What is safer debit or credit?

Amanda Hanson

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Most people in today's world do not carry cash anymore.  So, in a plastic world, there can be some risks involved.  The question is which is the best alternative debit or credit?  When you open your bill fold, you might not even think about it.  Financial consultant Gary Patterson says credit, "With a debit card, you have a whole lot less protection typically through your debit card because it's linked directly to your checking account."

Online shopping has increased over the years often leaving people vulnerable. "If you've used your debit card online and you have a problem with that purchase or you don't get your purchase and your account's already been charged there is not much you can do," Says Patterson.  "If something happens whether its identity theft or they take too much money out of your bank account you could cause some of your very important bills not to get paid."  These types of situations cause you to end up with fees.  Credit card companies often offer product liability or insurance for additional protection.

One of the most common places you see consumers using debit cards is at a restaurant.  It is never safe to let someone walk off with your card.  They could easily write your information down or run it through a skimmer.  "It's a card reader they run that card very quickly through that skimmer, and they can get all of your personal information," says Patterson.

When it comes to booking travel in advance a credit card is best choice.  Hotel computers are not immune to hackers, and when your information is sitting in their computers for months in advance puts you at risk.  It also goes for reoccurring payments.  There have been so many cases where an individual will cancel a service, and the company continues to charge them.  This can end up messing with your bank account and cause checks to bounce if the charges were not expected.

Some gas stations and hotels well put blocks on your debit card.  For example, you may purchase $15.00 in gas, but the gas station will put a $50.00 hold on your card.  If you just had enough to cover the gas you put in, you could be charged with over draft fees.

If you are going to use a debit card, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself.  "When you use a debt card, be sure you get a written receipt.  I've seen people in public before and they'll use that debit card they'll throw the receipt away or tell the cashier they don't need one," says Patterson you also want to look out for shoulder surfing.   "They may act like they're texting and hold the camera up and video tape you do your transaction."