When to use a credit card vs debit card

(WKRG) – At Spot of Tea in downtown Mobile, customers can pay in safety.

“They actually pay the cashier, we have two of them up front and we swipe their cards, separate their checks, you know,” says Marketing Director Donna Shoaf.

But other restaurants usually have you paying your server, usually with a debit card. Experts say in this case, it’s better to pay with cash or a credit card. And when it comes to cash, Donna is like most of us.

“Yeah, I never carry cash, it’s usually my debit card.”

At these other restaurants, servers have the ability to swipe your card through a skimmer and download your card and banking information.

You may remember recently a skimmer was found on a gas pump at a convenience store in Tillman’s Corner. It looks like an ordinary card reader, but it’s a fake one made to look real. After you swipe, the suspect comes, takes it down and gets everyone’s information who used that skimmer.

“Some things to look for: if you go to the gas pump and the card reader seems a little loose or jiggles excessively, it may have been tampered with. In that case, you may be better off going inside to pay,” says Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.

Using a credit card at places like gas stations, restaurants, hotels and even online, is much safer than using a debit card. Credit cards tend to have more protection and you won’t be held accountable for purchases you didn’t make. Your debit card, however, is a direct link to your bank account and a thief can wipe out your entire account in seconds.

Click here for more on where not to use a debit card.

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