"Debit or Credit?" asks the grocery store clerk when you produce your Visa card. Thinking he is asking you which type of card you have you say "debit". Congratulations the store and your bank have just successfully (and legally) stolen between two and five dollars from you.
1. Whenever given the option "debit" or "credit" always say "credit". When selecting from the automated card reader used by many merchants always select "credit". Use the "debit" designation ONLY when you are getting cash back with your purchase.
2. Do this even if your Visa/Mastercard is only an ATM card or a "check card". It is perfectly legal to designate your purchase as a "credit" purchase. By doing this the store and the bank are precluded from charging you the dreaded surcharge that accompanies "debit card" purchases.
3. The clerks in major corporate stores are always trained to say "debit or credit" even when you do not want cash back. They and the banks make millions if not billions of dollars off of unsuspecting consumers who just reactively say "debit" when asked.
Make sure you do not enter a PIN number at the time of purchase. This is what differentiates a "debit" from a "credit" transaction. For credit transactions you will usually be required to produce ID and sign a credit slip. When you do this the only amount that can be deducted from your account is the exact amount of your purchase.
Obviously if you need cash you will elect a "debit" transaction but remember both the store and your bank are then going to stick you with a service charge.
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