Experts: 5 Times You Should Always Use Your Debit Card

Close up unrecognize person human female hand with pos cashier machine Retail, credit card payment service. Customer paying for order of cheese in grocery supermarket store shop. stock photo
whyframestudio /

While many people rave about the benefits of credit card rewards, few people utilize the perks associated with their debit cards.

Debit cards are usually issued by your bank or credit union for free when you open a checking account and come with many of the same benefits as credit cards. Better yet, they deduct money straight from your account, ensuring you stay on budget with all of your purchases.

While there is definitely a time and place for credit cards, you shouldn’t abandon your debit card altogether. There are several purchases that should be made using debit, particularly if you struggle with overspending.

We asked experts from around the world to weigh in on when using a debit card outweighs using a credit card. Here are the five payments they said you should always make with your debit card.

For Gas and Groceries

Most of our experts agreed that debit cards come in handy for everyday purchases such as gas and groceries.

“Using your debit card to pay for groceries and gas can help you stay within your budget and avoid overspending,” said Matthew Robbs, founder of Smart Saving Advice.

Ifrah Saleem, financial writer and founder of, agreed.

“The reason for this is that debit cards are linked directly to your checking account; and, when you make a purchase with your debit card, the funds are immediately withdrawn from your account,” Saleem said. “This can help you stay on top of your spending and avoid overspending or accruing credit card debt. Additionally, some debit cards may offer cashback or rewards for certain purchases like gas or groceries.”

A Better Way to Bank

For Debt Payments

“Any debt payments should be made with a debit card only,” said Crystal Evans, content manager at Quick Loans Express. “For example, loan repayments — especially high-interest loans — should only be made using a debit card. This is especially if the interest rate on your credit card is higher than the interest rate of the loan. If you pay off a loan using a credit card, you are effectively paying off your debt whilst creating more debt.”

To Get Cash

Credit card debt is really easy to get into and really hard to get out of, so avoiding credit cards is best unless you can pay them off each month. One area where people can get into real trouble is when they withdraw money from their credit cards.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while “you can withdraw cash using a credit card … it is expensive to do so.”

Most credit card companies allow you to do a cash advance, but the fees are enormous. They also can charge a higher interest rate for the advance compared to normal purchases. Unless it is an emergency, it is best to use your debit card to get the cash you need straight from your checking account.

When Fees Are Higher

Using a debit card instead of a credit card is also a good idea for almost any purchase due to high interest rates.

“When you use your credit card [and do not pay the balance], the credit card company charges you a fee for using the card,” said Adam Pippington, CFO of Freedom Dividend. “This interest rate can be as high as 25% for some credit cards. When you use your debit card, you do not have to pay this interest rate because the money is coming directly out of your bank account.”

A Better Way to Bank

Merchants also can charge fees for credit cards. Small companies and overseas businesses may hit you with an additional 2% to 3% charge simply for using your credit card. Ifrah Saleem also cautioned that “credit card transactions may come with additional fees such as foreign transaction fees if used in international places.”

For Minor Purchases

Robbs also recommends using your debit card for small discretionary purchases.

“Using your debit card for small purchases, such as a cup of coffee or a snack,” he said, “can help you easily meet the minimum number of purchases that many banks require for you to keep your free checking — or to earn interest on your money that is in checking.” 

So, the next time you go on a coffee run or want to buy a handmade pair of earrings from a local vendor, think twice before whipping out your credit card and consider the advantages of using your debit card.

More From GOBankingRates


Discover the Best Banks of 2024: Unveiling Our Top Picks!

We've compiled a list of the top banks for this year!



Here Are the Pros and Cons of Using Multiple Banks

Shot of a woman using a laptop while going through paperwork at home.

Many banks are one-stop-shop financial institutions...


See Today's Best
Banking Offers