3 Reasons You Should Never Use a Debit Card to Pay for Airfare

If you’re someone who likes to pay for airfare with a debit card, please stop what you’re doing and read this post. Sure, you can pay online for airfare by using your debit card instead of the digits to your favorite rewards card, but there are some pretty compelling reasons not to.

#1: You could be missing out on valuable travel insurance perks.

The first reason to use credit cards when you pay for airfare is all of the valuable insurance products you may have with certain travel credit cards. If you pay with a premier Chase travel card, for example, you’ll have access to trip cancellation/interruption insurance that will reimburse you if your trip is cancelled or delayed for reasons beyond your control.

My husband had to use this coverage once when we were stranded in Jamaica once over inclement weather. Because we had paid for our airfare with an Ink business card, we were reimbursed for two additional nights in our hotel plus travel expenses.

If we had paid with our debit card, we wouldn’t have had this coverage at all since we didn’t have a broader travel insurance policy like we do now.

In addition to trip cancellation/interruption insurance, many travel cards offer additional perks like lost luggage reimbursement, emergency evacuation and transportation coverage, and travel and emergency assistance. If you have a card with these benefits, all you have to do is pay for your airfare and travel plans with the card to qualify for this coverage.

#2: You’re not earning any rewards.

Another very obvious reason to use a credit card is to rack up points and miles. Top travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer 3x points on all your travel expenses, and co-branded airline credit cards tend to offer 2x miles for airfare purchases, too.

At the very least, sign up for a cash-back credit card that offers 1.5% or more cash-back. If you’re not using any kind of rewards credit card, you’re missing out on the perks listed above and a free sum of cash back for every dollar you spend.

#3: Debit purchases are riskier for online purchases.

Finally, I won’t make any online purchases with a debit card — not even a gift or something small for myself. Debit cards are riskier to use online because they come with fewer protections over all.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the most you can be liable for when someone makes a fraudulent charge with a credit card is $50. However, the majority of cards offer zero liability coverage, meaning you’re not responsible for a dime you didn’t spend.

With debit cards, on the other hand, your responsibility can be huge for fraudulent charges if you miss them on your account. Here’s how it breaks down based on when you report it:

  • Report within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft: $50
  • Report more than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you: $500
  • Report more than 60 days after your statement was sent to you: You can lose all the money from your account, and possibly more; for example, you could also lose money in accounts linked to your debit account. No thanks.

Do you always use a credit card to pay for airfare? Why or why not?

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