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With its max 2% cash back rate and an unlimited, choose-your-own cash back policy, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has become one of the most popular no annual fee credit cards in Canada. But is the hype really justified? Read on as I break down the card’s pros, cons, benefits, and drawbacks in this Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card review.
- No annual fee
- Choose the spending categories where you want to earn the most cash back
- Unlimited cash back—no maximum spending limit for any purchase category
- Cash back is paid out monthly rather than annually
- Periodically includes a special welcome offer where you can get extra cash back
- 1.95% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months (1% transfer fee applies)*
- Regular cash back rates are still lower than what you can get from a card with an annual fee
- Limited extra perks or benefits beyond the cash back and balance transfer promotion
- Generally not a good fit for shopping at warehouse clubs or wholesale grocers like Costco or Walmart
- Tangerine does not have any physical bank branches
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card currently has a few different welcome offers for new cardholders:
Special 10% extra cash back rate on the first $1,000 spent with the card on everyday purchases (max. $100 cash back) in the first two months if you're approved, apply by July 5, 2023.*
The card also has a balance transfer promo, which is great for those who have outstanding debts they would like to consolidate and pay off at a low rate. If you do a balance transfer within the first 30 days of being a new Tangerine Money-Back cardholder, your interest rate on the transferred balance will be 1.95% for the first 6 months (it will go back to 19.95% after this promotional period). A 1% transfer fee applies.* The card is often included on our list of the best balance transfer cards in Canada.
How to earn cash back
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card’s marquee feature is its bespoke cash back policy. Usually the card issuer dictates a card’s earn rates to the cardholder; with the Tangerine card you pick two spending categories from the below 10, and in those two categories you’ll earn at the card’s highest 2% cash back rate.
- Recurring Bills
- Drug Stores
- Home Improvement
- Public Transit and Parking
This policy makes the Tangerine card the most customizable card on the market; you can tailor your cash back to wherever you spend the most dough. It also makes Tangerine a great fit for putting together lucrative credit card combinations, as you can cherry-pick cash back categories to fill in areas where your other credit card doesn’t earn cash back. The card comes with rudimentary budgeting/spend tracking features that will help you see if your spending habits are shifting over time, and chosen cash back categories can be switched every 90 days.
Cardholders who elect to deposit their rewards directly into a Tangerine Savings account will get to choose an extra category for the higher cash back rate, permitting up to 3 categories at 2% cash back. Any purchases outside your chosen 2-3 categories earn 0.5% cash back.
Note that there are some caveats to these accelerated cash back categories. Purchases at wholesale clubs or big-box merchants such as Costco or Walmart will be counted under the general 0.5% rate, not under the 2% ‘groceries’ category (so it’s not a great card for those who do a lot of shopping at these kinds of warehouse clubs). Similarly, dining within a retail store or hotel bar/restaurant may not be categorized as a ‘restaurant.’ In short the Tangerine card is like other credit cards, in that despite its customizability it still identifies a purchase based on a store’s Merchant Category Code (MCC); not based on the individual items you buy. Make sure to read the details for each category to better understand these exemptions.
Finally, one of the biggest perks about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is that there is no limit on the amount of cash back you can earn, in any category. Oftentimes, cash back cards will have a maximum spend on their highest (or all) cash back categories, but that’s not the case with the Tangerine Money Back card. You’ll earn money back on every dollar you spend, whether it’s $300 a year or $30,000 a year; on dental floss or a luxurious night at the Four Seasons in Whistler.
How to redeem your cash back
There are two ways to redeem the cash back earned with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card:
Have your cash back deposited into your Tangerine Savings account. This, as mentioned above, has the added bonus of allowing you to then choose a third category for earning 2%.
Have your cash back applied to your credit card balance. One of the features that I love about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is that your cash back is redeemed automatically every month; many credit cards allow you to redeem cash back only manually, and only once a year.
Other features & perks
As a no annual fee credit card with a low minimum annual income requirement ($12,000), the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card doesn’t really have any ‘wow’ features and benefits aside from its cash back. Usually extra benefits like insurance or airport lounge access are offered by cards with higher annual fees and income requirements. That said, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card does offer a few basic perks for cardholders, such as:
Extra Cards: You can get free cards for authorized users on your account.
Mastercard Zero Liability protects you against fraud.
Purchase Insurance covers theft, loss, and damage on the majority of new purchases for up to 90 days from the original purchase date.
Extended Warranty: The manufacturer’s original warranty will be extended up to one additional year.
Keep in mind that those who have a personal annual income of $60,000 or more (or household income of $100,000 or more) qualify for the Tangerine World Mastercard, which has a cash back structure similar to the Tangerine Money-Back Card but with a much wider array of added benefits.Click here to apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Rates & fees
As mentioned above, part of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card’s appeal is that it has no annual fee. Aside from that its other fees and interest rates are standard. After the 6-month promotional balance transfer period ends balance transfers earn 19.95% interest. Fees to be aware of include the following:
- Foreign currency conversion fee: 2.50% of transaction
- Cash advance fee within Canada: $3.50
- Cash advance fee outside of Canada: $5.00
- Dishonoured payment fee: $25.000
- Over-limit fee: $25.00
- Rush card fee: $25.00
- Past statement reprint: $5.00 per statement
One of the biggest draws of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is that it’s very accessible. In order to be eligible you must meet the following requirements:
- Have a gross annual income of at least $12,000
- Be the age of majority in your home province or territory
- Be a permanent resident of Canada
- Have no bankruptcies over the past 7 years
How to apply
You can apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card online in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works:
Visit the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card page and click the orange ‘Apply Now’ button on the right side of your computer screen.
A pop-up will appear. If you are already a Tangerine client, you can choose to log in. If you are not a client, click ‘No, sign me up’ to start the application process.
Once you are in you will be presented with a disclosure statement about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Read it over and click ‘accept’ to continue.
Complete the application form. You will be asked personal questions such as your name, email address, and birthdate. You will also be asked about your employment and some personal financial information. Note that you will need to know your social insurance number (SIN) to fill out this application, so make sure to have it on hand.
Review and submit your application.
It usually takes between 5-14 days for your credit card to arrive by mail if you are approved.Click here to apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
How does it compare?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find other cards with an unlimited, ‘choose your own cash back’ model similar to the Tangerine Money-Back Card. But a couple no annual fee cash back cards offer perks that might be equally or even more appealing, depending on your spending habits.
The MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® has an impressive welcome offer where you can earn 5%†† on gas and groceries for the first 6 months, up to $25 cash back earned in those categories each month/$150 cash back earned during the 6-month period. After the 6-month period ends the MBNA card matches the Tangerine card’s regular and enhanced cash back rates, 0.5%‡ and 2%‡ respectively. The catch is that the MBNA card only earns at the 2%‡ rate on gas and groceries, and the cash back you can earn at that 2% rate is limited to $500 spent in those combined categories per month ($25 in earned cash back). It’s a good deal if those are consistently your two biggest expenditures, and if you regularly spend less than $500 monthly on gas and groceries combined. But families can easily exceed $500 in monthly spending on gas and groceries, so they might be wise to go with a card that lets them earn unlimited cash back at an accelerated rate.
‡, ††, ✪, Terms and Conditions apply
MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.
Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.
The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.
If you don’t have two clear categories where you spend the most each month, it could be to your advantage to use a card that has a high cash back rate on every purchase you make, like the SimplyCash® Card from American Express. The inherent fault with the SimplyCash Card® is that although it offers a high cash back rate, as an Amex it won’t be accepted at the same number of stores as a Mastercard or Visa. Before deciding on the Amex card over the Tangerine card you should check to make sure you can use an Amex at your favorite merchants.
If you’re deliberating between these cards, let’s reiterate: Since the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card does not have an annual fee and its cash back categories are so flexible, you can always elect to pair it with another card in order to maximize the total cash back you can earn. For instance, you can use the Tangerine card to earn 2% back in 2-3 categories, like gas, restaurants, and/or recurring bills; when spending outside those categories you can then whip out the Amex, which will bump up your ‘base’ cash back rate from 0.5% to 1.25%. That’s some serious combined cash back without paying an annual fee.
Should you get the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card?
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is by far the most flexible among no annual fee credit cards, and the low minimum income requirement makes it a great option for young adults and those just starting out in their careers. I do like that you earn cash back on all purchases and get to choose the highest-earning categories to best suit your lifestyle, but the earn rates nonetheless can’t compete with the top cash back cards that charge annual fees in the $100+ range. If you make about a $60K or higher annual income, it’s probably worth investing in a credit card with an annual fee that offers higher cash back rewards (along with added perks and benefits). The rewards will outperform the annual fee and still allow you to come out ahead, provided you make the majority of your purchases on credit.
*Terms and Conditions apply
American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply.