Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Her First $100K’s Tori Dunlap Has Never Used a Debit Card. Here’s Why

by Earn Media

<div>Her First 0K's Tori Dunlap Has Never Used a Debit Card. Here's Why</div>

Image source: Getty Images

Credit cards have a bad reputation among some of the bigger-name finance gurus. And perhaps this isn’t so surprising. Credit cards can make it easy to overspend, and the interest charged on a balance you don’t pay off in full can be upwards of 20% APR. This can make it extremely difficult to get out of debt, and as someone who’s been there, I can tell you that it’s best avoided.

With this in mind, it might be surprising to learn that Tori Dunlap, the founder of Her First $100K and author of The Financial Feminist, is very pro–credit card. In fact, she’s never used a debit card to pay for anything. Here’s why Dunlap keeps her debit card in a drawer, preferring to rely on a credit card for everything.

Debit cards aren’t as secure as credit cards

Despite having some of the same visual characteristics as your credit card, a debit card is used to directly access the money in the bank account you have linked to it. This leaves you especially vulnerable if thieves or scammers gain access to your debit card or the information contained within it. For this reason, it’s a particularly bad idea to use your debit card to shop on Amazon or other e-commerce sites, for example.

The consumer protections on credit cards are a lot more robust (for many, you have $0 liability for fraudulent charges). And credit cards aren’t tied to your bank account, but to a line of credit through the issuer.

Debit cards usually don’t offer rewards or cash back

While rewards debit cards do exist, they are few and far between. If you want to earn points, airline miles, or even just simple cash back on your everyday purchases, credit cards are the way to go.

Dunlap mentioned in a recent episode of her podcast that she earns hundreds of dollars in cash back on credit cards every year. And there’s truly a rewards credit card for nearly every spending category. Are you like me and enjoy making it rain at grocery stores? There’s a grocery rewards credit card out there for you.

Debit cards don’t help you build credit

If you’ve ever struggled with your finances, chances are you’ve tried to pretend your credit score doesn’t exist. I probably don’t need to tell you that’s not a productive way to improve your score, but you know what is? Using credit cards responsibly.

If you pay for purchases with your credit card and then pay off that balance every month, you’ll show creditors (current and future, when they check your credit score the next time you apply for an auto loan or a mortgage) that you know how to handle borrowing money. Debit cards don’t give you this chance, because again, they’re tied to your own money.

Debit cards don’t track your spending as clearly as credit cards

If you use your debit card to make purchases, you can pop into your bank statement or your bank’s website to see where the money went. But your credit card account will categorize your purchases for you, making it far easier to manage and track them. This can in turn make it less onerous to compare your budget to your actual spending and adjust accordingly.

A few instances where you might want to use a debit card

None of this is to say that debit cards are bad, or that you shouldn’t ever use one. Dunlap herself acknowledges this, noting that if you’re struggling with credit card debt, a debit card can be a great way to stay on track (and keep you from racking up further charges on your credit cards if you’re in the process of paying them off).

Plus, a debit card can also function as an ATM card, meaning it can let you take out cash without having to visit your bank during its normal business hours. If you need access to cash, it’s a good idea to keep your debit card around. But due to its less-robust security features, perhaps don’t keep it in your wallet, and instead take it with you to the ATM every so often to get cash out.

Despite my own history with debt, I’ve recently become someone who pays for everything with credit cards (and then pays off the full balances, often weekly), just like Tori Dunlap. I like the security features, I like the cash back, and I like keeping fewer bits of numbered plastic in my wallet. You might want to consider giving your debit card a rest, too, for all these reasons.

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