You Should Always Use Credit Instead of Debit

Most of us got a bank account in our teens, probably after we got our first jobs and our parents took us to the local bank to sign up for an account. Along with a checkbook no one used, you were granted your first piece of plastic. A symbol of (some) financial freedom. A token of your successes. The plastic card that held your hard-earned money — a debit card.

As you get older, have maybe a few dollars more than before, and have larger purchases, you may find that a debit card can be a little problematic. Despite millennial credit anxiety, there are lots of reasons why credit cards are actually your best — and safest — bet.

1. You’re building for the future

The primary reason to start utilizing credit is to actually build a credit score. Credit scores are important and help you function in the real world (i.e. renting an apartment, getting a car loan, applying for new lines of credit, etc.)
Account age is a factor in calculating a score, so the sooner you jump on the bandwagon, the better. Utilization also matters, so if you’re not using your credit account it’s just a total waste.

2. Purchase protections

If you were to order something on Amazon and it arrives damaged or it gets stolen on its way to you, you’d be at the mercy of customer support to get your money back and get the item replaced. With a credit card, you get a little extra wiggle room.

3. You look (and feel) like a functional human being

Face it: your bright orange piece of plastic is egregiously ugly and throwing it onto the table at a restaurant while you’re on a date or out with your friends is kind of sad. If you try to say aesthetics don’t matter, you’re lying. Credit cards offer slightly classier options that will look much better peeking out of your wallet phone case when you take mirror selfies in the La Colombe bathroom.

4. Merchant leverage

Let’s say you’ve ordered some flowers for your Lover (Taylor Swift, 2019) as a Valentine’s Day gift from a florist, but they messed up and it didn’t get delivered until February 15. You call to the florist, explain the situation, and tell them you want your money back because you weren’t satisfied with the service.
Had you paid with a debit card or cash, you’re at the mercy of the merchant to decide whether or not you’ll get that money back; however, if you paid with credit, you can dispute the charge directly with the payment method. Credit cards almost always side with the merchant and you’re much more likely to get your money back.

5. Fraud protection

There are many scenarios wherein your card information might get hacked — online shopping and sketchy ATMs make everyone vulnerable to the possibility of a breach. If your debit card is hacked, all the money you have to your name could get drained and it takes time to get it all back.
If there’s fraud on your credit card, generally you’re not liable for the fraudulent charges while the situation is remedied. This makes credit transactions safer in the off chance that something goes wrong.

As terrifying as credit cards can be, they’re really important for establishing yourself as a human being capable of taking on debt in any capacity. Having a good credit card history can even offset looming student loans because it shows you can handle money when it’s not a six figure representation of a liberal arts degree. The sooner you jump on the credit bandwagon and start small, the better.