Aside from the design and the account numbers on your cards looking different, it’s easy to think of a credit card like a debit card – but there are quite a few key differences. In this article, we’ll outline the similarities and differences so you can become a more financially savvy shopper.
what is a debit card?
Your debit card is linked to your checking account and allows you to make purchases without using cash or writing a check (although some older merchants may still require that). Basically, a debit card is a plastic replica of your checkbook.
Most newer debit cards also come with cool perks like cash back or rewards points. Some cards also have ATM access and give you access to get cash back from most merchants, both of which allow you to avoid making a trip to the bank anytime you need some cash!
what is a credit card?
A credit card is basically a loan in card form. A lender issues you a line of credit up to a certain amount (your limit), and you can spend however much of it you’d like. The appealing part of a credit card (compared to a personal loan) is that you only repay what you use. But – don’t forget – when repaying the lender, you may incur additional fees and interest. Plus, there isn’t a set term, so you can keep your credit line open indefinitely
Psst… when making a payment on a credit card, the lender usually allows you a grace period between 21-30 days after the close of the billing cycle to repay the money used without interest. After the grace period, you’ll start accruing interest charges unless you have a credit card that offers a 0% interest rate.
In the United States, credit cards operate under four different networks (also called card associations) – Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. The networks are what link the funds being transferred from credit card holder to merchant.
what’s the difference between a debit card and credit card?
Ideal for someone trying to stick to a budget
Linked to the funds in your checking account
Need a PIN to make a purchase
Accepted at most merchants
Offers perks & rewards
Ability to withdrawal cash from an ATM with a PIN
Is a type of loan and can help build credit
You can spend more than you have in your account
Charged interest on purchases
Easily dispute charges from fraud
QUICK TIP: A credit card is meant to help build your credit, so it makes sense to use your credit card. The trick is to only use it with purchases that you can actually afford or those larger items that you have a solid plan on how you’ll pay them off. That way, you’re less likely to get yourself in credit card debt trouble.
should I have both a debit card and a credit card?
You should 100% plan to have a checking account with a debit card but getting a credit card is entirely up to you and your financial needs. Having a credit card can be beneficial especially for those larger purchases you can’t completely cover at once or to help build your credit.
As the Content Specialist and author of the Learning & Guidance Center, Yanna enjoys motivating others by uncovering all that's possible in the world of finance. From financial tips and tricks to ultimate guides and comparison charts, she is obsessed with finding ways to help readers excel in their journey towards financial freedom.
Join our Mailing List
& get articles sent straight to your inbox
You are leaving Skyla's website
You are entering a site that is not operated by the credit union. Skyla cannot be held responsible for the alternate site's content, nor does Skyla represent either party should you enter into a transaction. Please note the site's privacy and security policies may differ from those of Skyla Credit Union.
Please click “Go to URL…” to leave this website and proceed to the selected site.