The Pros and Cons of Debit and Credit Cards

Should you get a debit or credit card? A debate greater than team Jacob vs. team Edward. To us, and to you, the answer may be clear, but with any debate, there’s always extra information that may sway your final decision.

Looking into all the pros and cons is the best way to approach all decision-making, especially when it comes to money management. We’ve broken down everything you need to know when it comes to the debit vs. credit card debate to help you choose your fighter.

Here it goes:

Debit vs. Credit

Simply put, debit cards are a replacement for carrying cash on hand. Your debit card connects directly to your checking account and uses your deposited funds to complete transactions.

A credit card differs significantly from a debit card in that when you swipe one, you may not be using the money you actually have. A credit card is a physical representation of a line of credit you’ve opened. When you open a credit card, access to additional funds is given to you to spend as you’d like.

Both debit and credit cards are valuable tools because they let you carry and spend your money wherever you want without the hassle of physical cash. Although both may look the same, they act very differently, and you should know the difference.

What Are The Pros and Cons of A Debit Card

Upon hiring, your employer typically asks you where you’d like to receive your payments. Although some accept checks or cash, many of us find direct deposits most convenient. Every payday, you wake up to find new funds in your account ready to be spent. 

Using a debit card can be the deciding factor in whether or not you stick to your budget, have enough money for happy hour, or have the ability to meet your big financial goals.  If you’re unsure about using one, check out the disadvantages and advantages of debit cards.

The Pros of A Debit Card

Cashless Spending

Many “budgeting gurus” say that using cash is king. Sure, cash is cool, but it’s not necessarily convenient. 

You never want to take large sums out with you because having it lost or stolen can be a real buzz kill. At the same time, having too little money can be problematic in the case of an emergency. Debit cards remove the anxiety of not knowing what’s to come.

A budgeting guru will also tell you that every penny counts. With cash and change, it’s easy to let a good portion of your money go to waste at the bottom of your bag or in the flaps of your washing machine. A debit card lets you use every last cent available.

Avoid Hidden Fees

A credit card comes with annual fees, interest rates, late payment charges, and we are just getting started. Debit cards only have fees when you overdraw from your account balance (if they let you), which you can easily avoid with some basic budgeting skills.

Money Management Made Easy

If not sticking to a budget, your funds can end up getting pretty low (we’ve all been there), but debit cards make it difficult to get into the red. If there’s $100 in your checking account, you can spend $100. If you overspend some banks will allow for an overdraft, but charge a fee when you exceed your available funds. 

The Cons

You’re Not Building a Credit History 

The traditional debit card may be great for budgeting and money management, but credit bureaus don’t really care how you spend your money (rude). Credit bureaus determine your credit score based on how you manage other people’s money.

Whether you budget super well or always end up with 5 cents in your checking account the night before payday, credit bureaus simply don’t care. You may see this as a pro, but there are certain situations in life where you’ll be pretty regretful for not having built a credit history.

No Rewards

Most debit cards don’t offer reward programs: no cashback, no flyer miles, no nothing. Just your money moving in and out. People who are good at managing their money usually open credit cards so that they can spend money as usual but receive rewards while they’re at it.

You Only Have What You Have

Planning out every expense in life is nearly impossible; how are you supposed to know that girls’ night out will end with three orders of 50-piece Mcnuggets? 

Without a savings account, purchasing a new couch or a plane ticket can wipe out your entire paycheck. You know that $30 put aside each week would ultimately let you make your purchase, but this takes time and planning.

What Are The Pros and Cons of A Credit Card

Many of us are told that as we transition into adulthood, we’re going to need a credit card. Sometimes opening a credit card can be super helpful, but it also comes with some faults. Explore the pros and cons of credit cards before biting the bullet. 

The Pros

You Can Spend Money Before You Have It 

Say it’s Monday, and the new Savage X Fenty line just dropped, but your next paycheck won’t hit until Friday, a tragedy. Don’t fret. You can purchase the pieces you’d like to with your credit card and then pay it back when you get paid on Friday.


Credit card companies typically entice you by offering rewards on your purchases. If you can manage credit cards well, then rewards are an awesome benefit. Rewards let you spend as you typically would, with some extra perks.

The Cons


Handing away cash hurts the soul; it’s a lot more painful than swiping a card. Not being restricted to how much money you’ve received in your paycheck can have you buying more items than you can afford. 

Spending with a credit card is one of the easiest ways to accumulate debt. Your debt can get out of hand more quickly than you expected, and coming back from it can be a lot harder than you thought.


If it comes time to pay off your credit card, and you don’t have the funds to pay it in full, you can end up paying interest on your remaining balance. Paying off debt is already a struggle; the extra burden of interest is a whole other nightmare.

Damaging Credit History

If you’re overspending, accumulating interest, and not making your minimum payments, a damaging credit score can creep up on you. 

Responsible credit card usage is excellent for building up your credit score, but beware, irresponsible use can leave you with a not-so-great score. A low credit score can limit your options for the future when you need them most.

How Do We Get The Best of Both Worlds?

The pros of both sound pretty great, huh? We’ll take easy money management and reward points but pass on interest and hidden fees.¹

Whether you choose to sign up for a credit card or a debit card, it always feels like you are missing out on some benefit (sort of like FOMO but for your finances.)

Credit cards vs. debit cards, it’s been a struggle for many people over the years. It’s about time someone’s made a compromise between the two.

Why Extra Is The Best Debit Card

Extra is the first debit card that makes budgeting, building credit, earning reward points, and avoiding hidden fees simple.¹ Extra was designed to give you the best benefits of a credit and debit card all in one:

  • Extra reports your transactions as creditworthy purchases so that you can start to building credit with debit¹ 
  • Extra’s fees are straightforward: Ranging in price from $149/year
  • Extra lets you Rack up rewards points on your everyday spending and use them to redeem your favorite products in their rewards store¹
  • How to get a debit card so dreamy? Just sign up for Extra (no credit check necessary) and connect the Extra Card with your bank account.² Use Extra like any regular debit card and start reaping the zero interest benefits.¹

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