Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
- Credit cards offer additional purchase and fraud protections that debit cards do not.
- Aside from fraud protection, if you choose the right card and pay it off in full every month, you can use a credit card for free (and even get paid through rewards).
- Cards like the American Express® Gold Card and the Chase Freedom card offer zero liability in the case of fraud, plus purchase protection.
I use my debit card on occasion at a gas station where credit cards are charged an extra fee, but I typically avoid using my debit card anywhere but an ATM.
There are two reasons for this.
- I get a ton of travel rewards using my credit cards.
- I don’t want to risk fraud in my primary checking account.
If your card number is stolen, it can be used for online or in-person purchases. I’ve had my credit card numbers compromised a couple of times, and it seems to be a semi-regular occurrence for other people I know. While it’s an inconvenience, it’s not a huge deal.
Debit card fraud has the potential to be much more inconvenient – and more costly.
According to the FTC, you could lose all of the money in your accounts if you don’t notice the fraud within 60 days of the time your bank statement is put in the mail. (People who use an online money management app should notice problems well before then.)
From the point you report a debit card as stolen, you are not liable for any charges. If you report the loss within two business days, your losses are limited to $US50. If you report the loss between two and 60 days after the fraud takes place, your liability is limited to $US500.
Even if your losses are covered by the bank, it can take months to get your funds restored. That could be long enough to miss important rent, mortgage, or insurance payments if you don’t have a separate account with enough savings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be liable for a dollar of fraud.
Looking for a better checking account? Consider these offers from our partners:
Most credit cards offer $US0 liability fraud protection
By law, liability for credit card fraud is limited to just $US50. In even the worst cases of credit card fraud, you are likely better protected than in any scenario involving debit. If your card number is stolen but not your physical card, you have zero liability by law.
But most banks and credit card issuers take fraud protection a step further. They guarantee you will be liable for $US0 in the event of credit card fraud. You can’t beat $US0 liability. For the most part, all major credit card issuers have a no liability policy in place. That includes Chase, American Express, Capital One, Barclaycard, Citi, Bank of America, Discover, and other popular card issuers.
If you find an unrecognised transaction, call up your card issuer and they will remove the transaction from your balance. You never have to pay for it and don’t have to wait to get your money back as you do with a debit card.
Credit cards may offer purchase and travel insurance
Credit card fraud protection is an amazing benefit, but many cards also offer purchase protection and travel insurance. Take a look at the American Express® Gold Card, Chase Freedom, and Citi Double Cash as some excellent cards for purchase protection.
When you hit the road (or the skies), many cards offer additional travel insurance as well. Most premium travel cards include benefits like rental car insurance, trip interruption insurance, lost baggage coverage, emergency travel assistance, and other benefits. Check your card benefit details to learn more about what you may already have today.
Credit cards are not right for everyone, but they’re the best way to pay if you can manage them well
Before you rush off and apply for a new credit card, consider your money habits and history. If you have a history of carrying a large credit card balance, missed, or late payments, you may be better off avoiding credit cards.
If a credit card would lead to heaps of interest, fees, and other costs for you, avoid them. The fraud benefits alone are not worth turning your finances upside down if you can’t manage them well.
To use credit cards responsibly and build an excellent credit score, keep your balances low or paid off and always pay by the statement’s monthly due date.
If you can keep your card paid off in full, it is by far the best way to pay. It offers multiple layers of protection, helps you manage your cash flow, and may even pay you back every time you use it for a purchase. That’s a huge win for your money.
Click here to learn more about the American Express® Gold Card from Business Insider’s partner: The Points Guy »
Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom card from Business Insider’s partner: The Points Guy »
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.