Using a debit card instead of a credit card

The pros and cons of using a debit card

Debit cards are useful in a lot of ways. For instance, a payday loan can be deposited into your bank account within hours of your online loan application being approved. Money is then yours to spend via a cash withdrawal, personal checks, or your debit card. During this recession, many have begun using the latter more and more instead of making credit card purchases. While most are already familiar with the convenience of using plastic to pay for items or services, some may not realize the pros and cons of using a debit card, specifically.

The pros of using a debit card:

Debit cards can hamper impulse spending. While they cannot completely eliminate this problem, their use does a lot to curtail it. Unlike with credit cards, debit cards will only cover purchases when money is available to do so in the bank. In short, a debit card is just like cash and that money is automatically debited, or deducted, from your account after each transaction. This is unlike credit card spending, which allows a certain spending limit followed by installment payments to pay for charges later. A debit card does not offer this luxury. As a result, for most people, this means thinking twice before spending cash that will severely skew their budget.

Merchants who do not accept personal checks are more inclined to accept a debit card for payment of an item or service. This makes carrying a debit card as convenient as a credit card in terms of the point of sale payment method. Today, many debit cards are referred to as Visa check cards and bear the Visa logo while others bear the Mastercard logo. This means that anywhere a Mastercard or Visa card is accepted, a debit card with one these logos may be used, instead.

The cons of using a debit card

Unlike what is offered with most major credit cards, cash advances or a line of credit is not offered to debit card holders. Therefore, when emergency cash is needed or when fast cash is needed to help a person survive until their next paycheck, a debit card is of no help. However, a person in this situation, even with bad credit, may be able to consider a loan till payday or a cash advance from a company offering personal loans.

Federal regulations, which protect credit card consumers, do not apply to debit cards. This means that in a dispute over charges, the consumer has little recourse once money has been debited from their account.

Also, banks that issue debit cards with checking accounts sometimes charge a fee when cards are used. While this practice is becoming more and more obsolete, consumers are advised to check with their individual bank before using debit cards and accruing possible fees. When inquiring about this, be sure to ask, specifically, about using the card to access cash at another banking institution or ATM machine. While some may not charge fees on purchases, it is still very common for banks to charge when a card is used at another institution or at a privately owned ATM machine.

A lost or stolen debit card can also be very costly depending upon what state you reside in and the time that the card is reported missing. While very limited protection may be offered, consumers should be aware of their level of protection ahead of time. For instance, if someone does not report their card missing within 48 hours of a thief taking it, it is possible for the original card holder to be left with some or all of the liability on purchases and cash withdrawals made by the thief. The amount of liability, of course, depends upon the bank’s policies and the state laws governing any such limits.

While debit cards definitely come with advantages, such as providing immediate access to cash advance or personal loan deposits, the drawbacks involved with using them can be costly if a person is not very careful. Overall, however, they offer freedom from high interest rates while offering many of the same conveniences as a credit card. Debit cards do not help build a person’s credit, but they also do not present the risk of creating bad credit like some may have a tendency to do while using a credit card.

Other recent posts by bryanh

A young boy enjoys being sprayed by a lawn sprinkler on a summer's day.

How to have fun and save money

With a little imagination, you can learn how to have fun during summer without spending money – or not very much money.
Landlord Tenant Law

Renting smart in a landlord market

More people are trying to rent and available rentals are down. Landlords have the upper hand. A renter has to be savvy to get a good deal.