my debit cardUpdated: June 28, 2019

If you prefer to foot all of your everyday purchases with a debit card and some cash, I was once like you. That is, until I did a deep dive into the world of credit cards, a story that ended with me ditching my debit card for a credit card.

If you’re a die-hard debit card user, I was once like you. I never imagined that I’d let my debit card sit (mostly) useless in my wallet, but it’s happened and I wish I’d done it sooner — for many good reasons. To help you better understand why I made this decision and why you should break up with your debit card, too, here’s why I ultimately ended up favoring my credit card over my debit card.

Why did I ditch my debit card?

Debit cards tend to be what people are most familiar with, since these are issued when you open up a bank account for quick and easy access to your money. As such, many people tend to use them by default for a majority of their purchases (or opt to pay cash). When I finally sat down and learned about the differences between debit cards and credit cards, the pros of credit cards really began to surface. In fact, discovering the differences between these payment options is what got me to first start questioning my debit card love.

So why in the world would someone ditch their debit card for a credit card? Given the credit card horror stories involving people who’ve missed credit card payments, gone into debt or gotten their card stolen in a data breach, it’s only natural for this question to pop up in your mind. But it turns out that most of these situations can be easy to prevent or recover from. In fact, after finding out about the many perks of using credit over debit, I started to question my heavy reliance on my debit card for purchases. Keep reading to learn about these reasons why credit cards will always trump debit cards.

Credit cards offer stronger fraud protection

It’s true that getting your credit card or debit card stolen can be panic-inducing — something I unfortunately know from experience. Luckily, federal law protects both credit and debit card holders by limiting their liability for charges that they didn’t make, depending on when the theft/fraud is reported, and you get extra protection when the lost or stolen card is a credit card. Here’s a comparison of the laws:

  • If your debit card is lost or stolen: Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), if you report the missing debit card before it’s used, you aren’t liable for unauthorized charges made through that card. In the case that the missing card isn’t reported before it’s used, the amount of money you lose depends on how quickly you report your card’s missing or stolen status. For example, if you report your missing card within 2 business days, you can lose up to $50, but if you report it more than 60 days after your statement is sent to you, all the money that’s been stolen may be lost — and possibly even more. The same applies if your debit card number is stolen.
  • If your credit card is lost or stolen: If your card is lost or stolen and unauthorized charges are made, the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) ensures that you’re only liable for up to $50 — period. Like with debit cards, reporting a lost credit card as soon as possible can also work in your favor. Under the FCBA, if you report your lost or stolen credit card before any fraudulent transactions take place, you won’t be held liable for unauthorized charges whatsoever — the same applies for stolen credit card numbers.

As you can see, under the law, consumers have less liability for stolen credit cards than debit cards overall. It’s worth noting that, nowadays, some banks are strengthening the fraud protections of their customers’ debit cards, but it’s also worth keeping in mind funds that are stolen through your debit card come directly from your bank account. Even if you wind up getting your money back, it’s far easier to deal with a maxed-out credit card than a drained bank account, especially since most credit card issuers offer $0 fraud liability (on top of your legal protections) that ensures you will never pay a cent for unauthorized charges made to your account. This is on top of a plethora of other security features that credit card issuers have devised. So, I rest my case: credit cards win out when it comes to fraud protection.

Credit cards help build your credit history

Another reason why I ditched my debit card for a credit card? After doing some more research, I realized that my credit history was seriously lacking because of my practically nonexistent credit usage. This was something that I wanted to fix, since a credit history — specifically, a good credit history — is a must if you want to pay lower interest rates, widen your loan options and increase other financial opportunities. When creditors make decisions about extending loans or determining your interest rates, they typically look to your credit reports and credit scores to finalize their decisions. One of the best ways to get started on building healthy credit is to use a credit card regularly, since credit card issuers report your responsible payment behavior to one or more of the three major credit bureaus. Debit cards offer no credit-building opportunities, since they merely draw money from your own bank account. As such, I thought it would be wise to make my credit card my preferred payment card for my monthly bills and groceries so I could get started demonstrating financial reliability by building a good credit history.

Credit cards can earn you rewards

One other thing that I was missing out on by letting my credit card sit useless? The huge rewards that you can earn through them. If you’re looking to accumulate travel miles for your trip to tropical islands, earn points to redeem for gift cards, merchandise and more, or get cash back on your everyday purchases, you want a rewards credit card by your side. All you have to do is to pick the card that best fits you and your lifestyle. It’s also good to know that many credit cards come with hefty intro bonuses that you can earn by spending a certain amount in a specific time frame or simply opening the account. Rewards credit cards not only offer the fraud protection and credit building opportunities discussed above, but they let you turn the purchases you were already going to make into rewards that you can enjoy. Now that’s a win-win!

Given all of these benefits, I finally decided to ditch my debit card for my credit card, and I’d challenge you to do so, too. Now that you know more about why you should stop using your debit card and start using credit instead, get more wisdom about personal finance and credit cards by reading our credit card blog.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.