Finance

5 Places You Shouldn’t Use a Debit Card to Make Holiday Purchases

December 4th, 2020

Debit cards are convenient to have. Unlike credit cards, you can’t accidentally overspend on your purchases because the funds come right out of your account. And unlike cash, you don’t have to worry about stopping at an ATM—you just pull out your card, swipe, and you’re on your way.

However, just because a debit card is convenient doesn’t make it the best option. Sometimes, paying with a credit card or cash is still the way to go. Here are 5 places to avoid using your debit card when you make purchases this holiday season.

Big Expenses

If you’re buying a big gift, or something practical like furniture or an appliance, you’ll have better luck paying with a credit card. That way, you won’t have your account tied up should an issue arise. Also, credit cards come with perks: You’re more likely to get a refund, free warranty, or cash back rewards.

Online Shopping

News about retailers getting hacked and losing your personal information are all too common. Though bigger retailers are generally pretty secure, they also receive tons of traffic during the holiday season. Using your credit card can give you a little extra peace of mind.

Gas Stations

If you’re making a drive this holiday season, leave your debit card in the car when you fill up at the gas station. Gas stations don’t have a ton of security, which makes them a prime spot for scammers to place a skimming device. Of course, skimmers can also steal your credit card information, too. However, freezing your credit card still allows you to spend money in your checking account. A checking account under a freeze could make things really difficult. The solution? You may just want to buy gas the old fashioned way—by walking inside and paying in cash. 

Independent ATMs

In recent years, credit card skimmers have become more common. These tiny devices capture credit or debit card information when you swipe, and they’re more likely to be placed on ATMs without significant security. If you’re shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and need cash in a hurry, you’re better off heading to a nearby bank than a freestanding ATM. Banks are more likely to have security, so you might as well take the less risky option.

Rental Car Companies

If you’re traveling with a rental car use a credit card. When you rent a car, the company puts a hold on the amount they expect you to spend, plus an extra deposit. (Just like hotels) Save yourself the headache and use a credit card instead. Plus, your card might even cover rental car insurance if you don’t already have an auto policy.

Why else use a credit card?

You already know that credit card companies will reward you with points, cash back, or upgrades for using your card. Plus, there’s the bonus of a higher limit. The other reason you should consider using a credit card is because most credit card companies will side with their customers should an issue occur. Since credit is like a mini-loan, you’ll usually have more time to dispute incorrect charges. If you use a debit card, you’re disputing when money has already left your account.

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