Sweet Jesus, Here’s Another Reason to Use a Credit Card Over a Debit Card
Normally I’m hesitant to write any article containing the name of Jesus. Except in this case, in which the focus of my rant is in fact, Sweet Jesus. Read on.
Behold Sweet Jesus
This past weekend, my 16-year old daughter was in Toronto to compete in the DECA provincial tournament (for future business leaders and entrepreneurs). While there, she spent a few hours hanging out at the Eaton Centre, a large shopping mall in downtown Toronto.
She’s a typical teenager. Doing what teenagers do best: searching for food.
Behold Sweet Jesus.
Not familiar with Sweet Jesus? It’s a wildly popular ice cream chain with locations all over the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). There’s even one location in America. In the Baltimore airport. Of all the possible locations in the entire United States, who in their right mind would choose BWI? Sweet Jesus!
Please don’t judge
I’m an admitted stalker.
My husband and I like to keep track of our kids. We do this in any manner of ways. Snapchat. Instagram. Online banking. Yep, I like to see where the only kid who is under 18 (and therefore has a student banking account tied to my account) is spending her hard-earned babysitting money.
Please don’t judge. It’s a dangerous world out there.
I pull up her debit transactions and notice that she has made two purchases for $7.80 at Sweet Jesus. At first, I’m delighted. Being a Christian, I’m thinking that she is at a Christian store buying something like a t-shirt or a new book. We’ve been eyeing a shirt that bears the slogan “Raised on Sweet Tea and Jesus.” Pretty catchy for a Southern girl.
Then I google it. And discover that the purchase was made at the aforementioned ice cream shop. Sweet Jesus.
I mention this to my husband and he asks why anyone would name an ice cream shop after Jesus?
I respond, “Maybe after you take a bite of the world’s most delicious ice cream, you exclaim ‘Sweet Jesus, this is good.’”
Or “Maybe after you see the price of one serving, you shout ‘Sweet Jesus, this is expensive!’”
Since there were two charges on the debit card, I figured she had purchased an ice cream for a friend. She’s a lovely girl after all. Sweet Jesus.
Once she returned home and gave us an update about the trip, I asked her about the two identical charges on her debit card.
She sighed, “Sweet Jesus, I knew this was going to happen.”
Our daughter relayed the entire event. She swiped her card once for one ice cream. The lady at the till said that the transaction had not gone through since her screen had suddenly gone blank. My daughter contended that the transaction had gone through, but the lady insisted she swipe her card again. My daughter acquiesced. After all, she’s only 16 and she didn’t want to cause a scene by holding up the line.
Unfortunately, the transaction did go through. Twice.
So, what can you do when an error is made in a debit transaction? I googled it and found the best course of action was to call the bank. And not to drag Sweet Jesus into it.
My daughter and I called the bank on a Sunday, the day after the alleged incident. The first representative transferred us to the Disputes Department. Unfortunately, this department is closed on the weekend.
I called back on Monday. After a 1-hour and 7-minute wait on the phone, a representative finally answered the call. After going through the gory details with the representative and waiting another 10 minutes, I received a case number for the dispute. The case was being forwarded to the investigation department for further review. If the investigation department rules in our favor, the money will be deposited back into my daughter’s account. In approximately 10 to 15 business days. Sweet Jesus.
Now, mind you, this was a charge for only $7.80. But what if this error had been for much more? What if my daughter needed the money sooner than the 10 to 15-day waiting period?
If this had been a wrongful charge on a credit card and a dispute was initiated, the money would not be due until the dispute was settled. Plus, the charge would not have been deducted from the bank account at the time of purchase since there is a grace period for credit card purchases.
Here’s Why I Prefer Credit Cards Over Debit Cards
My husband and I have one credit card and try to use it for every purchase. The only time I ever pull out a debit card is if the vendor will not take a credit card. Which rarely happens.
I know Dave Ramsey aficionados won’t touch a credit card. But if you’re financially disciplined, a credit card offers many advantages over a debit card.
Reward Programs – These programs are a great perk of using a credit card. We get anywhere from 1% to 4% cash back on all purchases. The percentage cash back varies depending on the type of purchase. On our card, charges made for grocery, drugstore and recurring charges offer 4% cash back. Travel buffs swear by the frequent flyer points they collect when using their credit cards.
Safety – For all purchases on a debit card, the money is withdrawn from your account immediately. If a thief uses your debit card (or you are charged in error and don’t catch the mistake), it could cause a significant headache for you. If you’re not aware of the missing funds, your scheduled online payments or mailed checks may bounce, triggering insufficient funds fees.
Additional Insurance – Most credit cards come with consumer protections, such as rental car insurance, travel insurance and product warranties that may exceed the manufacturer’s warranty.
Grace Period – When you make a charge on a credit card, you typically have 30 days (or more) to make the payment. This lets you accrue interest on the money for an additional time. Unlike a debit charge which takes the money out of your account immediately.
Universal Acceptance – Some companies (such as most car rental companies) do not accept debit cards.
Credit Score – If you have no credit or you are trying to improve your credit score, using a credit card responsibly will establish credit and raise your score, since credit card companies report activity to the credit bureaus.
I am confident that the money will eventually be returned to my daughter’s account. Of course, she’ll have to wait up to 3 weeks to get the money back. In the meantime, she’s learned a valuable lesson: to make sure she carefully checks her debit transactions. Sweet Jesus.