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Credit Card vs Debit Card: A Quick Overview

Credit Card vs. Debit Card

In general, the design of credit cards vs. debit cards shares components, such as magnetic strips, EMV chips, expiration dates, and card numbers with 16 digits. Whether you purchase in a traditional store or do all of your business online, both can significantly improve the quality of your shopping experience, with one key difference. 

The money you spend with a debit card comes directly from your bank account. Credit cards are a convenient way to borrow money from your card issuer for making purchases or getting cash advances, up to a set limit.

Your wallet contains at least two financial instruments: a credit card and a debit card. While the ease and security they provide are unrivaled, there are significant distinctions between the two that could have a major impact on your budget. Here’s a guide on how to choose the best one to fulfill your financial responsibilities.

What Is a Credit Card?

Credit cards are cards that are granted by a financial establishment, most commonly a bank, and they give the cardholder the ability to borrow funds from that same financial establishment. Cardholders consent to repaying the principal plus interest to the financial establishment.

If you choose to roll over a balance from one month to the next, interest will be accrued on the amount of that balance. Credit card interest rates are sometimes much higher than those of other types of loans, and both your credit card balance, as well as payment record, can have an effect on your credit rating.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

A credit card is a convenient way to pay for things like groceries and electricity bills. Credit card details are sent directly to the merchant’s bank when you make a purchase. The bank next submits an application to begin working with the credit card company. 

If all seems good, your card issuer will either authorize the purchase or refuse it based on the information you provided. If everything checks out, your credit card will be charged the amount you specified, and the money will be taken from your account and given to the merchant. 

Your card company will give you a statement at the end of each billing cycle detailing all of your purchases, the change from the previous month’s balance, the minimum payment required, and the due date.

Credit Card Advantages and Disadvantages

The pros and cons of utilizing credit cards for everyday purchases are explored below.


  • Establish a Credit History – By maintaining a modest card debt in relation to the available credit, regular card users have a better chance of increasing their credit scores.
  • Warranty as well as Purchase Protections – When making a purchase, some credit cards will extend their own warranties or insurance coverage for the item beyond what the store or manufacturer will grant.
  • Scam Prevention – Customers who report their cards lost or stolen within the grace period have no responsibility for charges made after the card was reported missing, up to the amount of $50.


  • It’s possible for spending to pile up debt – Credit card purchases are actually made with the bank’s money rather than the cardholder’s. It is necessary to repay this loan with interest.
  • Impacts on credit score – If you have a pattern of paying late, using your cards to their maximum limit, closing down older accounts, or applying for new credit too frequently, you may be doing damage to your credit score.
  • Costs and Interest – Your credit card debt will incur interest because it is a short-term borrowing.

When Does a Credit Card Make Sense?

You can borrow money whenever you need it and return it whenever it’s convenient for you using a credit card. Your credit score can take a knock if you don’t have the correct habits and goals.

Some scenarios where a credit card could be the most convenient option include the following:

  • Whenever you want to  go shopping online. In comparison to using a debit card, making an online purchase using a credit card is safer from the perspective of the card issuer in the event of fraud liability.
  • When taking additional measures to protect yourself from fraudulent charges while buying online. Modern digital wallets have several layers of protection in place to keep your credit card information safe whenever you make an online purchase.

What Is a Debit Card?

When using a debit card, the money for the purchase comes straight out of the cardholder’s checking account, as opposed to the credit card, which requires the holder to pay using money that has been borrowed from the card provider or bank.

It’s possible to incur an overdraft fee if you make a purchase that exceeds the funds available in your bank account. Your balance will remain negative unless you add money to your account. Many banks provide overdraft protection by letting customers link their checking accounts to another type of account, generally a savings account.

However, in most cases, a fee is still required to obtain this level of protection. You also have the option to decline the overdraft protection that is offered. In this scenario, the transaction will not go through if it would put you above your available balance.

Moreover, the utilization of a debit card, in contrast to the utilization of a credit card, has no effect on the user’s credit score.

How Do Debit Cards Work?

Debit cards are typically plastic rectangles, comparable in size and shape to credit cards. It is linked to the client’s checking account with a bank or credit union, among other financial institutions.

The size of the account, or the total quantity of money that is available in the account, directly influences the maximum amount of cash that may be spent using it.

Debit cards combine the convenience of an ATM card with the flexibility of a credit card. As with the former, you may use them to withdraw cash from an ATM, and as with the latter, you can utilize them to make purchases.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Debit Cards

Like credit cards, debit cards have both benefits and drawbacks. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of utilizing debit cards for regular purchases.


  • Don’t Get Behind in Debt – A debit card uses funds already in the account, so there is no risk of going into debt. This can be useful for avoiding the pitfalls of borrowing money at high-interest rates.
  • Anti-Fraud Measures – Fraudulent purchases made with a debit card can quickly deplete an account or cause an overdraft because of the direct connection between the card and the bank account.
  • No Annual Fee – When compared to credit cards, debit cards don’t have yearly fees. Using your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM owned by your bank doesn’t cost you anything, either.


  • Having No Rewards – Unless you have a bank account that offers rewards, using your debit card won’t net you anything in the way of bonuses when you shop.
  • Cannot Improve Credit Ratings – Having a solid credit history shows potential lenders that you are reliable and able to pay back any loans on time. This isn’t an option when using a debit card associated with a checking account, so that method alone won’t aid you to establish or develop credit.
  • Fees – Although there are no annual fees for debit cards, some checking accounts nevertheless charge monthly maintenance costs. Overdraft costs, returned item fees, international ATM fees, and monthly maintenance fees are all examples of such charges.

When Does a Debit Card Make Sense?

Using a debit card is equivalent to using cash because it can be utilized to make purchases directly from a checking account. If you’re trying to decide between debit and credit, here are a few situations in which debit might win out.

  • When trying to avoid falling into debt. An example of when a debit card would be useful is when one is trying to stay within a budget and avoid going over their spending limit.
  • Withdrawing funds as necessary. Get cash from an ATM using your debit card if you can. By adopting this approach, you can avoid paying any additional interest or fees than necessary.
  • Anytime Interest costs should be minimized. For the time being, utilize a debit card instead of a high-interest credit card as you attempt to pay off your balance.

Bottom Line

When making a purchase, is it preferable to use debit or credit? That’s up for discussion. As long as the card is used properly and the debt is paid off on time, the benefits of having a credit card, such as higher rewards and enhanced fraud protection, often outweigh the possible expenses.

On the other side, using a debit card can help you save money if you’re trying to stick to a budget or avoid interest expenses and credit card debt.

By using a credit card instead of a debit card, you are able to make use of the additional financial safeguards offered by the credit card in addition to the convenience and low transaction costs offered by the debit card.

Avoid making a charge on your credit card unless you can pay for the full amount effortlessly from cash, a checking account, a savings account, or some other liquid asset.

In contrast to debit cards, credit cards can be used “like cash” as long as the balance is paid in full at the end of each billing cycle. Therefore, credit cards are the most practical tool for building wealth over the long term while keeping interest payments to a minimum.

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