Credit, Debit, PIN, Oh My!

Credit, Debit, PIN, Oh My! February 21, 2007

When I got back from New Orleans, I saw that Kris had laid out a new credit card for me to use. On our walk Friday morning, I asked if that card was a new credit card — to which she said, “No, Scot, that is a new debit card.” Well, I asked, “What is a debit card?” Kris said…
To make a long story short, it got way too involved. I said, “You don’t need to go on; I’ll not use it anyway.”
I’ve never in my life used a debit card and don’t know the difference between a credit and debit card. I’ve gotten along quite well — thank you — for 53 good years without a debit card and I’m thinking I’ll be fine without one. Kris explained how she gets cash (which is as good as money, to quote Yogi) at the grocery store by using debit card, and I explained how I get cash: I get it in the little pocket of money she makes available to me at home. So, I thought, I don’t need a debit card for cash — I’ve got access to cash. Who needs a debit card for cash when you’ve got that little pocket of cash in the drawer?

Then Kris got to thinking about giving me a debit card. She began to think that if I used a debit card for cash, I’d surely forget to inform her and then something bad would happen — maybe the bank would call about mischievous funds disappearing. By the time our walk was over, Kris had come to a firm conclusion: keep the debit card away from me and we’ll all be better off.
What do you think?

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  • Scott M. Collins

    I think I’m 27 and I’ve never really carried cash. Sure, if I’m going on a trip and don’t want to be stranded, but for day to day things it’s debit card for everything.
    God Bless!
    Grace and Peace,

  • SMC, sorry can’t resist…you think your 27? But I agree with you. I hardly ever have more than 5 bucks in my wallet; it’s always a credit card or a debit card.

  • I’m part of the generation that rarely has cash. What’s the point? The debit card is good for everything! And since I can check by bank account daily online, I know there’s no fraudulent charges.
    This is very un-emerging of you to walk along so archaically, Scooter!

  • It seems a bit cheesy to me to go to Viking Lounge and use a debit card — not even sure you can use one there. Debit or credit card everywhere?
    You folks are going to run the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing out of work. 8)

  • I hope it’s ok to post a serious comment: what I think is: thank you for being consistent.
    In other words, thank you for not sharing things like this in one breath (blog entry/class/sermon) and in the next talking about how husbands are made to lead and wives are made to submit and obey and anything else is a Sin Against God.
    There are guys who do intersperse stories like this with very complementarian teaching. Evidently not noticing the huge disparity between what they say they believe and how their marriage functions in practice (but I do *sigh*)
    (Next time you come across one, please point out the inconsistency to him…)

  • Hmmm, sounds a little like a curmudgeon. How can a hyper-cool guy with seriously happening shoes and seriously hot fountain not get down with debit card??? DAWG!

  • Scott

    I used to use a debit card, but no longer! Cash is cool.
    Don’t let em’ bully you into giving up your cash. Be an emerging trend setter. Before you know it, all these guys with goatees and tatoos will be carrying cash. Why? Because Scot McKnight does it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rick B.

    debit all the way…

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who has yet to use a debit card. I barely know how to write a check! You’re not alone, Scot.

  • Like many others in my generation (it sounds like), I live by debit card alone. For me, it is nice to not have cash on me where I live (high crime area). I also rarely carry a purse for this reason. I do like to have a few dollars on me that I can share with people I meet here who are in need, however they often approach me at the grocery or gas station, so it is easy to take out the cash if necessary (or just buy the food or drink they need).
    I get in trouble when I have a doctor’s appointment for the kids–it costs money to park everywhere here in L.A., so I always am scraping for change on those days trying to come up with the four bucks I will need.
    The Viking Lounge certainly did not take credit/debit when I was around there, but perhaps things have changed. Fuller’s cafeteria is also a cash only place which meant that it was rare that I would eat or get coffee there.
    All that to say, I actually think Kris’ system is a great one. It is much more likely to control spending and stick with a budget.

  • Well, if you’ve seen that Visa commercial, cash screws up the flow of life. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I think debit cards are much nicer than cash, but I do admit that when places don’t take them I’m in a bit of a problem. Overall, I prefer the credit card since you can sign up for the rewards program and get money back (or gift cards) for how much you use. Yet Scot, maybe you still have no idea what I’m talking about. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I think you’re showing your age. Everyone of my generation uses debit cards. It’s like second nature. I’ve never known a time since having my own bank account when I couldn’t use a debit card.
    It’s actually rather inconvenient to use cash. First you have to search around for an ATM (which requires a debit card anyway) and then pay the out-of-network fees (unless you happen to actually be at your particular bank or grocery shopping). Then, unless you have exact change, you have to carry around a lot of annoying coins which weigh down your pockets and tend to fall out in the furniture. Since most places accept debit now anyway, why not just cut out the middle man?
    But at least, please don’t start paying for things with personal checks! That ought to be outlawed. There’s nothing more annoying than standing in a long check-out line behind some 80 year old grandma that insists on writing a personal check for her $4.85 purchase – which of course takes forever (between the writing and the verifying) and makes everyone else wait, while the lines around you zip by as people pay with their debit or credit cards. Grrrr!

  • I agree Jordan… cash back/rewards credit cards are even better. I’m not one of these GenXers who lets himself get up to his eyeballs in debt with credit cards. In fact I pay them all off every month. So whenever I pay with my 1% cash back Discover Card I’m actually making money on my purchases. Every month or so we cash it in for restaurant gift cards and use those for our date nights. It’s a good system.

  • Winston

    I don’t think I could live without my debit card. In addition to being the card I use for much of my spending, it is also the way I access my bank. I’ve gone years without crossing the threshold of an actual bank. That being said, I often carry some cash so I can avoid the fee that some merchants charge form PIN based transactions (which is profoundly dumb on their part because it just causes customers to use the same card in the more expensive (to them) credit card mode, but I digress). I should note that I’m 32.

  • So, perhaps the use of cash and/or personal checks could be seen as disciplines to help us develop patience, respect for elders (80-year-old grandmothers), as well as giving us relational opportunities to have actual face-to-face encounters with bank employees and cashiers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ben

    I used to be all credit card with about $5-20 in my pocket for parking and the occasional sandwich on the run. It was great for keeping track of the budget too. Simply download the credit-card statement and almost all the expenditures were listed. Then we moved to Paris, and I had to carry more cash and use a debit card. Credit cards were always more complicated, but the French have a great system of debit cards with a smart chip on the end and keypads everywhere. Now that I’m in Kenya, it’s almost all cash. For credit card purchases, they always tack on a fee here and Visa tacks on a fee plus some stores make you go to a special customer service desk(same for debit cards). We found too many small fees to make it worth having a Kenyan bank account, not to mention all the reference letters needed. (And I thought getting a French bank account was tough.) So now, we take out our full allowance from an ATM in one shot to minimize fees. The exchange rate is about 70/1, so it always feels kind of strange to be headed home with a wad of 40 1,000 bills your pocket. At least it isn’t as bad as Uganda where the exchange rate is about 1,750UGSH/$1. While there over Christmas I left an ATM with over a million (shillings)in my pocket – in 10,000 & 20,000 bills. It kind of took the luster out of being a “millionaire.” So you can see that it could get a lot more complicated than using a debit card.

  • I knew someone was going to say that, Dan! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • i’m not a ginormous fan of dave ramsey, however he does advocate the use of cash, and for the most part, so do i. i do have a debit card and i use it. i have my paycheck directly deposited into our bank account (they “encourage” us to where i work), so getting/having cash is not always the most convenient thing to do. but i would still say that using cash makes it easier to stay on budget and not spend too much. certainly it’s possible to to that without resorting to a cash-only system, but it’s much less tempting when you only have so much to spend and can’t swipe your card for a bit extra.

  • i know, that’s not a very hip, emerging thing to do, using cash, but like someone else said above, it’ll make you a trendsetter. the idea of having cash is the most organic that we have in today’s society in terms of economics (because we don’t really barter too much, depending on where you are). everybody wants to be organic, come on.

  • Scot,
    I just skimmed through these comments. Good grief! Debit cards. They all seem to have them and use them. I’ve never thought that much about it.
    I use cash and a credit card occasionally.
    I need to check into the whole debit card thing and see what I have been missing. Maybe it’s the age thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • pat

    Wow–lots of interest in debit cards! Kari suggested we get one and Bob uses it often. I don’t…I kind of stumble at the store. But, it is bad to write checks anymore…I feel like I’m in the dark ages! Lucky you has a stash of cash whenever you need it!

  • Mike C

    Dave Ramsey’s method can be okay for some people, but the whole “cash-only” thing can be taken waaayy too far IMO. There is a couple in our church that are almost Nazis about it – they treat it like a moral issue, and look down their noses as the rest of us heathens that still use credit cards (regardless of whether or not we pay them off consistently).
    Not to mention that the husband seems to use the cash envelope system as a means of controlling his wife and not allowing her to make any significant decisions for herself.

  • Carol R.

    My how things change! My parents grew up during the Depression. They taught me that writing a check for groceries was a way for self-important people to show off that they have so much money they have to keep part of it in a bank account. They said if you *must* write a check, at least plan ahead enough to have written everything except the amount by the time all your groceries are checked out, for the sake of those behind you in line. I still do this by instinct all the time. My two problems with debit cards: they don’t alert you when you’ve overdrawn, so why not just write a check anyway? And these cards tend to demagnetize themselves in my purse, so I can’t rely on them.

  • I was thinking about this and I thought:
    You know, I am suprised the ‘Tree Huggers of America’ simply known as ‘THA’ have not jumped on board with buying and using debit cards. Think about it: One pastic card could save 4,000 trees from being cut down and turned into paper to make small green papers with dead presidents on them which ultimately have no value at all.
    Debit is the new cash (so I am told) – so I got one through the bank I have (Univest Banking), and enjoy it. It is like a swiss army knife: One Card – multiple uses. Plus – talk about protection: I would rather have my debit card stolen than 100.00* stolen from my person if I am ever held up by a gunman. I have a password on it and can notify my bank immediately if anything happens – they can freeze my account and until I am issued a new card within 4 days.
    #23 – Carol – the reason your debit card is demagnitized so often is because the strips of your credit cards should not be placed against one another. The postive and negative magnets will demagnetize them. – Just a helpful thought.
    My final thought about this is: Since I have gotten a debit card, my wallet is lighter, creating a more comfortable situation for my backside. All the ‘cool people’ are getting them Scot. You might want to ask your wife back for your card!

  • oh I forgot: The * is there because my bank account is no where close to having that kind of money in it. Being a poor college student, there is no way money like that exists in my account.

  • My wife works at a pizza place and she says debit cards cause problems (won’t work) on a regular basis – much more than credit cards. I’m not sure if it’s the debit cards themselves or the user that is the cause of the problem. I didn’t know about the demagnetizing either (thanks). Another good reason to read this blog!