Debit Cards Get More Generous
More and more have reward programs. And you can't beat the interest rate.
(MONEY Magazine) – Eager to avoid possible finance charges on your holiday purchases but reluctant to give up the rewards points you'll earn using your credit card? Pay by debit instead. Over the past five years, the number of debit cards offering rewards has more than doubled. In fact, 14 of the 15 largest Visa issuers now have rewards programs. Yes, debit rewards are usually skimpier--typically you'll get one point for every $2 spent vs. one for $1 with a credit card. But as competition heats up, deals are getting sweeter: Wachovia, for example, offers one point for each debit dollar spent and will let you combine debit- and credit-card points. Just remember that to earn rewards you generally need to sign for purchases, not use a PIN. This strategy will also ensure that you won't be held liable if your card is lost or stolen.
SAVINGS NOTES AND SOURCES: CD and money-market account data as of Oct. 24 from 100 Highest Yields, a publication of Bankrate.com ($124 for 52 issues; 800-327-7717, ext. 11410); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less. Average tax-exempt and taxable money-market fund yields for the week ended Oct. 24 from Money Fund Report (imoneynet.com); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less and assets of $25 million or more. Average bond fund yields for the month ended Sept. 30 from Lipper; all are medium- and high-quality funds without sales loads and with average maturities of three years or less.  Manager absorbed all or some operating expenses. CREDIT NOTES AND SOURCES: All rates subject to change. Credit-card rates are for standard cards as of Oct. 24 from Bankrate.com and are variable unless otherwise indicated. Survey does not include Internet-only cards or AmEx Blue.  Fixed rate.  Visa only.  Platinum and gold cards.