Paying with a card is endlessly convenient - you just swipe the card and you’re done, with no rummaging in the wallet for the right denominations or getting clunky coins as change. It’s also much safer to carry a card than cash, no matter if you’re just attending to your weekly errands or spending money abroad. However, not all cards are made equal, and there are definitely cases when using a credit card is much better than a debit card.
Overall, financial experts point out that debit cards have direct access to your account and so they are best used for getting cash and carrying out trusted routine transactions. When is it a bad time to go with the debit card, then? In most cases, it all boils down to the protection of your personal account, but there are also other situations in which it’s better to avoid using your debit card. We’ve conveniently listed these situations for you below:
1. When shopping online
The first and most important scenario in which you shouldn’t use a debit card is for online shopping. The truth is that even with all the many layers of encryption and safety precautions taken by banks and online businesses that ensure your card details are safe, hackers and fraudsters still find ways to get into the personal data of online shoppers sometimes. If that does happen, using your debit card for online money transactions will expose your account to greater risk.
Even if you do notice a fraudulent charge on time, tracking it down and getting your money back will be more difficult if you’ve used a debit card instead of a credit card according to experts. In an even worse scenario, the hackers may even get to your checking account and empty it before you even notice. Therefore, avoid paying with a debit card online and be leave any online shop that instructs you to do so, as it’s most likely a scam.
2. If you want to keep track of your budget
Having a budget in place and closely following your expenses and income every month is extremely important. Not only will this allow you to catch potential fraudulent transactions, but it will also help you save money for projects and future plans. Since your bank account shows all the transactions carried out on the account, including those that cannot be adjusted by you such as mortgages and utility bills, it’s more difficult to isolate and focus on the expenses that you’re budgeting, such as ordering takeout or purchasing non-essentials like clothes or supplies for hobbies.
An easy solution is to just put all of these expenses on the credit card and have a clear picture of the amount of money you spent from your budget in the monthly statement.
3. When traveling
Another situation in which using your debit card is risky is when you’re traveling. Without a doubt, using a card is convenient if you’re abroad as you won’t be tied to currency exchange points throughout your journey, but many tourist and traveler hotspots are also the “hunting grounds” for fraudsters and thieves.
Since a debit card ties directly into your savings, using it while traveling is unwise, as you could be potentially exposing your account to financial predators. Instead, use a credit card and set a limit to precisely the amount you need for the trip. This way, the thieves won’t be able to steal all of your money.
4. For renting a car
Many people don’t know this, but car rental services place a hold on a specific sum of money in your account if you’re paying with a debit card. This acts as extra insurance for the company and guarantees to them that you’ll be returning the rental car. However, for you, this means that you won’t be able to access those funds until you return the vehicle.
This sum tends to be quite large, and if you don’t have a pretty hefty sum in your savings account, this could result in an overdrawn account and bounced checks. A similar kind of scenario could also happen if you’re staying at a hotel, so be wary.
5. If you intend to build your credit
This last point will be useful to those who are trying to build a good credit history or want to earn traveling points or other perks that come with the use of a credit card. If you’re using your debit card to purchase items and services, none of them will be counted in your overall credit score. Therefore, to take advantage of these bonuses and build good credit, you’ll need to use a credit card to purchase things and then pay back the entire sum on the credit card at the end of every month.
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