Know your Cards: Credit vs Debit vs Prepaid vs ATM Card

Seniors often complain that when they retire, they find it difficult to get a credit card approved and would often have to settle for other forms of cards. Not all cards with a Visa or Mastercard logo works the same way and there are big differences. Different cards also offer different protection in the event your card is stolen or if there are fraudulent charges. Here is what every senior should know about the cards in their wallet!

  • Ideally, every senior should own at least one credit card because it offers the best features and protections. Like the name implies, it offers you up to one-month of “free” credit because you only pay when you get your bill. Another important features is the protection it offers against fraudulent charges. When you get your bill, you can call the bank to dispute any charges that is not made by you. Normally your liability for your stolen card is $100 if you report it to the bank. Unlike debit cards, none of the fraudulent charges are debited from your bank account – so it is the bank’s money on the line!
  • The bad thing about your debit card is that in the event of a fraudulent charge or ATM withdrawal, the money would have been deducted from your bank account directly. Yes, on paper you are only liable for $100 but remember, your money has already been taken – not the bank’s money. In this case, it is hard to see the bank working too diligently to get your money back! Also, unlike credit cards, you can only spend as much as what you have in your bank account. There is no “interest free” float or credit extended to you. The other down side is many car rental companies will not rent to a debit card holder or insist on deducting a large deposit – and this can be a problem on your overseas holiday. So bottom line, a debit card does not have many of the desired features of a credit card even though they may look the same.
  • Recently, the YouTrip card was launched by EzLink in Singapore – yes, your same EzLink for MRT. The YouTrip card is a prepaid Mastercard that I believe is safer than using a debit card, especially overseas. Through your smartphone, you can instantly top-up the value of your YouTrip card wallet in seconds – so you do not need to put a lot of money in the card at any one time. Just top up on the go! If you want to be extra cautious, you can carry the prepaid card and lock you credit/debit card in the hotel room safe! If you lose the card, you can simply “disable” the card through your smartphone and can get a replacement for $10 when you are back in Singapore. All your money is still safe. The additional benefit of this particular card is you are not charged foreign transaction fees and get the favorable wholesale forex rates. There are also other branded prepaid cards in the market and to apply for one does not require proof of income and you can get your card in the mail in about 2-weeks.
  • Then there is your plain vanilla ATM card that can only be used for ATM withdrawals in Singapore and overseas. These cards are generally safer than your Debit Cards because it cannot be used for any forms of payment like online purchases – but only for its intended purpose, which is for ATM withdrawal. Remember that your Singapore ATM cards are normally “disabled” for overseas use unless you advise your bank you are travelling. This is an added protection for ATM cards.

Before you go on your holiday, it is good to know your cards and decide which cards you want to bring with you or leave at home. Carrying or exchanging too much cash is so old fashion these days as many countries are moving to cashless payment systems.

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