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Credit cards aren't evil, but debit cards may be.

I posted the article below a few years ago, and you can tell by the comments that it ruffled a few feathers… but with all the issues with Zaycon in the last month this post came to mind.  I have heard from so many of you that paid online with a debit card and the banks won’t refund the money since the purchase was past a certain time frame.  My first response (that I don’t type back in the email) is “Why are you using a debit card online?!!!” after saying that out loud, though only to myself, for 50+ times I thought it was time to repost this.

Originally published Feb. 3rd, 2015:

Yesterday we got the dreaded phone call, “Did you buy $500 in stamps and then make purchases for $400 in shoes in Africa last night?”  Umm… NO!  I give you permission to cry.  I did! Someone invaded our little world and while they didn’t break into the house they did burst my happy little secure bubble.

In the end after a couple phone calls everything is fixed.  The card is closed. A new card is being overnighted to us. Best of all, we are off the hook for all of this person’s stealing.  Things could have not ended so nicely though.  If we had used a debit card things could have ended with me in more tears and us out a chunk of money.

I know everyones favorite financial guru says that you shouldn’t have credit cards, but I would argue that you shouldn’t ever use a debit card.  Ever.  We’ve not used ours in so long I don’t even remember the pin!

As long as you are smart and pay off your credit card every month you should use your credit card for every point of sale and online transaction you make.  Why you say?  Well look at the news recently to see how many point of sale issues stores have had losing data to hackers.  Target, Home Depot, Michaels, Harbor Freight, Sally’s Beauty Supply.. the story is all the same.  Its the little machine where you swipe your card that is giving away your data and in some cases (Target’s) they also have the pin you entered!  It’s not just your card number, though if you used a debit card.  It’s a direct line to every dollar in your checking account.  Even if you got the bank to give you all the money back what happens in the mean time when you have a mortgage payment due?

What are your options to pay safely?
The way I see it you have four choices.

#1 – Pay only with cash.
Reasonable decision but unreasonable to do long term.  Now you are visiting an ATM all the time (also not secure places) or the bank on a very regular basis.  Also if your purse/wallet gets stolen you are 100% liable for the theft and lost all funds.

#2 – Use your debit card.
This is where many of us have been in the last 5-10 years.  Sadly you if your account information is stolen they now have access to all the funds in your account.  With a credit card you won’t pay the bill for 30 days and many times would have caught any fraudulent activity long before you were even billed!

The real problem here is that most banks don’t monitor accounts as heavily as the credit card companies do, so to catch the fraud you have to be diligently monitoring your accounts each day.  If you don’t catch the fraud quickly the amount you are a liable for greatly increases over time.

One thing to also note is the hassle of closing this account if fraud is found.  Your paycheck direct deposits, auto payments to the mortgage and other companies… there is so much that you have to move and change with the account that the hassle can feel unending!

#3 – Use Apple Pay or PayPal.
With Apple Pay  or Samsung Pay the concept is that you enter your credit card information into your iPhone.  Then at checkout in various stores you pay by holding your phone near the contactless reader in the store with your finger on the touch id reader.   You are done in seconds, and you never gave your credit card to the store or ran it through the faulty hacker-prone magnetic strip reader.

There are some problems here though, hackers have found that it is super easy to load a stolen card into apple and samsung pay, so while data you put into is safe, if your data has already been stolen you are still at risk.

If you are paying online you can also choose to use Paypal.  This can even link directly to your checking account!  Your account information is never given to the merchants, and PayPal then takes money out of the accounts you have given them. For fraudulent transactions, or for items you buy that never arrive, Paypal is great to work with and is usually faster than the credit cards on getting your money back!

#4 – Use a credit card.
Before you crucify me for teaching bad financial habits, hear this one out.  You are still at the same risk of having your card information stolen anytime your card runs through the magnetic strip reader but… most credit cards offer ZERO liability if your card data is stolen.  There is no time limit on this like the debit card.

Fast forward here to present day… this also applies to items you purchased and never received.  They will reverse the transaction and credit your account, no matter the length of time!  It takes one phone call and possibly one form filled out and you have it taken off your charges.

Another big reason to choose this over a debit card, most credit card companies have entire departments and programs monitoring the use of your card to help catch fraud instantly.  Your local bank doesn’t have this same level of security.  The credit card company was the one that called us yesterday!

Another Perk of Credit Cards – Rewards

While there are a few debit cards that still offer rewards they are few and far between and not nearly as great as the rewards programs offered by credit cards.  Again if you are smart and pay off the card every month, using a credit card with rewards is the ultimate way to extend your savings with each purchase.

With rewards I would encourage you to think about what you enjoy doing.  If you like to travel then consider airline miles with the Capital One Venture Card or another similar plan, or go for free hotel stays with Marriott points or another hotel chain.  (We have a Marriott card that means 2 weeks of free vacation every year with points we earn!)

Some of the top cards out right now:

Chase Freedom – $0 annual fee earn a $150 bonus right now and up to 5% cashback on select purchases

Discover It – $0 annual fee, cashback match at the end of your 1st year

Capital One Venture – $0 annual fee for first year then $95 yearly, 2X miles on all purchases

Amazon Rewards – $0 annual fee, up to 3% back in Amazon credit.

A friend has the Discover It card and has earned $156 over the last year in cash back that you can put towards your statement bill or get in rewards to Amazon and other places.  Another friend has the Chase Freedom and got over $160 in Amazon credit in the last 6-8 months.  That’s way more than your checking account earns in interest!

One Last Reason – Credit History

Using a debit card does nothing for your credit history and report.  It doesn’t show as an open account or show that you pay your bills on time.  Having a low balance credit card that you pay off every month however does great things for your score.

You may think that you won’t need a credit score/history but your credit score helps you in more ways than getting loans.  Insurance companies pull it to decide your rates (better credit = lower rates).  Car rental companies may also pull your history to make sure they aren’t at risk for car theft.  A potential employer or landlord can also pull your credit!

Tips for Using Cards Smartly

  • Get an empty checking account register book and enter transactions as you make them, also regularly make sure you match by checking your account online.  This will keep you from being shocked by the end of the month bill.
  • Never use a debit card for a transaction that your card leaves your sight (restaurants etc.).
  • Do not pay online with debit cards or checking account information.
  • Set up recurring payments for things online through your credit card, not a debit or checking account.  If you have trouble canceling you can always get the credit card company to take care of it by telling them the charges weren’t authorized.
  • Buy appliances and other electronic items with a credit card over a debit card to get extended warranties.  Many also offer travel insurance for tickets purchased with the credit card.
  • Asking for a new card number and card at any time you are concerned is perfectly fine!
  • Take full advantage of rewards offered.
  • Call and ask them to never send checks in the mail and to freeze your account available balance.  This keeps you from having your limit raised to unheard-of levels, and keeps you from being hit with mail fraud.
  • Pay it off every month!!

Note: In no way am I saying to spend money you don’t have.  This is entirely based on wise spending and safety.

For more reading:

12 Places to Never Use Your Debit Card – Clark Howard
8 Reasons to Worry About Debit Cards – ABC News

    • James

      why do we still not have the computer chips in all of our debit and credit cards like they have been using in europe for years. i guess it is still cheaper for the banks and card companies to write off these losses than to invest in securing their cards. fortunately my credit union covers all losses when you report it promptly but they do put a hold on returning the money into your account for a week which makes things very difficult

      • LaTresha

        I agree James…..my credit union covers all losses. Had a issue and money was in my account the following day. According to DAVE RAMSEY who is soooo WONDERFUL…..credit cards are not at all great, you need to cut them up and I totally agree. If you CAN’T pay cash then leave it there.

        • Pam

          News flash: Dame Ramsey is not God. There are plenty of very, very wise financial experts who disagree with 90% of what Dave says. It is possible to use a credit card wisely, like cash. His advice is targeted towards people who can’t handle money.

          • LaTresha

            Never said Dave Ramsey was God and that is perfectly fine if individuals agree or disagree with him….we are entited to our own opinion just like I disagree with you saying it’s targeted to individuals who can’t handle money.

            • lisa

              You are totally correct on the credit card. I have been hacked twice. I have not been liable at all. I pay a small fee for credit checks. My credit card co. always calls me if there is a questionable transaction. I feel very safe. I never use debit cards. By the way, I worked at a bank for 28 years….

          • Melanie

            Dave Ramsey is probably not correct in everything. He discourages credit cards and I understand why. I, however, love to use credit cards for rewards and I use them wisely. Dave has really helped many, many people, and I greatly admire him.

      • Tori

        I now have two credit cards with chip technology. One was for a brand new credit card I just opened and the other I received when the current one expired.
        I have 2 step processing for online purchases. Not only do I have to enter my credit card number, I have to enter a unique numeric code that is sent to my cell phone before an online purchase can be completed.
        Also, I receive a text message any time my credit cards are used. If any become compromised, I will know within seconds. Same for my bank ATM/debit card.
        I remember reading a date where all US credit cards must have chip technology but, I don’t remember it immediately.

    • Charity Pratt

      Totally agree! The only time we use our debit card is when the store/restaurant won’t accept American Express. Love getting the 1-3% back every month and then just apply the cash back to your bill pay at the end of every month once you accrue the $25 minimum. Definitely be sure that you’re paying off every dime you owe at the end of the month. But I think it’s a win-win all around!

      • Diane

        The Amex Blue has both a yearly fee version and and a fee free version. The one with the yearly fee gives 6% back on groceries (up to 6,000 purchase amount), 3% on gas and 1% on everything else. The fee free version give 3% on groceries (same 6,000 limit), 2% on gas and 1% on everything else. My mom has this card I suggested to her that since they eat out a lot she should purchase gift cards for the restaurants at her grocery store. She also earns gas points at her grocery store for gift card purchases as well.

        • Charity Pratt

          Yes we looked into getting the one that gave 6% on groceries, but since I save so much at the grocery store (thanks Jenny!), we wouldn’t quite recoup our cost on it in a year. So we stick to the free one :)

    • pdnr

      I feel your pain! I remember the call from my credit card company asking me if I bought items in England! My credit card number was stolen when I was making hotel and plane reservations but it was so simple to get a new card issued. The one thing to remember is to notify anyone who makes regular drafts from your credit card of your new credit card number. Also, I do not have a debit card as I agree there are too many risks. If I need money, I do it the old fashion way – go inside the bank.

    • Rebecca

      a few months ago this happened with my DEBIT card, and our bank called us to verify the transaction (it had happened in a different state which is what I think alerted them to the possibility of fraud). We hadn’t made it, so they closed the account, overnighted a new card, and after the transaction cleared, I filed a fraud report with the bank. Within 2 days they had the money back in our account and we were liable for nothing; we were just out the money for a couple days (it was about $150). Maybe banks have different policies, but I thought debit cards had the same fraud protection as credit cards.

      • Guest

        Both my son and I had this happen to us, except we caught it on our statements online. The bank put our money back within a few days and sent us new cards. This was 4 months apart and different banks.

      • Tori

        Another way debit cards are different is when renting a car. If you use a debit card, more money is held as a security deposit than for for a credit credit BUT most importantly, the rental company will run a credit bureau check on you. This is coded as a hard inquiry which negatively impacts your credit score. The article I read mentioned that a credit check is done when using either a debit or pre-paid credit card. The rental company wants to make sure they are getting their car back and that the person didn’t just put few hundred dollars into an account to cover a short rental period.

    • Susan

      I agree totally. I never had or never will have a debit card. I do not carry a lot of cash either. I use my credit card for almost everything, pay it off at the end of the month and collect my rewards. Thank you for putting this in print.

    • James

      sorry to comment again but this topic struck a nerve. i think people think because we arent responsible for paying for any of the fraudulent charges that its a victimless crime. nothing could be further from the truth. the companies dont eat these losses they pass it along to us in the form of more fees and higher rates. i think until these companies are forced through legislation they will do little to nothing and scumbags will enjoy free stuff on us.

      • I agree with you. As long as they catch fraud before things ship then no one has any loss. Many times the loss ends up on the merchants though if they have already shipped products. The credit card companies will reverse the charge so the merchant gets no money… there is so much that needs to be fixed in the US credit system. I do think that they try to catch as fast as they can and they also advise merchants to follow up on any charges that don’t fit (shipping large orders to an address that doesn’t match the card, orders that are much larger than their normal orders etc.)

    • brightnina

      Ouch! so sorry this happened.

    • Toria

      I am a Certified Financial Planner. I encourage clients to use credit cards versus other forms of payment for the very reasons that you have mentioned in your article. Every financial advisor I know recommends using credit cards for those reasons. Credit cards are a wonderful tool with many benefits if used correctly. I cringe whenever I overhear people saying they use a debit card or cash.

      Since I use a credit card for all transactions including utility, insurances and where ever I am able to use one, I am able track where each dollar is spent and review spending habits. I enter all transactions on Quicken so, I am able to create a report that will tell me what I have spent on groceries, fuel, car maintenance, etc monthly, quarterly, annually and to even compare periods. (Spending less on groceries isn’t a good thing if your dining out has increased.)

      My Bank of America credit card has no annual fee, $100 new customer bonus and 3% off all gas, 2% food and 1% of all purchases. My Chase card is 5% off grocery stores this quarter. So, the credit card I use depends on what I am buying and current rewards. Target has 5% off all purchases and free shipping on any purchase.

      Credit cards are a wonderful tool if you use them correctly. Debit cards scare me.

      Your article has a lot of good information.

    • Toria

      I read an article a few months ago where a gentleman used a debit card to pay for his breakfast. Instead of being charged $17, the machine had a sticky key and he was charged $1,777. The mistake was caught immediately but, the resaurant could not make the correction at the local level. It took awhile for the transaction to be corrected but, in the mean time, his bank account was over $1,700 less causing a pyramid effect of bounced checks and payments. If he had used a credit card, he would’ve been fine.

      • Toni

        That is why I always look at my receipt before leaving the store, even if it takes me 5 minutes to go through a long receipt carefully. I was once significantly overcharged. I called my bank and to explain and ask that overdraft charges be waived since the it was the retailer’s mistake. I asked the retailer to speak to my banker on the telephone to explain the false charges were the retailer’s mistake and that the false charges were being credited back to my account.

        Any decent, honest banker would have waived all the overdraft fees after such a simple explanation and request from the customer. A $1,777 restaurant charge is obviously a possible mistake. The banker could wait and not issue fees until it could make sure that the restaurant refunded the false charges, and as long as this eventually happened, the customer’s bank account should not be charged the overdraft fees. If I had a banker unwilling to do so, as soon as my account was back in order I would find a new bank to do business with.

        I can’t believe that they didn’t offer to pay the man for damages for their mistake.

    • jam

      I agree! We use our Chase Disney credit card for everything and pay off the balance every month. The Disney points add up, and we have been to Disney numerous times with the majority of our purchases paid for by the Disney points.

      • Jessica

        What is the deal with the Disney card? I may be interested!

    • Skirnir Hamilton

      Just for your information… lost debit cards, you are accurate it is $50 and $500 after 2 days, but if their is a fraudulent charge and you still have your card then you are not liable. “If someone makes unauthorized transactions with your debit card number, but your card is not lost, you are not liable for those transactions if you report them within 60 days of your statement being sent to you.” Source: Consumer FTC.gov http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards

    • Great article Jenny! I have a Discover Card, and use the cashback bonus to purchase Discover gift cards for grandkids’ birthdays. Since most of them live out of state, I also save a bundle on shipping. Discover will even personalize the cards (no charge), and the kids love it. And yes, I always pay off the balance each month.

    • sundrop474

      Absolutely agree with everything you said!
      We have an Amazon Rewards card and regularly earn $30-40 per month in cash back. I use the card for all of our purchases. We never carry a balance because we don’t spend money we don’t have in our budget already. No interest owed, peace of mind when shopping online or in person, and cash back every single month. It’s definitely the way to go for our family.

    • John

      Have used credit cards exclusively for over 40 years, only paid interest once! Had our info stolen once, not liable for a penny and new card replacement in a flash. Add to that an interest free loan during each billing period (we plan major purchases for the start of the cycle, so apprx. 45 days before money is due). Finally we use cash back cards, currently get 2% back from CITI. For all of those reasons, credit cards are the only way I pay!

      And like a previous commentator, all transactions go into Quicken where I can track all our income and spending, never have any surprises!

      • Kathy

        Thank you for showing that some of us ARE responsible credit card users! We have an AMEX that gives us great cash back, and all transactions go through Quickbooks, so we see exactly what our spending is. We never carry a balance and are very aware of our budget.

    • rrst

      Many thanks. Sad I’m not the only one dealing with fraud charges. It has been a bad year, and I shudder to think what I’d be out if it was debit card. I do shop online (paypal when I can) & all over town for coupon deals. Last Jan I got new one because of Target mess. Another in Feb (they claimed Target mess, but I never understood why it changed again). Another in August (company called me after someone was buying pizza & $900 worth of Target stuff). Now one in Jan (first one I caught- pizza in PA while I live in AL…what a delivery charge that would be). I’ve never had to pay for those charges..but we all pay for this fraud in increased prices. Must be a better way! We pay whole balance (I have card auto drafted to pay whole balance…no temptation to spend more than I have)

    • mom2m2j

      It blows my mind that people are still uneducated about using debit cards, Thanks for reminding them!

    • Aimee Pitillo

      Jenny, have you ever done a post about a credit protection service, such as Lifelock? I I would be interested in your thoughts on which company is the best, etc.

      • I haven’t recently… I’ll work on that. We do have lifelock but it’s pricey. My husband is an internet security guy so monitoring everything even court records makes him happy.

    • e-lane

      Huge fan of this site & I appreciate all the work that goes into it!!
      I just want to add an opinion point…my husband refuses to utilize credit cards on principle. While I am typically one to “chase a deal”, I have come to agree with him. All the percentage rebates and gimmic incentives are bait intended to lure folks into debt, which is obviously where credit card companies make their profits. While some folks who use their cards responsibly come out ahead, it may be on the backs of those trapped under exhorbitant interest and outrageous fees. But I’ll certainly concede that there are some cards (I’m assuming) like Marriot or Disney that may benefit from the advertising and name association and resulting travel choices that occurs with usage.
      As for using debit cards, our bank has called us to inquire if we’ve lost a card, one time noticing before I did! And when cards used at Target were potentially compromised, our bank proactively just sent us a new card. I understand there are risks, but we all are just making choices we are most comfortable with.

      • You are correct. It’s funny that the latest Capital One commercials talk about the runaround companies give you when it comes to cashing in your airline miles and such. It’s like they’re admitting that the whole points system has been a scam all along and they’re the company that’s going to come in and actually do what it promised.

    • I think I might be the only person who disagrees. :-) It must be based on your bank type – because our bank offers the exact same protection for our debit card as they do for any credit card. My information was stolen and our bank took care of it 100% without delay.
      My husband is a financial counselor and we have seen so many people who tried to “play the system” by using a credit card to get rewards and such – and then in an instant they were sunk when something happened such as the loss of a job or an unforeseen medical expense. Yes, this works out for most people…but not everyone. And sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. :-)
      We haven’t had a credit card for a while now – we live 100% debt free, including our home. Our credit score is almost non existent. And yet, we are still able to do everything everyone else does with a credit card…including renting cars, which we just did today for a vacation.

      • Dawn

        I agree with Stacy. It’s not playing the game of the credit card and paying them iff, it’s the behavior that is important. Using cash makes you more budget conscience and aware of what you can and can’t spend.It’s too easy to break the budget with credit cards. If you simply go over budget by $100 this month, it “feels” ok. But now you’re $100 in the hole. You can’t use what you don’t have with cash. Credit cards can make your budget habits and actual cash flow become “out of sight, put of mind”. We need to stay budget conscience.

        • andi330

          I disagree. My cash seems to magically disappear. I could have $100 in my purse today and have $20 on Saturday and be hard pressed to tell you where the other $80 had gone. It’s true I can’t spend cash that I don’t have, but I also couldn’t tell you how it was spent either.

          • When I use cash, I keep the receipts and then add the amount spent to the category in my budget spreadsheet.

    • Cora

      You are protected with your debit card. My debit card for instance is a Visa card, which offers the same protection that my CC Offers. Per VISA website

      You’re 100%covered in the event your card information is used to commit fraud. We’ll help you regain control of your account and safeguard it for the future.

      Zero Liability
      You are not held liable for unauthorized purchases made using your Visa card, whether the transaction occurs online or off. 1

      • I think most people here understand that debit cards with credit card company logos have the same protection. The issue is that they are bringing up is that you may have to wait two or three (business) days to get your money back. The big fear is that you’ll get defrauded on the 30th day of the month, right after you’ve turned in your rent check for the next month. You were planning to buy groceries on the 31st…

      • AshleyAshley

        It may vary from bank to bank the coverage Jenny has may be different than what you have.

    • Lindsey

      My husband and I have played this game for years. We always pay off our card at the end of the month. I just treat it like the debt card and keep a Budget. It prevents us from exposing our bank account info, plus we earn on average about 25 bucks a month in cask back. I don’t understand the behavior thing. A debt card is a plastic card linked to money just like a credit card. As long as you don’t spend more then you have in your budget your golden! We have NEVER paid interest since we started this game and we are very tight on our budget. It works you just have to have the right mind set

    • My husband recently had his debit card hacked and the only place he uses it is at the bank ATMs. I noticed several $25 dollar transactions and asked him if they were his. Nope. A call to the bank was all it took to get the card closed, the money refunded and a new card within a few days. It was such a low amount that it did not stand out to the bank so fortunately, I caught it.

      • AshleyAshley

        Hi Linda, I live in Fort Myers, FL recently on our sheriffs department’s facebook account they posted about someone who went to a local bank atm and applied an advance skimmer over the atm card reader. It was the same color and fit over it. The person did this when the bank was closed, but their cameras were rolling, so the sheriffs office asked for help identifying the person in the photos. I wish I could link you to the post, it was one of those eye openers that even if you just go to the atm you could still be compromised. People are just very dishonest and you have to do your best to watch out for yourself.

    • VJC

      I am not good in paying off credit cards, so I don’t use them. To use my debit card, My husband and I set up separate checking accounts from the main account. We only transfer funds that we are going to spend at that time to the debit card account. So, if someone tries to access the debit card accounts, they will have insufficient funds. It has worked for us since we were attacked a few years ago.

    • UnsubscriberAsOfFeb4th

      Hopefully Dave Ramsey won’t allow his stuff to be posted on this site anymore. This is the worst thing I’ve seen on this site. Debit cards have the same protection as credit cards – they are usually the same banks! Go ahead and tell people how to save $0.25 on worthless items and if they listen to you, they’ll be in debt forever. Stick to what you know Jenny! Don’t create posts about things you don’t know.

      • Kathy

        Wow, I took Dave’s class at our church. I took from it what I didn’t already know. But we use credit for just about everything and I write one check at the end of the month. We’ve earned hundreds in cash back and the credit card company doesn’t make anything off of us. In 21 years of marriage we have only paid interest twice and that was in the beginning when we bought furniture. If you budget and don’t spend what you don’t have credit can work to your advantage.

      • Mandy

        We have used credit cards smartly all our lives. We have never paid a dime in interest, nor an annual fee. We receive tons of benefits – did you know American Express offers free roadside assistance? That they will extend the warranty on almost any product by an extra year? That they offer “accidental damage” coverage for most purchases? Travel protection and insurance? My debit card does not offer any of this. In addition, we earn cash back every year and travel rewards, just for putting our every-day spending on our credit card. My account is set to automatically pay my bill in full each month, and I use a budgeting software (YNAB) religiously that makes sure I never spend money I didn’t already have in my bank account last month. I like Dave Ramsey, and his “Baby Steps” plan has helped us to stay out of debt, fully fund an emergency fund, and we’re now on our way to paying off the mortgage. But – I disagree with him on the point that credit cards are always, hands-down, a bad thing.

        Additionally, AmEx has caught and covered us for illegitimate transactions and overnighted us the replacement card. My local bank never caught the fraudulent activity on my Debit card – I had to report it myself, and it took over two weeks to receive my new card.

        For those who are recovering from credit card debt and bad habits – by all means, get rid of them and do what it takes to break a bad debt habit. But for those who don’t struggle with self control in this area, credit cards are definitely the way to go.

      • Woolfy

        Once again another person automatically assumes that someone who uses a credit card is always going to spend beyond their means. Credit card usage does not always = carried debt. Get a clue !

    • Momma

      I have a Visa credit card through Swagbucks and LOVE it! I pay everything I can with it, bills included, and don’t spend more on it than I have cash in the bank to pay back. Like other posters have already noted, I pay no interest because I pay it off. Just stick to a budget and treat it like cash. BONUS – at the Swagbucks site, I print off coupons. Usually, if a coupon is on Coupons.com, it’s available through Swagbucks.com (under “Discover”, “Coupons”). By printing it off the swagbucks site, I get 10 points for every coupon I redeem, plus 1.25 points for every dollar I spend on my credit card. If I buy something from Walmart or Target, I order online through swagbucks and earn 2 to 4 points per dollar, then pick the item up at the store. To redeem the points, I stick to PayPal gift cards and transfer the funds from my PayPal account to my checking account – straight cash rather than store gift cards. Just my preference. So far I’ve earned $300 back in less than a year just for purchasing items or paying bills I have to pay anyway. Got that tip from a very smart banker.

    • Woolfy

      My credit cards give the following back. 5% for gas , 6% for groceries , 5% for fast food, 2% for everything else.. Yeah keep paying with cash and i will keep responsibly using my credit cards and enjoy the discounts that come with them. If you can’t trust yourself to handle your own money responsibly .. You are in trouble.

      • Jessica

        what card is that?

        • Woolfy

          “cards” its not a single card. there is no all in one perfect card. You have to get a card for every occasion.

    • Guest

      Recently I took my teen son to open a bank account. Our bank is now offering reloadable prepaid cards that are linked to your account but if someone steals the info they only have access to the funds on the card. Because it’s linked to your checking and savings you can use the mobile app or website to transfer money between accounts easily and it’s free and protected just like the other cards but offers protection from someone clearing out your paycheck.

    • mommalana

      Our checking account was emptied out in the summer of 2015 because of a compromised debit card. $8500 gone. What a mess. The money was finally recovered because the person who stole the number was stupid. Thankfully we had money in savings to live on. We have been credit card only since then and use a Citibank Double Cash Back card. We average $500 cash back every year and we have peace of mind.

    • guest

      CREDIT CARDS ROCK!! I have never had a debit card! I pay for most everything with my credit card and get cash back every month! I am protected if I buy a defective item or if someone happens to skim my number and try to use it(happened once >I lost nothing). I am not stupid so I pay my entire balance every month. So I have no fees and no finance charges. By the way, I am a financial advisor, and I always tell my clients to NEVER get a debit card!! It is useless!

    • Amy

      If you have a VISA logo, you are provided by VISA if you run debit card as a credit card. If you put in your pin, you are using your debit card as an ATM- no VISA protection because the transaction does not go through them.

      I don’t remember my pin and always use my debit card. Run it as a credit card.

      In general, folks spend at least 10% more on purchases when they use a credit card and about 7% more when they use a debit card