Debit vs credit cards

Which payment tool is right for your next transaction?

2-minute read

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card? 

Your debit card is linked to your checking or savings account. Each time you use your debit card, the amount is deducted from your account. 

Your credit card is not linked to your accounts. When you use your credit card, you borrow the money to pay for your purchase. There is a maximum amount you can owe on your credit card at any one time. This maximum is your credit limit. Each month, you need to make a minimum payment by a due date. You may repay the amount you borrowed in full. You may also choose to pay less than the full amount. You will pay interest on any amount you still owe after the due date. Every credit card payment you make replenishes your available credit. 

More key differences between credit cards and debit cards 

  Debit card Credit card
How much can you spend? You can only spend the amount that is in your account.  You can spend up to your credit limit. 
What does it help you do?  • Avoid debt
• Track daily spending
• Budget with cash
• Build credit
• Maximize rewards
• Get purchase protection 
What about rewards? Most debit cards don’t offer any rewards.  Most credit cards offer reward points for every dollar, which you can redeem for cash or merchandise.
What happens if your card is lost or stolen?  You may have limited liability if the loss or theft is not reported immediately.  You will have zero liability when you notify your institution of a fraudulent transaction within their specified time frame. 

Download the infographic (PDF)

Further reading

Building and maintaining good credit can improve your eligibility for credit cards. Learn five tips for positively influencing your creditworthiness.

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