Dave Ramsey Says You Should Use a Debit Card Instead of a Credit Card. Is He Right?

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KEY POINTS

  • Debit cards and credit cards are legitimate payment methods, but they have different features and benefits. 
  • Dave Ramsey suggests using a debit card instead of a credit card to avoid debt.
  • A credit card can do more than a debit card, but you need to be careful about paying it off each month.


Does using a debit card instead of a credit card make sense? 

Dave Ramsey is well known in the personal finance space. Many people look to him for guidance when trying to get out of debt. Since Ramsey believes you should avoid debt, he doesn't recommend using credit cards. He suggests using a debit card instead. But is he right? 

Should you use a debit card or a credit card? 

Credit cards are a popular payment method due to their convenience. However, if you're not careful, it's possible to rack up credit card debt. For this reason, Ramsey recommends that you avoid them altogether.  

A Facebook post made by Ramsey reads, "Debt is dumb. Cash is KING. A debit card will do everything that a credit card can do, EXCEPT put you into debt." 

His concerns about debt are valid. Especially since many of his followers are likely looking to get out of debt, additional debt would worsen their personal finance situation. 

But could a debit card meet all of your needs? Before deciding whether to use a debit or credit card for your daily expenses, you should consider the benefits of each. 

The benefits of a debit card

When you pay with a debit card, the money comes directly from your checking account. Since you're not borrowing money, you're not accumulating unpaid debt like you do when using a credit card. You also don't have to worry about being charged interest when using a debit card.

Debit cards are accepted at most places. You can use them to make most purchases without having cash in your wallet. But a debit card is missing some features and benefits that may come with using a credit card. 

What credit cards can do for you 

A credit card can offer many benefits. You can use a credit card to build credit. You can also earn valuable rewards by using rewards credit cards.

Credit cards also have excellent fraud protection. Most credit card issuers offer $0 fraud liability protection. What does this mean? If an eligible credit card is used to make fraudulent purchases, you won't be held financially responsible. Debit card fraud protection is more limited. 

Many credit cards also include other perks like purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. Your bank likely won't offer these benefits through your debit card. 

A debit card may not meet all your needs

So, can a debit card do everything a credit card can do except get you into debt? No. They have their differences and may not meet all of your needs. 

  • You can't build credit with a debit card. 
  • Most debit cards don't offer rewards.
  • Debit card fraud protection is more limited.
  • You likely won't find a debit card with extra perks. 

How to use a credit card without getting into debt 

Are credit cards bad? Not always. You should use credit cards with care. But there's no guarantee you will get into debt by using a credit card. 

These tips can help you avoid potential debt issues when using credit cards: 

  1. Charge what you can afford to pay off. 
  2. Pay your entire balance in full to avoid credit card interest charges.
  3. Review your budget before using your card for a larger purchase. 

Only you can decide if using a debit card or credit card makes the most sense for your financial situation. 

However, don't be fearful of credit cards, and make sure you understand how credit cards and debit cards differ. You can use debit cards for everyday purchases, but you won't get the same benefits that credit cards offer.

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