Financial Fitness: Credit cards vs. debit cards

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By Patrick Sochacki, reporter.

Becoming financially literate is gravely important to a successful future; it has been stated here in Financial Fitness before and surely will be again.

One of the more basic things that can be learned about finance is the difference between a credit and debit card.

Credit cards

When it comes to these two things, credit cards are usually more familiar. The applications come flooding in seemingly as soon as you wake up on your 18th birthday and they don’t stop.

The companies know you’re fresh meat and they want your debt. This is important to remember — they want your debt and will basically bribe you to get it. These bribes include things like 0% interest for the first 6 months, cash back percentages on specific purchases, or airline miles. 

Opening your first credit card and using it is an awesome feeling. The opening limit on most credit cards at 18 can range from $200 to $500 to $2,000. The average credit limit in America as of 2016 was $8,071, according to, which is achievable by anyone with enough dedication to making on-time payments and not carrying too high of a debt-to-credit ratio. 

When it comes to credit cards that students should open, the Discover it® Student Cash Back card is a fantastic option. 

This card, according to the website, has no annual fee. It offers a 0% intro APR for the first 6 months, 5% cash back rewards on some purchases every 3 months, 1% cash back rewards on all purchases automatically, a full match of all cash back at the end of the first year, and $20 in statement credit for every school year completed with a 3.0 GPA for 5 years.

Debit cards

Debit cards are the exact opposite of a credit card. 

A credit card provides the opportunity to gather debt, raise your credit score and use money you don’t have that you can pay back. A debit card is directly connected to your bank account and uses only money you already have. You cannot run a debit card if your account is empty. 

When you open a checking account at a bank, you are always offered a debit card that connects to the account. You can use this debit card to pay for things directly from your new checking account or to withdraw money from ATMs. 

Using a debit card at an ATM that doesn’t belong to the institution you got it from will incur a fee. According to, as of 2019 the average ATM fee in the United States is $3.09 per withdrawal. Avoid these fees to the best of your ability as they add up quickly.

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