Debit cards are a convenient way to pay for things without carrying a lot of cash around and without piling up credit card debt. However, debit cards can place you more at risk of identity theft and fraud. That’s because most debit cards don’t come with the same protections major credit cards do. If someone hacks your debit card, they can drain real money from your personal account, and that money might be gone for good.
Here are some places where it’s safer for you to use a credit card than a debit card.
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Car Rental Locations
When you rent a car, the company places a hold on your credit card for the amount of the rental. The same thing happens when you use a debit card, the same thing happens. Although the money doesn’t leave your account, it’s “frozen” and unavailable for you to use.
Gas stations may also place holds on cards. Worse, though, is that gas stations are notorious locations for skimmers, devices that steal account information from cards. Especially avoid gas stations in dark places late at night.
Getting cashback is one of the appeals of using debit cards in grocery stores—it saves a trip to an ATM—but grocery stores get hit by skimmers, too. While the regular checkout lanes tend to be safer because employees are always present, you should never use a debit card in a self-checkout lane.
Hotels often place holds on cards as well to cover damage you might cause or items you might remove. As with other holds, you won’t be able to use those funds but might need them. Plus, if there’s a dispute over the final bill, you have less power to get your money back.
Independent and Isolated ATMs
ATMs tucked away in corners of stores or unaffiliated with major banks are prime targets for thieves installing skimmers. If you need to make a cash withdrawal, it’s better to go to a bank and use the ATM there, where there is more security. For even better protection, only go when the bank is open.
Never pay online (or by phone) with a debit card. Even sites that have legitimate security certificates can be attacked by hackers, and there are other sites that are fraudulent, to begin with. Federal law limits liability for fraudulent debit purchases to $50, and some banks will completely cover you, but dealing with identity theft or debit card fraud is a major hassle no one should have to go through.
Places or Services Requiring Recurring Payments
Gyms, landscaping companies, utilities, and other businesses often require automatic recurring payments. Don’t link them to a debit card. First, you might need the money for other things. Second, there are countless stories of people canceling services but still being charged for them. It’s easier to protect yourself with a credit card in these instances.
Restaurants and Bars
When you hand your card over at a restaurant or bar, it usually leaves your sight for a period of time. While most restaurants and bars are good about vetting employees who handle payments, you can still never be sure if that server you gave your card to is perpetrating fraud against you out of sight.
Sellers Requiring Payment Now Who Deliver Later
Paying upfront and receiving delivery later is common and not inherently illegitimate. However, if you change your mind, the wrong item is delivered, or the item is never delivered at all, you’ve got a big mess on your hands if you paid with a debit card since the money has already left your account.
Travel Agencies and Destinations
When booking future travel, whether through an airline, a travel agent, or a destination, never use your debit card. If you have to pay in advance, that money is gone from your account. What if your plans change? What if the charming little local-owned motel you’re going to stay at closes? Airlines are already notoriously difficult to deal with, and it’s even harder when they already have your money.
Travel Alert: These Are the 10 Riskiest Countries to Use a Credit Card
Most of us are aware of certain places, such as gas stations, grocery stores, unknown online sellers, and ATMs not affiliated with major banks that present more of a risk, but there are also certain countries where it’s riskier to use a credit card. The following are the ten riskiest countries to use a credit card.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.