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To Run a Card as Debit or Credit, That is the Question.

October 15, 2013

There is no shame in experiencing confusion at the ever-present “debit or credit?” question that cashiers love to ask.  There are no obvious differences aside from typing your PIN versus signing a receipt, and the money comes out of your checking account either way.  So why do we have the “credit” option on a debit card?  There are pros and cons to each, and we’ll cover a few here.

The Debit Option

When you choose to run your debit card as debit, you will be asked to enter your personal identification number (PIN).  This authorizes the funds to come out of your account immediately.  The benefit here is that you don’t have to wait for pesky pending charges to clear your account.  Furthermore, with a debit transaction, you can get cash back from the vendor.  This isn’t an option on credit purchases.

The Credit Option

Alternatively, you can opt to run your debit card as credit.  Often you won’t even be given the choice, like at a restaurant.  These transactions usually require a signature.  Credit transactions come with the added value Visa® or MasterCard® support.

Which to Choose?

Often times there are multiple factors that play into a person’s decision about running their card as debit versus credit.  And there are valid reasons for either.  Hopefully we’ve illuminated some of the facts to help you make a more informed decision.  Do what you’re most comfortable with and as always, keep a close eye on your checking account to monitor for unusual activity.