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Debit and Credit Cards - What's the Difference?
Resources Debit and Credit Cards - What's the Difference?

You may have a least one credit card and one debit card in your wallet. Since debit and credit cards often look alike, it can be difficult to tell the difference. Both cards have unique qualities to benefit you in various ways.

A debit card is a handy financial tool that allows you to make purchases, get cash and access your checking account 24 hours a day. Also called a check card, the debit card works much like writing a check. When used to make purchases, the amount is automatically deducted (subtracted) from your checking account. Just as you do when writing a check, you need to be sure there are funds in your account to cover the amount. If you spend more than you have in your account, you could overdraw your account and may have to pay an overdraft fee. Keeping a written record of your spending in your check register can help you avoid this situation.

Debit cards usually have few or no fees. Some debit cards require using a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for every transaction, while other debit cards will allow you to use a signature instead. You will also need a PIN for withdrawing cash from an ATM with your debit card.

A credit card can also be a convenient way to pay for merchandise or get cash. Unlike a debit card, you're "borrowing" the money up to a certain limit. You may pay it all back interest free if you pay the entire balance each month. Otherwise, you would need to pay any outstanding balance along with interest, according to the terms of the card. If you're careful about paying your bills on time, a credit card can be a flexible spending tool. Many credit cards offer rewards or cash back benefits so you earn more with every swipe of your card. Credit cards typically require your signature for every transaction.

You should also understand any fees associated with your credit card in addition to the monthly interest on your card’s outstanding balance. Fees may include an annual fee, over-limit or late-payment fee.

As an added advantage, with an Athens Federal MasterCard® credit or debit card you are protected from any fraudulent charges with MasterCard’s Zero Liability policy.*

Which Do I Choose?

Using a card is less time-consuming than carrying and counting cash or writing a check. Athens Federal gives you many financial choices. Depending on your spending habits, you may wish to have both a debit and credit card, or you may prefer one over the other.

*Proper notification of unauthorized purchases is required.


Chris Adams, VP Deposit Operations