Credit or debit? Experts say one is better

Credit cards and debit cards work differently in offering purchase protection

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With the holidays right around the corner, a lot more people will be doing their shopping over the next few months and how all that merchandise is paid for could impact the security of accounts.

Financial experts say there is a difference between using debit and credit cards when it comes to making purchases, and one is better than the other. Credit cards offer an extra layer of security. Since credit cards are not linked to personal bank accounts, they offer more protection against thieves. Debit cards use a direct path to personal checking or saving accounts.

Sergeant Joe Mahoney, with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, said most credit card companies offer purchase protection.

Nerd Wallet says the maximum liability for fraudulent transactions on most credit cards is about $50.

“Generally, you have no liability as long as you notify the credit card issuer that your account has been compromised,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney said if money is lost with a debit card, it is unlikely it will be credited. Using a debit card also comes with the risk that pin numbers and account numbers could be skimmed. This could happen with credit cards, too, but it’s more likely consumers can recover losses with credit cards.

If a person doesn’t have a credit card, there are some ways to make using a debit card safer. Mahoney said to make it a habit to go over bank statements thoroughly and keep a low balance so if something happens, there is less money that can be lost.

During points of purchase, some credit card machines will ask if the consumer wants to use the debit card as a credit card. Selecting credit offers no extra protection.