Debit cards, credit cards, and mobile payments are convenient ways to pay for goods and services. Ask 10 of your friends, and 3 of them will tell you they never carry cash. And for the people who do keep cash on hand, on average about 75% of Americans have $50 or less in their wallets. Cash is harder to track, and if it’s lost, there is typically no way to get it back. Carrying less cash on you is considered safer than having large amounts of money.

While each person’s preference is different, there are a few scenarios where using your debit card is recommended, particularly during times where you need make payments remotely.

When you are buying from small businesses.

Some businesses are avoiding taking cash due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic to help prevent the spread of the virus. If you only have access to cash, some businesses may not allow you to make a purchase. (I would avoid saying this, as debit cards fall under the same category.) Instead, using a debit card is a more hygienic and safer way to pay for goods, and the employees of these businesses will appreciate it!

If you are trying to monitor spending and manage debt.

Setting up alerts for your debit card helps you monitor your own spending! Unlike cash or checks, with debit card alerts, you can see every purchase as it happens, which can help you keep tabs on your spending habits. If you’re using a Main Street Bank debit card, follow this step-by-step guide to set up alerts through online banking.senior couple making a purchase on tablet

When you make a purchase using a debit card, the money actually comes directly from your bank account. This means that unlike credit cards, you won’t get a monthly bill for the purchases you make with your debit card, which also means it will be harder to rack up unintentional debt.

If you want to protect yourself from fraud.

Even when you aren’t looking at your transaction history, you can still be notified when there is activity in your account. Those debit card alerts above are also an effective tool for identifying potential fraudulent transactions. You can set up alerts for when your card is used at certain dollar amounts, or even when it used for any amount over as little as a penny. This is a very effective way to know exactly when your card is used and detect potential fraud right in the moment.

You may also be surprised to know that from a fraud perspective, debit cards are more secure than checks. While traditional checks show your bank routing number and account number, a debit card has a separate number from your bank account. If a checkbook is lost or stolen, you need to close your checking account entirely and open a new one for security. If your debit card is lost or stolen, you can cancel the card and order a new one, while still keeping your same checking account information.

Your bank will do everything it can to protect your account, but the best defense against fraud is your own due-diligence and careful monitoring. With the right tools and information, you can do that. You can always talk to your banker to learn how to implement these tools.

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