4 Reasons Not to Use Your Debit Card at The Bar

My friend from college was big on bar tabs. It wasn’t uncommon for him to buy rounds “on him.” He’d walk into a bar and immediately open a tab.

He had a bit more money than most college kids, so it wasn’t so bad for him. I happened to be next to him on a Thursday night trip to our favorite bar. He closed out his tab and I couldn’t believe it.

The bill was $125! Woah!

It wasn’t a special occasion — just a normal night out. I didn’t remember seeing him with tons of drinks. On top of that, it wasn’t uncommon for him to accidentally leave the bar without getting his debit card.

The next day, he’d have to schlump back over, close out his tab, pay an extra fee for that, and get back home. He wouldn’t even check the charges on his debit card: major red flag.

You might be tempted when you are being fiscally responsible to use your debit card rather than racking up points on your credit card. That’s great when you don’t want to break the budget, but really, it’s not.

Credit.com researched reasons why using your debit card at the bar may be more harmful than helpful.


  1. A dishonest bartender: If it’s a rookie bartender, he may precariously leave your card lying about for wondering eyes to see. Some bartenders may steal from you directly.
  2. ATM fees: Using your debit card might tempt you to go try that dusty atm in the back of the bar. What you don’t know in your hazy state? You’re being charged $3-$4 dollars per transaction. Then, your bank charges you another couple of bucks. Get your cash before you go.
  3. Skimmers: That ATM you hit for some $20’s probably isn’t regulated. It’s simply an added profit center for the bar. It makes it easy for thieves to set up devices on the machine to steal your information. Never use an ATM that lives in dark rooms…
  4. No points: You’re missing out on the beauty of credit cards themselves, no points! If you go out enough, this can add up to some massive credit card points. Some cards have promotional periods of getting extra points at restaurants and bars.

Now, this above is just for debit cards. A credit card looks and tastes the same, but it comes with more security. If someone does steal your card, you can appeal all charges and be credited for stolen charges. Debit cards are cold hard cash linked to your bank account. If someone steals, your bank will usually only give you a portion of it back.

That’s a major difference!

Have you ever had problems with debit cards at bars? Let me know below to help the other readers.

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