Money at 30: 3 Debit Cards I Actually Use (and Why)
If you asked me 10 years ago whether debit cards or credit cards were better, I would have definitely said the former. After a bad brush with credit in my early 20s, I was a debit-only guy until I got married. Then, once realizing that my credit had since rebounded beautifully, I also discovered the value that rewards credit cards can offer. Thus, for 90-something percent of my purchases, I’m using a credit card. However, throughout my experience of trying and reviewing various FinTech offers, I’ve come across a few debit card options that actually serve real purposes in my personal finance strategy,
With that in mind, today I wanted to highlight three debit cards (plus two bonuses) that I use on a semi-frequent basis and why I keep each one in my wallet.
3 Debit Cards I Personally Use
Square Cash Card
The Square Cash Card is easily my most-used debit card and that’s for one big reason: Boosts. With Boosts, you can earn up to 15% back instantly when you use your card at select retailers. Additionally, while most Boosts are brand specific, there are occasionally offers that are much broader — such as 5% back in Bitcoin on any purchase or 10% back on any grocery store purchase. Because these percentages typically top any credit card I have in my wallet, I tend to check my Boost offer frequently and end up using my Cash Card a fair amount.
On that note, Boosts do update fairly frequently. Also, you can only add one Boost at a time to your card. Finally, each Boost has a minimum purchase requirement and a maximum discount available. Still, these deals are often among the best I’ve seen, which keeps me coming back to my Square Cash Card.
Bella Loves Me
Bella Loves Me is a new FinTech banking app I discovered on Instagram a few months back that I’ve become quite taken with. While the service includes a few interesting features, the most intriguing is their Bella Surprises. When Bella customers use their debit card to pay for purchases, they may randomly receive between 5% to 200% of their transaction back. Moreover, there’s also the chance that their tab will be picked up by a fellow Bella user via the app’s Karma account.
As I mentioned in my review, while Bella Loves Me may be a gimmick, it’s definitely a fun and feel-good hook. In turn, I’ve enjoyed putting money in my Karma Account and seeing others enjoying surprise cashback while also occasionally scoring “free” stuff myself. So, from time to time as I look toward my card holder to make a purchase, I end up pulling out my rainbow-colored Bella Loves Me debit card.
In my mind, SoFi Money was the first FinTech banking account I ever truly loved. Not only did the account pay a top-tier APY on funds but also reimbursed ATM transactions from any machine worldwide and didn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Sadly, between the multiple cuts to interest rates and other changes, SoFi Money isn’t exactly the same account it once was. However, to their credit, SoFi did allow long-time customers like myself to retain such perks as ATM fee reimbursement (new customers can instead make fee-free withdrawals at Allpoint network machines) while also adding perks such as cash back offers.
One such cashback deal that I took advantage of a few months ago (and for several months) was 10% back on streaming purchases. In the past, I’ve also saved similar amounts on DoorDash orders and other select purchases. Plus, it seems SoFi has been experimenting with other temporary offers and programs that can earn you money and/or savings. For those reasons and others, SoFi Money remains one of my go-to banking accounts and debit card.
Robinhood Cash Management
I’m well aware of the fact that Robinhood doesn’t have the best reputation right now… but I do want to mention a key perk of their debit card. While most FinTech card options typically partner with an ATM network, Robinhood’s Cash Management account actually partners with two: MoneyPass and AllPoint. As a result, the card can be used fee-free at more than 68,000 machines across the nation. Therefore, if you’re not already getting ATM reimbursement from SoFi or don’t want to make Bella pick up the tab, Robinhood’s card could be a good option for quickly accessing cash. In fact, it’s what I turned to recently when I needed to get cash to tip my movers at the last minute. So, again, say what you will about Robinhood but their debit card has its benefits.
Finally, the Fold Card isn’t a card that’s made it into my regular line-up just yet, but it’s showing potential. As an Early Access user, I’ve seen the Fold Card evolve quite a bit over the past few months — in mostly good ways. That said, since the card has yet to officially launch, I haven’t offered a full review (although I have reviewed the Fold app as a whole). With the Early Access pilot now winding down, I’m hoping to get to try the “finished” version of the Fold Card product soon and start earning Bitcoin rewards as a result. Until then, I’ll leave it as an “honorable mention” that will hopefully get a promotion to the main list in time.
Ultimately, from rewards to purchase protection, a debit card is rarely going to be my top pick over a credit card for most transactions these days. Nevertheless, all of these five options have made a case for themselves being used in certain situations. Whether it’s to take advantage of specific deals, try my luck at having my purchase comped, access cash from any ATM, or perhaps even earn Bitcoin instead of USD, these FinTech debit cards each have something to offer.
Also published on Medium.