What’s the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

Posted on Aug 16, 2016

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When you pay for clothes in a store or dinner at a restaurant, you might use either a credit card or a debit card. In your mind, they may be the same. But there are differences to be aware of.

For example, with a credit card, the money is not immediately withdrawn from your bank account. As long as you pay back the issuer within the stated period, you won’t be charged interest on the money you owe. But you don’t want to make a late payment – interest can build up quickly on credit cards.

In contrast, debit cards are linked to your personal bank account, so you’re using your own money and the charges are automatically deducted from your account. Because you don’t carry a balance on the card, you’re more likely to stick with your budget and not overspend. However, you might be charged extra fees on top of interest for any overdrafts.

Another consideration: Federal laws protect you in the event you need to dispute credit card charges and usually cap your liability at $50. Debit cards offer fewer protections than credit cards, including a sliding scale of liability depending on when you notify your financial institution.

Which card is best for you? Generally, a mix of the two is a good compromise. You can use a credit card judiciously to bolster your credit, while still paying for everyday purchases with a debit card. Contact us for answers to your financial questions. We’re here to help

Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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