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What is a Debit Mastercard?

3 min read

what is a debit mastercard

Written By

Nick Saraev
Nick Saraev

Think of a Debit Mastercard as your all-access pass to chequing account funds issued by a bank or credit union.

At its core, it's a plastic card bearing the Mastercard logo that allows you to shop online from participating online retailers or make purchases in-store, withdraw cash, and conduct various banking transactions directly from your chequing account balance.

Millions of international merchants accept a new Debit Mastercard, making it perfect for your everyday spending needs. Some still have doubts, however, and wondershould new Canadians get debit or credit cards?

We know how importantbuilding credit scores can be. But a Mastercard debit card can offer you more perks than you might think. Dive into our guide and explore everything you need to know about getting your hands on a Debit Mastercard.

Understanding debit cards

So,what is a debit card, and how does it fit into your financial life? Let's break it down.

Definition of debit card

A debit card allows you to access funds directly from your chequing account to make debit purchases or withdraw cash.

Unlike credit cards, which provide a line of credit that you repay later, your bank or credit union debit card draws money directly from your bank account at the time of the transaction. It's like having a portable version of your bank account in your wallet.

Debit cards vs credit cards

One of the key differences between debit and credit cards is the source of funds. With a debit card, you're spending your own money, so there's no risk of accumulating debt or paying interest on purchases.

Credit cards, on the other hand, allow you to borrow money up to a certain limit, which you repay later, often with added interest.

Unlike credit cards, you can't usedebit cards to build credit because they do not involve borrowing money or extending credit. Debit card transactions don't impact your credit history or credit score.

Using your credit card responsibly is how to build credit effectively. This involves making timely payments, keeping balances low relative to your credit limits, and limiting credit cards to regular expenses that you can pay off in monthly payments.

Over time, responsible credit card use can help establish a positive credit history and improve your credit score. There are alsofree credit score checks to find out where you stand.

When it comes to the common question ofdebit or credit for international travel, debit cards are often preferred over credit cards for their widespread acceptance and the ability to withdraw local currency from ATMs, providing travellers with convenient access to funds wherever they go.

You may also want to consider using a debit card instead of a credit card for international purchases if your credit card charges foreign transaction fees.

What is a Mastercard?

Mastercard International Incorporated is a global financial services company that operates as thesecond-largest payment processing network in the world.

Founded in 1966 as Interbank Card Association, it later became Master Charge and finally Mastercard in 1979. As a payment network, Mastercard enables transactions between cardholders, merchants, and banks, processing millions of transactions each day in various currencies and countries around the globe.

A Mastercard-branded credit and debit card is issued by financial institutions through a bank or credit union account, allowing cardholders to make purchases, withdraw cash, and access other financial services.

In addition to its core payment processing business, Mastercard offers various products and services aimed at enhancing security, convenience, and efficiency in the payment industry. These include contactless payment technology, digital wallets, fraud protection services, and analytics solutions for businesses.

Benefits of getting a Debit Mastercard

So, why should you consider getting a Debit Mastercard? Let's explore the perks:


A new Debit Mastercard offers unparalleled convenience for your everyday spending needs. Whether you're grabbing your morning coffee, shopping for groceries, or dining out with friends, you can simply swipe, insert, or tap your card to make your everyday purchases. No need to carry around cash or worry about writing cheques.

Global acceptance

With a Mastercard debit card in your wallet, you have access to a vast network of Canadian merchants and beyond. Wherever you are travelling abroad across the210 countries and territories that accept Mastercard or make purchases online from the comfort of your home, your Mastercard Debit is accepted virtually everywhere.

Budget management

Using a Debit Mastercard can help you stay on top of your budget and manage your finances more effectively.

Since you can make debit purchases directly deducted from your chequing account, you'll always know exactly how much money you have available to spend. It's a great way to avoid overspending and keep track of your expenses.

Security features

Debit Mastercards come with built-in security features to help protect against fraud and unauthorized transactions. These may include EMV chip technology, PIN verification, and zero-liability protection. Plus, Mastercard's advanced fraud detection systems monitor transactions in real-time to identify and prevent suspicious activity.

Contactless payments

Your new Debit Mastercard now offers contactless payment technology, allowing you to simply tap your card on a contactless-enabled debit terminal to complete a transaction. It's fast, easy, and secure, making checkout a breeze, especially in today's world, where hygiene and convenience are top priorities.

ATM access

With a Debit Mastercard, you can access a vast network of ATMs to withdraw cash, check your balance, and perform other banking transactions. No matter where you are, accessing your funds with this type of card is easy and convenient.

Getting a Mastercard debit card offers a host of benefits. It's a versatile financial tool that can simplify your life and provide a sense of security in your day-to-day transactions.

Debit Mastercard fees

When it comes to managing your finances with a bank or credit union debit card with Mastercard, it's essential that you understand the fees you may incur. Here's a breakdown of some common fees associated with your Debit Mastercard usage:

Monthly account fee

A bank or credit union may charge a monthly account fee for maintaining a chequing account that is linked to your Debit Mastercard. This fee can vary depending on the bank and the type of account you have, so it's essential to review your account terms and conditions to understand if and when this fee applies.

ATM fees

If you use an ATM that is not affiliated with the bank that issued your Debit Mastercard, you may incur ATM fees, also known as "out-of-network" fees.

These fees can include a charge from the ATM operator as well as a fee from your own bank for using an out-of-network ATM. To avoid these fees, try using ATMs within your bank's network whenever possible.

Overdraft fee

If you've opted intooverdraft protection coverage and spend more than your available balance, your debit purchase may still go through, but you'll incur an overdraft fee. This fee is for each transaction that exceeds your balance up to a certain limit set by your bank or credit union account.

Replacement card fee

If your Debit Mastercard is lost, stolen, or damaged, you may need to order a replacement card. Some banks may charge a fee for issuing a replacement debit card, so check with your bank to understand the cost involved.

Currency conversion fees

Foreign currency conversion fees are important for travellers using Debit Mastercard overseas.

These fees can add up quickly, so choosing a card that offers competitive rates or even no foreign currency conversion fees at all is wise. Researching and comparing different card options can help you find the best option for your travel needs.

While Debit Mastercards offer convenience and security, you should be mindful of the potential fees associated with their usage. Understanding these fees and how to avoid them can help you make the most of your Debit Mastercard while minimizing your costs.

Should you consider a prepaid Mastercard?

If you're looking for a flexible and convenient way to manage your finances, a prepaid Mastercard might be worth considering. It's time to look past theprepaid MasterCards myths to discover what's really out there.

A prepaid Mastercard is a payment card preloaded with funds, allowing you to spend only the amount you have loaded onto the card. Unlike traditional debit cards linked to a chequing account, prepaid Mastercards are not tied to any bank or credit union.

Since you can only spend the funds you have loaded onto the card, it's an effective way to stick to your budget and avoid overspending.

One well-known prepaid Mastercard option is KOHO. Butis KOHO debit or credit? We essentially offer a debit card-style account that is reloadable and allows you to spend only the money you already have.

In addition to its debit card functionality, you can alsobuild your credit with KOHO with itsvirtual credit card and earn cashback on purchases, all accessible in an intuitive app. Plus, we pride ourselves on transparency and do not charge hidden fees, helping users make the most of their finances without unexpected costs.

Final thoughts

A Debit Mastercard is a versatile tool that works with yourplans for spending and saving. Unlike credit cards, it accesses funds directly from your account, providing convenience and security for everyday transactions.

With global acceptance and robust features, it's an essential companion for shopping, dining, and travel. No matter if you're an experienced cardholder or considering one for the first time, a Debit Mastercard offers financial control and peace of mind.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!

Nick Saraev

Nick is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with a particular interest in business finance. He's been featured in publications like Popular Mechanics and Apple News



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