We’ve been planning a trip back to the States for this summer, looking forward to spending time with family and friends we only get to see once every few years. Of course, the reason we so seldom get to visit is the huge expense of international airfare for four. For us, it’s big money, and because we don’t own a credit card it’s something we have to pay in one lump sum.
So we finally bought our tickets, and all was well until one day I tried to buy groceries and my debit card was refused. What?!? I knew we had enough money in the account, but for some reason the card was declined. I called my husband, a bit panicked, only to be told that we must have hit our limit. Our limit? We have a limit? And then I remembered that this had happened once before, when we first moved to France and spent a lot of money in a short period of time buying furniture for our new apartment.
In France, debit accounts are subject to a plafond-a “ceiling”-which means you can only spend a certain amount of money (using your card) within a certain amount of time. It has nothing to do with how much money you actually have in the account. Does such a thing exist in the U.S., where consumers are encouraged to spend beyond their means? I can’t imagine it.
The whole situation was a big frustration for me, because I use my debit card for everything and hate having to get cash out. But it also leaves me wondering if I’m more or less frugal using only cash? I certainly don’t buy things as readily as I would with my card, since I’m counting every penny.
What about you? Have you ever had the experience of “hitting your limit”? Do you find that debit cards make buying what you want, when you want it just a little too easy?