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Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.

Why Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit?

Why Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit?

Ever since the financial crisis, consumers have turned over a new leaf with regards to their use of credit, which is why debit card usage has skyrocketed in the last few years. For many people it was out of necessity as their credit standings may have deteriorated and they encountered more difficulty in obtaining credit. Others have simply made debit card use a part of their strategy to minimize debt and control spending. For all of these reasons, debit cards have played an important role in helping people get on track financially, but, for people who do have the choice of using debit or credit cards, and who have the financial control to pay off monthly balances, they may want to consider the reasons why it may be a smarter choice to use a credit card in certain situation.

Here are six reasons why you may want to use your credit card instead of your debit card:

Fraud Protection

While both credit cards and debit cards are protected with the $50 maximum liability provided by issuing banks, credit cards have a couple of extra layers of protection that can shield you from possible problems. First, when you use a credit card, your issuing bank pays the merchant on your behalf. Nothing comes out of your bank account until you are satisfied that the transaction is correct. When you pay with a debit card, your payment is deducted straight from your bank account. If you have any sort of dispute with the transaction, you will have to fight it while the merchant still has your money. With a credit card, the issuing bank is on the hook until the dispute has been resolved. This can make using debit cards for online purchases especially precarious. For online purchases, big ticket items, deposits, or ship later products, you should always use a credit card.

Improve Your Credit Score

If you are coming out of a rocky financial period, you need to do everything you can do rebuild your credit and boost your score. The most effective way to do that is to make consistent use of your credit card and pay off the balances monthly. Your credit score is based, in large part, on credit usage and payment history. If you stop using your credit cards or your accounts become inactive, it can actually hurt your score. Debit card usage has no impact on your credit standing.

Booking Travel

If you ever have a need or desire to travel you should always use a credit card. When you rent a car or book a hotel room, the merchants will usually place a hold on your account well above the amount you book, which, if you use a debit card, will deplete your checking account of money that you don’t intend to spend. Only after the transaction is finalized will the money be made available again in your account. Also, air travel is usually booked well in advance which means you won’t have the use of money deducted from your account for all of that time prior to your travel date. Credit cards also offer travel insurance and lost luggage reimbursements not available with debit cards.

Recurring Payments

Purchases based on recurring payments shouldn’t be a major concern for debit card users. After all we are used to making scheduled payments for many things – utilities, credit card payments, etc. But for people who have tight cash flow, or sometimes live paycheck to paycheck, adding a new payment, especially one that you’re not used to, could wreak havoc on your checking account. You just need that one time when your balance runs low and the payment request hits your account to incur an overdraft fee, which suddenly increases the cost of your purchase.

Warranty Protection

For big ticket purchases of manufactured items credit cards are essential. Many offer extended warranty protection double the manufacturer’s warranty.

Reward Yourself

Finally, if you’re going to use plastic for your purchases, you might as well reap the rewards offered through credit card cash back and membership programs. The cash back programs can be especially helpful in stretching your budget or enabling you to reward yourself with a small splurge now and then. If you are planning a vacation, frequent flyer miles can really help you stretch your travel budget. The main caveat with any rewards program is that when card balances are not paid in full, or worse, if you incur late payment fees, you pretty much cancel out any savings you could realize.

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