Credit or debit? Which is better?

I dont know if this is the right place to ask but im turned 18 a few months ago and i want to apply for a card. I was thinking debit since i wont be able to make any mistakes there but some people have said that credit is better? Can someone tell me why?




Debit cards are attached to a checking account and use funds you currently have. Credit cards are not necessarily attached to a bank account, and instead can be used to a certain limit, and must be paid back. I would start with a debit card and checking account first- credit cards can cause issues down the line if you don’t monitor and control your spending. Debit cards can only be used for the money you currently have.

However, credit cards also can help you build your credit- Discover has some great student and credit builder cards, in case you’re interested.


Good advice. I’d add to this. I’d recommend getting a “secure credit card”. This have a low spending limit ($200-300). Getting a card now will allow you to start building credit. There are a few simple rules of credit cards:

  1. Never spend more then you can pay.

  2. Pay off the bill 100% in full each month. Do not carry a balance, else you’ll have to pay interest.

  3. Strive to only spend 30% or less of your credit limit each month. For example a $300 credit limit would allow you to spend $60 each month. This is the optimal way to maintain a great score.

Too often on this thread or similar r/credit threads, users are in their 20’s and need to lease a car or want to buy a house, but can’t since they have no or low credit. Starting now will allow you to have a great credit score when you really need it.


There are pros and cons. Credit cards when used responsibly can offer a lot of benefits, which include building up your credit score and offering some additional protections, especially if your card information is compromised. But – if you carry a balance you really do pay for it and misusing it can get you off on the wrong foot and impact the affordability of home and car loans for years to come.

Since you’re under 21, you also need to provide proof of income when you apply, so if you’re not gainfully employed this is a non-starter.

Debit cards come alongside a checking account. They’re dead simple to get and can’t get you into debt. They provide easy and convenient access to cash via ATMs and several other things. That said, if information is compromised, it puts the entire balance of your account at risk. Things like gas stations can cause you to accidentally overspend and cause overdraft issues due to how those payment systems work, even if you think you’re being careful.

I’d suggest one of two options. You could get both – assuming you can commit to using the credit card responsibly. Use the CC for most of your purchases and pay it off immediately, and use the DC as a backup.

Conversely, start with a checking account and debit card, and then once you get in a good routine and feel you’re managing your money responsibly, you can look into getting a credit card.



Credit cards almost always have a suite of benefits and protections for the consumer (you) provided by the issuing bank and the network (e.g Visa, MC). While some banks have upped the offerings associated with their debit cards, consumers are still much better off using a credit card from a safety standpoint – fraud protection is standard but many cards offer extended warranties, travel insurance of sorts, and more. Many credit cards also offer rewards which most debit cards do not. You can get a credit card with 0 annual fee that offers you a 2% return on all purchases plus the benefits of the card.

There’s also the function of building credit history. As a young adult you probably have zero credit history and a credit card is among the easiest ways to start building your credit profile.

I got my first cards at 18 and was able to get auto financing and student loans (don’t borrow for school if you absolutely don’t have to) more easily because I had built some credit history.

Just be responsible with a credit card. Spend money like it’s coming right out of your checking account and pay it off in full every month. Credit card interest rates will crush you if you use them to finance your spending.

If you’re interested, start by looking at credit cards targeting college students. Citi has a few, discover as well.

Credit cards allow you to borrow the money that you spend and then pay it back later. Debit cards pull money you usually have in your checking account to pay for things. Although many banks will have an auto overdraft feature that will allow you to spend money you don’t have then screw you with a $30 overdraft fee. You should have both, it’s not a choice of either or. Paying with a credit card is always better since you are spending someone else’s money so if the card is compromised the issuer will handle the fraud. Exposing your bank account information through a debit card is an unnecessary risk that you shouldn’t take. Credit cards also build your credit history which will help you later on when you need credit to make a big purchase like a house or car.



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