Good credit cards with low fees and high rewards are hard to come by. In Canada, I find that the fees for most credit cards rack up really quickly, even if there is a rewards program in place to offset some of this cost.
After doing some research, I found that the Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card is a really good combination of low fees and unlimited money-back rewards.
Today, we’ll go through its features and benefits, and decide whether it’s the best $0 annual fee card in Canada. Hint: it really might be!
No Fee Cash Back Credit Card
A $0 annual fee credit card with 2% cash-back on up to three spending categories and 0.5% cashback on everything else. Available to the age of majority Canadians with permanent residency and at least a $12,000 gross annual income.
- No annual fee
- Personalized cash-back categories
- Unlimited rewards (no annual cap)
- Ability to change categories or redemption destinations
- Higher cash-back % available with other cards
- Provided by a digital-only bank, no in-person branches available if needed
What is the Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card?
As you may already know, Tangerine is Canada’s premier digital bank, offering a variety of no-fee bank accounts, mortgages, credit cards, and more. I’ve reviewed the company on Wealth Awesome before, and I’m a big fan of them. You can find that review here.
Their Money-Back Credit Card is one out of two credit cards that they offer. Its key feature is its monthly, unlimited and automatic money-back rewards, set at 2% on up to three purchase categories of your choice (whether that is grocery, transportation, hotels, gas, etc.).
In addition to 2% cash-back on these categories, you get 0.50% money-back rewards on everything else, and your total cash-back sum is deposited monthly into your Tangerine savings account or your Tangerine credit card account as credit.
If you choose your reward categories wisely, you can reap great benefits from this feature.
Rewards such as cash-back are indeed offered by other cards out there, but because this card also has no annual fees, it really comes with no pressure to spend more to offset the annual cost. It is also a MasterCard and has fair eligibility requirements. We will grow through all of these in the next section.
In case you are interested, Tangerine also has a second credit card option, the “World Mastercard.” This card is their higher-end product with even more features, such as travel rewards, insurance on rental cars and mobile devices, and fancy MasterCard airport lounge access.
It does naturally have stricter eligibility requirements than the Money-Back Card, requiring a higher gross income or Tangerine savings/investment totals of more than $250,000.
Features and Benefits of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is really quite innovative in its features and benefits. Let’s go through them, along with their fee schedule, to decide whether it’s the right product for you.
As mentioned, the money-back feature is the main selling point for this card. It allows you to earn 2% on your everyday purchases in either two or three cash-back categories:
- You are allowed to choose two of their “2% Money-Back Categories” if you’re redeeming your cash-back into your Tangerine credit card account as a credit
- Or three “2% Cash-Back Categories” if you are redeeming your cash-back into your Tangerine Savings Account (which you could then use to pay your credit card bill if you like)
The available personalized categories are:
- Recurring Bill Payments
- Drug Store
- Home Improvement
- Public Transportation and Parking
On everything not falling into your chosen 2% money-back categories, you will receive 0.5% cashback to your chosen redemption destination. And note, you will only receive money-back rewards if your account is in good standing.
After choosing your 2% money-back categories during account opening, you can change your categories multiple times, but the change will only take effect immediately after your first change request.
After you make your first change request, there will be a 90 day hold period on your categories, and any subsequent change requests will go into effect on the first billing date following this 90 day hold period.
It is also possible to change the redemption destination for your money-back rewards one time per billing cycle. If you change where your funds are deposited, however, you may be required to alter your 2% money-back categories.
For example, if you switch from a deposit destination of Tangerine savings account to a Tangerine credit card account, you will be required to choose which of your three categories you would like to drop.
If you are doing a switch the other way around, you must choose a third category for which you will earn a 2% money-back as opposed to the standard 0.50%.
For simplicity purposes, I would recommend limiting frequent changes to your cash-back category and deposit destinations.
Another attractive characteristic of this card is that it has no annual fees, which can be hard to come by for a card with good rewards.
Beyond the low annual fee and money-back features, the terms, fees and interest of this card are pretty standard and comparable to other Canadian credit cards, which I will briefly go over now.
With the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, any outstanding balances that are unpaid after the grace period ends are subject to a 19.95% interest rate. Further, missing two monthly minimum payments will result in a higher interest rate applied to your account, at 24.95%.
If you plan to carry a balance over, I would recommend being careful so as to not miss two minimum payments, as 24.95% is quite high.
With this card, grace periods do not exist for cash advances, and the interest for these balances starts accumulating right away. You may be familiar with the fact that cash advances are the use of ATM cash withdrawal services with your credit card.
The Money-Back Credit Card charges $3.50 for these transactions within Canada and $5 outside of Canada, along with the immediate accretion of a 19.95% interest rate as mentioned earlier.
Other fees associated with this card include a $25 over-limit charge (which can only be charged once per billing cycle), a $25 dishonoured payment charge, a $25 rush card charge, a $5 charge for past statements reprints, and a 2.5% charge for any foreign exchange currency conversions.
The current eligibility requirements for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card are as follows:
- A gross annual income of $12,000 or more
- The age of majority in the province or territory in which you reside
- Permanent residency of Canada
- Being clear of bankruptcies over the past seven years
You must also consent to a credit score check by Tangerine, and provide any additional details that the bank may ask in order to verify your identity and prove that you meet the eligibility requirements. These may include things such as ID cards, income slips and residency documents.
In order to get approved for Tangerine’s Money-Back credit card, you must consent to a credit check. Tangerine uses TransUnion, a consumer credit reporting agency, to check their applicant’s credit scores.
Subsequently, they make decisions about whether to approve the application and, if they do, how high to set the credit limit.
Do note that applying for a new credit card (or closing existing ones) may have a small effect on your credit score. However, unless you are switching up your credit cards multiple times a year, the effect will be negligible.
To read up on major factors that impact your credit score in Canada, head here.
A “good” credit score of 660 or higher is needed in order to be eligible for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, along with a gross annual income of $12,000 or more.
This number is an approximation, although it is pretty standard across the board with most credit card issuers. Some exceptions may be made by banks based on your standing relationship with them.
Do note that the five major factors that make up your credit score are on-time payments, capacity used, types of credit used, past credit applications, and length of credit history. To read up more on credit, head here.
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has really great features, but it is not the only cash-back credit card in Canada. Let’s compare some of the other popular cash-back cards to see how it fares.
Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card vs Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Like Tangerine, Simplii Financial is a digital bank. They offer a Cash Back Visa Card that is comparable to the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card in terms of its key features. It has no annual fee and up to 4% on certain purchases, which is great.
The said 4% cash-back that is offered by Simplii Financial’s Cash Back Card, however, only applies to eligible restaurant, bar and coffee shop purchases up to $5,000 per annum.
You do not have the opportunity to personalize your categories as you do with Tangerine’s card nor the option to get the high cash-back offer on multiple categories.
With Simplii, you also get 1.5% on eligible gas, groceries, drugstore purchases and pre-authorized payments (up to $15,000 per annum) and 0.5% on everything else.
You can go through your monthly expenses and figure out what takes up the most of your money per month. If you’re big on eating out or going out to bars or coffee shops, this card may be the better option for you.
If your expenses are spread out across many categories, however, Tangerine might prove to give you more cash-back per month as you have the opportunity to personalize and spread out your earnings.
Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card vs Tangerine Money Back Credit Card
Scotiabank’s Momentum Card has a similar cash-back structure to Simplii Financial’s. You rack up 4% for groceries and recurring payments, 2% for gas and daily transit and 1% on everything else.
All of this is great… but only for the first year. Starting on the second year, the card starts charging a $120 annual fee. Depending on how much you spend per month, you may not be able to offset or benefit from your cash-back services after the first year.
It is also important to note that Scotiabank is not a digital bank, and has physical branches all over the country.
In cases where you prefer to speak with someone in person about your credit card or make cash payments towards your balance, Simplii Financial or Tangerine will not be able to offer what Scotiabank can as they are both digital-only banks.
To apply for Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card, you must first register for an account with Tangerine on their website. To do this, you will need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) (for tax reporting purposes), employment information, and Canadian address.
Their website states that signing up is much easier on their app, which allows you to scan your IDs, take a selfie to verify your identity, and skip some of the tedious steps associated with desktop signup.
After you set up your account, you can fill out a specific application for the Money-Back Credit Card and await Tangerine to check your eligibility and credit score. Once you get approved, Tangerine will mail your card in the mail, and you are good to go and start accruing your cash-back!
There aren’t many cards out there that give a lot of benefits with no annual fees. As a digital-only bank, however, Tangerine continues to provide low-fee products that are innovative and attractive for the digitally inclined.
In the past, I’ve gone over their mortgages and no-fee banking accounts. Like everything else, I’m a fan of their credit card. Its option to personalize your 2% cash-back categories is unlike any other card out there, and it comes with the flexibility of changing these categories if you ever find that your spending shifts.
You do also get at least 0.5% cashback on all purchases, which is great considering their lack of annual fees.
All in all, I would recommend Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card to you if you are on the market for a new one. If you would like to continue on your research, I have much more on my website about various credit cards in Canada, which you can find here.