Credit Cards

Tips, news, reviews, caveats, trends, updates and analysis related to consumer and business credit cards, and prepaid debit cards. From the interest rate specialists @

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Debit or Credit - Is There a Right Answer?

credit cardIn this day and age, paying with plastic is no longer just for the wealthy and the well-to-do. It’s commonplace to see someone pull a card out of their wallet to pay for purchases. These days, Visa and Mastercard debit cards empower anyone with a bank account to forego paying with cash. According to the Federal Reserve,

“In 2006, for the first time, consumers paid for more purchases with debit and credit cards combined than with checks. Debit card use is growing especially fast; debit cards have surpassed credit cards as the most popular electronic payment.”1
With the use of debit cards rising the way it is, you no longer hear merchants ask, “Would you would like to pay with a credit card” - they now simply ask, “Debit or credit?”

But which is the right answer?

There are certain instances in which debit card use is the obvious choice. When you have problems obtaining credit or when you are not able to pay off balances in a timely fashion, debit cards are the way to go. You can use them like credit cards to make purchases online and by phone, and carrying a debit card is safer than carrying cash. However, there are some good reasons not to use debit cards that may surprise you. The following video explains what those reasons are:

As you can see, for all the perceived dangers involved with habitually charging purchases with credit cards, paying with debit cards poses unique risks as well. For consumers who are able to pay off their balances monthly, using credit is often a wise and profitable option compared to debit. Bankrate also provides information on how paying with credit can be beneficial:

Using credit for major and regular purchases is good for your financial health. There are so many benefits to managing your money by paying with credit that it’s hard to imagine not doing it. Savvy consumers also pay with credit in order to take advantage of the rewards offered by card issuers. For example, the Discover More card has an attractive rewards program that include:

  • $40 Cashback Bonus when you apply

  • Up to 20% Cashback Bonus® when you shop online

  • Unlimited cash rewards, automatically

  • Double rewards when you buy from more than 80 Cashback Bonus Partners

You can actually earn money by using a card like that, all with 0% intro APR and no annual fee. If you paid cash for the same purchases, you wouldn't receive anything extra at all. These kinds of rewards plus the added buyer protection and convenience that comes with proper credit card usage are why so many people who could pay with cash opt for credit instead. Those benefits alone may be enough to inspire you to commit to disciplining yourself to use your credit more wisely from now on. If you don’t yet have any credit, using credit cards the right way from the start will help you to develop a stellar credit rating that will pay off for years to come.

So, the next time you’re asked, ‘debit or credit', think first - the best answer may be ‘credit’ after all.


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