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.