Debit Cards are Easier than Checks

How many times have you written a check just to discover it was made out incorrectly and had to be re-written wasting both time and printed checks which aren’t cheap. That’s the beauty of debit cards. 

Accurate information on the card is automatically transferred with the correct purchase amount from the businesses card reader in seconds and with no mistakes.  Usually all the customer has to do is sign and if the amount is small sometimes even a signature is required. Easier isn’t the only benefit of debit cards.

Ten reasons Debit Cards are easier, faster and more accurate:

* Obviously, swiping a debit card through a reader and entering your pin number couldn’t be quicker or easier and these two elements of a debit card are the main reasons most people like them.

* Businesses are anxious to serve customers with the debit cards because they are protected from those who attempt to kite or pass bad checks. More and more businesses are refusing to take checks because of bouncing and kiting.  Fees banks charge for bounced checks are exceptionally high and a business can be assured your payment is good immediately. 

* If you’re a mom with a couple of toddlers to keep under control, a quickly swiped debit card can be    a life-saver.  Usually, candy is strategically placed at checkout counters and within easy reach of quick little hands, so mom isn’t distracted with check writing.

* With debit cards you can easily use a self-checkout counter, they’re great.  Many people don’t want to use self-checkout, but once you’ve mastered the system, it’s a time saver, usually because self-checkout lines move quickly and are shorter.

* Checks are essentially just fill-in-the-blank amount of cash. No one wants to carry lots of cash around for security and simplicity reasons. Having to have credit cards, debit cards, check books and cash is just more “stuff” to have to carry around.  A debit card can fill all those functions.

* Entering information on your checking software program is also simple.  Since card amounts are immediately entered into your checking account, you can quickly get the information off your online banking system if necessary.  If you don’t use carbon-backed checks sometimes amounts are forgotten and if the check is not cashed immediately the waiting to learn the amount can be worrisome. 

* With a debit card the information is online even before you get home.  You also literally have less paper. Your receipt does double duty and rather than having to print more paper for your statements plus the checks and receipts it makes cards a green thing to do.

* There is a much broader acceptance of debit card purchases today, from car rentals and hotels to every day groceries and online goods, forms of payment are reduced. When a business refuses to accept a check, they will frequently accept a debit card. It is prudent to find out from your bank where debit card use is allowed with less traditional vendors. Debit cards for most travel options may require extra verifications. A car rental agency, for example, may ask for an instant credit score and a hotel may require the option to charge your account for additional room expenses when you check out. Just be forewarned that there are some use restrictions both by banks and the hospitality industry. 

* International travel is even moving more and more into the debit card world.  If you have travel plans and can stock your account, you can reduce the need for traveler’s checks, cash and trim currency exchange problems. Remember, though, It’s always good to have some travel money options in case debit cards are not accepted. Your bank can provide information about what and where they allow your debit card to be used.  Banks may restrict card use in some locals even in the U.S. because of identity theft problems. It’s best to be informed before you go when planning travel.

* Debit cards are a good tool to replace checks, but banks are concerned about the ease with which they can be duplicated and misused. Your best safety system is keeping your eye on your checking account. Many banks have systems in place that monitor odd debit card usage. Some will even contact the card owner to determine if something is awry. It’s very easy to lose either a check book or a wallet with debit cards inside. Be alert with your financial options is always a good idea.

With today’s financial difficulties for nearly everyone, careful use of any card is extremely important. Personal financial advisers seen or heard such as Dave Ramsey on radio and Suzie Orman and Gail Vaz-Oxlade (host of “Until Debt Do Us Part”) on television, warn constantly about improper use of credit cards and usually recommend that they be eliminated as a method of purchase of your financial expenditures.

A particularly beneficial element of a debit card is that when you use it, you understand it’s paying for what you’re buying with the amount applied immediately. A credit card purchase is like kiting a check in a way. It is delaying and increasing the costs of purchases if the amount is not paid off within the billing cycle.  A debit card can be a good reminder to rein in spending, especially with the current financial problems in our economy now.

Unfortunately, there are problems on the horizon for debit card users. The new Dodd-Frank bank bill will change the amount that banks receive from merchants from 1.12 per cent per transaction to just twelve cents per transaction.  Banks will have to find a way to pay for these lost revenues and the consumer, thanks to this new legislation, will probably have to pick up the difference.