According to the TSYS & Mercator Advisory Group Debit Survey 2011, debit now beats cash, credit card, and checks.
Here are the top 5 places you should avoid using your debit card:
1) Rental or Security Deposits: If you have to put money down to rent a car or heavy duty home improvement equipment, the business will actually take the money right out of your account. You’ll get the cash back when you return the car or equipment. But with a credit card, the money is just “frozen” but not actually charged and you won’t ever notice it’s gone.
2) Restaurants and bars. There are way too many prying eyes around a dining establishment to trust using your debit card. Apart from the risk of having your card stolen, restaurants are one of those rare places where someone actually walks away with your card and you don’t see them for a few minutes. Much better to use cash when dining out.
3) Regular payments. Businesses love to get their sticky little fingers on your debit card number so they can extract dues straight from your bank account on a regular basis. Whether it’s a gym or your insurance company, you’re better off using a credit card. That’s because if there’s a dispute, the business won’t take the cash right out of your checking account if they don’t have your debit card number.
4) Wi-Fi hot spots. Never use your debit card for an online purchase while at a coffee shop or other business that offers free Wi-Fi access. Many of those businesses have unsecured wireless connections, so it’s much easier for hackers and scammers to log on and steal your data.
5) Any retail outlet where you choose the “credit” option. Debit cards allow you to choose between a debit (having cash taken straight out of your account) and a credit transaction (where the money will be taken out but it could be a few days later). For one, credit purchases cost the retailer more cash in swipe fees, so you could be hurting a small business owner. But the real problem is the delay when choosing credit – you may forget the purchase and not account for the money. That can lead to an overdraft situation and the onerous fees that go with them.