There are times when it's to your advantage to use plastic.
Step 1: Read the fine print Read the fine print. Find out exactly what sort of fees you're being charged. Is there a per-transaction fee associated with your debit card? Does your credit card charge a very high Annual Percentage Rate, or APR?
Step 2: Cover your charges Only use your debit card if you have enough money in your checking account to cover your charges. Your bank might have high penalties for dipping below your minimum balance.
Step 3: Pay off immediately Pay back money as soon as possible. If you do have to carry a balance, make sure you have a low APR. A small amount of debt can multiply into something large and unwieldy.
Step 4: Keep your cards safe No matter which card you use, be sure to keep track of it and to keep the card number safe, and the PIN number for you debit card in a separate, safe place. Be sure to alert your financial institution immediately if your card is lost, stolen, or if you suspect it's being used fraudulently.
TIP: If you use your debit card to make a purchase, opt to use it as a credit card, allowing you to sign for a purchase rather than entering your PIN, which offers you more protection in case of theft.
Step 5: Use in place of cash Great times to use your debit card are when your bank isn't in the area, meaning you'd pay a hefty ATM fee to get cash, or when you simply don't feel like lugging cash around. Enjoy the freedom!
FACT: The BankAmericard, issued in 1958, was the first nationally accepted credit card.