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I was in line at Starbucks this morning to pick up my morning coffee when I decided to indulge in one of my more recent miles/points habits. I admit that it is a bit judgmental, but I can’t help but do it every time I am shopping, out do dinner, or picking up my dry cleaning.

I watched how every customer paid for their coffee.

It’s a bad habit but I am simply too curious to shake it. At the very least it helps me keep up to date with which banks/cards are the most popular on the market.

Not surprisingly, every single person paid for their coffee with a debit card. No credit cards, cash, or even Starbucks cards (why not at least earn a free coffee or two?). At least nobody pulled out a checkbook.

Call me a harsh person, but watching people pay for things with debit cards makes me cringe. I understand that there are extenuating circumstances for some people, but the vast majority of the time it’s because they don’t know any better.

So to save you from my subtle coffee line judgment (and a lifetime of missed free travel opportunities), I put together a quick comparison of how credit and debit cards stack up. Hopefully this overview will convince you to ditch your debit card for something a little more rewarding.

Credit Scoring

Using credit cards responsibly is one of the best ways to build and maintain a solid credit score. This will allow you to qualify for better interest rates on mortgages and car loans, saving you hundreds and even thousands of dollars down the road.

Debit cards on the other hand do not show up on your credit report have absolutely zero effect on your credit score.

So unless you plan on paying cash for your next home, it would probably be a good idea to start building some credit with responsible credit card use.

 Spending Rewards

Almost every major credit card on the market offers some sort of spending rewards. These typically come in the form of frequent flyer miles, cash back, or points that can be redeemed for other merchandise. Over time these rewards can add up to some serious savings, especially when you factor in the lucrative sign-up bonuses that are offered by many cards.

Very few debit cards offer rewards for your day-to-day spending. The ones that do offer only a fraction of what is offered by credit cards and are not worth your time.

Consumer Protection

It’s a fact that credit cards offer their users better protection against fraud than debit cards do. This is because money spent on credit card is the bank’s money (until you pay the bill) as opposed to spending your money when you use a debit card. Banks care a lot more about their money than they care about yours, which is why unauthorized charges on credit cards are dealt with in days rather than weeks.

Using a credit card also means that you don’t have to worry about having a large sum of money tied up in a fraud investigation. The bank will issue a credit for the disputed amount until the case is closed.

Along those same lines, many credit cards offer purchase protection plans that cover large purchases for as long as 90 days. So if your new TV falls off of your wall mount (seriously, who doesn’t worry about that happening) your credit card might cover the cost of replacing it.

Final Thoughts

While credit cards have a number of advantages over debit cards, their usefulness can be easily negated by letting your spending get out of control, missing payments, or incurring unneeded fees.

The important thing to remember about all of those downsides is that they are 100% caused by user error. So if you don’t think that you can trust yourself to use credit cards responsibly then I would recommend avoiding them.

Otherwise, pick one up today and start earning some free travel.


Happy Travels,


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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

About the Author

Bryce Conway is the Founder of and Author of Takeoff: How to Travel the World for Next to Nothing and How to Fix Your Credit: Do it Once. Do it Right. Get on with Your Life. Bryce’s work has been featured in multiple national media outlets including Good Morning America, Money Magazine, and ABC Nightline News. Bryce created 10xTravel in 2014 and has been hanging out in the points and miles community since 2011....

Learn More About Bryce