Alterna Debit Card

Debit Card Features 

  • Pay for purchases at point-of-sale (POS) terminals instead of using cash
  • Track your spending through your statements
  • Securly pay for purchases with chip technology and Interac® Debit contactless payments
  • Members have access to the Exchange Network, Canada’s largest surcharge-free ATM network with over 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs in North America with THE EXCHANGE Network in Canada and the Allpoint Network in the US. Find an ATM near you.  
  • Change your debit card PIN at any Alterna or ACCULINK® ATM, or nationwide at the EXCHANGE® Network ATMs**
  •  Set daily spending limits on purchases, withdrawals and Interac® Debit contactless payments

Interac® Debit contactless payments

Interac® Debit contactless payments - a contactless payment feature of your Alterna Debit Card. Pay for smaller purchases faster and easier.

How to use Interac® Debit contactless payments

Step 1

Look for the Interac® Debit contactless payments logo on the Payment terminal

Step 2

Hold your Alterna Debit Card to the payment terminal

Step 3

You will know your transaction has been completed when you see the "Approved" message

Open Transit Payment

Beginning in the spring/summer of 2021 Cities across Canada plan to modernize transit payments as part of efforts to improve mobility services broadly and make them more convenient and accessible for riders. Transit Open Payments or open payment fare systems provide the ability for riders to tap a payment card issued by their financial institution or a mobile wallet provisioned with FI-issued payment credentials at fare readers without the need to use a transit fare card or transit app in a mobile wallet. Interac is enabling the ability for a debit card or mobile wallet supported by Interac® Debit to be used for this purpose. To learn more about this exciting feature please click here.

Lost or stolen card? 

No worries - call us right away at 1.888.807.4101.

*Always be vigilant about protecting your PIN to prevent unauthorized activity 

**Available to personal and individual business members (sole proprietors) only

Interac is a registered trade-mark and the Interac logo is a trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under license.

 To learn more, visit

Interac® Debit Contactless Payments FAQs

Which account is debited when I use Interac® Debit Contactless Payments? Expand/Collapse

You should choose to designate a specific chequing sub account to be your default account for completing Interac® Debit Contactless transactions. This is especially recommended for transactions posted outside of Canada.

If no default account is selected for Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, the account that is debited for Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, transactions will be your first available chequing account. If you do not have a chequing account, then the next available savings account will be debited.

If you wish to change your default account, you can call the Contact Centre or visit your branch.

How do I get an Interac® Debit Contactless Payments Debit Card? Expand/Collapse

Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, enabled Alterna Debit Cards are available at any of our branch locations. You’ll need to exchange your current Alterna Debit Card for a new Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, enabled Alterna Debit Card if you’d like to use this service.

Are there spending limits for this feature? Expand/Collapse

Yes. For your protection there is a transaction limit of up to $250 per purchase made using Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, If your purchase is above this limit, you will be prompted to insert your Alterna Debit Card and enter your PIN.

As an added layer of protection, there is also a cumulative spend limit of $400 for Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, transactions. This is the sum of all contactless transactions made with your card since the last time you entered your PIN. When this limit is reached, you will be asked to insert your Alterna Debit Card and enter your PIN. This will reset your limit so you can continue to use Interac® Debit Contactless Payments.

I already have an Alterna Debit card with Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, will my tap limit automatically change from $100 to $250? Expand/Collapse

No. In order to make the change you need to complete 3 consecutive Point of Sale (POS) contact transactions. The contact (pinned) transactions can be completed at different terminals but must be a contact transaction (requiring PIN entry). If a contactless transaction is performed, you will not be prompted to enter your card which is why we are advising you to complete the 3 consecutive POS contact transactions.

Once the 3 consecutive POS transactions have been completed, the contactless limits on the cards will be updated.

I just received my Alterna Debit card, is my tap limit set at $250? Expand/Collapse

No, new debit cards issued after December 2nd, 2020 will still need to follow the steps outlined above to increase the tap limit to $250.

Are there any additional account fees for using Interac® Debit Contactless Payments? Expand/Collapse

Good news! There are no additional fees for using this convenient service.

Will I need to use a PIN? Expand/Collapse

The first time that you pay for a purchase with your Alterna Debit card using Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, you will be prompted to enter your PIN. This will start the start the counter at $0 for the $200 limit.

If the amount of your purchase exceeds the Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, transaction limit for that particular merchant, then you’ll be prompted by the payment terminal to insert your card and enter your PIN. You’ll also be asked to insert your card and enter your PIN once your cumulative spend limit of $200 is reached.

Will I get a receipt for Interac® Debit Contactless Payments transactions? Expand/Collapse

Yes, merchants will provide receipts for Interac® Debit Contactless Payments transactions like they do for regular Interac Debit transactions.

Is it secure? Expand/Collapse

Yes! Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, uses secure chip processing to protect against skimming, counterfeiting and electronic pick-pocketing. Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, also uses RF (Radio Frequency) enabled smartcard technology, which is more secure than RFID (typically used for inventory management). When you make a payment, the only data transmitted consists of payment transaction codes, not confidential details about your bank account. Transactions occur in real time, so no information can be captured by criminals to conduct fraudulent transactions or commit identity theft.

These features, along with the Interac® Debit Contactless Payments, tap limits and the need to enter your PIN when the limits are reached make this a very secure solution. Additionally, transactions are covered by Interac Zero Liability, which protects you against unauthorized activity on your accounts.

Do I have to use the Interac® Debit Contactless Payments feature on my Debit Card? Expand/Collapse

The great thing is you’ll have your choice! Interac® Debit Contactless Payments is a safe and convenient optional feature that can be enabled or disabled any time. You can choose to use this feature, or you can insert/swipe your card, and enter your PIN as you did before.

Debit Card FAQs

Why did you send this “Access Card” - I already have a member card? Expand/Collapse

Alterna’s debit cards have been called “Alterna Access Card” for some years. We simply carried the name over from the last version that was issued.

What is this “Access Card” for? Expand/Collapse

This new Access Card is your new debit card for accessing your accounts through ATMs or using for Interac Debit purchases. It replaces any old Alterna member or debit cards you may have, and should be activated immediately (your old Alterna member or debit cards will no longer work after December 31, 2012).

Why do I have to change my debit card or activate the new one? Expand/Collapse

There are a couple of reasons why you need to start using your new Access card with chip as soon as you get it. One, chip technology is more secure against skimming and duplication than the outdated magnetic stripe cards. That said, it’s still up to you to be vigilant about protecting your PIN every time and everywhere you use your debit card, and don’t share your PIN with anyone. Two, it’s mandated by the Interac Association that Canadian financial institutions and ABMs will no longer accept magnetic stripe cards for transactions after December 31, 2012. Magnetic stripe cards will no longer be accepted at retail point-of-sale (POS) terminals after December 31, 2015.

Why do I have to use this card? I don’t want to destroy my Canadian Flag card – it’s unique and I like it. Expand/Collapse

Unfortunately, any previous Alterna debit cards issued to you will no longer work after December 31, 2012, so it’s important that you activate your new card immediately.

Where is my card number on the letter? Expand/Collapse

Simply lift or remove the card from the letter you received – the number is printed beneath it. You’ll then be able to compare it against what’s embossed on the card.

Is my card activated? Expand/Collapse

In most cases, your PIN has been transferred over to your new debit chip card. If the letter accompanying your card indicates that your PIN was sent separately, then you’ll receive your PIN in the mail. When you receive your PIN, simply call us to activate your new card.

Where is my chip card? Expand/Collapse

Debit chip cards are being sent over a period of several weeks. If you haven’t received your debit chip card by October 26, please contact us or visit your local branch.

I only got my card but where is my PIN? Expand/Collapse

In most cases, your PIN has been transferred over to your new debit chip card, so you’ll be able to use the PIN you did previously. If the letter accompanying your card indicates that your PIN was sent separately, then you’ll receive your PIN in the mail. When you receive your PIN, simply call us to activate your new card.

Why didn’t you put my name on my card? Expand/Collapse

For security purposes, most financial institutions no longer print names on debit cards.

Will my new card have an expiry date? Expand/Collapse

Yes – the new debit chip cards are valid for 3-7 years.

What’s so different about a debit card with chip vs. one that’s magnetic stripe? Expand/Collapse

Debit cards with chip technology have an extra level of encryption security built in, making them more difficult to skim or duplicate. Debit chip cards work together with chip-enabled ATMs and point-of-sale terminals to validate both the card and the cardholder, providing you with increased protection against fraud. Always remember to be vigilant about protecting your PIN each and every time you use your card.

Why is the microchip on my Alterna card smaller than the chip on some of my other cards? Expand/Collapse

As microchip technology improves, the chips get smaller. Your new Alterna card with chip has state-of-the-art technology packed into a smaller microchip.

Why does my debit chip card still have a magnetic stripe on it? Expand/Collapse

Chip cards will continue to have a magnetic stripe to facilitate the chip transition period, plus the magnetic stripe will allow you to conduct business in other countries that don’t currently use chip technology.

What will change about the way I use my debit card once I have one with a chip? Expand/Collapse

Absolutely nothing, other than perhaps inserting your card at a POS terminal rather than swiping it. Everything else about conducting transactions remains the same.

Will I still need a PIN with my chip card? Expand/Collapse

Yes, the PIN remains an important security element of any transaction you conduct.

What type of information will be stored on my new chip card? Is ‘Big Brother’ keeping tabs? Expand/Collapse

The information stored on your new chip card is the same information that’s currently stored in the magnetic stripe in the card you use now. The only information that merchants are allowed to store is the basic transaction data, such as the time, date, purchase amount and debit card number. This basic information is necessary in the event that a cardholder requests a trace.

The only information stored from the debit card itself is the debit card number, which alone is not sufficient enough to create a counterfeit card.

Will my spouse or the joint party on my account receive a new chip card? Expand/Collapse

If the spouse/joint party has a card that was set up under their own member/client number to access your account, they will receive a new card in the mail under their name. If the card was set up under your member/client account number, then the card will be mailed to you and not your spouse/joint party. The card number on the face of the card will match the number that they are presently using.

I have a joint account, and haven’t received my debit chip card, but my spouse received 2 cards under their name. Why? Expand/Collapse

In some cases, joint accounts were setup as a main account, with the secondary account holder listed as a sub-account. Therefore, only the main account holder would receive the new cards. To determine which card is yours, simply match the old card number to the new card number. You’ll be able to use the same PIN for your new card.

I have only one debit card with me, but I received 2 debit chip cards - why? Expand/Collapse

In some cases, our banking system has two cards assigned to you because the old card was never cancelled when a new card was issued at some point in the past.

The issue date on the card is the same, but why do we have two different expiry dates on our cards? Shouldn’t they be the same? Expand/Collapse

We’ve purposely staggered the expiry dates on the new debit chip cards, which will help us avoid large volumes in our Contact Centre when cards expire.

I tried using my new card to make a point-of-sale purchase, but my card wasn’t accepted or I got an error message – now my card won’t work. Why? Expand/Collapse

Chances are, you mistakenly entered the wrong PIN. Because of the anti-fraud technology built into chip cards, if an incorrect PIN is entered when you’re trying to activate or use your card for the first time, a hold is automatically placed on the card. If you re-enter the PIN correctly at an Alterna ATM (or one in THE EXCHANGE® Network), then deposit or withdraw funds, the hold will be removed. If you don’t remember your PIN or continue to have problems, please visit your branch to verify your identity and reset your PIN.

I tried activating my card at a Manulife ATM, but it doesn't work. What now? Expand/Collapse

We’ve been notified that our chip cards won’t activate at Manulife ATMs, however, once the card has been activated/used at other ATMs or point-of-sale devices, they are accepted at the Manulife machines. Please activate your card by using it at any Alterna ATM, another ATM that's part of THE EXCHANGE® or Interac® networks, or use it at any point-of-sale terminal to make a purchase.

Why did I receive my card and correspondence in the wrong language? Expand/Collapse

When we ordered your new debit chip card, we used the language preference that was attached to your old magnetic stripe debit card (either English or French). If you’d like to change the language of your new debit chip card, we’ll replace the card you received with a new card in your preferred language (English or French), and you’ll receive the correct language for items in the future. Please contact us to request a replacement card.

I’ve seen in the news and on television shows that chip cards can be scanned by someone as I simply walk by them. Is this true, and how does my new chip card guard against it? Expand/Collapse

There have been numerous news articles and television features about this form of fraud, where a security expert is able to get people's card information simply by walking by them on the street with a handheld card reader. This type of technology, largely used in the U.S., is called RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, and is different from the microchip technology used on bank debit cards.

In Canada, RFID technology is used primarily by MasterCard and VISA, commonly known as PayPass and payWave, and is sometimes referred to as “contactless” payment.

The new Alterna Access Card with chip technology does NOT use RFID technology, and is not susceptible to this type of fraud.

The instructions in the letter I received aren’t very clear. Expand/Collapse

If you have any trouble understanding the instructions sent to you, please call us – a knowledgeable Contact Centre representative would be pleased to help.

Need more information? Please visit to read more about debit chip cards and chip technology.

Existing clients opened prior to July 11, 2017: ATM access card agreement (PDF)
New clients effective July 12, 2017: Debit Card Agreement (PDF)