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Daily Q&A: When should I use a credit card vs. a debit card?

When is it better to use a credit card as opposed to a debit card?

These days that's an important question. With online purchases growing, one general rule suggested by the Pinellas Department of Justice and Consumer Services is to use a credit card so you can more easily dispute charges and get your money back.

Even so, Creditcard.com, citing the Nielsen Report, says 58 percent of transactions are made with debit cards. Here are some suggestions from Creditcard.com about when to use credit cards vs. debit:

• Control: Using a debit card avoids living beyond your means (a good option for people carrying debt).

• Protection with signature: Signature-based debit card transactions receive the same protection against unauthorized purchases as credit cards (Note: This policy can change at any time with debit cards).

• Merchant disputes: Whether you are dissatisfied with your purchase or have an unauthorized transaction, it can be harder for the consumer to resolve disputes with merchants, especially with a PIN-based debit transaction.

• No monthly bill: Without a monthly bill, some consumers may not be as diligent about consistently reviewing their bank statements for errors or unauthorized transactions.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: When should I use a credit card vs. a debit card? 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:28am]
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