Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: What Is the Difference Between Them?

It is hard to find a person who has never used debit cards and credit cards. Today, they are the most popular and convenient financial instruments. Many people are interested in what’s the difference between debit and credit. You will find this information in our text and learn how to make card transactions, which card you use, and which is more suitable for your needs. They are similar, but they also have contrasts. That is why many people choose to keep both options in their wallets. Below, you will find out why.

Quick Facts: the Difference between Credit Card and Debit Card

Feature Credit Card Debit Card
Payment Options Buy now, pay later Buy now, pay now
Interest Charges Interest on balances carried after due date No interest charges
Fees Annual, late payment, foreign transaction, balance transfer, cash advance Monthly, overdraft, ATM, foreign transaction
CreditBuilding Can build credit Can’t build credit
Fraud Liability Limited liability for fraud Can have full liability for fraud

What Is a Credit Card?

A credit card might be convenient for those people who do not always have the opportunity to pay the full cost of a purchase. Usually, to get such a card, you need to sign an agreement with a credit card company or a bank. It will specify how much time you have to repay the amount spent and when interest will start accruing on this amount. Paying with a credit card also opens the way to a nice loyalty program.

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Each such card has a special credit limit. Its principle of operation is simple: a credit card allows you to pay for purchases with money lent to you by the bank. Thus, the purchase amount becomes your debt to the bank. But it will need to be repaid within a certain period.

Usually, if you pay off the debt by the end of the month, you will not be charged any interest. However, if you decide to make installments, the bank will start adding a so-called annual fee to your credit card debt.

To pay your credit debt, you can use the minimum monthly payment, but this can lead to high overdraft fees. To avoid this, it is recommended to make payments that are higher than the minimum monthly amount set by the bank. Such things also positively affect your credit score.

Benefits of Credit Cards

Let’s say there are two weeks left before your salary. And you need to buy a certain product or pay for a service right away. In this case, you can easily use credit cards. They have many useful advantages:

  • The credit card offers a grace period. Almost every lending agency provides the possibility of interest-free use for a certain.
  • The ability to use your card to withdraw cash without a fee. Not all lending agencies provide this service, but it is available.
  • Payment without fees. These cards can be used in stores, on the Internet, and in other institutions without commissions and overpayments.

Things to Keep in Mind with Credit Cards

Credit cards give you a sense of freedom and new opportunities. However, there are also things you should pay attention to when you plan to apply to a credit card issuer. Here’s a list of the disadvantages you need to know about:

  • Сredit cards typically have a limited credit limit. Therefore, in some situations, this can be unpleasant.
  • As practice shows, the interest on good credit card funds is higher than similar interest on conventional consumer loans. In addition, for certain purposes, such as buying a car or real estate, special-purpose loans will be much more profitable.

What Is a Debit Card?

A debit card is a good and universal tool for making payments and keeping cash. A debit card, instead of a credit card, uses the client’s money that is already in the account. There is no interest in using the money, no replenishment periods, etc. A debit card can help pay for services in all countries of the world, make shopping secure, and much more.

How Do Debit Cards Work?

You can use your debit card for many things. After all, when you use it, the payment is made directly from your bank account. The amount of the transaction is deducted from your available financial reserves.
However, if you don’t have enough funds in your account to cover the transaction, you may face some problems. For example, the bank may block this type of card for some time if it decides that these actions are suspicious.
Using a debit card without having enough funds in your account can lead to several negative consequences and penalties. Usually, more problems arise with credit cards. After all, it significantly affects your credit history and rating.

Can You Build Credit with a Debit Card?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to build a credit history with a prepaid debit card. After all, a debit card is linked to a bank account. That’s why it can’t instantly turn into a credit card. However, some credit bureaus in the United States, such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, allow you to do this through special programs. However, this method may be less efficient than using a credit card payment.

Benefits of Debit Cards

Debit cards offer several pleasant advantages that can make everyone’s life easier. The difference between credit and debit card is immediately noticeable. But now we’re going to look at the list of advantages that debit cards offer:

  • Debit cards typically allow you to withdraw money from ATMs and make cashless payments anywhere.
  • Since users only have access to their funds, there are no debt obligations.
  • Debit card purchases and debit card transactions are easy, fast, and secure.
  • Debit cards may allow you to use money for various purposes and keep convenient records of expenses.

Things to Keep in Mind with Debit Cards

The benefits of a debit card for various kinds of financial management are irreplaceable. There are also small disadvantages that you should be aware of when thinking about the difference between a debit card and a credit card. Let’s take a closer look at some disadvantages of using a debit card to make a full reveal of the topic:

  • Some banks may charge fees or require a quarterly payment for using the card. However, the cost is usually negligible.
  • This card comes without the ability to use loan funds.
  • Anti-fraud prevention may be lower than when you pay your credit card.

How Fraud Protection Differs

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a person who doesn’t have a credit or debit payment account. However, in any country, fraudsters try to steal money from other people’s banks or credit facilities. Debit and credit cards have different levels of fraud, which are determined by several factors. It is important to understand their distinctions and peculiarities:

  • Debit card fraud

A noticeable disadvantage of protection compared to a credit card bill is that in case of loss or theft, fraudsters can gain access to real money. A debit card can help prevent this by providing SMS notifications of transactions. You can also block it through the bank’s mobile app and PIN codes to prevent anyone from using your card information. However, it is for these reasons and to prevent excessive card activity that the bank places restrictions on large cash withdrawals.

  • Credit card fraud

Many credit cards provide more opportunities for chargebacks in case of unauthorized transactions. Also, each credit card comes with monitoring of strange transactions and 24/7 customer support. Therefore, if you notice strange credit card activity, you will have a place to call immediately. Credit cards typically have cash withdrawal limits. But it depends on the terms and conditions of a particular credit card balance.

When to Use Your Credit Card vs. Your Debit Card

The choice of a debit card instead of a loan option depends on the specific circumstances and financial needs of the user. Therefore, below, we will look at examples of where debit card vs credit card will come into play:

  • If you use a credit card to pay, you can make installment payments.
  • For daily purchases, it is better to use a debit card.
  • A line of credit allows you to cancel the payment faster in case of problems.
  • Debit cards are also a convenient means of withdrawing cash from ATMs without high cash withdrawal fees.

The Bottom Line

When weighing debit vs credit card, it’s important to take into account your individual financial needs and capabilities. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. However, credit cards usually offer a higher level of security for online purchases. You can also use the rewards option and receive additional cashback. Moreover, all structures guarantee fair credit billing, and in case of any problems, you can always refer to the current legislation. At the same time, debit cards facilitate easy budget management and financial discipline.


How do I know what type of card I have?

This information is usually displayed on the front or back of the card. You can also always contact your bank for a more detailed explanation.

Is it better to have a debit or credit card?

Each of these cards has its advantages. Credit cards offer better protection against fraud and can help improve your credit history. At the same time, debit cards allow you to avoid interest and debt.

Does using a debit card improve your credit score?

No, using a debit card does not. After all, credit institutions take into account only those operations that are directly related to this. For example, loans or credit cards.

Does it cost more to use debit or credit?

Debit cards typically have no annual fees or interest, unlike credit cards. But they may have a bank fee for using the services.