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Credit or Debit: The Great Debate

You found everything you came to the store to buy and then some. The cashier tells you the total. You open your wallet and don’t have enough cash. Now, you face a GIANT decision. Credit? Or Debit?

As the world we live in continues to shun cash payments, the use of credit and debit transactions is growing rapidly. In fact, the Federal Reserve reports that the growth is over 7% annually for both.

Over the last decade or so, the line between credit and debit cards has been skewed. No matter what your friends and family prefer, it is important to remember that what might work for Jim and Bob, might not work for you. In other words, everyone is different.

There are benefits to using each type of card and making the choice that’s right for you, depending on your unique situation. So as the holidays approach, here are a few things to consider when narrowing down which piece of plastic to use regularly:


Many credit cards come with the opportunity to earn big rewards. Airline miles, cash back and points are all very attractive to consumers. These rewards are a good thing, and you should enjoy them. However, it is important to be careful that you are not spending money that you don’t have trying to earn rewards that you don’t need.

Use Debit to Avoid Debt

If you have loads of credit card debt and are struggling to pay your bills, we recommend using your debit card for all purchases. This way, you’re paying for everything up-front and not adding to your financial problems. Please understand that if you are paying large credit card bills, you are not alone.

In 2017, American credit card debt soared to $931 billion. That was an eight percent increase from 2016. To break it down a little further, the average household has a credit card balance of more than $15,000. With that being said, it is safe to say that not everyone pays off their credit cards in full each month.

Card Security is Important Too... Right?

ABSOLUTELY! Security is always a concern. Especially in a world that sees a new case of identity theft every four seconds. Security can AND SHOULD be a concern for debit card users, considering a thief can empty a person’s bank account in a matter of hours.

Most debit cards do come with a zero liability policy to protect account owners in case of fraud or theft, but it is important for you to be aware that the process to return the funds can take days, and sometimes even weeks.

So Credit Cards Have Better Protection?

Although both debit and credit cards offer some sort of protection to their users, credit cards are the clear winner in this area. If you see a charge on your credit card statement you don’t recognize, you can dispute the charge and, after a brief investigation, see your money returned to your account. This is a perk of using credit.

It is important to realize that you can reap the benefits of both debit and credit cards by using each strategically — such as only using credit cards to earn rewards points on big purchases, then immediately paying off the balance. It is also important to remember that what works for you, might not work for me. Everyone is different and you have to find your fit!