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Entienda las características de tarjetas de débito

Understand debit card features

by Anna Haug

Debit cards are one of the most common payment tools used in the United States. Debit card use helped payments made electronically rise more than 9% during the past year, while credit card transactions fell an estimated 0.2% (foxbusiness.com).

With a debit card, the amount of your purchase is deducted from your checking account immediately. Sufficient funds must be in your account to cover the debit card purchases. Debit cards are also known as check cards. Although a debit card may look like a credit card, they function differently.

Using debit cards can help consumers avoid racking up credit card debt. But as CBSMoneyWatch.com points out, consumers need to be aware of how debit is different from credit, in order to use debit well:

Hold policies

When you are traveling, maybe to visit your family, you may have gas and hotel expenses. Hotels and gas stations commonly place holds on a transaction when consumers use debit cards. A hold is an authorized practice of financial institutions of holding the balance as unavailable until the merchant clears the transaction or the hold ends. Be aware of hold policies when using a debit card to make a purchase. Make sure you have enough in your account to cover that amount plus any additional expenses you plan on making.

This may help you avoid overdraft fees. According to West's Encyclopedia of American Law, overdraft fees are the costs associated when, "a check that is drawn on an account containing less money than the amount stated on the check."

Disputed charges

Funds are subtracted from your account at the time of purchase when you use a debit card, possibly even before you receive the goods. It becomes the consumer's responsibility to recover any funds from a merchant if there's reason to dispute the charges. On the other hand, purchases of goods made with a credit card that are of poor quality or damaged can be disputed. Even if the retailer refuses to replace it or give you a refund, your credit card company might be able to help.

Stolen cards

Federal law helps protect you when your debit card is stolen by limiting your liability, or obligation to settle a debt, to $50 for fraudulent charges when the card is reported stolen within two days of theft. Fraudulent charges on your debit card are those that you didn't make or authorize. Take too much time and your account could be drained without recourse. Contact your credit union immediately upon learning that you were a victim of fraud.

Published 12-31-2012

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