Debit cards

A debit card is a plastic card issued by your financial institution that can be used to access money in your account. You can use your debit card at an automated banking machine (ABM) or a point of sale terminal, such as at the checkout at a grocery store. You will be asked to swipe or insert the card into the terminal and enter a personal identification number (PIN) code on a PIN pad.

Your financial institution may set a daily dollar limit on the amount of money that you can withdraw from your account with your debit card. Check with your financial institution to find out about your debit card's limits.

You may be charged a convenience fee or surcharge when you use your debit card to make purchases in stores. Merchants and terminal providers can apply a convenience fee and/or surcharge, provided the fee is disclosed to you on the PIN pad screen first and you are given the choice to cancel the transaction at no cost. If you encounter a situation where you have not been properly notified of a surcharge, contact Interac.

How to save money when withdrawing money from ABMs

How to save money when making purchases

  • Don't hesitate to cancel a transaction at a point of sale terminal if you discover you will be charged a fee for using your debit card, or if you feel that the fee is not appropriate. You may be able to use another means of payment, such as cash, cheque or credit card, or you can take your business to another merchant who doesn't charge for this service.
  • Ask for cash back when you pay using your debit card in stores if the merchant offers this service at no charge. Using this service can help you avoid extra transaction fees that may apply at ABMs. Note that not all stores allow such transactions free of charge.

Always be careful when using your debit card. Never give your PIN to anyone, or you may be held responsible for losses if someone gains unauthorized access to your account.

You may also be responsible for unauthorized transactions on your account if you do not have a secure PIN. If you choose your own PIN, make sure it is not one that can be easily guessed by others. Do not use:

  • your name
  • your phone number
  • your date of birth
  • your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • your address
  • or anything else that someone may easily guess.

Always cover the PIN pad when you enter your PIN at an ABM or a merchant's terminal. And never let your debit card out of your sight when you make a transaction.

The Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services is designed to protect Canadian consumers who use debit card services. This voluntary code outlines industry practices and the responsibilities of consumers and the financial industry in relation to debit card transactions and liability.

If you do become a victim of debit card fraud, the Code states that you will not be responsible for losses that result from circumstances beyond your control. For example, you would not be responsible for transactions made using your debit card if you reported the card as lost or stolen within a reasonable amount of time. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) monitors the compliance with the Code of federally regulated financial institutions.