Inserting chipped card into card reader

Credit or Debit?

“Will this be credit or debit?” You may have heard this common question at the grocery store, department store, or pharmacy. Since a debit card looks like a credit card, but works like cash, you may be confused about how to decide. You’re not alone.

If you are paying with your 1st United Visa debit card, for example, and choose “debit,” you authorize a transaction by entering your personal identification number (PIN) into a keypad. You may not know, however, that you can opt instead for “credit” to authorize a charge by signing for the purchase.

Here are some reasons you might want to choose “credit” instead of “debit” when paying with your debit card:

Protection from fraud

Fraud is the biggest concern today and PIN-based fraud happens more frequently. Every time you slide your card through a payment terminal, hit the “debit” button, and then enter your PIN, you increase the chances of a skimming device or criminal capturing your information. If you choose “credit” instead, you are prompted to sign for your purchase instead. This step protects you from exposing your PIN and could reduce your risk.

Additional Visa protections

When you choose "credit," you are offered additional protections directly from Visa, such as zero liability for fraudulent purchases. For example, if the store or restaurant overcharges you or swipes your card twice, Visa's protection could help when you’re trying to get reimbursed for the unauthorized charge.

Apply now for a Visa credit card


Members often tell us that they use their PIN to speed along the check out process more quickly. With today’s technology, there is normally no delay when choosing “credit.” For a small purchase, such as a cup of coffee, a PIN-based transaction may be a good and efficient choice but ultimately, a PIN-based transaction is typically no quicker than a signature-based transaction.

Bottom line: your signature has value

So, the next time you’re asked “credit or debit?” – choose credit. It provides greater safety and security for you.

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