As consumers deal sort through their credit card issues, debit cards are rising to the top of the financial food chain. According to the 2011 TSYS & Mercator Advisory Group Debit Survey, debit cards are the preferred type of payment, over checks, cash and credit cards.
Don’t let this news give you a false sense of freedom. Here are a couple places that you should never use your debit card.
- Online. Credit cards usually work better for online use. If a scammer happens to get a hold of your card number, it is better that they have your credit card and don’t have that direct access to your checking account. If your debit card number is stolen, you will have to go through the process of opening a new account and linking a new card with it.
- Bars. Scammers and debit card skimmers love bars and restaurants. People hardly ever remember a face they see in a restaurant. There are way too many prying eyes around, that you don’t know who is watching you and your card. The possibilities for scams are vast in a restaurant— you could accidently leave your card, your card could get stolen, or when you give your card for payment your debit card number could be duplicated and used to make unauthorized purchases in the future.
- Rentals. Try and use a credit card if you have to put money down on any large rental— such as a car or hotel purchase. If you use a debit card for these expenses, the business will withdrawal the money from your account as a security deposit. The money is usually returned upon the return of the equipment. With a credit card, you don’t have to worry about the money being gone, as it’s just held in your account.
- Wi-Fi Spots. Yes, this even means at your neighborhood Starbucks. Don’t use your debit card over unsecure networks. Scammers and hackers are masters at maneuvering through these unsecured networks. Protect yourself by purchasing a USB that allows you portable wireless access wherever you go.
- Automated Payments. Use your credit card for automated payments such as gym memberships, Netflix, and other monthly accounts. If too many businesses get their hands on your debit number, you are more susceptible to fraud, unauthorized charges and identity theft. Also, if there is a dispute over the matter the company may try and take the funds out of your bank account. If the payment was linked to your credit card account, you wouldn’t be financially hurt by the missing money.
Debit cards are a great resource. They combine the flexibility of credit cards with the concrete funds of cash. As more and more people rely on debit cards for receiving and making payments, it’s important to know debit card etiquette, in order to keep your checking account as healthy as it can be.