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When to use debit vs. credit

A lot of us still aren’t clear on the differences between credit and debit. It goes beyond just signing your name or using your PIN. Here are seven good tips for the best times to pay with credit or debit, from Lifehacker.com.

1. Shopping online . . . use CREDIT. Credit cards have much stronger fraud protections built in. Most have “zero liability” policies for fraudulent use, so you never lose money. It’s a lot harder to get your money back if someone uses your debit card.

2. Expensive purchases . . . use CREDIT. Most credit cards offer extra warranty protection that goes beyond manufacturers’ warranties. So if something breaks after the regular warranty is up, your credit card might still cover it.

3. On vacation . . . use CREDIT. The anti-fraud protection is extra important in unfamiliar places. But you can also get deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars. Using debit often means they put a hold on your money until your payment clears.

4. When the other party needs immediate payment . . . use DEBIT. Debit transactions go through instantly, but credit transactions can take a day or two to clear.

5. If you’ve automated your budget . . . use DEBIT. You can set up your paycheck to be divided up automatically into different accounts, and keep a separate account for fun expenses. Use a debit card for that account, and just have fun until it’s empty.

6. If you’re bad with money . . . use DEBIT. It’s the only way to make sure you never spend money that you don’t have.

7. If you need to get foreign currency . . . use DEBIT. When you go to an ATM in a foreign country, a debit card gives you the wholesale exchange rate that banks only offer to each other. You get a worse rate using a credit card to buy from an exchange.

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