Do you enjoy shopping online, but want to stay as safe as possible?
Having your card number stolen is a big deal, with huge consequences. So, being knowledgeable about how you can stay safe is a smart move.
One question consumers often have is whether or not it’s safe to use a debit card for online purchases. In this article, I’ll be answering this question in detail, as well as sharing other important tips on how you can shop online more safely.
Is It Safe To Use A Debit Card Online?
Generally speaking, it is safe to use a debit card for online purchases, as long as you are shopping on reputable websites. However, it is still a better idea to use a credit card if you have one available to you.
This is because even if the actual website you’re shopping on is safe, it’s still possible for your information to be stolen if the machine you’re ordering from is infected with viruses or malware.
Credit cards offer numerous protections that can prevent or mitigate the damage if your information is ever stolen, while also being safer to use on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s look over some of the reasons why your debit card is best avoided for online purchases.
Why Credit Cards Are Safer Than Debit Cards For Online Shopping
Generally, you don’t have to worry about using a debit card as long as you practice good security on your device, and order from reputable websites. Criminals do not discriminate, and you’re equally likely to have a debit card stolen online as you are a credit card.
The real safety benefits come in what happens after your card is stolen – and this is where credit cards have a major upper hand.
Let’s look at some of the safety benefits of credit cards in more detail, when it comes to online shopping.
1. Better Fraud Protections
Preventing fraud is big business.
Credit card companies are exceptional at identifying when purchases aren’t normal for you, and shutting the purchases down before they happen.
This means that even if your credit card ends up getting stolen, your credit card company will likely find out about it as soon as it starts being used.
They can then lock the card, verify recent charges with you, and issue you a new card straight away.
With debit cards, it’s more likely that money will be spent before you even realize that it’s gone.
Think about it this way – with credit cards, it’s the credit card company’s money that’s at risk. With your debit card, it’s your money at risk.
Companies like Capital One, Citi, Chase, American Express, Discover etc have a far higher incentive to monitor and protect you from fraudulent purchases.
2. Less Financial Risk
Having your debit card stolen is bad news.
If your card is compromised while shopping online, the thief can very quickly drain your entire bank account, without anything stopping them.
This means the downside risk is much higher.
With credit cards, the company is likely to realize the unusual purchasing patterns, and decline future transactions.
With debit cards, the money is pulled out of your bank immediately, and is much harder to get back. And because there is no limit in place as to how much can be spent, your bank account can be drained to zero before you realize, and can stop it.
So, in the event of theft, your downside risk is much less when using a credit card.
3. It Is Easier To Dispute Charges
Let’s say that your card was stolen while shopping online, and has already been used to make charges.
With credit cards, disputing charges is much, much easier.
Generally speaking, all you need to do is contact your credit card company, and walkthrough your recent charges. They will often return your money while they investigate, and immediately issue a new card.
Additionally, according to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you can only be held liable for up to $50 for charges made by unauthorized users of your card.
Disputing a debit card charge is a more time consuming process. Additionally, you may not receive a provisional credit from your bank, and the investigation may take much longer before you get your money back.
Again, with credit cards, it’s the company’s money on the line. With debit cards, it’s your money on the line. Credit card companies have a much higher incentive to not only prevent issues, but mitigate the damage and handle them quickly!
4. Temporary Holds Won’t Prevent You From Accessing Cash
Finally, usage of a credit card can also prevent you from overdrafting your bank account.
Some online purchases will place a temporary hold, or preauthorization on your card.
While these temporary holds will fall off, it can tie up the money in your bank account in the meantime – preventing you from accessing these funds.
This may cause you to overspend by accident, which can lead to a negative balance and additional overdraft fees from your bank.
Although holds can be applied on credit cards, all this does is lower your available balance. Unless you are about to max out your credit card, you are unlikely to notice this anyway.
So, this is just another benefit that credit cards have to offer!
Generally speaking, there is little reason to use a debit card for online purchases unless it is the only option available to you.
In addition to all of the safety benefits that credit cards provide, they can also yield you additional rewards, bonus savings / promotional offers, and build your credit as well.
I hope that you’ve found this article to be helpful, and that it’s answered all of your questions. If you have any other questions, please ask them using the comment form below and I will try to respond in under 24 hours.
Thanks for reading, and wishing you the best!
– James McAllister