USC Credit Union Blog

USC Credit Union Blog

Credit Cards vs Debit Cards: Which Swipe is Right for You?


This holiday season, consumers are expected to spend nearly $1.1 trillion. It’s no surprise that whether online or in stores, the majority of these purchases will be made with a card of some sort. Debit and credit cards are very different and have their pros and cons when it comes to holiday shopping. We’ve broken down the implications of using a debit or credit card this holiday season so you can choose the swipe that’s right for you.


Debit Cards

Debit cards are one of the most common forms of payment people have. When you go to open a checking account at your bank as a teenager or young adult, you’re given a debit card that you can use to pay for things with the money in your checking account.

Debit cards have a lot of benefits. You can only spend what you have. So you don’t need to worry about being fiscally irresponsible. You don’t have to worry about any accruing interests or payments after the season ends. Debit cards are a safe, responsible way to handle your holiday shopping.


Credit Cards

When you use a credit card, you’re borrowing money from a financial institution with the promise that you’ll pay it back later. The benefit of a credit card is that you can make purchases that you might not have the money for immediately, and pay them back little by little over time to help you afford something otherwise unachievable.

Using a credit card comes with a lot of risks and opportunities to be irresponsible. Often times, when paying back the money you owe you’ll be charged interest, which is a certain percentage of your balance added on top of what you already owe as a cost of borrowing. These interest rates can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. Credit cards also often require you have good credit to apply and be qualified for lower interest rates and higher credit limits, and sometimes involve annual fees.

However, if used responsibly, credit cards can have many benefits that debit cards don’t. Many credit cards offer 0 interest for an introductory period, and have many perks and benefits like cash back that reward you for using your card.

At the end of the day, both options can be right for you if used properly. If staying financially responsible and avoiding debt and interest is right for you, consider a debit card. If you’re willing to stay on top of your credit card payments and reap the benefits of use, a credit card may be a good choice. No matter what you choose, stay educated on your finances, stay fiscally responsible, and have a happy holiday!

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