When our flexible friends first made an appearance decades ago, it revolutionised shopping. Not needing cash to pay for goods and services while out and about may have been a game-changer in the retail world, but the advice of another credit card provider of ‘don’t leave home without it’ hasn’t aged all that well.
Credit cards have been around since in the 1950s, but their use seemed to really spike in the 1980s, when whatever credit card you had was seen as stamp of status. Of course, this also led to people running up all kinds of debt as the ‘buy now, pay later’ mood prevailed.
Then came the debit card, which allowed people to make purchases with plastic, but not have to wait until that monthly statement fell through the letterbox to pay. Debit cards take the money out of your account straight away, which meant that you could only ever spend the money you had at the time.
A debit card is easier to get your hands on than a credit card. You don’t need to have any kind of credit history to get a debit card which means the world of online shopping is being opened up to many more people all the time.
While debit and credit cards began to replace cash in shops, restaurants and hotels, the advent of the internet saw their importance soar for savvy shoppers.
It’s hard to believe that, at one point, the only thing you could buy online was books after Amazon’s aggressive cornering of that market, but now it seems that almost everything you can conceivably imagine is available for online purchase.
That means millions of us log on each day to buy groceries, electrical equipment, concert tickets or to book flights and hotels.
However, shopping online is no different to shopping in-store for many people in that they must stick to a budget. Clicking on a box that says ‘buy now’ can seem a lot easier than handing over cash at a till, but it leads to the same outcome.
Debit cards have allowed us to shop online with relative ease and, unlike shopping on the internet with a credit card, they have also meant that we largely only spend what we can.
With huge amounts of money being spent online every day, security is also a major concern for shoppers and retailers alike. A debit card can provide a modicum of security in that, in addition to the long number across the front of the card and the expiry date, customers must input the CVV or CVC number which is the three-digit number at the back of the card.
This means that only someone with a physical card in front of them can use it to purchase goods and services online. It’s not entirely fool-proof, but if you lose your debit card or if it is stolen, you can easily cancel it with a quick phone call to the bank. If you lose cash, it can be almost impossible to recover it.
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