can be withdrawn at an ATM or used to purchase things wherever debit cards are accepted.