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debunking the claim that debit cards cannot be used everywhere

By Erik Folgate

Supporters of using credit cards use the claim that debit cards cannot be used in all situations.  They list things such as hotel reservations, rental car reservations, airplane tickets, and other related services that traditionally started requring that people put a credit card on file for “collateral”.  However, I have been travelling quite a bit in the past few years, and I have always used my Visa debit card for these purchases. 

Hotels – It may have been the case when debit cards were first introduced that hotels were not allowing people to use their debit cards, but I have never run into a hotel in the past few years that has NOT let me use a debit card to reserve a room.  Basically, hotels treat that debit card just like a credit card, and they charge the room to your card when you check out.  Some hotels have put a hold on those funds while I am checked in, but it’s getting taken out anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

Rental Cars –  This has recenlty changed, where most rental car places will allow you to reserve and purchase a rental car with a debit card.  There might be a few out there still that do not allow debit cards, but I would not know because they are most likely the expensive places.  I know for a fact that Enterprise will let you pay with a debit card, but they hold $100 on your checking account until you return the car in normal condition.  Once you return the car, they take the hold off of the money and it is refunded to your account. 

Airline Tickets – This is a no-brainer.  Most people buy their tickets online now, and the Visa or Mastercard debit card works exactly the same way as a normal credit card, but instead it takes money out of your account for the airline ticket.  Airlines do not care whether or not you pay with debit or credit, as long as they can get the money out of that account! 

Another huge myth about debit cards is that they are less safe to use on the internet than your credit card.  People are more weary to use them online, because if someone got a hold of it, they would be taking your HARD-EARNED money rather than credit.  Visit the Visa.com website, and it will explain that their zero liability policy for any debit card with a visa logo on it.  This means that you have no liability for unauthorized purchases.  The debit card now has all of the same protection features as a normal credit card.  Also, for all of you that are so scared to buy things on the internet, studies show that the majority of identity theft occurs from the documents that we throw away rather than getting stolen on the internet.  I know there are identity theives all over the internet, but try to trick users into giving out their important information freely rather than spending countless hours to hack into secured servers. 

The bottom line is that there should be no excuses for people who “want” to stop using credit cards but feel that they need to hold on to them for certain occasions.  The debit card is a beautiful thing, so start using it!

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • disqus_IEfCy9Ylqg

    I would NOT recommend using a Visa debit card to purchase plane tickets, I purchased two plane tickets online with my Visa debit card six days ago and they still have a hold on my account for the total purchase price and the airline has already gotten their payment so I am being “charged” double. Until Visa decides to take the hold off my account, I cannot access those funds…very inconvenient. SIX DAYS they have been holding my money hostage because I used a debit card instead of a credit card!!!!!

  • Abby Watson

    I’m glad I prefer to use a debit card sometimes, while other times I will use cash. :)

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