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Best virtual debit cards in Canada

Enjoy quick and easy online and contactless payments with these digital debit cards.

If you’re sick and tired of carrying a chunky wallet or purse with you everywhere you go, a virtual debit card might be just what you need. Available through your smartphone, a virtual card makes it easy to make purchases online and using your phone, and it means you don’t have to carry a physical card.

In this guide, we’ve chosen the 5 best virtual debit cards in Canada to help you find the best digital card for all your spending needs. We also provide information on how virtual debit cards work, their pros and cons, and how to find the right card for you.

Best virtual debit cards in Canada

Best overall virtual debit card

Wealthsimple Cash

N/A
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
the Wealthsimple Cash account offers a linked virtual debit card. Perks include earning 4.00% to 5.00% interest (depending on how much money you hold in your account), being able to access your pay a day early, CDIC deposit insurance of up to $500,000, and the ability to earn 1% cashback in stock, crypto or cash when you make a purchase with your card.. And if you want to invest your savings, you can trade stocks, ETFs, options and more through your other Wealthsimple accounts.
  • No monthly fees
  • Earn at least 4% interest on your account balance
  • Unlimited free transfers
  • No minimum balance
  • Limited types of investments
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee $0
U.S. ATM Fee $0
International ATM Fee $0
Dormancy Fee $0

Best virtual card for earning interest

EQ Bank Personal Account

4%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
The EQ Personal Account works as a hybrid chequing and savings account and comes with a prepaid card (that you can use virtually via your phone). You'll earn 2.50% - 4.00% interest with an EQ Bank Personal Account. Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance requirements. Plus, you can also apply for a Joint account if you're looking to save with your partner or family.
  • $0 account fee
  • $0 transactions
  • $0 Interac eTransfers
  • Earn 2.50% - 4.00% interest on your balance
  • No physical branches for in-person service
  • Some standard banking features not available such as overdraft protection, use of ATMs and the option to have paper statements
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0

Best virtual debit card from a Big Five Bank

RBC Virtual Debit Card

RBC Virtual Debit Card

N/A
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
Link the RBC Virtual Debit Card to any of your RBC chequing accounts and shop online anywhere Visa is accepted. You can spend using the funds directly from your bank account. One of the best features of the RBC Virtual Debit Card is that you can instantly activate the card online and use it immediately.
  • Instantly activate the card online
  • Link to any RBC chequing account
  • Free to receive the card
  • You'll need to be an RBC customer with an active chequing account
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0

Best virtual debit card for holding multiple currencies

Wise Virtual Debit Card

N/A
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
Spend online, in-store and overseas while saving on currency conversion fees with the Wise Virtual Debit Card. Hold 40+ currencies at once in your Wise Personal Account and convert the currencies in real time via the Wise app. This virtual card supports both Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Hold multiple currencies
  • Have up to 3 virtual cards at one time
  • Card is free to all Wise customers
  • You'll need to get a physical Wise card before you order your virtual one
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0

Best prepaid virtual card

KOHO Essential Prepaid Card

$4
Monthly Fee
$0
Transaction Cost
Up to 1% cash back
Rewards
KOHO Essential Prepaid Card is one of four 'plans' you can choose with KOHO. You'll receive a prepaid card, which you can use virtually when you link it to your phone. Earn 1% cashback on groceries, bills and services, and eating & drinking – and collect 0.25% on everything else. Plus, earn 5% interest on your entire balance. Enjoy a free 30-day trial.
  • Earn 1% cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink – and collect 0.25% on everything else.
  • Earn 5% interest on your entire balance.
  • Free 30 day trial
  • This plan has a fee of $4/month or $48 annually, however there is a free, basic plan available
Monthly Fee $4
Transaction Cost $0
Foreign Transaction Fee 1.5%
Monthly Fee $4/month or $48 annually
e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0
Rewards Up to 1% cash back

What is a virtual debit card?

A virtual debit card is just like a physical debit card, but with the key difference that it’s available digitally through your smartphone or wearable device. You can use your virtual card to pay for purchases online or tap your smartphone wherever contactless payments are accepted. And just like a physical card, a virtual card is linked to your bank account — so you’re spending your own money rather than accessing credit.

How do virtual debit cards work?

You can use your virtual debit card in essentially the same way you use your physical card. If you’re shopping online, you simply enter your card details at checkout to pay for your purchase. And if you add your card to a mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, you can use your smartphone to make contactless purchases when shopping in-store.

Your virtual debit card has different details to your physical card — your card number, expiry date and CVV are all different. Cards are encrypted to protect you against fraud, and your financial institution can send your virtual card details to you instantly once you’ve successfully created an account.

You also have the ability to freeze or cancel your virtual card whenever you want, and you can generate new virtual card details when needed.

How can I use a virtual debit card internationally?

It’s easy to use a virtual debit card internationally. When you’re shopping online, you can use your virtual card to make purchases from international retailers in the same way you would use a physical debit or credit card. If you’re shopping in-store, tap your phone at the payment terminal wherever your card’s payment network (such as Visa or Mastercard) is accepted.

If your card is linked to a multi-currency account, you can pay using the local currency and avoid expensive currency exchange costs.

However, be aware that some virtual debit cards will come with hefty foreign transaction fees, such as 3% per transaction. So if you plan to regularly use your virtual debit card to make purchases internationally, look for a card with no foreign transaction fees.

The other factor you’ll need to consider is currency conversion costs. Make sure you check the exchange rate markup that will apply when you exchange Canadian dollars for a foreign currency, as this can have a big impact on the cost of your transaction.

What are the benefits of a virtual debit card?

There are several reasons why a virtual debit card makes sense:

  • No need to carry a physical card. Tired of carrying a bulky wallet or purse around with you everywhere you go? A virtual debit card lets you pay with your phone instead, so you can leave your wallet at home.
  • Easy to pay for online purchases. It’s quick and easy to check out online with a virtual debit card, with no need to manually enter all your card details every time you pay.
  • Added security. You don’t have to worry about losing your virtual debit card or having it stolen. It’s also simple to freeze your virtual debit card or cancel it altogether after making a purchase. This provides an extra layer of security if you’re buying from a store you haven’t used before and you want to protect your card details against fraud.
  • Access multiple currencies. Providers such as Wise offer virtual debit cards linked to multi-currency accounts, allowing you to hold and spend funds in dozens of currencies. This means you can avoid expensive currency conversion costs when making international purchases.
  • Instant access. Rather than waiting for your bank to mail out a physical card, you can start using a virtual debit card straight away after opening an account.
  • Manage your finances. If your account supports multiple virtual cards, you can create different cards for different needs or expenses, each with its own spending limit. This can make it easier to manage your money and keep track of your expenses.

What to be aware of with virtual debit cards

There are a few potential drawbacks to be aware of before using a virtual card:

  • Card/account fee. Some accounts may come with a monthly fee or may charge a fee for issuing a virtual card. Check the fine print for details of any fees that will apply.
  • Wallet compatibility. Make sure the virtual debit card you choose is compatible with your mobile wallet of choice, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Garmin Pay.
  • Can’t be used at ATMs. Virtual debit cards can’t be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, and they can’t be used to pay for purchases from retailers that don’t support contactless payments. If you regularly need to withdraw cash, you’ll also need a physical debit card linked to your account.
  • Card limits. Some virtual debit cards come with limits on the amount you can spend per day. Exceeding this limit may result in extra fees, so make sure you’re aware of any daily or monthly limits that apply.
  • Foreign transaction fee. If you plan on using your card to make purchases internationally, check the fine print for the card’s foreign transaction fee.

Bottom line

The best virtual debit cards offer a secure and convenient way to pay for online and in-store purchases. But card fees and limits apply, so it’s important to shop around before choosing a card. Compare virtual debit cards and their accounts to find one that’s right for you.

Frequently asked questions

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