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Debit card or mobile wallet? What you value determines your preference.

Is there a right or wrong way to pay? Does it really matter if you use your physical debit card or your phone’s mobile wallet?

Well, that really depends on you and what you value most in how you pay (and if a business even accepts mobile payments). Both ways have advantages and the end result is the same: you get what you pay for. Where you fit among these values could best determine if you reach for your phone or wallet:

You believe in speed

Time is money, and you don’t want to waste it. With a mobile wallet purchase, you pull out your phone, unlock it, hold it next to the pay terminal, and, depending on which payment system you use (Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay), type in a PIN or approve with your thumbprint or face scan. That should take about 5 seconds or so.

The other option is you pull out your wallet, open it, work your card out of its pocket, insert it into or swipe it through the card reader, and wait about 5 to 10 seconds for it to process. Then you have to put the card back and put your wallet away. That’s about 20, maybe 25 seconds, if not more.

An online or in-app purchase is even quicker with a mobile wallet. Instead of having to type in your card information every time, you can choose Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. You could save your card information with the business to speed up your checkout the next time, but that can expose your personal information if hackers break into the system.

If speed is important to you: mobile wallet is the clear winner, assuming the business supports it.

No matter how you use your card – whether your swipe, insert, tap or use your thumbprint – paying with your debit card can eliminate or reduce your monthly service charge in our select Advantage or Access accounts. That means you can get our best perks at little or no cost by using your debit card for everyday purchases.

Security is of the utmost importance

Mobile wallet transactions are one of the safer ways to make a purchase – using a random number, or token, instead of your account number. Your account number is never seen or stored whether you make a purchase in person or online.

Your debit card works in a similar way. When you insert your debit card in a chip reader, a one-time passcode is used to process the payment. But if the business doesn’t have a chip terminal, you’ll have to swipe your card and your information is read off the magnetic strip. That can put your information at risk. If hackers attack their systems and access your account information, you could have the hassle of getting a new card and perhaps dealing with identity theft.

Using a physical card online carries similar risks if hackers strike since you’re typing your account number into a business’ system. Some companies allow you to purchase items online using your mobile wallet, but not all.

Your choice of when to use mobile wallet or your debit card isn’t completely your own, which leaves the security issue a bit of a mixed bag. For example, only 50 percent of U.S. retailers accept Apple Pay, the most popular mobile payment platform. A recent survey, however, predicted nearly 70 percent of retailers will accept mobile wallet payments within five years.

Some consumers don’t like the idea of having their card on their phone, especially if it’s lost or stolen. There’s a fear that a thief can go on a shopping spree, but unless the thief has your PIN or can duplicate your biometric information, your card data is safe and no one but you can make a purchase. When you put a card in your mobile wallet, the full number is never stored or displayed.

Online or in-app: mobile wallet makes the most sense, if it’s an option. In the store: if the secure technology is there, either your debit card or mobile wallet is a good choice.

Did you know? When you use your debit card to make a credit purchase, you get a more detailed summary of the transaction on your statement than you would if you make a debit purchase.

You love the latest technology

If you do everything on your phone, mobile wallet is one more way to keep it the center of your universe. In addition to your debit and credit cards, mobile wallets can store some reward cards, too.

This only works if the places you shop accept mobile payments, although Samsung Pay can work with any type of card terminal (swipe, chip or wireless). Technology isn’t always foolproof though, so you should probably have a physical card as a backup if your phone transaction fails.

If your phone dies or your battery runs out, you could be in trouble. Portable power sources can solve part of that dilemma, but are you willing to put your faith in your phone as your only way to pay?

You can embrace mobile wallet, with one condition: have a backup way to pay if something goes wrong.

Change is not your friend

If you want to simply pay and go: a debit card is just fine. The new chip technology improves your security when you shop in stores with chip terminals. A mobile wallet seems very techie, and not every merchant offers mobile payments, so it’s not widespread enough to where you can make paying with your phone a habit.

If you lose your physical card, you can use our app to turn it off immediately or call our 24/7 Customer Care Center. If you lose your phone? You’ll likely need to find another phone or computer to solve the situation, and that might not always be easily available.

Even though mobile wallet has been around for years, it’s still in its infancy. That means there’s time for your comfort level to grow as the technology becomes more accepted. If you’re curious though, give it a try. Both methods are acceptable for payments, and it comes down to what works best for you.

The bottom line: a debit card works everywhere you want it to, so it’s OK to say no to technology.

Whichever way you decide to pay, you have two good options that protect your information and make buying easy. If you’d like to learn more about using your mobile wallet, call us at 740.454.2521.

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