Tag: Credit Cards

 

Prepaid Card vs. Debit Card vs. Credit Card

Some people use personal finance terms interchangeably like ‘checking account’ and ‘bank account’ or ‘interest rate’ and ‘APR’. In these instances, this is understandable.

Yet, when it comes to prepaid, debit and credit cards, it’s important to note that these cards are not the same thing. While they all may show a network logo like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, these three types of cards are actually quite different.

With that said, these cards do have one thing in common: if you’re not using cash, you’re likely using one of them to make your purchases. Read on to learn more about the differences between prepaid cards, debit cards and credit cards.

Debit Card

A debit card is linked to your checking account through your bank. When you use your card to make an in-store or online purchase, the money gets deducted from your bank account. You can also use your card at an ATM to withdraw cash.

If you happen to spend more than the amount in your account, you may be charged an overdraft fee. Chime Bank provides one of the few debit card options that doesn’t have overdraft fees. Chime also offers fee-free ATM withdrawals at all MoneyPass ATMs.

Prepaid Card

Prepaid cards are not linked to your checking account so you don’t really need a bank account to have one. With a prepaid card, you load money onto the card and then use it to make purchases or withdraw money from an ATM. You can put money onto your card with any of these options:

  • Arrange for a paycheck or regular payment to be directly deposited onto the card
  • Add funds at retailers or financial institutions like a Walmart or currency exchange location
  • Use a reload card which works just like a gift card (it contains a code that becomes linked to the amount of money you paid the cashier. You can then load the card over the phone using your code)
  • Transfer funds from an existing bank account

Be mindful that some loading methods may come with a small fee.

Credit Card

A credit card allows you to make purchases by borrowing from a credit limit instead of using the money you have in your checking account or funds you loaded onto a prepaid card.

With a credit card, you’ll have a minimum amount that you are required to pay each month (reflected on your bill), but it’s a wise idea to try to pay off the entire balance if possible. It’s also important to note that you’ll receive a certain limit when approved for a card. You can then spend up to this amount regularly so long as you make your minimum payments on time.

For example, if you get a credit card with a $1,000 limit, this means you can spend up to $1,000 on the card. While you can carry your remaining balance over to the next month, you will be charged interest on the balance until you pay it off. This is why it’s recommended to purchase only what you can afford to pay for within a short period of time – preferably during that same billing period.

A good rule of thumb is to only borrow up to 30% of your credit limit and try to pay the bill off in full each month. So, instead of spending your entire $1,000 credit, you may want to spend $300 or less and pay the bill off in full at the end of the monthly billing cycle. According to Experian, this is called credit card utilization and it’s a common factor when determining your credit score.

Credit cards can help you build your credit and demonstrate that you are a trustworthy borrower. In fact, credit card companies report your borrowing and payment history to the three major credit bureaus and this helps shape your credit score.

One final note about credit cards: when you decide to apply for one, make sure you understand all the fees and terms.

Prepaid Card vs. Debit Card vs. Credit Card

As you can see, there are quite a few key differences between the three cards above, so let’s discuss them in more detail.

A prepaid card is different from a debit card based on the fact that you don’t need a bank account to have a prepaid card. And, when you get a prepaid card you won’t be subject to any credit checks or inquiries into your banking history because you are using loading your cash onto the card. Another perk: you may be able to deposit your paycheck right onto your prepaid card.

While prepaid cards can look and feel like debit cards, they aren’t as safe as debit cards. Why? Since debit cards are connected to your checking account, you can easily monitor your account and spending online for free. Your money will also generally be protected if your debit card gets lost, stolen, or wrongfully charged.

However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPU) has put new rules in place to make prepaid cards safer for consumers. These new rules are set to go into effect on April 1, 2019.

Now let’s talk about credit cards vs. debit cards.

Credit cards are different from both prepaid and debit cards due to the fact that when you use a credit card you are borrowing money while hopefully building a solid credit history. Better yet, many credit cards offer rewards in the form of points or cash back that can be redeemed for statement credits, travel, or merchandise. Some people like to use credit cards to purchase groceries, gas, and other everyday needs in order to rack up reward points.

As long as you’re not overspending and can pay your bill off in full each month, there’s nothing wrong with using this strategy. However, if you struggle with controlling your spending, you may want to steer clear of using credit cards for your daily purchases.

Instead of credit cards, consumers often choose debit cards for everyday spending. Why? Debit is safer than cash, you can monitor your activity online with mobile banking, and you can choose a bank that doesn’t have fees.

Which One Do I Need?

If you’re not going to be using cash 100% of the time, odds are you’ll need one of these three cards.

Some people start with a prepaid card, but most choose a debit card that’s connected to a checking account for easy access to their money. Still others prefer a credit card, especially if it offers perks and rewards.

We’ll leave you with this thought: you may want to consider using two or all three of these cards for different types of spending. The bottom line: the best option is the card that works best for your spending and lifestyle habits.

 

10 Years After the Financial Crisis – How Fintech Is Helping

“Too big to fail.” If reading that brings a little bit of red to your eyes, you’re not alone.

Though originally popularized in the 1980s during the bailout of Continental Illinois National Bank, this phrase once again became common parlance during the 2008 financial crisis. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, this saying became synonymous with the unwillingness of regulators to close a large troubled bank because they believed the short-term costs of a bank failure were too high.

So, it’s no surprise that nearly half (49 percent) of Americans still have negative associations with the term “too big to fail,” according to a recent Chime survey. The generations who had the strongest negative connotations included boomers (55 percent), many of whom lost their retirement savings in 2008, and millennials (50 percent), who graduated to a nonexistent job market.

In the decade since that phrase was splashed across newspapers and discussed at every dinner table, the United States has slowly clawed its way back from the financial crisis. This brings up the question: Has anything really changed?

How banks are doing

Following the Great Recession, the American people bailed out banks, investors, and shareholders. The Federal Reserve slashed interest rates and pumped trillions of dollars into the American economy.

Ten years later, the same big banks are still at the top of the game: JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and US Bank. Across the U.S., banks had record profits of $56 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Although CEOs earn less than before, they’re still killing it. The stock market has sustained one of its longest bull runs in history, with the S&P 500 growing more than 300 percent since the crisis.

“This is not an industry that has examined itself and remade itself in the wake of the crisis,” stated Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in The Wall Street Journal.

That’s despite Dodd-Frank, a 2010 bill that aimed to protect consumers by placing more controls on banks, including their lending requirements. While the bill did result in increased accountability and oversight, the current administration has begun to roll back some of its provisions. Even if the remainder of the consumer protections stay intact, the WSJ points out that many of the regulators have backgrounds in the very industry they’re supposed to be monitoring.

In other words, banks are doing well, executives and stocks are flying high…but how about the American people?

How Americans are doing

Every year since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has asked 12,000 adults about their financial lives for the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED).

According to the 2017 report, only 7 percent of adults say it’s “difficult to get by financially” —  about half the number who said so in 2013. And nearly three-quarters say they’re either “living comfortably” (33 percent) or “doing okay” (40 percent).

Although things have improved, that doesn’t mean everything is OK. Here’s a deeper look at the numbers.

Unemployment and income

Unemployment has dropped to 3.9 percent, lower than it was before the recession. Even the “real” unemployment rate — which includes people who’ve stopped looking for work and people working part-time because they haven’t found full-time opportunities — is only 7.4 percent.

Not counted in that percentage, though, are the people who aren’t looking for work because they can’t find childcare, are addicted to opiates, or are turned off by low wages. Of the Americans who are employed, more than one-fifth (23.3 percent) are in jobs where the median wages fall below the federal poverty line, reports the WSJ. Nearly 40 percent of adults, according to SHED, have family incomes of less than $40,000. Overall, the WSJ says median household income has only risen 5.3 percent since 2008.

Chime’s survey underscores this: 54 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

More people, SHED learned, are working on the side, too: 31 percent of adults engaged in gig work in 2017, up from 28 percent in 2016.

Wealth and inequality

Chime’s survey asked people how the recession had affected their financial habits. This is what we found:

  • 72 percent became more inclined to save money
  • 62 percent feel their savings are “in a better place” compared to 10 years ago

Despite these promising signs, the wealth gap continues to grow. One report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis went so far as to say millennials may become a “lost generation” for wealth accumulation.

“Wealth in 2016 of the median family headed by someone born in the 1980s remained 34 percent below the level we predicted based on the experience of earlier generations at the same age,” stated the report.

Those with exposure to the stock market — just half of the American population — have bounded ahead, while everyone else has been left behind. In the New York Times, Nelson D. Schwartz reports the “proportion of family income from wages” has fallen from 70 percent to just under 61 percent. The rest, he says, is largely from investments.

“The people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see,” wrote Schwartz in the New York Times. “Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.”

When the recession hit, Americans lost $16 trillion in net worth. Today, the wealth of the median American household is still 34 percent lower than it was in 2007, according to the New York Times. Why? Because for families without large investments, their wealth was wrapped up in home value.

Housing

Although housing prices have fully recovered — with the average house price 1 percent higher than the peak in 2006 — there aren’t as many homeowners as there were before the recession.

In what The Penny Hoarder calls “The American Nightmare,” 9 million people lost their homes during the housing crash. According to CNN, the overall homeownership rate dropped from 69.4 percent in 2004 to 63.1 percent in 2016. And, of the Americans who rent, nearly half of them are cost-burdened, according to Harvard University. This means they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

Debt and savings

Debt also remains a common struggle. In fact, Chime’s survey found that 65 percent of Americans have some sort of debt, with 40 percent carrying more than $10,000 and 14 percent carrying more than $50,000.

Here are some staggering stats:

  • Student debt, in particular, has crippled millennials. Today’s students graduate with nearly $40,000 of loans, according to Student Loan Hero.
  • When faced with an unexpected expense of $400, 40 percent of adults can’t pay for it, reports SHED. While that figure has decreased from 50 percent in 2013, it still isn’t good.
  • Twenty percent of Americans are behind on their debt payments, according to SHED; a slight increase from 18 percent in 2015.

In addition, SHED found 22 percent of adults expected to forgo payment on some of their bills in November or December 2017 — mostly credit cards. (That may be why 64 percent of the people we surveyed prefer debit cards over credit cards.)

When it comes to retirement, the picture is also bleak. SHED reports less than two-fifths of non-retired adults think their retirement savings are on track. One-fourth have no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

The rise of fintech

Though the traditional financial industry may not have learned much from the Great Recession, entrepreneurs did.

They immediately saw a need for a new breed of financial businesses. They realized banking and financial services should no longer be exclusive, confusing and predatorial. Instead, entrepreneurs thought financial institutions should be helpful, transparent and free.

So, in the years after the crash, fintech companies started sprouting up left and right.

While the streak of new companies began to slow in 2015 — perhaps, Deloitte posits, because other technologies like bots and blockchain have attracted entrepreneurs — investments into fintech are still robust.

In 2017, according to SHED:

  • 62 percent of adults auto-paid some bills
  • 52 percent received electronic account alerts
  • 46 percent used automatic saving

And, when it comes to mobile banking, those customers are more satisfied. Fifty-nine percent of the millennials we surveyed would recommend their online or mobile bank to a friend. Of those who used national banks, only 22 percent would do the same.

How fintech is helping

Although the financial crisis has had a lasting impact on Americans, it’s also created a landscape in which fintech can thrive.

So, if there’s been one benefit of the Great Recession, it’s the growth of new financial companies that value transparency and put consumers first.

New fintech startups are indeed helping today’s consumers close tomorrow’s wealth gap. For example, Chime offers comprehensive, modern banking with zero fees. With services like Early Direct Deposit, you can avoid predatory payday lenders. And, with automatic savings features, you can build your emergency fund without thinking about it.

In other words: we’ve got your back as you achieve your financial goals.

 

Credit Score Money Tips: 3 Tips to Fix Your Credit Asap

Your credit score is an essential part of your finances. If you are interested in buying a home or a new vehicle with a loan, you may need to fix your credit score ASAP. The difference between an excellent credit score and a poor one can be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage if you can get approved at all. While fixing a credit score can take up to a decade, there are some steps you can take today to get your credit score on the mend. If you want to fix your credit score ASAP, follow along to learn more.

Fix your credit tip #1: 100% on-time payments

The biggest factor in your credit score is your on-time payment history. If you have a series of late or missed payments, your first step to fix your credit score is to turn that trend around. Late payments stay on your credit for seven years, and there is no quick fix to get them removed. But you can start the clock to remove them all for good this month with your first of a lifetime of perfect on-time payments going forward.

If you have trouble keeping up with the bills, stop using your credit cards and set the payments to automatic. This way, you never have a late payment to worry about! Even if you don’t have a monthly payment due, many credit cards report an on-time payment. Whatever you have to do to keep a 100% on-time rate going forward, do it!

Fix your credit tip #2: Pay down balances

The fastest way to fix your credit score in a hurry is to pay off revolving credit balances. A revolving credit account is an account where you can add to your balance in the future. This means credit cards and other lines of credit need to be paid down as quickly as possible to raise your score. While it is easier said than done, if you can pay your credit cards down to zero, you should see your score increase if you carried a balance in the past.

If you need help putting together a credit card payoff strategy, consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche. This is a method of focusing on paying off one account at a time while making minimum payments on the others. As you pay off each account, your focus payment gets bigger and bigger and has a snowball effect of paying off your debt accounts.

Fix your credit tip #3: Be patient

If you follow tip #1 and tip #2 and don’t do anything else, you should see your credit score go up in the long-run. If you want to fix your credit permanently, however, it takes time. Those previous late payments hurt your score less and less over time, but it will take the whole seven years for them to go away for good. There is no quick answer to that part of fixing your credit. You have to be patient.

But if you build the right credit habits and hold to them for years, your credit will improve. While you are at it, don’t mess with your credit too much. Adding new accounts, increased credit limits, and even applying for a new credit card can temporarily lower your credit score. The more you can keep your hands off and just let your credit accounts age with perfect payment records, the better off your credit will be.

Your credit score is in your hands

It’s easy to blame credit card companies, debt collectors, and banks for a bad credit score, but in reality, your credit score is in your control. If you take charge and make your credit a focus, you should be able to fix your credit over time. When you want to borrow with the best terms or use the best credit cards for miles and points rewards, you’ll be thrilled you have excellent credit. You can also get back on your feet and open a bank account online with no deposit even with bad credit through a mobile bank like Chime. They can help you restablish good financial habits.

Following these habits, I’ve been able to build my own 800+ credit score. That helped me buy my home and earn hundreds of thousands of travel rewards points for free trips around the world It couldn’t have happened without my excellent credit score. If you want to join me in the 800+ club, follow these key tips to fix your credit score starting today.

 

What is a Prepaid Card?

If you don’t have an online bank account or credit card and want an easy way to limit overspending, a prepaid card may be your best bet. Millions of Americans are using them to supplement or replace traditional banking services.

Yet, prepaid cards also have their drawbacks.

Here’s the scoop on prepaid debit cards. This way, you’ll be in the know when it comes to making the best choices for your finances and goals.

What is a prepaid debit card?

A prepaid debit card is exactly what it sounds like. It is an alternative banking card that only lets you spend the money that you have preloaded onto the card. You can use your prepaid card anywhere that accepts its payment network, such as Mastercard or Visa. If you attempt a purchase beyond the funds available, your card is simply declined.

When you’ve exhausted the funds on your card, companies offer you multiple ways to add more money. Depending on the provider, you can add cash via a transfer, direct deposit or cash.

Unlike a traditional debit or credit card, a prepaid card requires that you pay before you go to make a purchase. You do this by loading up your card with cash ahead of time. A debit card, on the other hand, charges you immediately after you make a purchase by deducting that amount from your bank account. And, a credit card doesn’t require you to pay until after you buy something – whenever your next bill is due or over time (you’ll typically incur interest if you don’t pay off your entire balance that month).

Who can benefit from a prepaid card?

Prepaid cards are easy to get and very useful if you’re prone to overspending. You can qualify for a prepaid card regardless of your credit history. And, they are helpful if you’re trying to avoid debt.

Because of these benefits, these cards are often a good option if you don’t have access to a credit card or you’re trying to budget using mainly cash. At the same time, a pin-protected prepaid card is safer than carrying cash. Prepaid cards can also be helpful if you don’t have access to a bank account. With this said, keep in mind that with the rise of challenger banks, more people can now get bank accounts.

What are the disadvantages of prepaid debit cards?

While many turn to prepaid cards for convenience, these cards have some significant limitations. In fact, prepaid cards have a bit of a bad rap and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be rolling out new regulations for prepaid cards in May of 2019.

The most important disadvantage is that prepaid cards charge a lot of fees. For example, you’ll often be charged fees for an initial setup, monthly maintenance, reloading your card, ATM use, and more. Studies have shown average prepaid cardholder fees total $11.00 per month.

If you have bad credit, keep in mind that these cards also won’t help you rebuild your credit. And, you won’t have access to banking services or the ability to stop payments. Also, prepaid cards don’t offer fraud protection like a typical debit or credit card. If your card is stolen, there is no requirement for the issuer to replace the funds. Even with the roll-out of the new CFPB rules next year, prepaid cards that aren’t registered with your name and personal information won’t be required to offer this protection.   Banking options such as Chime provide a great alternative to prepaid cards and allow you to open a bank account with bad credit and require no deposit. 

What are the best alternatives to a prepaid debit card?

If you are turning to a prepaid card because you’re having trouble getting a credit card, want to avoid credit card interest and don’t want to ever pay overdraft fees, you do have other options.

First off, consider an online bank account such as Chime. Chime is a mobile bank account with no hidden fees. You’ll receive a debit card with free access to over 30,000 ATMs. With Chime, you can get paid up to two days early with direct deposit. You’ll also be able to use your card at any merchant where Visa is accepted. With no minimum balance requirements, overdraft fees, or monthly fees, you can get the benefits and protections of a bank without all the costs.

Secondly, if you want to build credit, consider a secured credit card as a stepping stone. These cards help establish or rebuild credit history without living beyond your means. The amount of cash you deposit as collateral becomes your credit limit. For example, if you put $500 on a secured credit card, that’s how much you can spend. It differs from a prepaid card as your charges don’t draw directly on your cash deposit, but on a credit line that you need to pay off regularly.

Bottom line

Whether you’re considering a prepaid card as a budgeting tool or alternative way to bank, be sure to dig into all the fees before choosing a card. And remember: prepaid cards can be expensive to use, so you’ll want to know the costs before committing to a card.

 

The Hidden Dangers of Credit Card Rewards

So, you’re tempted by that offer you received in the mail: 50,000 airline miles and all you have to do is spend a few thousand bucks.

While you may not need another credit card, a reward card may be a great option for you, especially if you’re responsible with your money. For starters, earning credit card rewards can be a great way to get a little extra cash or save on your next vacation.

On the other hand, credit cards can also cost you, especially if you overspend and tend to maintain a balance. To help you avoid the hidden dangers of rewards cards, take a look at three common pitfalls of these popular credit cards.

1. You can be tempted to overspend

Some of the best credit cards out there come with huge sign-up bonuses. But beware: you typically have to spend between $3,000 and $5,000 in a short time to get those perks. And, if you don’t usually spend thousands in the span of just a few months, you may end spending beyond your means simply to get those air miles and other bonuses.

What’s more, credit card holders obsessed with racking up rewards often want to use their cards as much as possible. Yet, for some expenses, like a mortgage or utility payment, the financial institution or utility company often assesses a fee for credit card payments. For example, you may be paying a three percent fee to get two percent back on your credit card. Although the rewards seem exciting, it’s important to understand that you’re spending more than you’re getting back.

2. You may rack up more debt

If you’re not careful, overspending to earn credit card rewards can land you in debt. Why? Because if you spend more than you can pay off monthly, you’ll end up paying interest on the amount you carry from month to month.

Case in point: the average credit card interest rate is 14.99%, according to Federal Reserve data for the fourth quarter of 2017. This is much higher than any rewards rate. For example, you may get two percent cash back for using a particular card. Whereas this gives you some extra cash, it’s a lot less than the almost 15% interest rate you may be paying on your credit card balance.

Another reason you can end up in debt: credit card issuers require low minimum monthly payments and if you only pay the minimum amount each month, you can stay in debt for a long time. For example, cards typically require that you pay only one to two percent of your balance plus interest. So, if you have a credit card with a balance of $10,000, your monthly payment is just $200. If your interest rate is 14.99%, it will take you roughly six-and-a-half years to pay off your debt, assuming you don’t continue to use the card. Plus, you’ll pay $5,784 in interest along the way.

3. You may take risks with your credit

The credit card rewards game can get addicting, and there are several hobbyists who sign up for multiple credit cards to earn more sign-up bonuses. If your credit is in stellar shape and you do this responsibly, the negative impact to your credit history can be minimal.

I’ve applied for and used almost 50 different credit cards over the past few years to get big travel sign-up bonuses. And while my credit report does show several new accounts over that time, it didn’t stop me from getting a low interest rate on a mortgage last year. Yet, it takes skill to know how to play the rewards game.

As a result, most people shouldn’t engage in this “credit card churning” hobby, especially if you tend to overspend or you’re not well organized.

Three ways to benefit from credit card rewards

If you do want to earn credit card rewards, it’s important to have a responsible plan. To get started, here are three ways to reap the rewards without paying a price.

1. Pay off your balance each month

If you’re going to use a credit card, make sure that you pay off your balance on time and in full every month to avoid interest charges and other fees.

This can get tricky if you have multiple credit card accounts. If you fall into this camp, set up email or text alerts to remind you when your payments are due. You can also set an alert for your statement date, which is typically a few weeks before you due date. This way you can pay early.

2. Get on a budget

If you haven’t already created a budget, now is a good time to do so. This basic financial planning tool can help you set goals in various spending categories.

Also, when it comes to taking advantage of new credit card promotions, a budget will help you determine whether you can qualify for big sign-up bonuses without spending more money than you have.

3. Use a debit card

If you’re not sure whether credit card rewards are worth the potential pitfalls, use a debit card instead. With a debit card, your transactions will be deducted from your checking account immediately, so you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out whether you have enough money to pay off a credit card balance.

Plus, some debit cards come with extra features. For example, the Chime Visa® Debit Card offers:

And, of course, there’s no interest rate on debit cards and for you, this may be the most important feature.

Don’t sacrifice financial security for credit card rewards

If you use credit cards regularly, the rewards should be considered an added benefit and nothing more. If you find yourself tempted by credit card rewards, take a step back and consider how to earn these perks in a responsible way. Remember: put your financial security first and you’ll be on your way to reaching your money goals.

 

What is an EMV Chip Card and How Secure are They?

When was the last time you actually swiped the stripe on your credit or debit card during a transaction? If it’s been a year or so, the timing sounds right.

Over the past 12 months, there’s been a huge technological shift from mag-stripe cards to those enabled with chips. In fact, chip-enabled cards represent more than 600 million cards in the U.S. alone. In spite of retailers in the U.S. being slow to embrace the new technology (in Europe and other parts of the world, retailers have by and large already adopted chip cards), you’ve likely seen merchants upgrading or replacing payment terminals to accept chip cards. While this takes place, magnetic stripes will continue to go the way of the dodo. Even if your old card hasn’t expired yet, your bank has probably already provided you with a chip-based replacement.


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This migration to chips cards, also known in the industry as EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) credit cards, is accompanied by a swirl of hype. For example, EMV providers commonly state that your transactions are more secure, resistant to hackers, and foolproof to fraud. About now you may be wondering: How does that little microchip inside your card provide you with these safety measures?

Read on to learn more about the EMV cards and how you can protect your money.

A primer on card technology

Magnetic stripe technology is actually quite archaic. It dates back about 50 years and utilizes the same analog format as an old cassette tape. It’s literally magnetized and matched to your bank account information. This data, embedded on a simple mag stripe, is consistent and therefore never changes.

So, anytime you go to swipe a stripe-equipped card, it reads the same data over and over again. And this consistent information is vulnerable to fraudulent activity because thieves can decode the magnetic field and duplicate your bank information. In fact, fraudsters commonly use credit card skimmers at ATMs and other locations to glean your personal information. Stopping fraud meant canceling your old card and getting a new one with new information. Unfortunately, your new card included the same stripe technology and it was therefore just as sensitive to theft as it was before.

By contrast, the computer chip on an EMV card is where your banking information is stored, and the chip is always changing up the data on your card. For example, you may have a card number that stays the same, but the information embedded on the chip is constantly being scrambled and encrypted. In short, your card’s chip contains a special microprocessor that creates a code for every transaction, no matter the amount.

So, when you insert your card into a physical payment terminal or when you’re shopping online, the computer chip communicates with the merchant and unscrambles the coded language. Your  payment information is then obtained using one of a few different types of authentication methods:

  • Static Data Authentication (SDA)
  • Dynamic Data Authentication (DDA)
  • Combined DDA with application cryptogram generation (CDA)

The EMV chip also ensures that both the transaction and the cardholder are verifiable (before the days of EMV cards, you’d accomplish this by entering your PIN number and card’s security code).

Essentially, your EMV card contains the exact same information as your old mag stripe card, but because the chip inside is always generating new coded information, it has an extra layer of protection that magnetic stripe technology fails to offer.

For example, if a thief gets his hands on your EMV card, he will have a tough time using it. Not only is it difficult to obtain the computer chip from your card (equipment to do this can cost upwards of $1 million), but the advanced encryption would make it nearly impossible to decipher your banking information. Even if your card number was stolen, and not your actual card, the would-be fraudster wouldn’t be able to use it because EMV chip technology prevents the number from being replicated and repeated. On top of this, a payment terminal won’t recognize the number and the transaction will be declined.

Follow these EMV chip safety tips

Although EMV technology makes banking more secure, identity thieves have become more sophisticated and will always try to find ways to access your money. Your Chime debit card, for instance, is chip-enabled, but you should still take precautions to protect your finances, pay safely and avoid getting scammed. Take a look at some ways to keep your money safe:

  • Guard your digits: At an ATM, the supermarket, the mall, or when using your laptop in a public space, never divulge your card or PIN numbers to anyone. Fraud can still occur, so if possible, opt to sign for a transaction instead of using your PIN. If a fake transaction occurs, the liability falls back on the issuing bank, or on the merchant if the business is not equipped to handle EMV transactions. Some cards have even done away with PIN numbers and employ a chip plus signature method. (Neither Chime or another bank will ever ask you to reveal your PIN number.)
  • Keep track of your bank statements: Banks are more vigilant today to stopping theft and may even intercept fraudulent activity before it happens. My bank, for example, recently notified me that there was an attempted unauthorized use of my debit card – before a transaction was made. But, thanks to my EMV card, the fraudster couldn’t use my card number, and the bank recognized that I wasn’t the one using the card. The moral here: Stay on top of your monthly bank statements and look for transactions, debits or withdrawals that don’t look familiar. If you spot anything suspicious, report it to your financial institution.
  • Opt for mobile payments: Chime’s spending and automatic savings accounts are just two ways to maximize your mobile banking experience without the need to use a physical debit card. To ensure your safety, you can also look for retailers and vendors with mobile payment technology as this lowers the risk of your information being captured. Adding your debit and credit cards to your phone and using mobile-enabled terminals can also help ensure a secure shopping experience.
 

Debit vs. Credit: Which One is Better for Saving Money?

If you’re struggling to save money, you’re not alone. According to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling study, 32% of Americans don’t have any short-term savings.

Before figuring out ways to save extra cash, you might want to first think about how you currently spend and pay for things. That’s right. Take a look at how debit and credit cards stack up against each other when it comes to saving money. This is an in-depth breakdown of debit vs. credit cards.


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Spending power of the debit card vs credit card

As you can imagine, how much you save depends largely on how much you spend. The main difference between debit and credit cards is how much spending power you have.

With a debit card, for example, you can usually only spend what you have in the account. In some cases, though, you can spend more with overdraft protection. But, this isn’t recommended because banks charge an average overdraft fee of $33.07. To avoid this situation altogether, you can opt out of overdraft protection with your bank.

With credit cards, you can spend up to your credit limit, whether or not you have the money in your bank account to pay it off immediately. If you have a very low spending limit, you might not have issues paying off your balance in full. The higher the credit limit, though, the more tempted you’ll be to overspend.

Winner: Debit cards

Cashback with credit and debit cards

If you’re not saving enough on your own, one source of extra cash may be cash-back rewards you get from using your debit or credit card. The one problem with this is that not many banks offer debit card rewards programs. Most cash-back rewards programs are with credit cards.

Some credit cards offer up to 2.5% cash back. So, if you spend $2,000 every month on your credit card, that’s $50 you can withdraw and put in your savings account — or $600 per year.

Winner: Credit cards

Automatic savings linked to debit and credit cards

A debit card is tied directly to your checking account. This means that if you have a savings account with the same bank, you can easily set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings accounts.

Some bank accounts even help you save money by using your debit card. For example, Chime will round up each transaction made with the Chime Visa® Debit Card to the nearest dollar and automatically transfer the roundup amount from your Chime Spending account to your Chime Savings account.

If you use your Chime Visa® Debit Card an average of twice a day, you could have almost $400 extra in savings after a year!

Winner: Debit cards

Debt

One of the biggest threats to your mission to save money might be your need to pay off debt. When you pay back debt, your monthly payment is going to your creditor instead of your savings account. What’s more, interest payments eat up even more of the money that you could be socking away into your savings – if only you didn’t have the debt to pay back.

Luckily, debt isn’t something you have to worry about with debit cards unless you’re consistently overdrafting on your checking account. With a credit card, however, you could get into debt if you’re not paying your balance in full each month. The longer this happens, the more debt builds up. And, since credit cards charge an average interest rate of 16.14%, that interest will add up fast.

Winner: Debit cards

It all depends on your financial habits

All things considered, debit cards do a better job of helping you save than credit cards. But that doesn’t mean they’re the best option for everyone. Your spending and saving habits are the most important factor in this debate.

For example, if you’re a big spender without a budget, you’d be better off with a debit card, which will restrict you to spending only what you have and keep you out of debt. Chime’s Automatic Savings Program is also a must-have if you struggle to save on your own.

However, if you already have good money habits, a credit card might be a good way to go. Remember that the rewards from a cash-back credit card can supplement the savings you already have.

Is a debit card right for you?

To find out which option, credit vs. debit, is best for you, take a step back and think about your financial habits. Be honest with yourself and consider how each payment method fits your savings goals. The good news: you’re not stuck with your decision. So, if you try it for a while and it’s not working out, you can always switch.

 

When to Choose a Debit vs. Credit Cards

With many young consumers opting for debit vs. credit, credit card enthusiasts are quick to point out what they’re missing in terms of perks like miles and even cash back. However, there’s no right answer when it comes to which type of plastic you should use. The important thing is that you understand the pros and cons of both.

Debit vs. Credit: How They Compare

The best choice for you likely depends on what you want to use your card for. Take a look at our winners for the following benefits, fees, and uses.

Fraud protection

Both debit and credit cards offer zero-liability protection on fraudulent purchases. But the process of getting your money back differs depending on the type of card you use. According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, the maximum amount you may lose on an unauthorized credit card charge is $50, and the investigation will likely be over by the time your statement balance is due. However, under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, your potential loss on a debit card may be as much as $500 if you report the fraud more than two days after it took place. What’s more, the bank may not restore that cash to your account immediately. If you need that money now, you’ll be at the mercy of the bank. In both cases, you’re not responsible for any amount of the unauthorized transaction if you report the card missing before any fraudulent purchases take place. Winner: Credit cards

Spending control

The winner on this one is fairly obvious. Because debit cards are linked to a checking account instead of a line of credit, the only way to go into debt with this type of card is to overdraw your account. And you can avoid this by opting out of overdraft protection. It’s possible to use credit cards without going into debt, but people who pay off their balances in full each month may be in the minority. According to a 2016 NerdWallet study, households with credit card debt owe $16,748 on average. All things considered, it’s easier to overspend with credit cards than with debit cards. Winner: Debit cards

Rewards

Rewards are a common feature for credit cards. It can be difficult to find a debit card with a good rewards program. According to Elan Financial Services, just 17 out of the top 25 financial institutions offer a debit rewards program. Even then, credit cards offer big profits for banks, so they’re more competitive in offering rewards to entice people to use their cards more often. As such, you’ll likely find better rewards and big sign-up bonuses with credit cards. Winner: Credit cards

Fees

When applying for a credit card, it’s a smart idea to review the cards rates and fees as part of your application submission. When doing so, you’ll notice that most credit cards charge a slew of fees. Late fees, cash advance fees, balance transfer fees and foreign transaction fees are all common among credit cards. Some even charge an annual fee. And that’s all on top of interest charges if you carry a balance. Debit cards, on the other hand, typically don’t come with a lot of fees. In fact, if your checking account charges a monthly fee, you may be able to get the fee waived by using your debit card regularly. Better yet, with the Chime Spending Account and Chime Visa Debit card, you won’t have any fees at all. That’s right – no monthly maintenance fee, no overdraft fee, and no foreign transaction fee. You’ll also pay no ATM fees at over 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs. Winner: Debit cards

The Best Option May Depend on the Purchase

If you have a debit card and a credit card, you may benefit from using both. For example, when you rent a car, stay at a hotel or fuel up your car, it’s best to use a credit card. That’s because the merchant may place funds hold on your card. Depending on the purchase, that could be hundreds of dollars. If you’re using a credit card, funds hold is no skin off your back. But if you’re using a debit card, it means that your money is unavailable to use, which can cause problems if you need it. Also, some credit cards offer benefits on certain purchases. For example, you can often get rental car and other travel insurance coverage to help you save money when you’re on vacation. On the other hand, some merchants charge a fee if you use your credit card. For example, some utility companies may add a percentage of the transaction to your payment. Also, some gas stations may charge you a few more cents per gallon if you use a credit card.

Which Should You Choose?

If you only want one card to use for all your purchases, consider your priorities and the benefits and drawbacks of each card type before you choose one. Debit cards are a good choice if you struggle with overspending or just want to avoid that temptation completely. If you’re not as debt-averse, however, a credit card offers appealing features. Just be sure to pay off the balance in full to avoid interest and try not to use the card at merchants that tack on an added fee.

If you already have both a debit and credit card, the best choice may be to use one for certain purchases and the other for the rest. Review the terms and features of both your cards to determine which to use in different situations. The better you understand the terms and what you need, the more likely you are to find a solution that works for you.

 

This Is Why Millennials Are Choosing Debit Over Credit

In spite of all the perks and offers credit card issuers throw out left and right, millennials tend to use debit cards. In fact, in a 2015 survey, Chime found that 67% of millennials prefer debit cards over credit cards.

So, why are millennials wary of credit cards when older generations usually choose credit over debit? To get to the bottom of this conundrum, you first need to understand the environment in which millennials were raised.

They are children of the Great Recession

Millennials grew up in rocky economic times. When the Great Recession began in late 2007, it rocked consumers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates reached 10% in 2009. The number of job openings decreased by 44% during the recession as a whole.

The uncertainty that came with the Great Recession put young consumers on notice. Things that appeared to be going smoothly before the crisis came crashing down – seemingly overnight for some. And it can happen again.

As a result, millennials tend to seek the security of debit cards, which are tied to accounts that are insured by the FDIC. In their mindset, if the economy tanks again, they won’t have any high-interest credit card debt to pay off.

Millennials are wary of more debt

Many are quick to point to big banks when laying blame for the Great Recession. But unwieldy spending on the part of consumers also contributed to the mess. At the end of 2007, consumer debt reached 127% of disposable income, compared with 77% in 1990.

Knowing that high debt loads can have that kind of impact has turned younger consumers off to borrowing. Rising student debt levels may also contribute to millennials’ aversion to credit. According to Student Loan Hero, 2016 college graduates were shackled with an average of $37,172 in student loans.

Indeed, millennials already feel like they’re drowning in debt. They certainly don’t want to add to this burden.

Federal regulations make credit cards less accessible

For many millennials, credit cards simply weren’t available to them as they were coming of age.

Before the Credit CARD Act of 2009, credit card issuers were handing out credit card applications like candy on campus. In fact, they’d often give out free candy, T-shirts, and other swag to encourage college students to apply.

With the CARD Act, however, credit card issuers were limited in how they could market to young consumers. For example, applicants under 21 must prove they have sufficient independent income or apply with a cosigner. Credit card issuers are also prohibited from offering tangible items to students on campus to encourage them to apply.

Accordingly, students no longer see credit card companies hanging around campus with free stuff. And, because federal regulations make it harder for students to get approved, credit cards aren’t as much a part of college culture as they once were.

Why Using a Debit Card Can Be a Smart Choice

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which type of plastic is better. But there are some compelling reasons to choose a debit card for your everyday purchases.

Spending is limited to what you have

Debit cards are tied to your checking account, so there’s no revolving credit line like with credit cards. In most cases, the bank deducts your purchase from your balance immediately, and when the money’s gone, it’s gone. As a result, debit cards are a great option if you have issues with overspending or want to avoid debt.

You can avoid fees

Some credit cards charge annual fees that you can’t waive. What’s more, some merchants, including gas stations and utility companies, may charge an extra fee if you pay with a credit card.

You can often avoid these fees by opting for a debit card instead. Even if you have a checking account that charges a monthly fee, some banks will waive that fee if you use your debit card regularly. There are also online bank accounts that come with debit cards that charge no bank fees at all. Chime, for example, offers no overdraft or monthly fees. Plus, every time you use your debit card, Chime will round up your spending amount and deposit the round-up into your savings account. How’s that for no fees plus extra cash?

You can avoid interest

Because debit cards aren’t tied to a credit line, there’s no interest involved like there is with credit cards. Of course, credit card users can avoid interest by paying their balance in full each month. But for some people, the temptation to pay over time instead can cost them.

You Do You

There are several arguments about which is better: debit or credit. Ultimately, the right choice is the one you make for yourself. For people who can budget and deal with debt responsibly, credit cards may be a good choice. However, you may not fall into this camp.

If you’re like most young consumers who prefer to avoid financial risks altogether, debit cards are the perfect answer.

Banking Services provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Chime and The Bancorp Bank, neither endorse nor guarantee any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products, or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website ("Products and Services") and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services.