Debit card vs. credit card, which card should you use when? It may feel like plastic is plastic, but when it comes to your money, there are some distinct differences between a debit card vs. a credit card. In this Shannah Shares episode, I’m talkin’ about when you use which card, how to maximize your benefits, and some key distinct differences.
This episode was inspired by a question from Marcus who wrote: Shannah, thanks for the show. I’m learning a lot and enjoying actually hearing about money every week. Your guests are rad, so thanks for that. I got into this debate with my fiance the other night about credit cards vs. debit cards and at the end of the debate, we both realized that we really didn’t know when we should use each card. I thought I would come straight to you and see if you can help us figure it out. I currently have 2 credit cards and one debit card but I never know which one to pull out for day-to-day purchases and then for big purchases. Thank you again!
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It may feel like plastic is plastic, but when it comes to your money, there are some distinct differences between a debit card and a credit card in this Shauna Shares episode. I’m talking about when you use which card, how to maximize your benefits and some key distinct differences that you need to know. Welcome to everyone’s talking Money podcast. I’m your host. Shauna games. There’s no judgment, no dumb questions, just smart conversations about you and your money. So come on in and grab a seat. Everyone is welcome here.
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Welcome back to another ShannahShares episode. This episode was inspired by a question from Marcus, who wrote Shannah, thanks so much for the show. I’m learning a lot and enjoying actually hearing about money every week. I love that. Marcus, your guests are rad, so thank you for that. I got into this debate with my fiancee the other night about credit cards versus debit cards, and at the end of that debate, we both realized that we really didn’t know when we should use each card. I thought it would come straight to you and see if you could help us figure it all out. I currently have two credit cards and one debit card, but I never know which one to pull out for DayToday purchases and then for big purchases. Thanks so much again, Marcus. This is a great question. I love this question, and I sincerely hope that the debate was friendly, certainly with your fiance and certainly about money, but this is a great question. I will preface this conversation by saying something that might sound a little bit controversial, but I’m okay with it. I am actually a big fan of credit cards over debit cards, but only if you use credit cards responsibly. I really need you to hear and understand that you pay off the card each month so you don’t incur interest, which only makes your purchases more and more expensive. That is the only way that credit cards really make sense. So if you are not good with credit cards, first off, good for you. Good for recognizing that and accepting that is your current, not future, not always, but your current relationship with money. But second, then I want you to use a debit card. I want you to forget whatever I’m going to tell you in this episode. I want you to listen to it because again, we’re not going to keep this current relationship with Money the same. But I want you to know yourself, right? So if you are going to use a debit card, I want you to use it securely. So a couple of things I want you to avoid. One, I want you to avoid buying anything over an unsecured internet connection and that also includes this is for everyone. That also includes not checking your bank account over an unsecured network. So if you are at like a public WiFi, that is not the time to be logging in to see what your bank account balance is. Save that for when you get home and you are in your safe network connection. All right? And also guard your Pin number with your life. It’s one of those numbers like your Social Security number that you should absolutely not give to anybody else except if you’re in a long term committed relationship and you really trust that person. Or you should not give away your Social Security number to really anyone other than somebody who would absolutely need to use it because debit and credit card fraud, they are certainly here to stay and they’re only getting worse and worse. It’s like every day when I go on my news app to read the latest news stories and, you know, check out everything in the financial market, there’s always something around fraud and it’s usually at a big retailer, somebody who you wouldn’t think would have fraud but nevertheless they have fraud. So we can’t really avoid it. Let’s just try to do their best to kind of work with them in the system. So I want to talk about some stats here. This was by MoneyTransfers.com and they said that the financial strife of the Pandemic is still weighing heavily on Americans. When asked about their debts, 25% of the respondents said that they have become unmanageable since start of the Pandemic. And I mean we can clearly see why, right? There was a lot of uncertainty in the pandemic. A lot of people lost jobs. A lot of industries just kind of collapsed. Even now there’s a lot going on, a lot going on with tech companies and just companies in general that kind of really beefed up during the pandemic, and now they’re laying off all of that excess staff. And so I don’t know. I don’t think your job is ever safe. So, yeah, I mean, you know, it’s really easy to get into debt. I also saw that Black Friday sales this year beat expectations. It was about $9.12 billion. That’s how much money we spent over Black Friday weekend. Just crazy, right? But that is actually up 2.3% from last year. So regardless of inflation, recession, student loan, whatever is happening with the student loans, the stock market, people getting laid off, housing prices kind of going a little, you know, upside down. Right. Depending on where you live, we still are going out and spending money. So it’s interesting that the correlation because there are also a lot of studies that debt is very heavy. It weighs on our mental health. This was according to very well mind. They said that the relationship between financial health and mental health has been it’s been well documented, I mean, that’s the truth, that having debt significantly increases the likelihood of depressive symptoms. So people who live below the poverty line are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression than those who don’t live below the poverty line. This is felt to be that due to the reduced quality of life and psychological distress associated with the obligation to repay debt. Right? We know this debt just weighs on us. If you’ve ever been into debt, you know how that feels. There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of fear. There’s a lot of stress. There’s also a lot of shame. Can we talk about that for a moment? We live in a society that just man a lot of money. Experts in particular like to shame you for having debt. I mean, they all know behind the scenes what has happened in your life. How dare they shame you for having debt. I’ve had debt, and I’ve felt shame because of debt. I felt shamed because I’m a money expert. Like, what am I doing in debt? But you don’t know what what happened behind the scenes. A lot of my debt happened when I got divorced and I had to start over from, like, negative zero. So, you know, if you’re one of those people that are feeling shame or distress over debt, I want you to know that you’re not alone. But I want you to know that how do I say this in a way that is going to really make sense? I want you to know that there is a way to still live your life, even with that debt, and not have it be so heavy. This is really where the mindset and your relationship with money really comes into play. And it is possible to cultivate all sorts of things, whether it’s through meditation or mindfulness or taking a walk or taking a breath. Anytime you feel stressed out or writing all of your money mistakes down and tearing them up. There are all of these different exercises that you can do. Yeah. They don’t make the debt disappear overnight. There isn’t a magical wand that is going to make that happen. Even if you win the lotto, you’re not going to get the money overnight. But what I’m trying to say is there’s a place that you can enter into where it feels a little less heavy. It took me years to realize this and I want you to just be able to get there a lot faster than I get there. So why am I talking about some of these stats? Well, I really want to set this up that if a credit card is too much for you, if debt is something that causes these feelings, these feelings all over in your body, in your mind, you can’t even think straight because you’re in debt, then I want you to use a debit card. But I want you to understand that there are some times where it might make more sense to use a credit card. But we have to really cultivate healthy patterns around this in order to make sure that you don’t bring on more debt and that you can really manage this. Right? So I can teach you all about how to pay off your debt and how to not get into debt and all these sorts of things. But if we can’t create good habits and patterns around our spending and we can’t really understand why do we spend money even though we’re in debt? Like kind of common sense. It doesn’t make sense, but money is not common sense. There’s a lot psychologically that’s kind of going on behind the scenes. So let’s look at some simple comparisons here. This was beautifully said. This was from investopedia. I’m going to link all of this stuff in the show notes. So if you want to go over and check more of these surveys and studies that I’m going to be talking about, you can do that easily. But they say that credit cards and debit cards typically look almost identical, right? They’ll usually have a debit card. We usually have a Visa Mastercard logo just like a credit card is. So it’s kind of hard to tell, like what’s the difference? Even sometimes when you go to run your debit card and it pops up on the screen and it says, do you want to do credit or debit? And it’s like, well, there really isn’t a difference when you’re using a debit card because a debit card is just going to come out from your bank account regardless of which button you choose. So they both have 16 digit card numbers, expiration dates, those magnetic strips and EMV chips, right? They’re kind of all in the new cards. Both can make it easy and convenient to make purchases in store online. But there’s one key difference, right? The debit card allows you to spend money by drawing on funds that you have in your bank account. Credit cards allow you to borrow money from the card issuer up to a certain limit over a certain time period, right? So those are the key differences between those two types of cards. So now we talk about when do you use a credit card and when do you use a debit card. And when I was putting together this episode, there’s a lot of things that I researched because I wanted to give you the most accurate data, but even some things that when I was researching an article, I was like, oh man, I didn’t even think about that. But that’s a good point. So if you’re somebody who pays your credit card in full every month or every week, or you have a strategy for paying it off, right, you’re on a payoff schedule, you’re feeling comfortable about it, then you should use your credit card. It is essentially think about this. It is essentially an interest free loan from the credit card issuer or bank for about 30 to 35 days. That’s not a bad deal. I will take interest to free loans all day long. But if you’re someone who pays off your balance over time, then interest is going to kill you. Especially right now. The average interest rate is north of 20% on a credit card. So take whatever you’re going to purchase and just basically add 20%. And then you’ve got to multiply it and multiply it and multiply it again, right? Because it stacks up on top of itself. It’s not just a straight line 20%. In this case, a debit card might be your best bet because you’re going to avoid that compounding interest. So again, this is really where knowing yourself and your money habits completely come into play. So if you’ve been in credit card debt, but you like the idea of using a credit card again, right, so you’re not totally fearful, you don’t feel completely burned. I say, why not Tito your way in and see how things go? Maybe like charge a small bill like your Netflix membership or your coffee runs or something that feels completely manageable. Charge that on your credit card, right? Set up payments to pay in full either two times a month or on the due date, whatever. You’re just going to get it paid off in that time period and just see how you feel. See how that feels to you. Does it feel manageable? Can you easily pay off that credit card balance? Notice when you look at the credit card balance, even though you know you can pay it off, does it kind of go back into those old tapes of, I’m going to be in debt, I’m not going to be able to manage this, it’s going to get out of control. Or have you reset your mindset, your money mindset around credit cards, and you’re now in a place where you’re like, I can do this. And I can maybe work myself up to putting some additional expenses on the credit card, but I’ve now trained myself to pay it off every month, and I’m not going to get in that same trap of getting into debt. So kind of just weigh out your mindset and see where you are. And that is a really good way to kind of tiptoe yourself back into credit cards without going full boarding and charging everything and then not knowing how to pay it off.
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o we’ve got some pros for using our friend the credit card. I mean, the two biggest benefits, the first is rewards and points and cash back. I’m a huge fan of rewards and I have been able to travel, prepandemic lots of places with those points and gosh. I mean, I’ve been able to go to Europe. I’ve been able to just do all sorts of things with the points. And the beauty of the points is the way I use my credit card is I charge everything that I would normally pay during a month. So all of our bills, all of our eating out groceries, all the stuff that we normally do every single month, because I know how much that’s going to be. I have a budget for that. And I also watch my credit card kind of every week, right? So when I’m doing a money date every week, every Sunday, I’m going into the credit card and I’m seeing, OK, where were we? Like weekly spending on these different categories. And credit cards are great because a lot of times they will automatically categorize your expenses. So you have a really good idea, right? You don’t have to do the math even, but if not a weekly little math check, that is totally doable for anybody. And so I can sort of see, OK, looks like we’re going a little bit over on groceries. Are we okay with that? Are we not? I can make those little tweaks. So that’s how I use my credit card. And then because I’m putting a couple thousand dollars every month on that card and paying it off, I’m getting those points. And a lot of credit cards will have monthly, like, rewards, bonuses. So, you know, some months it might be like, OK, you’re going to get a bonus every time you fill up your car at the gas station. Some of it might be grocery stores, I mean, movie theaters. It just kind of depends. So it’s really important to find the card that’s going to work for you and your lifestyle. If you’re curious about what kind of card you could get for your specific credit score, you can go to sites like NerdWallet or credit Cards.com and you can, you know, it’s like trying to find a date, right? It can match you up with those cards and the rewards or cash back, depending on what you like. Some people just like pure cash back. They’re not big travelers. They don’t see the benefit in rewards. Cool. Cash back is cash back. The point is that I’m getting something for the money I’m already going to spend every single month. Like I’m not having to charge extra things in order to get these points. And that’s the beauty. So it really is. I feel like one of the only ways with money, you can kind of have your cake and eat it too. The second benefit is the ability to dispute a charge and then have it automatically reversed while it’s being investigated by the credit card company. Debit cards, some of them have something like this, but it’s really not in their rules to do this. So the chances are slim on that actually happening. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that here in just a minute. There are cons for credit cards.
Obviously, we’ve talked about interest rates. Those are probably going to keep going up a little bit, but regardless of whether it’s a 12% average or a 25% average, it doesn’t matter. It just means that if you don’t pay that off in a specific period of time, that interest rate is going to start compounding. And so that $500 phone that you bought a year ago and you finally going to pay it off in three years, it’s going to be like ten times the amount that you’re going to end up paying off for that specific item. And that’s a lot, right? That definitely impacts your money. It impacts your ability for you to be able to achieve the goals that you want to achieve. So you got to be really aware of that. You’re also penalized for paying late or going over your limit. That is going to cause your interest rate to go up. Some of them have late payment fees, and it’s going to impact your credit score. And it’s one of the biggest factors. 35% of your credit score is are you paying your lenders on time? And if you’re not, you’re going to get a serious ding on your credit score, right? And that’s going to impact everything. It’s really hard to bring your credit score up. It’s really easy for your credit score to fall. It just takes, like, one thing and your credit score goes all the way down, right? Not all the way down, but you’re definitely going to see a decrease, specifically if it is around paying on time, since that is the biggest component of your credit card. There are also a lot of rewards credit cards that carry an annual fee. So you’re just going to have to determine whether that makes sense for, you know, for the rewards that you’re getting. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about debit card. Like cons to debit cards, if let’s just make this super easy, right? So I go to purchase something that $500 phone. It’s going to come directly out of my bank account the minute they swipe or tap that card. So I’ve got to make sure that money is in my bank account. So it’s easy to get in trouble with a debit card. Maybe you forgot that there was an automatic withdrawal coming up or you wrote a check. I mean, who writes checks anymore? But some of us do. So maybe something was going to come out of your bank that you didn’t remember was going to happen. So then you go to make that purchase of that phone and the money is not there for you to be able to purchase it, and nobody wants that to happen. I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times where I was just like, oh shit, I forgot that I did something, something, and now there’s not going to be money in the bank account or I don’t know, something happens and I’m just like, it’s so embarrassing. It’s so embarrassing when you have to put something back or you have to say, I don’t have money in the bank account, or whatever it might be. That’s just even the credit card. That’s really embarrassing when that happens. So I just don’t want that to happen for you. But the biggest stark difference between credit cards and debit cards are fraud protections. Now, every time I have traveled outside the United States, my credit card number has been stolen and people have charged something. Luckily, because I use a credit card, I can call them and say, I did not make this purchase or I was not in this place at this specific time. And they go, okay, cool. And they remove it from my credit card, no questions, super easy. Makes me feel so much better. I hate that fraud happens, but with my credit card, I just feel like I have better protection. So I thought, this is a real great summation of the power of fraud protection by investopedia. They say as long as the customer reports the loss or theft in a timely manner, their maximum liability for purchases made after the card disappeared is $50. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act gives debit card customers the same protection from loss or theft, but only if the customer reports it within 48 hours of discovery. So you’ve got 48 hours with a debit card for you to say, oh crap, there’s been theft. Outside of that 48 hours, the cards users liability rises to $500. And get this, if you don’t notice it for 60 days, there is no limit on liability. So debit cards can be super, super tricky. There’s also something called the Fair Credit Billing Act. It was enacted in 1974 to help protect consumers from these unauthorized purchases. And it’s got some great super awesome protections for you. Here are some of the takeaways. Consumers have 60 days from the time they receive their credit card bill to dispute a charge with a credit issuer. I’ve actually found a charge that I disputed about 90 days post. So I think that really depends on the credit card. But the point is, you have a lot more time with a credit card. Charges must be over $50 to be eligible for dispute. If unauthorized, display an incorrect date or amount, or contain calculation. Errors and complaints must be filed in writing. So if you call the credit card company and you’re filing a complaint, they put it in writing while you’re on the phone. So you don’t have to worry about that. If a consumer has a dispute with a merchant, they can ask the card issuer to withhold payment and request that the issuer helps resolve the dispute. I like that. I like that a lot about credit cards. If a good or service was not delivered, that charge can be disputed. I recently had this happen. I bought a program and it was not delivered to me. So I disputed it and got it reversed and got my money back. If an unauthorized user makes purchases with the card, the card holders liabilities are limited to $50. So that’s the mouse you’re going to be out. If a person is authorized to use a card but makes an unauthorized purchase with it, those charges are not covered by Fair Credit Billing Act and the cardholder is liable for them. So if I make a purchase and I’m like, oh, I shouldn’t have bought that $500 phone, I can’t just call and get that reversed. That’s important to know. But if a card was lost or stolen, I can dispute the charges by phone rather than writing, and I can challenge the results of this investigation within ten days. So I just have a lot more protection when I’m using my credit card. Another place that I highly suggest using credit over debit is at the gas station. Big time. Listen to this. So according to bankrate.com, gas station fuel prompts are among the riskiest places to pay. Since most gas stations have not yet implemented, EMV chip readers and credit card scammers can quickly swipe your information. When you pay the pump, it can be dangerous to use your debit card, which is tied directly to your bank account, over a credit card, especially when the card reader at the pump prompts you to swipe your card instead of inserting the EMV chip. Even though it’s safer to use your credit cards at the gas pump, many people still use debit cards. But if you’re taking debit versus credit seriously, you might want to consider the security of a credit card over the ease of a debit. So next time you go to the gas station, pull out that credit card. Like, this is another way for you to tiptoe into using your credit card again, right? I just want to make sure that you’re protected and that somebody doesn’t take your number and just immediately drain your bank account. There also is with our credit card, right, the reality that we can build credit. We can’t do this with a debit card. Even though the debit card has the Visa or Mastercard logo on it, every time we swipe our debit card, we are not building our credit score because that is just simply attached to our bank account. That’s it, right. Money is just flowing out of our bank account. But when we use our credit card, the credit card reports to the credit bureaus every month, the activity that is happening on our credit card, and it can raise our credit score over time. So if you are looking to raise your credit score, I would definitely suggest responsibly using your credit card. Another place where you’re really going to want to use a credit card is when you check into a hotel, and I would say hotel and when you’re renting a car, but specifically hotel. So most hotels are going to require a credit card or a debit card when you check in for a deposit on your room rates, taxes, and incidentals, right. When you check in. Right. And both types of cards, they’re going to actually return the deposit after you check out. But you’re better off using your credit card always. And this is because the hotel will charge your debit card for that deposit immediately. What does that mean? That means it’s withdrawing the funds from your checking account right off the bat the minute you check in for your entire length of stay. I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I want to happen when I am laying on a beach, in a beach chair enjoying a pinaclaw. I don’t want to know that. However much that trip cost has now been debited from my bank account, it’s going to be put back in. But I want to make sure I have the money while I’m on my trip. But when you use a credit card, the deposit is just on hold, right? It’s on hold on your credit card’s available funds, and that’s going to work out much better in your favor. Now you need to make sure that you have some available credit on your credit card. I’m thinking if you’re using your credit card when you’re checking in for your trip and you know going to put that amount on your credit card, you should have some available balance. But if you don’t, it’s going to get denied. So also the same sort of protections come into play when you’re renting a car. And I could go back and forth with you about whether you should get the car rental insurance. I’m actually not a big fan. I’m going to kind of whisper that to you of getting that, maybe getting some of the liability protection, but certainly not the full amount. That’s just my own personal decision. I happen to use an American Express card when I rent cars and that gives me one of the perks of that card is that it gives me some sort of protection. That’s my own personal choice. So make sure that you really know the credit card that you’re using, that you know the benefits. Like check online or give them a call and say I’m traveling or I’m going to be renting cars or whatever it might be. I really want to understand my benefits so you know, what is available to you before you use that card. But credit cards give you, at the end of the day, a lot of protections. They also come with a lot of pain. Debt is pain, right? There are so many studies about debt and depression and suicide, and it is a very real thing. So even knowing all of this, again, if you’re somebody who you’re like shama I’m not good with credit cards. It makes me feel weak in the knees. I feel like I’m going to pass out. Then forget almost everything I’ve said, but use a debit card. But do your best to make sure that you check your, you know, your bank account balance or whatever it might be. Often. Specifically, if you go on a trip that is outside of the country that you live in, make sure that there isn’t anything negatively going wrong with your debit card and really guard that card. Don’t just kind of fling the card around wherever. Make sure that you are safely using that card. But if you’re like Shauna, you know what? I can handle credit cards. Then I have just given you a whole bunch of reasons why and when credit cards definitely make more sense. So I hope this episode has just kind of opened up your eyes a little bit. I hope, Marcus, this can help in your debate. Hopefully, again, it’s a friendly debate with your fiance, but now you got a little ammunition to talk about. If you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend or family member who also needs to really understand the difference between debit cards versus credit cards. You can head the show notes for all the links to the surveys and stats that I talk about. And I’ll see you back here in a few days. For a brand new episode.
Speaker 2 00:38:15
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