As someone who's been a victim of identity theft multiple times, I know firsthand how important it is to keep your personal information safe, and how frustrating it can be once it's compromised.
Here's a valuable tip: If you can't use cash, use credit cards. You should aim to use debit cards only in the event that you need to withdraw money from the ATM.
Credit cards offer two key advantages over debit cards:
1. They're safer: Most credit cards these days offer consumers zero liability protection. This means that they're not responsible for any transactions made without their authorization. All fraudulent purchases are removed, thus bringing the cardholder's balance to where it should be.
With debit cards, the process isn't as hassle-free. The bank will dig deeper to ensure you didn't make the transactions and will usually require you to fill out and send over paperwork. What's worse, you have to wait for the bank to give you your money back. It's always more painful to lost hard, tangible cash.
2. Points and rewards: One of my cards gives me points for every purchase I make with it; I can then redeem those points for cash, merchandise, and more. The other allows me to earn cash rewards. Over time, the perks really add up. It's always nice to look at your account and realize you've accrued enough to buy that dress you've been eyeing at the mall or to pay your electricity bill. With debit cards, however, you reap few benefits beyond the most fundamental purpose of the card: to pay for stuff.
Those not keen on using credit cards will point to the pitfalls of using them too heavily, like credit card debt.
But consumers have no business signing up for credit cards unless they're sure they can pay their bills on time. As with eating and drinking, they key is to do things in moderation. Spending frivolously can lead to serious problems in the long run.
Do you prefer using credit cards to debit cards? Why or why not?