The Risk of Choosing Debit Cards Over Credit Cards

The Risk of Choosing Debit Cards Over Credit Cards

Posted on February 7, 2012 by Jennifer in Security Features

Credit cards and debit cards have some obvious similarities, such as the convenience factor of enabling you to shop online. But when it comes to everyday use, does it really matter which card you choose to use? For example, let’s say you’re the type of person who only spends what you actually have anyway (the type who would pay off a credit card balance in full each month). Wouldn’t it be easier just to use a debit card?

It might. But debit cards have too much risk involved for some consumers. Let’s look at how debit cards can be risky and what makes credit cards different.

How Debit Cards Can be Risky

There will always be risks when you make a purchase — from stolen cash being irreplaceable to identity theft or stolen credit cards. But there are two specific risks involved with using debit cards:

  1. Debit cards don’t always offer as much protection as credit cards (as far as what you can be held responsible for if a thief makes unauthorized purchases).
  2. Debit cards are tied to your bank account. That means a thief can potentially drain your actual account balances as opposed to only accessing a credit limit. If you were counting on that money, you could be out of luck (at least until the issue is sorted out).

How Credit Cards Can Reduce Those Risks

Credit cards aren’t perfect financial tools either. But they can offer more protection than debit cards. For example:

  1. If someone uses your credit card to make fraudulent purchases, you probably won’t have to pay much personally. Some credit cards offer $0 liability (meaning you don’t have to pay anything) while others only hold you responsible for a small amount of those fraudulent purchases, such as up to $50.
  2. Your credit card isn’t tied to your own money. It’s tied to a credit line. So even if someone runs up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges, you haven’t technically lost any money. You can still pay your bills. You can still buy what you need using cash in your account. You won’t be financially drained.


Of course credit cards can go beyond alleviating debit card risks. If you have a rewards card, you might even earn something back when you use the card regularly. The biggest risk on the credit card side is the potential to go into credit card debt. But if you’re disciplined enough to pay off your balance regularly, you can eliminate that risk and enjoy the protection credit cards can offer worry-free.