Scambuster: When You Should Use Credit Over Debit Cards

Photo: credit-cards (WKRG)
Photo: credit-cards (WKRG)

WKRG— What is the difference, really, in using your debit card versus a credit card?

They both look similar, they’ve got a logo and a magnetic stripe…however, experts will tell you you’re better off using a credit card over a debit card at certain places. And here’s why.

One of our employees recently got lunch at a fast food restaurant in town. They ordered at the drive-thru. The cashier at the first window swiped the card, but then handed them a gift card instead of their debit card, using the receipt to cover it up. My coworker noticed once they got to the pickup window, but by then, the cashier would have had time to take pictures of the card number and the three-digit code on the back, so they canceled the card just to be safe.

Consumer protection expert Clark Howard doesn’t like debit cards either.

“If somebody steals your debit card number, your checking account gets emptied. They steal your credit card number, no big deal!”

That’s because your credit card is not linked to your bank account. Credit cards have built in protection, and you’re not on the line for fraudulent purchases.

“Generally you have no liability as long as you notify the credit card issuer that your account has been compromised,” says Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.

If you lose money using your debit card, you’ll likely never get that money back. So officials also warn to always check your bank statements.

“You have a responsibility to check your account to make sure that all your transactions that are showing up are in fact ones that you’ve made,” says Mahoney.

The only time you can really use your debit card is when you, yourself are punching in the pin into the machine. But if you think the machine has a skimmer on it, which could steal your card number and your pin, then just use a credit card and pay it off each month.

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