Retailers are bracing for a blue Christmas this year - a one percent drop in sales from last year's miserably low business, according to one report. Some blame part of that on debit cards, which are becoming many consumers' next line of defense against growing credit problems.
Using credit cards and paying them off monthly still seems a better plan, if you can swing it. Debit cards offer fewer consumer protections than credit cards and there are some rules that make easier to inadvertently wrack up huge overdraft fees, as outlined here by Kiplinger.com's Joan Goldwasser. And here's a longer list of pros and cons recently outlined in USA Today. Prepaid debit cards, which might seem the safest, actually can spring the worst traps, reports Consumerloanwire.org.
Also credit card rules are changing and some lenders, including Bank of America, are pledging better consumer-friendly deals on both kinds of cards before the new rules kick in. One thing doesn't change though. You still need to read the fine print, advises Consumer Federation of America.