I’m one of about 143 million Americans whose personal data has been compromised. Chances are you may be one as well. That means criminals could now have our Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. There are many good articles about protecting yourself in light of the Equifax data breach. Consumer advocate Clark Howard says the safest way to protect yourself is to freeze your credit, which will shut down a criminal trying to steal your identity.
In light of the Equifax news, I’m going to address the pros and cons of debit vs. credit cards, including security breaches, from large-scale ones all the way down to someone stealing just your card or number.
Though debit and credit cards look virtually identical, they aren’t. A debit card is essentially a check. As soon as you use it at a retailer, the funds are gone from your checking account and you have spent your own money. When you buy something on a credit card, you are spending someone else’s money that you have agreed to pay back. If you pay your credit card bill in full each month, you will typically pay no interest. Otherwise, you usually pay a high interest rate that isn’t even tax deductible.
Pros and cons
Let me first say that if you don’t pay off your credit card in full every month, you should probably take a pair of scissors to them right now. That way, you will be forced to use a debit card and can only spend money you have, which will provide more discipline. In looking at the pros and cons of debit/credit card usage, I’m categorizing a credit card as a charge card. Here are five criteria I used to compare the two types of cards.
1. Security: Advantage credit cards