If you have trouble keeping your credits and debits straight, don’t despair. Lots of people confuse the two. Depending on the context, sometimes they almost mean the same thing. Debit cards, credit cards, credit accounts, debit accounts--so many possibilities--what’s a person to do? In generalized basic accounting terms, credit is money you receive and debit is money you pay. When you put money in your account, it’s a credit. When you take money out, it’s a debit. Here are some tips to help you remember which is which.

Step 1.

Listen to the sound of the word. Debit sounds like debt, something you have to pay.

Step 2.

Associate the word debit with a debit card. Debit cards always take money out of your account.

Step 3.

Think about how the word makes you feel. Credit is a good thing. In sports, think of “who got credit for the winning score?”

Step 4.

Associate the first letter of the word debit with another word that has the same first letter. Debit starts with D, which stands for “Decrease” and “Deduct from your account.”

Step 5.

Associate the first letter of the word credit with another word that has the same first letter. Credit starts with C, which stands for “Come to me” and “Cultivate (grow) your money.”


Try to come up with your own memory association trick. See “Additional Resources” below for more tips and help on increasing your credits and decreasing your debits.


Entering Credits in the Debits column—and vice versa—will create enormous accounting nightmares.