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Improve Financial Literacy: Teach Teens Debit vs Credit

As your teenager begins to want, need and use money more often, they also need a strong foundation of financial literacy. While it’s important to understand saving and budget, it’s more important to drill down deeper into key concepts. Here are a few credit counseling tips to teach teens debit vs credit as part of our monthly financial topics for kids. 

Take our credit counseling tips to reach teens debit vs credit.

Take our credit counseling tips to reach teens debit vs credit.

How to Teach Teens Debit vs Credit

When a teenager goes to pay for something, they will be asked debit or credit. What do you think they will say? Do they know the difference or will they just pick one?

Here is the primary difference between the two methods of payment:

  • Debit: You will enter a pin number and the funds are deducted instantly from the account that is linked to your card when you use a debit card.
  • Credit: The funds are not instantly deducted from your bank account, but the credit card bill will have to be paid later. (If the bill is not paid in full, your credit card balance accumulates interest, which can lead to problems with credit card debt later.)

Best Times to Use Each Payment Method

Debit cards are most often useful as the payment method when:

  • The receiving party needs to be paid immediately.
  • You are watching your finances more closely and are recovering from credit card debt. Using a debit card will impose a level of control into your spending.
  • Debit cards have few or no fees unless you spend the funds available in your bank account that is linked to the card.

Credit cards are most often useful as the payment method when:

  • You are shopping online because of the heightened safety. When a credit card is used, you are able to detect and reverse fraudulent transactions quickly.
  • Consumers can benefit from the no/low-interest installment-based payment plans. You can also benefit from warranty protection programs that go beyond the manufacturer warranties for high-value items.
  • Credit cards often offer travel perks such as additional protection to your transactions, travel insurance, more cash back bonuses and more by using credit cards.
  • You can earn rewards. If you have a card with a rewards program, it can be beneficial to use it more often. This is true as long as you are paying off debt on time. Rewards can come in the form of airline miles, cash back, or points for future merchandise.
  • You are trying to build a positive credit history. Using credit responsibly and making on-time payments over a long period of time will help you boost your credit score.


Your teenager will slowly have to make more and more of their own purchases. Each transaction needs to be carefully thought through to figure out which type of payment option is the best fit. The wrong use of any of these options can give you additional credit problems. Teach teens debit vs credit now to help them navigate this simple, yet complicated decision.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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