Debit and credit cards are both used to make purchases, but they aren’t quite the same.
Debit cards are linked to checking or spending accounts. When you use your debit card to complete a transaction, the funds are automatically deducted from your checking or spending account. By contrast, credit cards allow you to purchase goods or services on credit and repay what you spend (with interest) at a later date.
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Selecting Debit or Credit During a Transaction
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how debit and credit cards differ.
When you swipe your card to make a purchase at a store, you may be prompted to select debit or credit. Does it matter which option you choose? Yes and no.
Your debit card most likely can be run as a debit or credit transaction at the point of sale.
Running your debit card as debit is pretty straightforward: Enter your personal identification number (PIN) and the monies will be deducted right away from your checking account.
When selecting the credit option for your debit card, the system will more than likely allow you to bypass entering your PIN. You will likely be prompted to enter your zip code instead. The funds will still be drawn from your account, but it may take a few days before the completed transaction clears.
Credit cards don’t quite work this way. The credit card issuer may send you a PIN, but it can only be used for cash advances at ATMs. So, if you swipe your credit card and select “debit” as the card type, the transaction won’t go through.
When using your credit card, always select credit at the point of sale. Most of the time, you will have to sign for the items purchased and you will be on your way.
The purchase will show up on your statement, but you will not have to pay for the item in full at the time of the transaction. Instead, you’ll be charged interest on the item for the credit issuer to cover the payment.
Will My Debit Card Always Work When Run as Credit?
Using your debit card for everyday purchases to keep you on budget and to know how much money is in your bank account is a good idea, but there are a few instances when using your debit card isn’t ideal. Keep reading to see where a line of credit can really help when making purchases.
Planning to take a trip soon? The hotel or rental car company may ask that you put a credit card on file to guarantee your reservation. If you choose to you a debit card, you may be assessed a larger monetary hold.
This means funds will be deducted from your bank account until the reservation is complete. Some rental car companies also require you to undergo a credit screening and provide additional documentation before they will allow you to use a debit card to rent a vehicle.
Keep in mind that credit card holds for travel accommodations are usually released quickly. This frees up your available credit for use right away. However, the debit card hold usually takes 7 to 10 business days to clear, and your funds are tied up until then.
Ever look at your bank statement after going to a restaurant and see multiple pending deductions? This can happen when the server swipes your card to authorize for the total bill and then again when reauthorizing the card to add gratuity. While the double payment will eventually fall off your statement, it might tie up some of your funds in your bank account until then.
Making a large purchase on a low-interest credit card is often a safe option. This lets you spread your payments of the item out over a few months rather than a lump sum all at once.
Some credit cards may also offer cashback on the item category as well as offer buyer-protection of the items. For instance, if the item you received is damaged or stolen, the credit card company may handle the claim on your behalf. For a powerful debit card that also includes credit card-like cashback and buyer protection, check out the MoneyLion Debit Mastercard.
Can You Build Credit with a Debit Card?
Purchases made on a debit card are not reported to the credit bureaus and do not affect your credit score.
However, credit card activity factors into credit reporting. So, you want to be mindful of your spending and card management habits.
Make timely credit card payments (at least the minimum due) each month, as payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score. If your account is delinquent for 30 days or more, your credit score will likely take a hit.
It’s also essential to keep your credit utilization ratio on your credit cards at 30% or lower. If the aggregate amount credit limit on all your cards is $1,000, your outstanding balance should not exceed $300 if you want the best shot at a good or excellent credit score.
Should You Have a Debit Card and a Credit Card?
Yes, having both a direct line to what is in your bank account with a debit card and a line of credit with a credit card is a great way to build your financial profile.
Get a Debit Card with Perks
While many debit cards are straight-forward and offer few perks for using them, the MoneyLion Debit Mastercard with the RoarMoney account lets you earn cashback on everyday purchases and offers powerful Mastercard benefits, including identity theft protection with dark web monitoring, Zero Liability protection against unauthorized purchases, Extended Warranty Coverage, and much more.
Each time you use your MoneyLion Debit Mastercard or virtual card, you will have the opportunity to win up to $120 with Shake ‘N Bank rewards. Every dollar you win can be redeemed for cash and deposited directly into a MoneyLion Managed Investment account to help you grow wealth (or to withdraw, if you prefer).
You can learn how to get started with RoarMoney here.
Choosing the Right Credit Card
When researching credit cards, you should keep in mind what you will be likely to use that card for. If you plan to only use the card for travel, at restaurants, or just having a safety net make sure the interest rate and benefits are geared towards you.
A good credit card will often have introductory benefits such as 0% interest on purchases for a few months after opening the account, a waived annual fee the first year, or a hefty cashback reward on your first purchase. Make sure to read the fine print so you don’t get stuck overpaying after the promo period.
Remember to always use your credit card responsibly and keep your credit utilization around 30% to help maintain a solid credit score.
Building Your Financial Profile
Debit and credit cards are very useful tools that fit right in your back pocket. Learning how and when to use each type of card is a great way to stay on top of your finances.
To continue to build financial freedom, join MoneyLion, your one-stop for all things banking, investing, budgeting, saving, and building credit.