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  • Last modified 75 days ago (March 9, 2018)

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Debit or credit:

Which card is best to use?

Staff writer

Borrowing money has become extremely easy with the use of credit cards, which is what shoppers are doing every time they use them.

Debit card transactions, on the other hand, result in money taken out of the cardholder’s bank account almost immediately. Credit card transactions are billed in a monthly statement.

Dennis Riggs, vice president and operations officer of Vintage Bank Kansas at Peabody, said debit cards are good for normal, everyday purchases.

“You can use a debit card instead of writing a check,” he said.

When it comes to online or telephone purchases, Riggs and Elizabeth Wine, branch manager of Great Plains Credit Union in Hillsboro, said credit cards are best.

“A debit card used for reservations such as for hotels, motels, or rental cars, can tie up your money,” Wine said.

Riggs said a credit card gives a little better protection against fraud.

Debit card accounts need to be checked frequently, while credit card accounts should be checked every month for fraudulent charges.

Wine said credit card holders should get a free credit report once a year from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. A report can be requested online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

For further peace of mind, a shopper could purchase an ID Protection insurance policy.

Credit card usage shows up on a credit report, and debit transactions don’t, Wine noted.

Riggs said the best way to avoid fraud is to take good care of the card.

“Hang onto your card, and don’t let it out of your sight,” he said.

He cautioned online or phone buyers to avoid companies with which they are not familiar.

“Know who you are doing business with,” he said, “and read the terms and conditions.”

Wine said the online site’s address should start with https:// instead of http://. The “s” indicates the site is encrypted and secure, so purchases should be safe from online hackers trying to steal information.

Also, avoid online addresses ending in .re, .au, .coz, or anything else that appears to replace the .com at the end of an address and indicates the website is coming from a foreign vendor.

“Whatever you put on a credit card, make sure you can pay it off at the end of the month,” Wine said. “It should be used for small purchases. For big purchases, have a plan to pay them off.”

A credit card that is paid off each month will build a positive credit history and improve a person’s credit score.

Riggs said a credit card can be used to spread out payments over a few months, if necessary, and cardholders always should make more than the minimum payment to save on interest costs.

“Don’t make a purchase you can’t afford,” he said. “If you can’t pay it off in three or four months, don’t buy it. There are better ways to finance a large purchase, such as a bank loan.”

“Mainly, it’s discipline,” Wise concluded.

Last modified March 9, 2018

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