The official start of the holiday shopping season is just one week away. After I wrote that, I had to take a minute to digest it. How about you? The holidays are a pretty busy time for your schedule and your bank account. We have to try not to become entranced by the visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads and stay smart about our money.
If you take a minute to think like a criminal, the holidays are a pretty great time for fraud and theft. Although debit cards are so much better to use from a budgeting perspective, they are definitely not as safe to use as credit cards during the busy holiday season. Hackers are trying to get access to your card number or identity using scanners in stores or by breaking into servers holding capturing credit card transactions from physical stores and online transactions. There are so many more transactions taking place with holiday shopping. Stores are crowded and people are busy and pre-occupied. All of these things make for happy hacking holidays as well.
Because we may not be keeping close track of our spending and accounts during the holiday season, we may not be as quick to notice trouble with our debit or credit cards. Having a credit card number stolen is an annoyance but not much more. Having your debit card stolen means that your bank account can get drained of funds and cause lots of other checks and bill payments to bounce. Finding out that your electric bill, mortgage, or phone bill did not get paid right in the middle of the holidays is certainly not going to make for a Merry Christmas. From a safety perspective, credit cards are definitely preferable to debit cards during the holidays. We just have to be a lot more diligent about budgeting.
Cash is also preferable to debit cards for holiday shopping, but then you also need to be vigilant about having your wallet or purse stolen. Once cash is gone, it is gone for good. Still, if you are looking for the absolute best way to protect your identity, bank accounts, and budget this holiday season, cash is actually the safest choice. It’s funny that with so much technology to make our shopping easier, we resort to old-school style cash.
So, if you are headed out for some Black Friday shopping, take some cash with you. If you are staying home and shopping online, keep your debit card in your wallet and only use your credit card. Make good choices!