Do You Need a Credit Card If You Only Use Debit?

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated March 22, 2019

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March 22, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.


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Some people decide that they will only use debit cards because they don’t want to spend more than they can afford. Research shows that using a debit card instead of a credit card can help curb spending. Still, it pays to have a credit card.

Owning a credit card gives you one of the fastest ways to build a credit history. Lenders will look at your credit history when you need to borrow money to buy a house, car, or college education. Without a credit history, they probably won’t give you loans.

Open a credit card account, and use it sparingly to build a credit history that will help you qualify for low-interest loans.

You can resist the urge to overspend by using the credit card for automatic payments to online services, magazine subscriptions, and your internet provider. As long as you pay the balance every month, you won’t accumulate debt.

When Congress passed the Fair Credit Billing Act in 1974, it gave credit card users fraud protection for unauthorized charges over $50. Unfortunately, your debit card doesn’t come with the same level of fraud protection.

The next time you buy something online, consider using a credit card instead of a debit card. If a criminal steals your payment information, your bank won’t hold you responsible for the fraudulent charges. If you’re worried about having your personal information online, check out our Identity Guard review to see how they can protect your info and alert you to any unauthorized activity.

Using a credit card every day can lead to expensive debt that haunts you for years. Having a credit card, however, doesn’t mean that you must use it often. Instead, you can reserve it for emergency expenses.

For example, if your car breaks down, you probably need to get it repaired so you can drive to work. Without your car, you can’t go to work and earn money.

What happens when the cost of repairing your car exceeds the amount of money in your checking account? That’s when a credit card becomes useful. Instead of struggling to pay for emergency expenses, you can use your credit card. As long as you repay the balance as soon as possible, you can avoid interest payments.

Using a debit card makes sense for many people. You should also have a credit card, though, to build a credit history, protect yourself from fraud, and pay for emergency expenses. As long as you control your spending, a credit card can improve your financial health. You can find out the best credit card for your credit score here, or even explore a secured card to get you on your feet.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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