9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card

Photo by l i g h t p o e t / Shutterstock.com

A debit card is a lot like cash, because transactions are instantaneous. The minute you check out is essentially the minute that money leaves your bank account.

Using debit cards can be risky, too. They don’t offer a lot of financial protection and are more attractive to thieves in certain situations.

For these reasons and others, sometimes you’re better offer using a credit card or cold, hard cash. Here are nine examples:

1. Online purchases

It’s safer to pay with a credit card when shopping online, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If cybercriminals intercept your debit card number, they can immediately drain your account.

Credit cards come with more protection. For example, as we explain in “7 Ways to Guard Your Wallet — and Identity — When Shopping Online,” credit card transactions are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act:

“This federal law provides you certain consumer protections, like the ability to dispute billing errors and to withhold payment while your creditor investigates the disputed charges. Perhaps more importantly, the law generally limits your responsibility for unauthorized credit card charges to $50.”

2. Gas

Gas stations can be hot spots for criminal activity. According to Visa, about 1.3% of payment fraud in the U.S. occurs at fuel pumps.

The FTC warns travelers about the use of card skimmers at gas pumps. Skimmers are illegal card readers that criminals can attach to payment terminals. Fuel pump payment terminals are attractive targets because they are not manned by employees.

The FTC continues:

“These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge. Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. You won’t know your information has been stolen until you get your statement or an overdraft notice.”

Though not a completely risk-free option, a credit card is safer for buying gas.

If you must use a debit card, the FTC advises running it as a credit card. When you use a debit card as a credit card, you won’t have to enter the PIN — which helps keep your PIN safe — and the money won’t be immediately deducted from your bank account.

3. Eating out

Let your debit card out of sight for a few minutes, and it could end up in the wrong hands — or in a card skimmer.

Try to use cash or a credit card when eating out — unless your waiter brings a handheld payment system to the table so your plastic never leaves your sight.

4. Hotel reservations

To secure your room reservation and cover incidentals, hotels will put a hold on your payment card. If you give a hotel a debit card, it will effectively take the amount of the hold out of your bank account, according to Frommer’s.

The funds will be returned after you check out. But it might take your bank several days to process the request, meaning the funds will remain inaccessible to you for several days after your hotel stay.

Avoid the headache and book hotels with a credit card, instead. Just be careful not to exceed your credit limit while the hold is on your credit card.

5. Car rentals

If you don’t have a credit card, renting a car will likely cost you more than the daily fee.

Some Avis, Budget and Hertz locations, for example, perform credit checks on many customers who rent with a debit card, according to their websites. That can ding your credit score.

Some car rental companies might also place a hold on your debit card.

6. Other rental items

When it comes to planning events — like a wedding or child’s birthday party — use a credit card to rent tables, tents and bounce houses.

Party rental companies often require a deposit. So, presenting a debit card means the deposit amount will be taken straight out of your bank account.

The same goes for renting trucks and tools at a home improvement store.

7. Big-ticket items

Have you ever had new furniture delivered, only to find the corners dinged or the upholstery stained?

If you paid with a credit card, you could dispute the charges and get your money back. Again, the Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the ability to dispute credit card transactions and to withhold payment while your credit card company investigates.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same with debit card transactions. Plus, the money will be long gone from your bank account before you even notice the furniture damage.

8. Subscriptions and automatic purchases

In the age of meal-delivery services, auto-ship programs and electronic toll-road passes, you may be tempted to set it and forget it.

You simply put your debit card on file, and the company automatically charges you on a recurring basis. But if you don’t tally these expenses into your monthly budget, your bank account might end up in the red.

To avoid overdraft fees, use your credit card for automatic recurring expenses.

9. Cash withdrawals at independent ATMs

Withdrawing cash at a freestanding ATM can put your debit card in danger. These machines are less likely to be monitored than ATMs at banks, which means fraudsters can more easily compromise them.

So, if you’re trying to get cash to buy dinner, use an ATM at a physical bank.

Would you add any types of expenses to this list? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately
30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save. These canny deals are a good bet for savings.

8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

25 Things You Should Never Buy — and What to Buy Instead
25 Things You Should Never Buy — and What to Buy Instead

If you really want to save money, become a more intentional shopper.

The 2 Biggest Retirement Fears of Baby Boomers
The 2 Biggest Retirement Fears of Baby Boomers

Boomers have a lot of worries as they age, but two stand out.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change
5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change

Here’s where Biden — as well as Trump — stands on the future of the Social Security retirement system.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.