Employees Credit Union

Thoughtful and Careful Use of Debit Cards

Many people use their debit card multiple times each day in lieu of carrying cash. These cards provide a tremendous convenience, but they come with increased potential for fraud. Here are some common debit card usages that need some thought.

Many people use their debit cards to pay for purchases online.

Before doing this, please consider the fact that this debit card has a direct link to your checking account. Equate this to writing a blank check. By paying online, you are paying immediately for merchandise or services to be received later, but the merchant is getting paid now. Buyer beware if you are sent to another online link to make the payment. And please be sure to read the fine print, all those terms and conditions, to avoid unsolicited merchandise, subscriptions, and additional charges.

Holds and Deposits on big-ticket items

When you purchase a big-ticket item with a debit card, there is the immediate hold/withdrawal of that ticket price from your account. If the item is faulty, it may be more difficult to get a refund with a debit card payment. Unlike debit cards, many credit cards offer warranties on these types of purchases, additional insurance coverage for car rentals, and more dispute rights.

When you rent a car or reserve a hotel room, a deposit is often required. Using a debit card means those funds being held as unavailable until you return the rental or actually pay for your hotel stay.

Unavailable funds = money in your account that you cannot use. It causes a lot of stress and embarrassment when you’re trying to make a debit card purchase, and discover you don’t have money available to pay because of funds holds. If you must use your debit card for payment, please ask about holds at check-in, so that you know the hotel’s specific policies.

Numerous convenience store chains have initiated temporary holds of $50 to $100 on debit card purchases at the gas pump. These temporary holds are in effect until your actual transaction is processed and settled. This is due to people driving off without paying for gas. Paying with cash or a credit card will avoid this temporary hold.

Finally, before giving the water/waitress your debit card to pay for your meal, please consider two things:

1. That card could easily be swiped into a handheld recorder while it’s out of your view, for future fraudulent use
2. That card is linked directly to your checking account

Please be thoughtful and careful when using your debit card. Come visit PWC Employees Credit Union to check out our building and hear about the advantages of a debit card with us.

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