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How Should You Pay For Holiday Shopping?

We've procrastinated shopping long enough, and the major holidays are now four weeks away and counting. It's about time we start taking a crack at our lists, but first we need to decide how to pay for all the presents. Consider the easiest way to track all of your gift expenses combined with the most practical method for preventing overspending. Only you can choose which is best for you, but Consumer Reports gives us a place to start by comparing all of our payment options.

  • Credit cards: The magazine recommends using credit for large purchases as long as you're not already carrying a balance and can pay off the charges each month. Credit offers more protection than other payment forms and it's relatively easy to have charges removed in the event of a legitimate dispute.
  • Debit cards: You'll escape the interest charges affiliated with credit cards but are susceptible to overdraft fees, and debit doesn't provide as much protection as credit. Your bank isn't required to step in to dispute charges with a merchant.

To see how these compare to paying with a check or cash,


  • Checks: Consumer Reports recommends writing a check for a large purchase if the store doesn't accept credit or debit and you don't want to carry cash.
  • Cash: There's no chance of identity theft when paying in cash, but you're vulnerable to general theft, won't have evidence of payment if the receipt is lost, and won't have leverage if there's a merchant dispute.


Join The Conversation
daisymay81 daisymay81 8 years
We save money every paycheck so we can spend cash. If I have to purchase something online then I take the cash and buy groceries instead of using my debit card. It is definitely the way we like to go.
verily verily 8 years
Debit (cash). I won't buy anything at this time of year that I can't afford immediately.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I used cash.
amandaaa amandaaa 8 years
i did cash for all my shopping, and used my debit card once i believe.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I buy most things with our credit card, only because we get a rebate if we do. I especially use it if I'm going to be shopping online, since credit cards are more secure than debit cards.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well for me, i've learned over the years that if i use credit cards then i'm not as responsible with what i'm spending, so that means that i try my best to do the debit card thing. i have over draft protection so that's a safety there, but i also do manage to keep track of what i'm spending and what i have so that i don't spend more than what i have
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I always use my debit card. Except I've been using my Macy's card there since I signed up for the get money back thingy. But I'm with you guys on the analyzing the budget. We're closing on a house this coming week so I've been staring at numbers NON stop! And I have my personal budget in an excel spreadheet that I work on all the time too. Since it's in excel it looks like real work haha
haydee haydee 8 years
bought something from the Gucci online sale. Definitely used my cc for more security
gemsera gemsera 8 years
I am using credit card all the way, because I have the entire amount saved in my savings account to pay it off before its due. And it has a limit. And I get massive points which are going to pay for our next holiday.Yay for xmas!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
I know, I love it hahaha. You get so proud of your money too and it makes it harder to spend friviously (sp?) when you know EXACTLY how much you have!
skigurl skigurl 8 years
yes! it's the absolute best time waster...and it's not even a waste! yesterday i devised a budget for a couple hours, then called my boyfriend and spoke to him in code about how much i could afford to pay for a mortgage so no one knew i wasn't working!!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
skigurl I obbess over my accounts too lol. You can't help it! Epsecially when you are bored @ work! Anyways, this year I am ONLY using debit!
aprilmayjune4 aprilmayjune4 8 years
Oops, cut off the rest of my comment! Anyway, small purchases under 50 bucks go on a debit card. Either way, I won't buy anything I don't have the $$ for up front.
aprilmayjune4 aprilmayjune4 8 years
I use credit cards for big purchases, too. Getting those points is great- this past year, I had enough points to buy my sister the graduation present she wanted. Small purchases (<$50.00)are paid with debit card. I rarely carry more than $10 in cash, and I'm too lazy to write out checks. I won't buy something unless I have the money to pay for it up front.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i always use credit cards for big purchases...don't know why, maybe because i feel like i don't want that much money coming out of my bank account, which is silly cuz i pay it off before it's due every month anyway (oh the joys of online banking and obsessively analyzing my account daily) i tend to really like my Visa because it's easier to just sign than do anything else...i use it in restaurants almost 100% of the time, so i don't have to get up and go to the bar to debit something...i guess it's laziness talking!
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