Every so often I address questions and comments I receive via email or Twitter. If you have a question, please contact me using the form on this page. I try to respond to everyone, but it might take a while before I read every email I receive.
From A. Parker:
What is the difference between the options when a cashier asks you whether you would like to use your debit card as “credit” or “debit?”
Merchants often pay the middlemen between them and banks less for “debit” transactions, which generally require you to enter a PIN. You will likely see merchants, if they show favor between “debit” and “credit” transactions, lead a customer towards “debit.” To use a debit card as “credit,” you are not actually using it like a credit card. Your bank account will still be debited immediately, overnight, or on the next business day. In most cases, you will be required to sign for the transaction rather than entering your PIN, but signature-less credit card transactions are increasingly common.
According to Visa, using a debit card as “credit” helps to ensure you’ll receive the credit card network’s protections like “Zero Liability.” This also ensures that Visa receives a bigger chunk of the merchant’s money.
If you have questions, let us know. You can email your questions directly to me (or to Smithee, Jeff, or Tom) or leave your questions in the comments area.
Updated August 10, 2009 and originally published August 6, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.