3 Reasons You Should Use Credit, Not Debit, When Traveling for Work

Nerd Wallet

Headed to a conference or other work event? Provided you haven’t been issued a corporate credit card, you’ll have to make the decision between paying related expenses with cash, debit or credit. Cash is too hard to track and easy to lose, so let’s eliminate that option. That leaves us with debit or credit. Here’s why you should pick credit:

1. Credit cards have EMV technology.

While issuers aren’t incentivized to put EMV chips in their credit cards until October 2015, many are preemptively offering them. Why should you care? Well, traditional magstripes process limited data and are easily skimmed of information; EMV chips process dozens of pieces of data which can’t be skimmed and transferred to a prepaid card.

This means that by using an EMV card, your transactions will be safer and you’ll be less likely to experience credit card fraud. As travelers are extra susceptible to fraud, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid a compromised credit card. If you don’t have a card with an EMV chip yet, check out our favorite chip-and-signature credit cards.

EMV technology is on its way for debit cards, but due to initial barriers to EMV debit technology, it’s trailing behind credit cards.

2. If stolen, debit cards could cost you more than credit cards.

Credit card fraud rules are pretty straightforward — if your card is compromised while still in your possession, you don’t owe anything. If it is physically stolen, the most you’ll owe is $50, and that’s only if you wait until after the card has been used to report the theft. But debit rules are a bit more complicated, and potentially more expensive:

If you report: Your maximum out-of-pocket loss:
Before any unauthorized charges are made. $0
Within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft. $50
More than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. $500
More than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. All the money taken from your ATM/debit card account, and possibly more — for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.

As you can see, credit is the safer and cheaper way to pay. It’s unlikely that your employer will reimburse you for fraudulent charges, so bring your credit card to save you money in the event of fraud.

3. A rewards card will net you cash or travel rewards on your purchases.

Using a rewards credit card on work purchases will earn you cash or travel rewards that you can use later. Better yet, assuming your employer is reimbursing you for relevant expenses, you won’t have to spend money out of pocket to get these rewards. If your current card doesn’t earn rewards, check out our favorite travel credit cards and cash back credit cards.

Bottom line: Choose credit instead of debit while traveling for work to take advantage of EMV technology, save money if your card is compromised, and earn cash or travel rewards. And don’t forget to save your receipts!

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