Why I Don't Have a Debit Card

When I tell people I don’t use a debit card, they give me this look like I’m utterly crazy. “You don’t have a debit card?” they ask me incredulously. “How do you get by?” I literally do not have a debit card. I never have. There are many debit card risks people fail to think about, and it may not be the best choice for you financially. In response to the dozens of people who have asked me, “why?!”, this post is for you.

1. Security

What happens if you lose your debit card and don’t figure it out for awhile? What if someone figures out your pin? If theft were to occur, someone has direct access to your bank account (and everything in it.) It’s much harder to prove fraud with a debit card, and much more debilitating should something terrible happen. If fraud occurs on a credit card, I simply dispute it. If I see any suspicious activity (I’ve had multiple double charges this year) I simply flag it and let the credit card company handle it.

2. ATM fees

Ever been in a pinch and needed to use a non-bank sponsored ATM? If you’re not careful, ATMs can charge you a lovely fee for getting your own money out (which has always seemed crazy to me — I have to pay YOU to get MY money?!) By not using a debit card, I don’t have to worry about ATMs at all!

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3. Rewards

When I put EVERYTHING I BUY on my credit cards, I can rack up huge cashback and travel rewards. Through both travel and my Alaska Airlines credit card (it’s my favorite!), I’ve managed to build up almost 100k miles. And with my cash back cards (Discover IT is fantastic, especially if you’re student or young professional), I get hundreds of dollars a year in cash (on stuff I’m already buying.)

4. Building credit

A great credit score is your window to every financial opportunity. By using a credit card responsibly (aka paying your bills in full, on time, and utilizing 30% or less of your credit limit), you can begin to increase your credit score and set yourself up for better financial opportunities. I got my first credit card when I was a teenager, and now have a great score that provided a lower interest rate on a car loan and more.

5. Tracking purchases

I find it so much easier to track and understand my spending when I see it all broken down for me on my credit card statements every month. There is little to no cash in the equation, so I can see exactly where and when my money went. I can analyze where I should cut back, and any spending "wins" I had for the month.

6. I’ve never really needed one

My parents have never had a debit card (I know, right?!) and instilled this in me. If I need cash — usually for a trip — I go to the bank and withdraw the money from my account. 95% of businesses take credit cards anyway (racking up those rewards!) I always keep about $20-50 of cash on me, just in case of emergencies. When I travel, I usually carry more for security (which I withdraw from my bank before I leave.)

The One Downside

Sometimes, you just need cash.  And when a bank is closed (or you only online bank), have fun getting those dolla dolla bills.


A debit-card-free lifestyle may not be for everyone, but it’s worked wonders for me. It makes me more secure, better with money, and I get cash back or miles for every single purchase I make — and that’s a serious win in my book. Keep in mind: if you cannot pay off your credit card bill in full every month, this is obviously not a good strategy!


Have you ever thought about ditching your debit card? Let’s chat in the comments!


I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

Charlie: My go-to (free!) budgeting tool that tracks your spending and progress towards goals.

Ebates: Gives you free cash back on almost all your favorite stores via a desktop plug-in.

Trim: You remember that time where I talked about how you should be negotiating all of your bills? (You should.) I know it's scary — that's where Trim comes in. Trim will negotiate cable and phone bills FOR YOU.

Status: Wanna see if you’re on track when it comes to your monthly spending and total savings? This (again, free) tool compares your financial numbers to others in your age group, city, etc.

Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.

The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.

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