I’ve never been a fan of debit cards. You might wonder why, when they seem so useful—quick access to your money, immediate purchase power, and no need to carry around a wad of cash. Plus, they’re better than credit cards, right?
Not so fast. There are actually some big downsides to swiping that bank card. For five reasons to be wary of debit cards, plus some tips for being smart when you use them.
You (Subconsciously) Spend More
Do you keep track of your purchases? So does Sharon, one of my clients. She follows the rules for financial success—logs her spending, doesn’t carry a credit card balance, owns her home—but during her recent financial check-up, she was frustrated that she hadn’t saved as much as we had planned. The culprit? Her debit card. While she thought she was being “good” by not using her credit card, all her little debit purchases were adding up. Studies show that this is a common pitfall: If we have actual cash in hand, we’re apt to think twice before forking it over. But when we’re paying with plastic, we’re much more careless about our spending.