I have both cards in my wallet. Which one should I use? And does it really matter?
It depends. Different cards offer all kinds of features, but here’s some general information about what you can typically expect:
When you use a debit card, money comes out of your checking account almost immediately. If you don’t have enough money available, your transaction won’t go through. This can help you avoid spending money you don’t have (unless you have an overdraft line of credit). The down side? If someone commits fraud with your debit card, you won’t know until after your money has left the account.
A credit card, on the other hand, lets you purchase on credit and pay back your balance all at once or in multiple payments. In return for this convenience, you may be charged interest on outstanding balances and possibly fees. Many people prefer to use credit cards – especially for online purchases – because if fraudulent activity occurs, you have the opportunity to contest the charge before any money changes hand.
Some credit cards also offer rewards (travel, merchandise, gift cards, account credits). One more benefit of a credit card? Used wisely, it can help you build your credit score.
Check with your bank or credit union to find out exactly how your card works.