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Our Top 8 Debit Do’s and Don’ts

Choosing your debit card over cash or credit cards is convenient and can help you manage your money better and avoid debt. There are a few precautions you should take when using debit. Learn all about the do’s and don’ts of using your debit card.

When it comes to plastic currency, the debit card is like the underdog. Resting in a wallet next to fancy credit cards, the debit card gets overlooked. Credit cards come with promises of big bonuses, rewards and spending benefits. They’re the more fun option, seducing spenders into buying more because “life is short!” and “it’s fine, you can just pay me back later!” (wink) Really, is there anything more beautiful than a sleeve full of shiny credit cards you can pick and choose from at a moment’s notice?

OK, credit cards are not out to get you ... and they do offer perks. The temptation to borrow in excess is there though, and if you can’t help but give in to the urges to buy buy buy, you may want to rethink your alliance. For many, debit is the more responsible financial friend who keeps you and your spending on track. There are so many benefits of befriending debit, but like with everything, debit’s not perfect. We’re rooting for debit but keeping it real too.

Debit Do’s

The Anti-Debt Option

Debit outshines credit by helping overspenders avoid accumulating debt and high interest rates. Using a debit card is like paying with virtual cash immediately taken from your checking account. Paying with money you have (and don’t borrow) could motivate you to spend more cautiously and manage your cash flow better. You don’t want to get hit with those overdraft fees either.

Debit & the Digital Wallet

The number of people who are turning to digital wallets continues to grow. Digital wallets (like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay) serve as a cashless, contactless and secure way to make a purchase. You can sync your debit and credit cards; however, since credit cards have been proven to make people spend more money, we recommend using debit for your digital wallet.

Dirty Debit

These days, we’ve never been more cautious about spreading germs — and your debit card is most likely one item you forget to keep clean. Listen to this: Data has found that the average debit/credit card is dirtier than cash and coins. To protect your debit card from germ threats, shop online, use a digital wallet and give it a Clorox wipe down every so often.

Shop with the Lock

Shopping online is a safe way to pay for avoiding contact, but the risk of cybercrime is high. To minimize this risk, always shop at trusted sites. Those sponsored ads you see on Instagram? Make sure you do some research before buying from a sketchy, unknown site. Also, check that the URL has HTTPS and a padlock icon in the search bar, which signifies SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption.

Debit Don’ts

Don’t Give Out Personal Info

The surefire way to get your identity stolen is by giving out sensitive information (like your PIN, account number or debit card number) to a scammer. Credit card companies and financial institutions do not ask for personal info via email, phone calls, texts and social media messages. Also, never click on any suspicious links, monitor your account often to catch any unauthorized transactions and report fraud immediately if you become a victim.

Inflated Checking Account

The recommended amount of money to keep in checking is two months’ worth of living expenses.1 Anything extra is better off in high-yield savings, retirement and investment accounts. There’s also the risk of theft. If your debit card or number gets stolen, a thief can clean out your checking account by making fraudulent charges and ATM withdrawals.

Don’t Fall for Skimming

Skimming is a type of fraud that identity thieves use to steal your card information. Avoid getting skimmed by looking for signs of a card skimmer at ATMs and gas pumps, such as a reader that extends past the panel (like it’s an additional part), a loose reader or a broken security label. Also, don’t use your debit card anywhere someone needs to take your card away to process a payment. For instance, while paying the bill at a restaurant, your server could stealthily swipe your card through a handheld skimming device.

The Power of the PIN

Your PIN is like the social security number of your debit card: Do not share it or make it too easy to guess. Once a perpetrator gets this security code, they have easy access to your funds. To protect your PIN, never write it down or send it electronically. It’s also good practice to use numbers that aren’t personal to you and keep it unique from any other passwords.

Debit Do’s and Don’ts


  • Use debit, the anti-debt card, to help you manage your spending better.
  • Link your debit card to your digital wallet for contactless and fast payments.
  • Sanitize your card. Debit cards are known to be dirtier than cash!
  • Shop on secure sites that have HTTPS and a padlock icon in the search bar.


  • Do not give out any personal information via email, phone call or text.
  • Do not keep too much money in your checking account.
  • Do not use debit at the gas pump, a restaurant or anywhere someone needs to take your card away to process a payment.
  • Do not share your PIN or make it too easy to guess.
Debit Dos and Donts infographic

Have you ever heard of decision fatigue? It’s what happens when you have too many options, causing poor decision-making. Financially speaking, keeping too many credit cards in your wallet can make smart decision-making more challenging. We’re making it easy for you! Use a debit card and follow these do’s and don’ts.

Debit Card Safety & Security

At Desert Financial, your Visa® Debit Card is fraud-protected and we act quickly to resolve qualified fraud claims. To protect your debit card, review your checking account regularly, report fraudulent charges or lost/stolen cards immediately, keep your debit card in your possession at all times, protect your PIN and only use your debit card with trusted vendors. For more information about fraud, scams and identity theft protection, visit DesertFinancial.com/Security.

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The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.