BMO cashback mastercard vs. tangerine cashback mastercard

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card vs. BMO CashBack Mastercard

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A good cashback credit card offers low-maintenance gratification. Unlike with travel or loyalty reward cards, you don’t have to worry about figuring out how much a point is worth or go through a complicated redemption process. You just spend as you normally would, and voila: Your cash back appears as a statement credit or is deposited into your bank account either once a month or once a year.

Two of the most coveted cashback cards in Canada are the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card and BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*. Neither card has an annual fee, and they offer appealing but distinct cashback benefits. So how should you choose between them? We compare the two cards head to head to make the choice easier.

At a glance

Welcome Bonus
If you're approved, you’ll earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases made within your first 2 months.*
Get up to 5% cash back in your first 3 months, plus a $50 cash back bonus (when you spend $6,000) in your first year – that’s up to $175 cash back in your first year!*
Regular CashBack Rates
Up to 3 categories at 2% cash back, all other eligible spending earns 0.5% cash back
3% cash back on grocery purchases; 1% on recurring bills; 0.5% on all other eligible spending*
Balance Transfer Promotion
1.95% balance transfer interest rate for first 6 months (1% transfer fee applies)*
0.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred*
Value-Added Features
Purchase protection and extended warranty
Purchase protection and extended warranty; Up to 20% discount on participating car rentals*; discount on some Cirque du Soleil and Las Vegas shows*
Annual Fee
$0
$0
Minimum Income Required
$12,000
$15,000
Recommended Credit Score
Fair to Good
Fair to Good

†Based on a comparison of the non-promotional grocery rewards earn rate on cash back credit cards with no annual fee as of January 4, 2023. 

Welcome bonuses

New BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* cardholders get 5% cash back on all spending they charge to the card in the first 3 months. The 5% rate is capped at a max of $125 in earnable cash back (i.e. up to a maximum spend of $2,500) at which point the earn rate drops to the regular 0.5% on all eligible spending*. You’ll also get an introductory interest rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months*; after 9 months, the interest rate goes up to 22.99%*. There is a relatively low 2%* fee charged to the balance amount transferred, which is competitive with the best balance transfer cards in Canada.

Like the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card also currently offers several different promotions. The cash back promo works as follows: 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.*

All balance transfers made within 30 days of opening the account get 1.95% interest for 6 months (1% transfer fee applies*, waived in Quebec). After 6 months the balance transfer interest rate rises to 19.95%.

Winner: BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*. The two cards’ cash back promos offer comparable value; but the BMO card has the edge in the balance transfer promo. Most people will benefit from the longer low-interest balance transfer promotion length, and you can use it anytime within your first 9 statement credits. In contrast, new Tangerine cardholders must make their balance transfers during the first 30 days to qualify for the promotional interest rate.

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Regular and accelerated cashback rates

After its 3-month bonus period ends, the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* offers solid earn rates on everyday expenses, with a 3% cash back rate on groceries and 1% rate on recurring bills*. One disadvantage of the BMO card is that its 3% and 1% earn rates apply only to the first $500 spent per month in each of those categories. Singles won’t miss out on much with a $500 spending cap, but it might be very limiting for families, who can easily spend more than $500 per month on groceries. All other purchases outside those two categories earn 0.5%, with no cap or category limitations.

The BMO card also offers lots of choice as to how you use your cash back: You can have it deposited into a BMO chequing, savings, or Investorline account; or you can put it toward your BMO credit card statement. Cash back can be redeemed as a statement credit annually or whenever you reach a specific sum of your choice (minimum $50).

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has one of the most customizable cashback systems of any credit card in Canada. The cardholder gets to choose two spending categories (from a selection of 10, including groceries, restaurants and gas) from which they’ll receive 2% cash back with no earning cap. If you agree to have your cash back automatically deposited into your Tangerine Savings Account you can then pick a third 2% category. All other spending earns 0.5% cash back, likewise with no earning limits. If you don’t have the money deposited into a Tangerine account, it will be applied as a monthly statement credit.

Accelerated earning categories with the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card can be changed every 3 months, which can make a significant difference in the amount you earn as long as you pay attention to your spending habits. When I first bought a home, I changed two of my categories from gas and recurring payments to furniture and home improvement, upping my earn rates to better align with my new lifestyle. Furthermore, because you can choose your own categories, you could maximize your cash back opportunities by using the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card to supplement earnings from another cash back card. For example, if you have the Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* card, which has a 4% earn rate for grocery store purchases, recurring bill payments and subscription purchases, and 2% for gas and daily transit, you could choose alternate categories for your Tangerine card to ensure you are earning at least 2% cash back on the majority of your spending.

Below is an example comparison of how much can be earned after spending $5,000 on each card in a 3-month period, without factoring in welcome bonuses.

Gas
$500 * 2% accelerated cash back = $10
$500 * 0.5% cash back = $2.5
Groceries
$1500 * 2% accelerated cash back = $30
$1500 * 3% welcome bonus cash back = $45
Recurring Bills
$800 * 2% accelerated cash back = $16
$800 * 1% regular cash back = $8
Other 
$2200 * 0.5% regular cash back = $11
$2200 * 0.5% regular cash back = $11
Total Value
$67
$66.50

*Rates calculated above are based on 3 maximum accelerated cashback categories for the Tangerine cardholder. 

Winner: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. The BMO card’s 3% rate on groceries* stands out, but its $500 monthly spending cap is a bit of a letdown. The Tangerine card’s flexibility and unlimited cash back, even at its enhanced rates, will be more appealing for most people.

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Value-added features

The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* comes with some attractive extras:

  • 25% discount on participating National and Alamo car rentals*
  • 15% off Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada and 20% off eligible Las Vegas shows*
  • Purchase protection: items charged to your card are automatically protected for 90 days from theft or damage*
  • Extended warranty: A product’s original warranty is doubled for up to a year for items charged to the card*

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card’s benefits are somewhat lackluster by comparison:

  • Purchase protection against theft or damage for 90 days
  • Extended warranty: As long as you charge an item to your card, its warranty will be automatically doubled up to a year

Winner: BMO CashBack® MasterCard®*. The BMO card clearly has more enticing value-added features than the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. However, the potential value of these extras really depends on how frequently you’re going to rent a car or see a Cirque du Soleil performance.

Eligibility requirements and application process

The online application for a BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* can be completed in a few minutes, and the application may be processed in as little as 60 seconds. You’ll be prompted to input personal info like your monthly housing payments, annual income, SIN, etc., and before applying you should make sure that you meet the below eligibility criteria:

  • Have a gross annual income of at least $15,000
  • Have a credit score of fair to good
  • Be the provincial age of majority
  • Be a permanent resident of Canada with a Canadian address
  • Haven’t declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years

Applying online for a Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card entails a similar process to the BMO CashBack® MasterCard®* application, and is similarly speedy. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Have a gross annual income of at least $12,000
  • Have a credit score of good to excellent
  • Be the provincial age of majority
  • Be a permanent resident of Canada with a Canadian address
  • Have no bankruptcies on record for the past 7 years

Winner: This is basically a draw. While the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* has a lower credit score requirement, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has a lower minimum income requirement. In the end, it’s your income and credit history that will dictate whether one card is easier to apply for than the other.

Which card wins overall?

Drum roll please…

Pound for pound the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card clearly outclasses the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*, and is so impressive that its place is also justified among the top cashback cards in Canada. The fact that it features a 2% cashback rate for up to 3 categories and lets customers choose and re-choose the categories where they want to earn at that rate, all for no annual fee, gives it a lot of long-term value.

If, however, you need to first get your credit card debt under control before you shift focus to earning as much cash back as possible, the BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*’s longer and more flexible promotional balance transfer might make it a better choice in some circumstances.

*Terms and Conditions apply.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

Sandra MacGregor Freelance Contributor

Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star.

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