Why your debit card is a great way to make purchases

A woman working at a coffee shop takes a debit card as payment from a man ordering.
July 27, 2023 | Ben Heinze

When you make a purchase today, you often have many options on how you can pay for it. Some prefer using cash whenever possible, while others are proponents of using a credit card for most purchases. Another option to consider is using your debit card. They provide a safe, easy way to pay for purchases, big and small.

Where can I use my debit card?

The convenience of using a debit card is a big reason they’re so great. Millions of vendors accept debit cards. Whether paying for parking, movie tickets, coffee or other day-to-day purchases, your debit card is an excellent option. There is typically no minimum on how small a debit card purchase can be, unless a specific vendor requires a minimum amount before charging a debit or credit card.

What are the benefits of using a debit card?

It’s like paying with exact change

Using cash can be clumsy. Purchases rarely come out to a nice rounded number after factoring in tax, resulting in receiving an awkward handful of coins in return. Using your debit card is akin to paying exact change, every time. The money comes from your account in the exact amount it costs, and you aren’t stuck with a handful of pennies you don’t know what to do with.

Skip the ATM

If you’re used to using cash for many purchases, you’ve likely had to go to an ATM to replenish your wallet fairly frequently. All those ATM trips can add up—both in terms of time and money. While some financial institutions, including Alliant, offer fee-free ATMs59 and ATM rebates90, others do not. Using your debit card eliminates the need for cash most of the time, meaning less frequent visits.

Track your spending

While it’s always possible to track your spending, paying with a debit card over cash makes it easier. When paying in cash, the only transactions you can automatically see are the times you withdrew cash. So, you’ll see that you withdrew $100, but wouldn’t know how you spent that $100 unless you manually track each purchase yourself.

With a debit card, you can go back through your bank statement and see exactly when, where and how much you spent for each transaction. Tracking your spending like this helps you stay on-track with your budget and account for every dollar spent.

Avoid debt

Credit cards are a great tool, when used responsibly. They help you build a strong credit score, which has huge benefits when applying for loans, including car loans and mortgages, two of the largest expenses many people have. However, credit cards also make it easy to accumulate high-interest debt.

If you know you’re prone to overspending when using a credit card, a debit card offers the same convenience as a credit card while keeping your spending within the confines of the money in your checking account.

Digital wallet and peer-to-peer compatible

Most debit cards can be added to digital wallets, such as Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, making it easy to have your debit card on your phone wherever you go. You can also set up a debit card with peer-to-peer (p2p) apps such as Venmo and PayPal to easily send money to friends and family.

Is using a debit card safe?

A common belief surrounding debit cards is that using one is unsafe, especially compared to using a credit card. This belief stems from the fact that, when using a debit card, the funds are taken directly from the account that the card is associated with. A credit card charges the lender instead, who you then pay back by the time your statement is due.

However, many debit cards offer fraud protection in the event of an unauthorized purchase. For example, Alliant Visa Debit Cards offer Zero Liability, meaning you will never be responsible for unauthorized purchases. Additionally, you can deactivate your card at any time if it is lost or stolen, preventing many unauthorized purchases before they occur.

Whether you’re making a purchase big or small, your debit card is an easy and safe choice, and an important tool to have in your wallet.

Want to learn more about debit cards? Check out these articles:

Ben Heinze is a marketing content specialist with a passion for financial education. Instilled with a strong sense of frugality from a young age, he views money as a means to building the life you want, rather than an end in itself. From reading Money Mentor, he hopes you discover new ways money can be used to build your ideal life—whatever that may look like.

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