Simplii Vs. Tangerine 2023: Which Digital Bank Is Better?

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, nearly eight out of ten Canadians (78%) use digital methods to conduct their banking.

This is great news for digital banks in Canada. With a shift toward digital, these banks have great potential to scale their operations and try to rise on top of the competition.

Two of the major players in this field are Tangerine and Simplii Financial.

Both backed by big-five banks, they not only have a vast amount of resources behind them but also knowledge on how to run a successful banking business.

In today’s post, we will be comparing Simplii vs. Tangerine in the following categories.

  1. Bank Accounts (Chequing and Saving)
  2. Credit Cards
  3. Loan and Investment Products
  4. Customer Experience

We’ll conclude with the ultimate winner and my recommendations for which one I think will be best for you based on your personal banking needs.

Let’s get started!

A Brief Introduction to Simplii Financial

simplii financial logo

Simplii Financial is the digital subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, also known as CIBC. As the name suggests, the main goal of this bank is to keep everyday finances simple for the everyday Canadian.

Simplii Financial only offers personal banking (i.e., no business or commercial banking.) However, their roster of products is wide, and customers are likely to have all, or most of their financial needs met through this bank as long as they are comfortable with digital banking.

Simplii has been in service since late 2017. The bank has been recognized in the Ipsos Financial Service Excellence Awards and the “World’s Best Banks” list by Forbes.

A Brief Introduction to Tangerine

Tangerine logo

Tangerine is the digital subsidiary of the Bank of Nova Scotia, also known as Scotiabank.

Founded in 1977, Tangerine is a pioneer in Canadian digital banking.

The bank offers personal banking services as well as savings accounts for businesses. They are equipped with a wide range of products, including loans, investments, mortgages and registered accounts (TFSA, RRSP, etc.)

Tangerine is also the owner of Tangerine Investment Funds Limited. The bank has won several awards in the past, including “Highest Customer Satisfaction” in a 2021 JD Power study and recognition in The Ipsos Financial Service Excellence Awards.

Head-to-Head Comparison: Simplii vs. Tangerine

Let’s compare these two leaders in Canadian digital banking to see who fares on top.

Both backed by a “big five” bank, the competition should be awfully close.

1. Bank Accounts (Chequing and Savings): Simplii vs. Tangerine

1. Bank Accounts (Chequing and Savings): Simplii vs. Tangerine

Let’s start by comparing the chequing and savings accounts offered by Simplii and Tangerine.

Bank Accounts: Simplii Financial

To keep things simple, Simplii offers three bank accounts that are likely to satisfy most Canadians’ everyday banking needs.

These include:

  • A no-fee chequing account,
  • A high-interest savings account,
  • And a USD savings account.

They also offer a student package for those who are eligible.

The chequing account is all-inclusive with no monthly fees and zero minimum balance. You also have free and unlimited daily transactions (including e-Transfers) as well as free access to CIBC ATMs.

Both Simplii’s CAD and USD savings are free and are equipped with the same interest rate as Tangerine. The CAD savings accounts are also eligible to be registered (TFSA or RRSP.)

Bank Accounts: Tangerine

Tangerine offers the following bank accounts.

  • A no-fee, unlimited transaction chequing account
  • Several savings accounts, including high-interest, USD and registered options
  • Several business savings accounts, including USD savings

Tangerine’s savings account interest rates are the same as Simplii Financial’s.

Bank Accounts: Winner

The personal accounts offered by both of these banks are nearly identical. This is no surprise as Simplii and Tangerine are direct competitors.

From a personal banking standpoint, Simplii and Tangerine tie.

However, Simplii does not yet offer any business account options. If you are on the market for a business savings account, including USD savings, I recommend Tangerine.

Check out the Tangerine Savings account here.

2. Credit Cards: Simplii vs. Tangerine

2. Credit Cards: Simplii vs. Tangerine

Simplii offers one credit card, whereas Tangerine offers two. Let’s compare.

Credit cards: Simplii Financial

Simplii’s sole credit card is called the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card. Here are its features.

  • $0 annual fee
  • 4% cashback on eligible eating-out purchases (bar, restaurant, and cafe)
  • 1.5% cashback on eligible “everyday” purchases (gas, grocery, drugstore, and pre-authorized debits)
  • 0.5% cashback on all other purchases
  • Low introductory interest rate (standard 19% afterwards)
  • Three additional cardholders
  • Option to transfer money overseas with $0 cash advance fees
  • Purchase security and insurance

This card is great, especially since it has no fees and great cashback rewards.

A credit check is required for eligibility as well as a $15,000 annual household income.

Credit Cards: Tangerine

Let’s cover the two Tangerine credit cards available. There are two tiers; one basic and one premium. Both cards have $0 annual fees.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • $0 annual fee
  • 2% cashback on two spending categories
  • 0.5% cashback on all other purchases
  • 19.95% interest
  • Purchase assurance
  • No limits to your earning

You must have a minimum annual income of $12,000 to qualify for this card. Check out this post for a review.

Tangerine World Mastercard

  • $0 annual fee
  • 2% cashback on two spending categories
  • 0.5% on all other purchases (same as the other card)
  • Mastercard travel rewards
  • LoungeKey Mastercard airport experiences
  • Free access to Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard hotspots around the world
  • Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Mobile Device Insurance
  • 19.95% interest

​​You must have one of the following to be eligible for this card:

  • An annual income of $60,000,
  • A household income of $100,000
  • Or $250,000 in your Tangerine savings/GIC accounts

Credit Cards: Winner

If you meet Tangerine’s World Mastercard eligibility, I would recommend it to you. With no annual fee and vast Mastercard perks, it might be one of the best no-fee credit cards in Canada to date. You can apply for a no-fee card with Tangerine here.

Nevertheless, this card’s eligibility criteria are significantly higher than any other no-fee credit card in Canada. When it comes to the basic credit cards, Simplii Financial comes out on top, simply because it offers more cashback and better signup perks such as a low introductory rate.

3. Loan and Investment Products: Simplii vs. Tangerine

3. Loan and Investment Products: Simplii vs. Tangerine

Many digital banks only offer bank accounts and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs).

As they are backed by some serious financial power, Tangerine and Simplii Financial are different.

These digital banks offer a full-fledged line of banking products, including loans, mortgages and investments.

Let’s dive into them now to see who does it better.

Loan and Investment Products: Simplii Financial

Simplii offers mortgages, loan products and investment options.

In addition to their fixed and variable rate mortgages, here are their loan options.

  • A secured line of credit (HELOC): low rate borrowing with your house as collateral
  • A personal line of credit: flexible borrowing with a higher interest rate than the secured line
  • A personal loan

Simplii’s investment options, on the other hand, include registered or non-registered mutual funds and GICs/term deposits.

Simplii’s GIC and borrowing rates are incredibly similar to those of Tangerine.

Loan and Investment Products: Tangerine

In addition to mortgages, Tangerine offers HELOCs and lines of credit. Personal loans are not available through Tangerine.

Tangerine also offers GICs as well as mutual funds that are managed by Tangerine’s Investment Management company. Both registered and non-registered products are available.

Loan and Investment Products: Winner

The investment and borrowing options at these two banks are incredibly similar, except Simplii offers personal loans, whereas Tangerine does not.

A borrowing option separate from a line of credit is not always necessary. However, they can be incredibly useful for big purchases such as a car or school tuition.

As such, Simplii Financial is the winner in this category for having more borrowing vehicles in place compared to Tangerine.

4. Customer Experience: Simplii vs. Tangerine

4. Customer Experience: Simplii vs. Tangerine

With so many similarities between these two banks, things may just boil down to personal preference and customer experience.

Let’s see where you can get a better service and which bank offers a better customer experience.

Customer Experience: Simplii Financial

Here are some things to consider when it comes to the user experience of Simplii.

  • International money transfers: Yes
  • Foreign cash orders: Yes (home delivery or post office pickup)
  • Send or receive wire transfers: Receive only
  • Apple and Google pay: Yes
  • Mobile banking: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Digital gift cards: Yes
  • Balance alerts: Yes
  • In-app money management tools: No
  • Access to CIBC ATMs: Yes
  • 24-hour customer support team: Yes
  • Online chat function: Yes (not 24 hours)
  • Seniors’ phone line: No
  • CDIC Deposit Insurance: Yes

Customer Experience: Tangerine

Here are some of Tangerine’s customer experience features.

  • International money transfers: No
  • Foreign cash orders: No
  • Send or receive wire transfers: No
  • Apple and Google pay: Yes
  • Mobile banking: Yes
  • Mobile check deposit: Yes
  • Digital gift cards: No
  • Balance alerts: No
  • In-app money management tools: Yes
  • Access to Scotiabank ATMs: Yes
  • 24-hour customer support team: Yes
  • Online chat function: Chatbot available
  • Seniors’ phone line: Yes
  • CDIC Deposit Insurance: Yes

Customer Experience: Winner

The winner of the customer experience category is Simplii Financial.

Simplii has more features in place to ensure that you can get all or most of your banking done in one place, despite being a digital bank.

For instance, sending or receiving wire transfers is not an option with Tangerine. With Simplii, on the other hand, you can send money through their international transfer service and receive wires to your account with ease.

The Final Verdict

Simplii Vs. Tangerine

Simplii Financial is the final winner of this head-to-head comparison.

With more product offerings in place and a goal to make banking simple for its users, it is a great option for anyone looking to go digital.

However, do remember that these two banks are major competitors and have incredibly similar services. You can have a good experience at both of them, or Tangerine might fit your needs better based on what you’re looking for.

The information below might help you decide.

Go with Simplii Financial if you: 

  • Have CIBC ATMs close to where you live/work/study
  • Want the option to send money abroad and receive wire transfers
  • Need good investment and loan options
  • Are looking for a great basic credit card with fantastic cashback options

Go with Tangerine Bank if you:

  • Have Scotiabank ATMs close to you
  • Are interested in digital business savings accounts
  • Meet Tangerine’s World Mastercard criteria and want a fantastic free credit card with amazing perks

Hope this was helpful to you. Check out this in-depth review on Simplii Financial if you are interested in learning more.

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Selin is a seasoned personal finance and sustainable banking expert with several years of experience working in Canadian credit unions, both in the branch networks as well as the head office. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, she's also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers youth community and is either working with kids or travelling when she is away from her computer.

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