Experts: 3 Places You Shouldn’t Use Your Debit Card

Cropped shot of young african-american woman shopping online in cafe using laptop and credit card.
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How often do you think about where, and when, you should use your debit card? While you may like to think that employing best practices can keep these cards safe, this doesn’t always guarantee a debit card’s complete protection. Some places and times of day are simply not good to use these cards as a form of payment.

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Rather than run the risk of compromising your debit card, err on the side of caution. Here are three examples of when it’s best to not use your debit card.

Sketchy Websites

You’ve found a great deal on something you’ve been wanting to buy. There’s just one problem: the website you’re being directed to for purchase doesn’t look or feel legitimate at all.

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Ann Martin, director of operations of CreditDonkey, said even if the products or services for sale look tempting, don’t take your security for granted and make purchases using a debit card. Any website or service not backed by a reputable company should be off limits. If you need to shop somewhere, it is better to do it with a reputable website or company.

Via Email or Text

Emails and text messages are an increasingly popular phishing method for scammers. You may receive a text message or an email from a company you’re familiar with or a person you know, like your boss. But there’s something odd about it. They might write about how they’re putting together a gift for the office and need your financial information. Or the company may say there’s a lock on your account until they receive a payment from you. 

What should you do next? “Avoid porting your debit card details over email or text message without properly verifying the recipient’s identity with a trusted source first,” Martin recommends.

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Isolated ATM Machines

You’ve probably seen some ATM machines in spots where you’re not sure if they should be there, like the inside of hair salons or convenience stores. 

Whether it’s the middle of the day or later in the evening, should you still use your debit card to withdraw money from ATM machines in unusual spaces? Martin does not recommend it. 

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“Stay away from public internet stalls and any kind of electronic ATM that isn’t placed inside an official bank branch,” said Martin. “Both of these methods can leave your account vulnerable to fraudsters and other malicious actors who look for unencrypted data across public networks.”

Best Advice: Swap Out a Credit Card for a Debit Card

When it comes to proper usage of debit cards, Shawn K. Lane, CEO of Financial Renovation Solutions, Inc., has a different approach altogether. Instead of figuring out when and where to use a debit card, Lane said to use a credit card instead. 

There are several more benefits provided to consumers who use credit cards instead of debit cards for transactions. Credit cards, Lane said, offer better fraud protections, help you build your credit and reward you with points and/or cash back. In comparison, you are not able to build credit using a debit card or receive rewards or cash back on purchases.

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“Use a credit card like a debit card,” Lane recommends. “With online banking and smartphone apps, you can pay your credit card statement daily if you choose. Track your charges and make sure you don’t spend more than what is in your bank account to pay it.”

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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