Quick overview

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.

Who is the Tangerine Money-Back credit card for?

The Tangerine Money-Back credit card is consistently ranked as one of the best cash back credit cards, especially when there is no annual fee. If you're someone who doesn't want to pay for a credit card, but likes cash back on everyday spending, this card is a great fit. 

It also has a sweet promotional balance transfer interest rate of 1.95% for the for the first 6 months, so if you're hurting with a bit of credit card debt, there's no better time to switch to this Tangerine credit card. 

The income requirement on this card is only $15,000, so if you're a student, recent grad, or a senior on a fixed-income, there's good reason to apply for it. 

Pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • 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)*

Cons

Cons

  • 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

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card welcome offer

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card currently has a few different welcome offers for new cardholders:

Apply for a Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card  and if you’re approved, you’ll earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases made within your first two months.

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 with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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. Here are the Tangerine credit card categories to choose from:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Restaurants
  • Recurring Bills
  • Drug Stores
  • Hotels
  • Furniture
  • Home Improvement
  • Entertainment
  • 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.

Unlock a third cash back category

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 from Tangerine

There are two ways to redeem the cash back earned with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card:

  1. 1.

    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%.

  2. 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.

Tangerine Money-Back credit card benefits

  • 2% cash back on 2 everyday spending categories (unlock a third when you open a savings account), plus 0.5% cash back on everything else. 
  • 1.95% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months. 
  • Up to 5 additional users at no extra charge

Tangerine Money-Back credit card insurance coverage

  • Purchase assurance: Covers you for any repairs of a replacement for the first 90 days. 
  • Extended warranty: Your manufacturer's warranty is automatically doubled (up to one additional year) with this benefit for most items purchased with your credit card.

For both insurances, coverage is $60,000 lifetime total. 

Other features and perks of this Tangerine cash back credit card

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 5 free cards for authorized users on your account.
  • Mastercard Zero Liability protects you against fraud.
  • Pause My Card: In case you've misplaced your card or someone has taken it, you can quickly pause it in the app. 
  • Orange Alerts: Customize your preferences to receive notifications about your spending, credit limits and more. 

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.

What people of the internet are saying about this card

There's a lot of talk about cash back categories. 

Yes, you can change categories. For example, you're doing a home renovation, you can switch your recurring bill category to the home reno category for the month. It's about the monthly cycle that's tied to your statement date. Within each statement date, you can swap for the upcoming month. (Thank you to Reddit user, niuzki)

Also speaking of categories, many Reddit users expressed frustration that Costco was not counted as a grocery category. Thank you to RedFlagDeals user, FrugalFrites, for putting together a full list of vendors for each category. Walmart Supercentre and its pharmacy both fall under the grocery category (not the case with all credit cards). ChefsPlate is a recurring bill, not a grocery, but Playstation Network is not a recurring bill. Check out the full list of categories and stores here

How does this Tangerine cash back credit card compare?

Tangerine vs. EQ Bank

EQ Bank has a prepaid Mastercard where you earn 0.5% cash back on all your purchases. To load funds onto the EQ Bank card, you'll need a EQ Bank personal account where you'll earn 2.5% interest on your total balance (in your account and on your card) and if you set up direct deposit, you can earn 4% on your balance (compared to Tangerine's 0.70% interest). 

Both banks are known for the no-fee accounts. The bonus with EQ Bank is it goes the extra mile with no foreign exchange fees and any fees you get charged at an ATM for withdrawing money, well, EQ Bank will reimburse you, so you can withdraw from any ATM you want. 

If you're looking for a credit card with cash back, Tangerine is the winner. If you're looking for a whole new banking experience, it's hard to beat EQ Bank. 

Read our EQ Bank review

EQ Bank Card

Apply now

3.0

Fair

about new welcome offers by email

cash back on purchases

0.5%

interest on your balance

2.5%

Purchase APR

0.00%

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

Tangerine vs KOHO Essential

KOHO Essential (formerly Easy) was $4 a month, but now it's free. KOHO is also a prepaid credit card where you can earn 1% cash back on groceries, eating and drinking, and transportation. You'll also get 5% extra cash back at selected merchants you can see in-app. Plus, you'll earn 5% interest on your balance. KOHO isn't a bank like EQ, so you can load the card from any bank you like. 

The main reason to get KOHO is to build your credit using their credit building program for $11 a month. So, if you can't get Tangerine because of the credit score requirements or income, KOHO is worth checking out. 

Koho Mastercard

Apply now

about new welcome offers by email

cash back on groceries and transportation

1%

interest earned on your account balance

3%

Purchase APR

0.00%

Cash Advance APR

0.00%

Annual Fee

$0

Recommended Credit Score

Poor

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

Pros

  • A no-fee account option

  • Earn up to 5% cash back on your purchases

  • Accepted worldwide, wherever Mastercard is accepted

  • Four account tiers, so there’s something for everyone

  • Earn interest on your account

  • RoundUps feature helps you save

  • Financial coaching is available

  • Features like Credit Building (to help you build your credit history) and Cover (to protect you from overdrawing your account)

  • Compatible with Apple Pay

  • Joint account option for families and couples

Cons

  • No physical branches or tellers

  • No RRSP, TFSA or RESP accounts

  • Customer service not on par with the big banks

  • Missing some banking features, like wire transfers, currency exchanges and multiple lines of business like financial planning, mortgages and insurance

Tangerine vs. Scotia Momentum Visa Card

Scotiabank owns Tangerine, so let's have a look at how these 2 cash back credit cards differ. 

Tangerine is no-fee, while Scotia will charge you $39 a year. Is it worth the fee? Well, Scotia forgo's the category restrictions and gives you 2% cash back on gas, groceries, drug store purchases and recurring bills. They'll also give you 1% cash back on all other purchases. Does the math work out? 

Let's assume you're spending $500 a month on groceries, $200 on gas, $100 at the pharmacy, and $50 on recurring bills. Let's throw in another $150 for various "other" purchases to get out 0.5% cash back from Tangerine and 1% cash back from Scotia. 

That'll give you up to $214 in cash back from Scotia and $186 from Tangerine. If I subtract the $39 annual fee from the $214 cash back. I end up with $175 from Scotia Momentum Visa. 

I'd get the Tangerine card. 

Apply for the Tangerine Money-Back credit card

Scotia Momentum® Visa* Card

about new welcome offers by email

cash back for every $1 you spend on all eligible gas stations, grocery store, drug store purchases and recurring bill payments.

2%

cash back on all other eligible purchases.

1%

savings off base rates at participating AVIS locations and at participating Budget locations in North America.

25%

days of purchase security on most items purchased with your card.

90

extra year on top of manufacturer's warranty.

1

Purchase APR

19.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%

Cash Advance APR

22.99%

Annual Fee

$39

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Tangerine Money-Back credit card Rates and 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

Tangerine Money-Back credit card Eligibility requirements

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 for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

You can apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card online in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works:

  1. 1.

    Visit the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card page and click the orange ‘Apply Now’ button on the right side of your computer screen.

  2. 2.

    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.

  3. 3.

    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.

  4. 4.

    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.

  5. 5.

    Review and submit your application.

It usually takes between 5-14 days for your credit card to arrive by mail if you are approved.

‡, ††, ✪, Terms and Conditions apply

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.

Read more: Tangerine Money-Back credit card vs. BMO CashBack Mastercard

*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.

Hannah Logan Freelance Contributor

Hannah Logan is a Canadian freelancer writer and blogger who specializes in personal finance and travel. You can follow her adventures on her travel blog EatSleepBreatheTravel.com or find her on Instagram @hannahlogan21.

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