For the last decade, debit cards have been the most common payment method in the U.S. due to banks issuing a debit card with every new checking account, the number of debit cardholders has stayed high. But in the last five years, Americans have started giving up on debit cards.
Since 2013, the percentage of households using debit cards dropped almost 20 percent in favor of alternative payment methods like credit cards and electronic payments (Apple Pay, etc). According to a report from ValuePenguin, almost a third more households pay with credit now compared to five years ago.
But why are more people signing up for credit cards than before? The study says that consumers are starting to prefer credit cards due to their benefits that debit cards don’t offer.
“Credit cards provide consumers with multiple advantages over debit cards, and the disparity in benefits has continued to increase year after year. Not only do credit cards partially subsidize spending via cash back and rewards programs, they also offer a much safer way to spend money.”
Most consumers are in it for the perks. Multiple credit cards offer high cash back value and added rewards. Travel cards offer flyer miles per purchase, complimentary lounge access in thousands of airports and more.
Credit cards also add an extra layer of protection. According to ValuePenguin, “Debit card spending is reflected instantly in a user’s bank balance, while credit card expenses can be canceled in case of fraud or theft.”
With a debit card, if you report an unauthorized transaction within two days, you could be liable for up to $50. But if you wait and report it up to 60 days later, you may be liable for upwards of $500. With a credit card, fraud won’t end up costing you any more than $50, if that.
The best way to use a credit card is to link it with your checking account and pay it off at the end of each week, or bi-weekly. However, if you carry a high card balance or have a tendency to rack up lots of high-interest debt, it may be more feasible for you to switch back to a debit card to break your debt cycle.
Pro tip: If you want to be a thoughtful customer, don’t use credit when shopping at small businesses. Owners usually pay extra to process credit card transactions, and this can cut into their profits.