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Consumer Archive

Consumer

Understand debit card features

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NEW YORK (12/22/10)--Debit cards are becoming the payment method of choice for Americans. Debit card use helped payments made electronically rise more than 9% during the past year, while credit card transactions fell an estimated 0.2% (foxbusiness.com Dec. 13). Using debit cards can help consumers avoid racking up credit card debt. But as CBSMoneyWatch.com (Dec. 7) points out, consumers need to be aware of how debit is different from credit to use debit well:
* Hold policies. Hotels and gas stations commonly place holds on a transaction when consumers use debit cards. Be aware of hold policies when using a debit card to make a purchase. Make sure you have enough in your account to cover that amount plus any additional expenses you plan on making. That will help you avoid overdraft fees. * Disputed charges. Funds are subtracted from your account at the time of purchase when you use a debit card, possibly even before you receive the goods. It becomes the consumer’s responsibility to recover any funds from a merchant if there’s reason to dispute the charges. * Stolen cards. Federal law helps protect you when your debit card is stolen by limiting your liability to $50 for fraudulent charges when the card is reported stolen within two days of theft. Take too much time and your account could be drained without recourse.
For more information, view the video “Debit vs. Credit” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.