The Ultimate Guide to Mastercard Debit Cards in Canada

By Daniel Schoester | Published on 09 Aug 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Mastercard Debit Cards in Canada
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    A debit Mastercard is a payment card linked to your bank account. It allows you to access funds in your account to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs. The cards are accepted anywhere in person where MasterCards are accepted. Additionally, you can shop internationally. The primary challenge of a debit Mastercard is that you are restricted to a list of participating platforms when shopping online in Canada.

    Debit Mastercards differ from credit cards because they do not allow you to borrow money from the bank. Instead, they use the funds that are already available in your account. This can help you manage your finances more effectively, as you can only spend what you have.

    However, using a debit MasterCard provides more benefits than a regular debit card or cash. Namely, you can leverage debt prevention, security benefits, global acceptance, and more. This guide will walk you through everything you need about Debit MasterCards in Canada. Continue reading to compare with Visa debit cards, compare your options, and find out where to use debit MasterCards in Canada.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Mastercard Debit Cards

    Debt Prevention
    Security Features
    International Acceptance
    Lower Fees
    Limited Online Shopping Options
    No Credit Score Building
    Few Participating Banks
    Fewer features


    a) Debt Prevention

    Debit Mastercards can help you to manage your finances better and prevent overspending. You won’t be tempted to borrow or take out a loan when you don’t have the funds available. This makes it an ideal option for people who are trying to keep their debts under control.

    b) Security Features

    Debit Mastercards are also a safe and secure way to make payments. They are equipped with advanced security features, such as EMV chips and contactless payments, to protect against fraud and unauthorized transactions. Mastercard’s Zero Liability protection is the most crucial feature. This will save and refund you from unauthorized transactions.

    c) International Acceptance

    Mastercard’s global network allows you to use your card at merchants worldwide. This means you can use your card to make purchases when travelling abroad without worrying about currency exchange rates or carrying large amounts of cash. Furthermore, Mastercard’s global network means you can easily access your funds from ATMs worldwide, making it easy to manage your travel finances.

    d) Lower Fees

    Compared to credit cards in Canada, debit cards have significantly lower fees. In particular, debit cards have a considerably lower annual cost than credit cards. Occasionally, you will have to pay a chequing account fee which you can terminate if you meet minimum balance requirements.


    a) Limited Online Shopping Options

    One of the main limitations of debit Mastercards is that you can only shop online from a list of participating platforms. This is a steep contrast to Visa debit cards which are accepted anywhere you can use a Visa credit card. 

    b) No Credit Score Building

    Another downside of debit Mastercards is that they don’t build a credit score. Your Mastercard debit card is not a loan, so it won’t report to a credit bureau. You must use a loan or a credit card to rebuild your credit score

    c) Few Participating Banks

    Only three significant banks in Canada issue a MasterCard debit card. You will need an EQ Bank, BMO, Simplii, or Servus Credit Union account. If you wish to bank with something other than these institutions, then you won’t be able to receive a Mastercard debit card in Canada.

    d) Fewer Features

    Compared to travel credit cards, your Mastercard debit will have minimal features. This can include missing benefits such as airport lounge access, travel credit card insurance, and more. You will also forego travel points which you can redeem for free flights and hotels.

    Mastercard Debit Vs. Visa Debit Cards

    Regarding debit card providers, Mastercard and Visa debit cards are two of the biggest names in the industry. While both offer similar services, some key differences may impact your decision on which card to choose. Primarily, Visa debit cards are more popular with banks and merchants.

    Mastercard DebitVisa Debit
    Participating BanksOffered by few banksOffered by many banks
    Merchant AcceptanceLimited acceptance with online merchants in Canada. Otherwise widely acceptedWidely accepted
    SecurityAdvanced security featuresAdvanced security features
    RewardsNo rewardsNo rewards
    FeesDependant on bankDependant on bank

    Participating Banks

    More banks offer Visa debit than Mastercard debit cards in Canada. If you have a relationship with an existing bank, it most likely provides a Visa debit. Currently, only BMO, Simplii and Servus credit union offer MasterCard debit cards in Canada. However, EQ Bank has a similar card classified as prepaid.

    Merchant Acceptance

    Visa debit cards are accepted more widely than their Mastercard counterpart. The key challenge with a debit Mastercard is the need for online retailers in Canada. A small list of shops will accept your card online in Canada. On the contrary, Visa debit cards don’t have this restriction and can be used online anywhere a Visa credit card is accepted. Both cards will work in person within and outside Canada.


    Another critical difference between Mastercard and Visa is the level of security they provide. Both providers offer advanced security features, such as fraud monitoring and zero liability protection, to help protect cardholders against unauthorized transactions.


    Neither debit option provides rewards; however, if you’re looking for card benefits, there are travel credit cards that offer reward points to help stretch your money further. However, cards with more rewards generally have higher annual fees and interest rates.


    Finally, Mastercard and Visa debit cards are free to use on purchases. However, many banks charge a monthly fee if you don’t keep a minimum balance. Both providers include a foreign exchange fee for purchases made outside Canada. However, your financial institution may charge an additional currency conversion fee. 

    Mastercard Debit Vs. Prepaid Mastercard

    Mastercard debit and a prepaid credit card are two payment card types available in Canada. Both cards operate on the MasterCard network and will not affect your credit score. Both cards require you to load funds into an account before purchasing. However, there are some differences.

    A Mastercard debit card is linked to your bank account and allows you to spend money that you already have in your account. Larger financial institutions generally offer them. You can use it to make purchases online or in-store, withdraw cash from ATMs, and pay bills. When you use a Mastercard debit card, the money is deducted directly from your bank account. However, the downside is more restrictions when purchasing online with Canadian retailers.

    On the other hand, a prepaid Mastercard is not linked to your bank account. Fintech banks generally offer them, such as the Koho Prepaid Mastercard. Again, you can use it to make purchases online or in-store, withdraw cash from ATMs, and pay bills. When you use a prepaid Mastercard, the money is deducted from the balance on your card. The primary difference is that you have fewer restrictions when shopping online in Canada. These cards generally offer more benefits, such as cashback or no foreign exchange fees. 

    Banks Offering Mastercard Debit Cards in Canada

    There are four significant Mastercard debit card options in Canada. These range from EQ Bank, BMO, Simplii Financial, and Servus Credit Union. While EQ bank is not classified as a debit Mastercard, it functions similarly and has more features.  

    EQ Bank Prepaid Mastercard

    The EQ Bank Card offers very interesting features. Although classified as a prepaid Mastercard, the card is connected to your bank account. This effectively makes it a debit Mastercard. The primary difference is that it only operates on the Mastercard network, not Interac. This card also won’t have the same limitations with online purchases in Canada as the others.

    However, the EQ Bank Card offers a range of advantages while managing your finances effectively. One of the standout features is the ability to make free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada and a generous 0.5% cash-back rate on all purchases. You’ll also earn 2.50% annually on funds loaded into your account.

    EQ Bank has also rescinded many of the common fees with debit cards. There is no ATM withdrawal fee. Additionally, you’ll be refunded in ten business days if a machine charges you. Furthermore, there are no monthly or foreign exchange fees.

    BMO Debit Mastercard

    BMO Debit Mastercard

    The BMO Debit Mastercard allows you to load money onto your card through online or mobile banking, telephone banking, at your BMO branch, or as a bill payment through an ATM. The card has a foreign exchange fee of 2.5%.

    The BMO Debit Card provides a range of features that may interest you. In addition to its functionality at ATMs, the card offers convenient options for secure shopping. With the inclusion of the Mastercard and Interac logos, users can shop online, make in-app purchases, and quickly pay for smaller in-store transactions.

    BMO’s Digital Banking Security Guarantee ensures reimbursement for unauthorized transactions, adding an extra layer of protection. You can also use the card for international purchases. BMO offers customer support for any inquiries or assistance needed.

    Simplii Financial Debit Mastercard

    Simplii Financial Debit Mastercard

    The Simplii Financial Debit Mastercard allows you to shop locally and globally. You can make international purchases wherever merchants accept Mastercard and Interac at no additional charge. You can also take advantage of their rates for U.S. dollar transactions.

    You can easily use your card and benefit from enhanced security to protect you. The card offers a Secure Code to confirm you’re the authorized cardholder and Mastercard Zero Liability. You can bank on the go with mobile and online banking, add your debit card to your mobile wallet, and use international ATMs compatible with Interac, Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus.

    Servus Credit Union Debit Mastercard

    Servus Credit Union Debit Mastercard

    The Servus Credit Union Debit Mastercard allows you to load money onto your card at branches or online. You’ll need to become a member of the credit union to receive the card.

    The card offers convenient options for secure shopping, with the inclusion of both Mastercard and Interac logos. The Servus Credit Union also provides access to over 50,000 fee-free ATMs throughout Canada through their member network.

    In addition to these features, the Zero Liability policy protects the card, meaning you are not liable for fraudulent or unauthorized purchases. You also have access to 24/7 customer support should you require any assistance.

    List of Online Mastercard Debit Card Acceptance in Canada 

    Your debit MasterCard will be accepted anywhere in person where regular MasterCards are accepted. Additionally, you can use your card to make international online purchases through the MasterCard network. The constraints lie with making online purchases within Canada.

    The primary weakness of debit Mastercard is that you can only shop online from a list of participating retailers. Fortunately, you can use your debit Mastercard with popular online platforms such as Amazon and Paypal. However, Crave and Steam do not accept it. The following tables showcase participating Canadian retailers that enable you to make online purchases with your debit MasterCard. Note that the EQ Bank card will not have these limitations.

    Apparel and Footwear
    Columbia Sportswear
    Forever 21
    Michael Kors
    Canadian Tire
    Yellow London Taxi
    Department Stores and General Retail
    Electronics and Technology
    Dell Canada
    Entertainment and Leisure
    401 Games
    Landmark Cinemas
    Running Room
    Sirius Canada
    Sport Chek
    Studio La Pomme
    Toronto Star
    Town of Banff
    Food and Beverage
    Domino’s Pizza
    Pizza Nova
    Pizza Pizza
    Health and Wellness
    Healthy Planet
    Home Improvement and Décor
    Wawanesa Insurance
    Online Marketplaces and Services
    Restaurants and Food Services
    The Lunch Lady
    Altima Telecom
    Freedom Mobile
    Travel and Transportation
    Air Canada Vacations
    Air Transat
    BMO Travel
    Calgary Board of Education
    Flight Network
    Grand & Toy
    Horseplayer Interactive/Woodbine Entertainment
    NewLeaf Travel Company
    Porter Airlines
    Via Rail
    Source: Mastercard Canada

    How to Activate Your MasterCard Debit Card

    Activating your Mastercard debit card is simple and easy. It is important to remember that you must activate your debit Mastercard before you can use it for purchases. There are two primary ways to activate it;

    a) Online

    To activate your card online, log into your bank’s website and follow the steps indicated. Once logged in, select “Activate Card” and provide the required information to do so. Once you have finished, your card will be activated and ready for use.

    It is important to note that activation may vary from bank to bank, so ensure you read all instructions carefully before activating your debit MasterCard. If in doubt, contact customer service for assistance.

    b) Phone

    All you need to do is call the customer service number on your card’s back or log into your online banking account. You will then be asked for personal information to verify your identity, such as name, address and date of birth. Once approved, your bank will activate the card, and you can start using it.

    Common Mastercard Debit Fees to Consider

    When comparing cards, it’s essential to compare the associated charges. By doing so, you can ensure that you choose a card that suits your individual needs and preferences. This section will explain some standard fees to be aware of. 

    Monthly Account Fee

    One of the most common fees associated with Mastercard debit cards is the monthly account fee. This fee can vary depending on your chosen card. Most financial institutions will remove the fee if you meet a minimum balance threshold. Some cards may offer lower monthly fees but charge higher ATM or currency conversion withdrawal fees.

    ATM Fees

    If you plan on using your Mastercard debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, it’s essential to consider the ATM withdrawal fees associated with each card. Some cards may charge a flat fee for each withdrawal, while others may charge a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Be sure to compare these fees closely to avoid surprises when it comes time to withdraw cash.

    Currency Conversion Fees

    Finally, if you plan on using your Mastercard debit card while travelling overseas, it’s essential to consider the foreign currency conversion fees. These fees can add up quickly, so choosing a card that offers competitive rates is important. Some cards may even offer no foreign currency conversion fees at all, so be sure to research before deciding.

    The Bottom Line

    When choosing a Mastercard debit card, there are many factors to consider. They differ from credit cards because you’ll need money in the account before purchasing. The major drawback of a Mastercard debit card is the lack of online retailers in Canada. Visa debit cards are a better option because more banks offer them and have significantly more online acceptance. Finally, if you decide to proceed with a Mastercard debit, they are available from EQ Bank, BMO, Simplii, and Servus. 

    FAQ About Mastercard Debit Cards in Canada

    What is a Debit Mastercard?

    A Debit Mastercard is a payment card designed to provide convenient, secure and reliable access to your bank account. It lets you purchase directly from your account without carrying cash or writing cheques. It differs from a credit card because you must load money onto it.

    Can a Debit Mastercard be used as a credit card?

    No, you can’t use a debit Mastercard as a credit card. It is a direct payment instrument and must have money loaded onto it for purchases.

    Can I use my BMO debit Mastercard online?

    Yes, you can use your BMO debit Mastercard with participating merchants online. However, only a few Canadian merchants accept MasterCard debit online. Although, you can use your card internationally with any website that accepts MasterCard.

    Does Costco Canada accept Mastercard Debit?

    Yes, Costco Canada accepts debit Mastercard both online and in-store. They are on the list of participating Canadian merchants. However, Costco in the United States has partnered with Visa and only accepts cards on its network.

    What’s the difference between Mastercard Debit and Visa Debit?

    The main difference between Mastercard Debit and Visa Debit is the network. Visa debit cards are generally accepted more widely than Mastercard. They are open to more than just a few online Canadian retailers accepting a debit Mastercard.

    Why is my Debit Mastercard not working online?

    Your debit Mastercard will only work online in Canada with a list of participating retailers. However, your card will work online internationally anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

    Can I use my Mastercard Debit card in another country?

    Yes, your MasterCard debit will work online and in person wherever Mastercard is accepted. This means you can also use it for ATM withdrawals abroad. However, be cautious of foreign exchange fees.

    Does Amazon accept Debit Mastercard cards?

    Yes, Amazon accepts debit Mastercard cards for online purchases. This is because Amazon is a participating online retailer. Additionally, you can use your Debit Mastercard internationally to shop on Amazon websites globally if they accept MasterCard.

    Does Crave accept Debit Mastercard cards?

    No, Crave will not accept your debit MasterCard when using it online in Canada.

    Does Steam accept Mastercard Debit cards?

    No, Steam does not accept debit MasterCards online in Canada. This is because Steam is not part of the participating online platforms. However, you can use your debit MasterCard to make international purchases online anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

    Does Paypal accept Debit Mastercard?

    Yes, Paypal will accept a debit MasterCard in Canada. This is because they are on the list of participating online platforms.

    Are Mastercard usually debit cards or credit cards?

    MasterCard usually issues credit cards. However, they have experimented with releasing MasterCard debit cards in Canada.

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    Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Hardbacon, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hellosafe. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.