Is there a fee if you used your debit card as credit card?

I see people recommending to always run debit card transactions as credit.

There is a similar question here as well: What does it mean to run my debit card as credit?

This seems to me like a safe and easy way - as there is no need to enter your PIN and only sometimes might have to sign for the transaction.

Is this a convenience feature or manated by law?

I tried this method out at Walmart and CVS recently and I didn't even have to sign.

Is it true that then you are protected by visa or mastercard for the purchases you make - like if someone gets your number and pin or steals your card or something?

My debit card has cash back only at select online stores, so it would benefit me a lot if I could continue using it as credit card as it is then protected "like" a credit card: I can dispute a transaction if I am not satisfied with a purchase and my money is protected in case of fraud?

I was also wondering if Chase or BofA or Wells Fargo or maybe even MasterCard or VISA imposes any extra fee for a purchase if you are using the debit card as credit card?

This new way of doing things would give me some extra security and save me some money (A Vietnamese grocery shop deducts 50 cents extra everytime I use my card as debit but waives the fee for people with credit cards)

  • 2
    You ask a number of questions here - you should split this into a few separate questions to keep each one focused.
    – Greg
    Jul 18, 2011 at 3:59

6 Answers 6


Here's a simple answer:

If your debit card has a visa or mc logo, it can be used as a 'credit card'. In order to do so, you shouldn't enter the pin, instead choose 'credit' and sign for it.

Unlike a credit card, you can't spend money you don't have but like a credit card, your purchase is protected by the credit card company (visa/mc) and gives you privileges like zero fraud liability and purchase disputes.


  • Nice to see you here! I found about Alliant from your posts. I thought your site was a scam as all the articles were around 2010 with most written in April and May :-D Could you also try my other post about Alliant? Jul 18, 2011 at 16:44
  • It seems to me that being able to use a debit card this way is more of a convenience feature than something manated by law? Do you ever have had a fee on your account for using your debit card this way? Jul 18, 2011 at 17:43
  • Ouch f1StudentInUS! And I thought I was doing a good deed by highlighting the benefits of a CU when all others were touting other lower interest rate banks for the affiliate income!
    – MoneyCone
    Jul 19, 2011 at 15:07
  • A debit card is one that takes money directly out of your bank account; it 'debits' your bank account. A credit card gives you credit - a loan - temporarily to be paid at the end of the month. What people call a debit card is really an ATM card.
    – Mei
    Jul 27, 2014 at 1:04

Yes and No. There's always a "fee". The difference in credit vs debit usually determines how much that fee is and how it's paid. Each vendor who accepts the major credit card is under contract to pay for equipment and meet certain standards. The same is true for debt card transactions. How much the "fee" is can vary based on the contract the vendor has with MasterCard/Visa/AMEX. But in general most debt transactions go back to the bank who distributed the card.

  • 2
    in my experience, any fees are charged to the store, not to me the purchaser. I'm basing this on using my Visa and Mastercard debit cards in Florida, New Mexico and California. the PayPal Mastercard, however, gives me cash back if I use it as a credit card rather than a debit card. Jul 19, 2011 at 5:02

The fee structures are different for PIN-based transactions versus "credit" style transactions. Usually there is a fixed fee (around $0.50) for PIN-based transactions and a varying fixed fee plus a percentage for credit transactions (something like $0.35 + 2.5%).

There are also value limits for PIN-based transactions... I believe that you cannot exceed $400 in most places.

The signature feature of credit transactions isn't there to protect you, it signifies your agreement to comply with the contract you and the credit card issuer, protecting the merchant from some types of chargeback. Some merchants waive the signature for low dollar value transactions to increase convenience and speed up the lines.

All of your other questions are answered elsewhere on this site.

  • Wait - a debit card offers me more chargeback features than a credit card? Jul 18, 2011 at 17:38
  • It seems to me that being able to use a debit card this way is more of a convenience feature than something manated by law? Do you ever have had a fee on your account for using your debit card this way? Jul 18, 2011 at 17:44
  • No. Using a PIN-based transaction gives you zero chargeback features. Using signature-based transactions (often referred to as "credit") incurs a higher cost. PIN-based transactions are cheaper to the merchant in most cases. Jul 18, 2011 at 20:09
  • In that case, I don't get what you imply by "protecting the merchant from some types of chargeback" as it seems a debit card will have zero chargeback facility but a CC will have atleast some? Jul 18, 2011 at 20:43
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    @f1StudentInUS: I don't believe that duffbeer meant that running a transaction as credit instead of as debit protects the merchant, but rather that obtaining a signature on a credit transaction protects the merchant from some types of chargeback (as opposed to running the same credit transaction without a signature). Jun 14, 2019 at 17:06

My bank charges me on my statement for debit transactions, but rewards me with bogo points when I run transactions as credit. AFAIK, retailers are prevented by contract with VISA et all from recouping the merchant fee from you (instead they can mark up all prices and offer a 'cash discount'), not that you'll be able to convince your vietnamese grocer of this. The difference between debit and credit fees is large enough that even these small tricks by the bank can mean a lot of money for them. Since most retailers accept either, they recruit me into their profit game with carrots and sticks.

I've since moved to an actual cash back credit card and haven't regretted it yet.


It's more the opposite...using a credit card as a debit card may be treated as a "cash advance," since money is debited on the spot...so you could be charged a cash advance fee.

If you used your debit card as a credit card, there may simply be a balance on the account that needs to be paid off before it begins accruing interest.

  • 2
    The first part of your answer is correct, but has nothing to do with the question. the second part is plain wrong. Jul 19, 2011 at 16:16

There is usually a fee for using a debit card as a credit card, but it depends on the card issuer. Some issuers charge a flat fee per transaction, while others charge a percentage of the total purchase price. Check with your card issuer to find out what fees may apply.

  • In the US the fee is generally eaten by the vendor, just as it is for "real" credit cards.
    – keshlam
    Nov 26, 2022 at 13:30

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