Get the Most Out of Your Widget Financial Debit Card

Sep 30, 2015

Have you ever noticed that when you pull out your debit or credit card to make a purchase, the cashier will ask: “Credit or Debit?” This simple question actually has important implications for you and your Credit Union.

When you are using your Widget Financial VISA Credit Card, the answer to the above is easy: You say “credit” and then sign for your purchase. But when you’re carrying your Credit Union Debit MasterCard, how you should answer that familiar question may take a little getting used to, but we recommend that you SIGN EVERY TIME - no matter which of our convenient cards you are using. “Wait a minute,” you may be thinking “Why would I say ‘credit’ when I’m using my ‘debit’ card?”

Credit and debit cards use different networks to process your transaction. If you are holding your Credit Union MasterMoney Debit MasterCard and you say “credit,” you’ll be asked to sign for your purchase. This enables the transaction to be conducted over MasterCard’s network, though the money still comes out of your checking account.

If you say “debit,” you’ll probably be asked to punch your PIN (Personal Identification Number) into a keypad. While it’s true that the money still comes out of the same checking account, when you use your PIN, the Credit Union is forced to pay the fee for the transaction. This is good news for merchants and stores, but bad news for you as a Credit Union member. In fact, the reason merchants train their employees to post the familiar “credit or debit” question is quite simply based on their bottom line.

Merchants want to get customers to use their PIN every time they make a purchase. What stores don’t want you to know is that when you sign for both your credit and debit purchases, you are given the added protection of MasterCard who insures signed purchases. Naturally, the merchants pay a little more for this added protection and so it is in their best interest to get you to use your PIN so they can pass off their costs onto you and the Credit Union.

Some of the larger national merchants are getting pretty clever about how to disguise your right to choose. Many are even foregoing the “Credit or Debit” question and asking everyone to simply swipe their card first. This way, their machines automatically bring up the pin screen without even giving consumers a choice to sign. The Credit Union wants you to know that you are within your rights as a consumer to request to sign for your debit card purchases!

Get the protection you deserve and don’t be afraid to tell cashiers that you choose to SIGN EVERY TIME! This may seem like a small matter, but when you consider the tens of thousands of PIN-based debit card transactions that are processed by the Credit Union annually, you can see how these clever merchants are hurting each one of us.

Since we are all members of this not-for-profit credit cooperative, when the Credit Union has to pay more for transactions, everyone suffers. This is not always pleasant to think about; but nonetheless, higher transaction costs eventually trickle-down into increased fees, higher loan rates and even lower savings rates for you and your family at your member owned credit cooperative.

So don’t let the stores fool you - it is quick and convenient to sign for all of your plastic purchases and it is in your best interest to do so! You get the added protection of MasterCard when you do, and you will help the Credit Union continue to do what it does best - save your family money! Thank you for your attention in this important matter. Hopefully, it’s easy to see why at Widget Financial, WE SIGN EVERY TIME!