May 30, 2022

Why Credit Cards are Superior to Debit Cards

Every day millions of Americans have a choice to make when they reach into their wallet or purse to pay for something: credit or debit? Although these two methods of payment have many similarities, there are several important differences between credit and debit cards that consumers should be aware of before deciding how they want to complete a transaction. And although both have benefits, for those people who want to improve their overall financial health, credit cards are the better option when it comes time to swipe.‍


Understanding the Difference Between Credit Cards and Debit Cards and the Benefits to You

The most obvious difference between credit and debit cards is how they are used. Although to the user, the process is the same, the way the funds are handled behind the scenes is completely different. When you use a credit card, you are borrowing money from a lending institution that you will eventually have to pay back with interest. On the other hand, when you use a debit card, you are using funds that you have already deposited into your bank account.

How do Credit Cards Work?

A credit card is a borrowing tool. When you use a credit card, you are essentially taking out a loan that you will need to repay. There is interest charged on credit card debt, which means that the longer you carry a balance, the more money you will end up owing. The credit card company provides the funds for your purchase and then bills you for those funds, plus any additional fees or interest, at a later date.

In order to use a credit card, you first need to be approved for one by a lending institution, such as a bank or credit union. You will also need to have a good credit score to be approved for a credit card with a low-interest rate. Once you have been approved for a credit card, you will be given a credit limit, which is the maximum amount of money that you can borrow from the credit card company.

How do Debit Cards Work?

A debit card, on the other hand, is linked directly to your checking account. When you use a debit card, the funds for your purchase are transferred immediately from your account to the merchant. Debit cards can be used for both credit and debit transactions, but credit transactions typically require a PIN number while debit transactions do not. Since the payment is made directly from your account, you will need to have enough money in your account to cover the purchase. For this same reason, there is no interest charged on debit card purchases.

Benefits of Credit Cards over Debit Cards

There are several benefits to using credit cards instead of debit cards, even if you pay your credit card balance in full every month.

Access to Money

Credit card users have access to funds that they may not currently have, which is important because it can be helpful in an emergency situation. It also means that credit card users are building their credit history with each purchase, which can come in handy down the road when they want to make a large purchase or take out a loan.

Protection Against Fraud and Identity Theft

One of the biggest advantages of using credit over debit cards is the protection they offer users against fraud and identity theft. If your credit card information is stolen, you can report it to the credit card company, and they will cancel your card and send you a new one. You will also not be responsible for any fraudulent charges that are made on your credit card. On the other hand, if your debit card information is stolen and/or used without your permission, the money could be gone from your account before you even realize it and it can be difficult to recover your money as well.

Purchase Protection

Another upside of using credit cards instead of debit cards is the purchase protection available through credit card companies. When you use a credit card, you are protected by federal law in the event that something goes wrong with your purchase. For example, if you purchase an item with your credit card and it is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company, and they will help you get your money back. In addition, many credit card companies offer extended warranties and/or insurance on items that are purchased with their credit cards. Debit cards do not offer this same level of protection.

How Responsible Credit Card Use Can Improve Your Financial Life

Not only are there significant benefits to using credit cards over debit cards, but by using credit cards responsibly, you can actually help improve your financial life as well.

Builds Credit History and Improves Your Credit Score

A significant benefit of credit card use is that it can help you build a credit history. Credit history is important because it is one of the factors that lenders look at when considering a loan. The better your credit history, the better your chances to be approved for a loan and to get a lower interest rate.

Credit cards can also help improve your credit score in a couple of ways. First, by using a credit card and making on-time payments, you are demonstrating to lenders that you are a responsible borrower. This will result in a positive impact on your credit score. Second, credit cards can help improve your credit score by giving you a credit limit increase. When you use a credit card responsibly and make on-time payments, you will eventually be eligible for a credit limit increase. This will lower your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you are using compared to your credit limit. A lower credit utilization ratio is good for your credit score.

Helps You Monitor and Stay on Top of Your Spending

Another benefit of credit card use is that it can help you monitor and stay on top of your spending. Many credit card companies have tools and resources that help track your spending. This can help you stick to a budget and avoid overspending. Debit cards do not typically offer this same level of transparency.

Rewards You for Your Spending

In addition to the other benefits of credit card use, many credit cards also offer rewards for your spending. For every dollar you spend on a credit card, you can earn points that can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more.

It's been popular in some circles to demonize credit cards as the source of all debt and financial problems. However, credit cards are not bad. In fact, credit cards can be an extremely valuable financial tool when used responsibly. Credit cards offer many benefits that debit cards simply do not, including purchase protection, the ability to build a credit history, and identity and fraud protection, as well as rewards for your spending. When used responsibly, credit cards can be a gateway to more financial opportunities, which in turn, can help you achieve many of your future financial goals.


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