What are debit cards?

Debit cards are plastic cards that allow you to pay for goods and services and withdraw money directly from your bank account. Unlike credit cards, using a debit card does not impact your credit score, as it only uses the money you have in your account. To withdraw money, you can use an ATM1 or go to your bank and request a withdrawal. In Canada, all debit cards use a PIN code for security, which is unique to your card. You must enter this four-digit code when making a withdrawal.

Features of Debit Cards in Canada

Debit cards are a popular means of payment in Canada, with several unique features:


Most debit cards in Canada have specific spending and withdrawal limits, which may vary depending on the bank you use. Before issuing your card, your bank may conduct a financial background check to determine the limit. These limits apply to daily purchases, withdrawals, and online purchases.


Once you receive your debit card, you will get a unique PIN code. However, in Canada, you have the option to change your PIN if you wish. Some banks even advise you to do so. You can contact your financial institution and change your PIN, and you can change it as often as you like.


Most debit cards in Canada do not have fees. If there are any fees, the merchant or ATM must notify you. However, some banks may charge maintenance fees, depending on the type of debit card you have.

Co-badged Debit Cards

Co-badged debit cards offer more features than traditional ones, such as online purchases and using your card abroad. If you travel frequently, this card may be a better option. However, you will still need to find an ATM that accepts your debit card in the country you are visiting, and the fees may be high.


Debit cards only use the balance in your account. In some countries, you can merge your debit and credit cards, but Canadian banks and card issuers do not offer this feature. If you do not have enough funds on your debit card, merchants will decline your card, and you will not be able to make a purchase.

Online Banking

You do not need to carry a physical card to make purchases. You can download your bank’s mobile application and use it to make purchases wherever you go. This system uses NFC2 (Near-Field Communication) technology, which allows you to place your phone near an NFC-enabled payment terminal and make a purchase. Some banks also offer a unique QR code that you can scan to make a purchase. However, not all banks offer this option, so you should check with your bank first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Reference Index

  1. What is near-field communication (NFC)? Techtarget
  2. ATM: How Automated Teller Machines Work and How to Use Them. Investopedia