Why no debit card?

I was in the line at the grocery store yesterday, and a woman was writing a check.

45 minutes later after the woman wrote her life story on the front of the thing, wrote the author’s notes and epilogue in the little balance book, and the cashier sent the check out into the computerized virtual check checking world for approval, my Ice cream had turned to soup, and the popsicles I’d gotten for dessert had turned to kool aid, and I (normally very laid back) had time for 3 anxiety attacks during the process.

Why is this preferable to the debit card?



Funny you should mention this, because I noticed it yesterday. One thing that struck me, however, is that most of the check writers tended to be older. It might be as simple as “I don’t know how to use that new-fangled thingie, I’ve always done it this way, I’ve got PROOF right in front of my eyes as to where my money went” kind of a thing. I haven’t seen anyone under 60 write a check in the grocery stores, at least in my area.

Or maybe they gave the debit card to spouse unit and didn’t have it on them?

I don’t have a debit card, but I rarely write checks (at least in stores. I’ll use them for mail-in payments.) I use my credit card instead, and pay the balance off every month.

What, exactly, is the benefit of a debit card over a credit card? As I understand it, with a debit card, your account gets charged immediately, instead of enjoying the credit card float. And, do you get cashback/incentives with debit cards? Are there places that accept debit cards, but not credit?

I’m a modern, hip kinda guy and I prefer writing checks. I could get the same result from simply recording every debit card transaction in my check register, bnut I also know sooner or later (actually, sooner) I’d screw up and forget to record one and the next thing I know I’d be bouncing checks.

A debit card is just like cash or a checkbook and it works just like a credit card. I don’t know of any incentives, aside from not being the huge pain in the ass writing The Unedited Life Story Of Me on their check in line.

Seriously, I use checks for a few things, like the power bill and such, because I want that piece of paper when they shut the power down three months later cause “We never got it”. But I use my debit card for everything else.

I write checks for a lot of things, but I got a debit card a few months ago, and I love it.

I don’t understand one thing, though: sometimes I’m not even asked to sign anything when I use my debit card. How do they know that I’m the “nineiron” that the card says I am? I mean, it’s convenient for me not to have to show any ID or sign anything, but wouldn’t it be convenient for a pickpocket to use my card in the same way?

A debit card is fractionally more secure than a credit card. If someone steals your credit card and can copy your signature (helpfully provided on the back) then they can use it fraudulently until you get to a phone and call your bank. But to your debit card fraudently someone has to both steal the card and determine your PIN.

A debit card also has benefits over a credit card to people who don’t trust their own sense of fiscal responsibility. If your bank balance is low (lower than a typical credit card limit, I mean), carrying a debit card instead of a credit card is one way of ensuring that you don’t overspend.

The only benefits of checks over debit cards that I can think of is that checks leave a paper trail automatically, if you have checks that come with a carbon sheet underneath them. And you don’t have to remember a PIN, which is a problem for some people.

nineiron: Is your card a “debit card” (i.e. you have to enter a PIN) or a “check-card”? With check cards you’re supposed to have to provide a signature, just like with a credit card. (Although for some reason this doesn’t seem to apply at gas stations, darned if I know why.)

You usually need to enter a PIN to use a debit card. At least that’s what I have to do.

I guess one big advantage of a debit card over a credit card is that it can work as an ATM card too. Also you don’t have to worry about a bill every month. And you don’t really need any credit to get a debit card, just money and a checking account.

I use my debit card to take advantage of the “cash back” feature. When I do my weekly grocery shopping I pay by debit card and get $50 bucks back so I have lunch and gas money during the week. I don’t have to pay and extra for this feature and I don’t have to make an extra trip to the bank or ATM.

I thought of the ATM angle - but I don’t have an ATM card and have never used an ATM for personal uses. The only times I have ever used an ATM is to get cash advances for travel with my work credit card. Anyway, you can use credit cards at ATMs. You just have to pay a fee.

I don’t believe I am liable for any fraudulent charges to my credit accounts, as long as I notify the issuer within some time period. A day or so, I forget.

Can a debit card (requiring PIN) be used for telephone, internet, or mail-in purchases?

Credit cards do everything I need. No reason to carry any more plastic in an already-too-fat wallet.

Mom22 still writes checks for most things in stores, I imagine just out of habit. When I was first getting my own spending habits, ATM cards had recently come into their own, and it was the natural step for me. But she has been writing checks all of her life, and keeps a meticulous balance book, and it is easier for her to continue what she’s always done.
My mother is just under 60.

In Conceivable - I do the same with my Discover credit card at no charge. And get a cashback refund down the line.

Uh-uh - I’d say they were LESS secure. Someone gets your card - although they can’t use it at ATM’s without your PIN, they can still use it. Most stores, they ask debit or credit - even if it is a debit card, you can still say credit - and it won’t ask for a pin. So - definitely less secure, because once someone has your card, they can drain your account - with credit cards, at least you can fight the charges.

I am going to be requesting an ATM card from my bank that is not debit - just for that reason.


I think we are talking about two different “cash backs”. I use my debit card to get my cash out of the bank when I am buying groceries. I don’t think that I can do that on my Discover card without paying higher interest rates.

I use my credit card for large purchases I plan on paying for over a few months. I would never get cash of a credit card.

My debit card is actually a VISA card, I can use it as credit or debit, or ATM.
or as a coaster
an ice scraper
a ninja throwing star
a back scratcher
a musical instrument (to pass the time while the person in line ahead of me is writing a check)

if you grind them down into a powder and mix with flour, a little shortening, yeast, etc. they make a nice bread

the paper trail thing is a pretty good reason to write a check, though.

I usually use a check, too, and it doesn’t take any longer than a card. Our market has a “preferred shopper” card that automatically gets you a few discounts, and also pre-approves you for check cashing. I have the check pre-written except for the signature by the time it’s needed. I’m allowed $30 over the purchase amount back.

Advantages: Paper trail, no fee, plus the funds doesn’t actually leave my account until the market actually cashes it, which will most likely be the following day at the earliest. With the fractional interest rates now that doesn’t make much difference, but why should the bank get to debit my account any sooner than necessary?

I don’t have a debit card. I’m strictly a check-writing girl. Otherwise I’d forget to record the transactions and I’d be in deep shit come the end of the month. It’s just easier for me to keep things straight. And I’m fast, too! I can write a check in no time flat!

Well, you can’t kite a debit card.

Perhaps her account was low.

A while back, I started a post on this topic, in REVERSE. I mean, I always get a laugh out of those Visa debit card commercials (Tiki Barber can’t cash a check because he looks just like his brother Ronde, Charlie Sheen ages into Martin while waiting to get a check approved, etc.), but my laughter was NEVER rooted in reality. Here in Texas, I’ve been writing checks fro practically everything (groceries, dry cleaning, whatever) for 17 years, and I’ve NEVER had the slightest problem. As often as not, no one asks for identification, and when they do, a cursory glance at my driver’s license has always sufficed.

So, I don’t doubt that it’s convenient to use debit cards, but I’m baffled by the notion that it takes forever to pay for something with a check. When I see people in commercials standing around for hours on end, waiting to get a check approved, I can only wonder what planet they’re living on.

I write checks all the time, about 10-15 a month. I used the debt card for a while, until I found out that my bank (W.M.) charges me a use fee when I go over a set amount of uses. (about 6 per month) So I either spend about 14 bucks every 4-5 months for a new box of checks, or spend 2 bucks for each debit card use over 6.