Neo vs STACK

April 26, 2021
Banks
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Neo isn't as known as other online banks, but this doesn't mean it's slacking. This online bank released in December of 2020 and features a credit card as its main spending medium. It pairs its card with a hybrid savings/chequing account that offers extensive cashback rewards and interest earned on account balance.

STACK is an online bank that hasn't been making that many waves since its release back in 2018. However, this doesn't mean it isn't interesting. So far, STACK is the only Canadian online bank that focuses on foreign use, keeping your spending in check and more importantly, offering ample discount and cashback rewards.

 NeoSTACK
Domestic Fees78
International Fees5
Everyday Usage610
Interface and Usability10
Mobile App Functionality86
International Usability44
Customer Support1010
Security & Regulation107
Savings/Premium Benefits107
Extra Features53
Total6070

Now that you've seen their overall scores, here's a more detailed look at how each bank scores on those ten categories.

 NeoStack
Total Score60
1 Domestic Fees
ATM feesX
Monthly feesNo monthly fees for accounts, but, monthly fees for cashback memberships:
Essential Plan: $0
Plus Plan: $4.99
Max Plan: $9.99
Card FeeFree
Additional Cards Fee$29
Card Delivery FeeFree
Kids AccountX
Minimum balance required$0
Inactivity FeeFree
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM feesX
Foreign spending fee2.5% fee at Mastercard exchange rate
Foreign exchange fees2.5% at Mastercard exchange rate
Cross Border Transfer FeeX
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️
Google Pay✔️
Does it accept cash deposits?X
Spending/Transaction CategoriesX
Real Time Notifications?✔️
Built-In DonationsX
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appX
Withdrawal limits in the appX
Sub-savings accountsX
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesX
Subscription trackingX
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the app✔️
Toggle Foreign Payments✔️
Signup Speed<10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseSomewhat intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /54.2⭐
Google Playstore Score /53.7⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesX
International Money TransfersX
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️
Is The ATM Network International?No ATM network
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️
Telephone support1 (855) 636-2265
Priority Customer SupportX
Email support[email protected]
Email Response Time4 Hours
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorPartnered with Concentra Bank, a CDIC member
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The App✔️
PIN resets in the app✔️
Biometric login and authentication?✔️
Does it do a credit check?Soft
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal CardX
CashbackEssential Plan: 4% Cashback average at Partners
Plus Plan: 5% average cashback at partners, 0.5% cashback at non-partners
Max Plan: 6% average cashback at partners, 1% average cashback at non-partners.
Partner Discounts?Depending on your state, you can get up to 15% discounts at some local businesses
Gain interest rate?1.55%, calculated daily, paid monthly
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, through Direct deposits
Network ATM FinderX
Overdraft Availability✔️
Overdraft ProtectionX (19.99% - 24.99% interest generated on debt)
Stock TradingX
Commodities TradingX
Cryptocurrency Trading?X
Referral program?Referral and Referrers will earn $5 each

STACK Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Stack is probably the bank that has one of the best performances in this category. This is thanks to the fact that Stack simply… doesn’t charge for anything. No ATM fees, no monthly fees, no fee for replacement cards, no inactivity fees, no minimum required balance, nothing.

On top of that, STACK also offers free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers, which is always a nice feature to have.

However, STACK may not charge for ATM withdrawals, but it doesn’t have an ATM network. This implies that most, if not all, ATM withdrawals will incur a fee of around $3-5 from the owner of the ATM.

STACK Domestic Fees Score: 8/10

#2 International Fees:

In our opinion, there’s not a clear best bank in this category, rather than some better than average performances. STACK is one of those thanks to the fact that, once again, it doesn’t charge any kind of fees for its services. Foreign ATM withdrawals are free and foreign spending and exchange fees are non-existent with STACK.

However, the same principle of not having an ATM network also applies here. STACK also doesn’t feature a way to send international money transfers, which would have been the cherry on top for it to perform better in this category.

STACK International Fees Score: 5/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

STACK absolutely blazes through this category, being one of the two banks, the other being Tangerine, that offers all of the features we looked for in this category.

The first thing to mention is that STACK users will be able to use both Apple Pay and Google Pay by pairing their STACK prepaid Mastercard in both apps.

STACK users can also have more of their spending in control via the spending insights that the mobile app offers, from which they can thoroughly check where their money is going. This comes paired with real-time spending notifications, which let users know how much they spend and their current balance at that time.

On top of all those benefits, STACK users are, along with both Tangerine and Simplii Financial, able to load their accounts up with cash. STACK users can do this at any Canada Post location, which is a feature rarely seen in online banks.

Definitely one of the most solid performances out of all banks.

STACK Everyday Usage Score: 10/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Here we can claim that STACK is the best performer in this category out of all banks we reviewed. This is the product of having all the features we looked for and then some more, which we’ll describe shortly.

STACK users are able to set up their own spending/withdrawal limits from the app with a feature called “Weekly Budgets”. This lets users control their spending beyond just telling themselves not to spend anymore. Any user who wants to can limit the amount that can be spent/withdrawn from their accounts at any time, which is a feature that’s sorely missing from all other banks.

Another important feature to mention is that users can also open a single sub-savings account for a specific goal. This consists of separating a certain amount of money aside from the main balance so a user can save for a certain goal without using those funds.

Users can also split their bills with their contacts by just selecting a transaction and then the people who owe them, easily reminding friends and family to repay a debt. Adding more to the customizable experience of STACK, users can also track their online subscriptions in-app to see how much money is being spent on a monthly basis just on these.

By far the most thorough bank in terms of letting users analyze and customize their spending.

STACK Interface And Usability Score: 10/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Here’s where STACK runs into its second hitch. This is mainly thanks to STACK’s app missing some features but having a somewhat intuitive interface.

First off, signing up with STACK takes no longer than 10 minutes, which is great. The app scores a total of 4.5/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.8/5 stars in the Google Play Store, which are not the best scores out there. In fact, according to our scores, STACK has the 3rd highest-scoring mobile app out of all 8 online banks we reviewed, just behind EQ Bank and KOHO.

The feature that STACK is missing is being able to toggle on/off recurring local and foreign payments through the app, which not many other banks offer either.

STACK Mobile App Functionality Score: 6/10

#6 International Usability

Even though STACK has great international fees, it lacks in terms of its overall usability. First off, Stack isn’t able to send international money transfers, which is a highly-sought feature in online banks.

Aside from that, as we had mentioned earlier, STACK has no ATM network to speak of, so there’s no way to waive ATM fees when travelling abroad.

STACK does get some points thanks to its card being available to use when abroad, but that’s a benefit that comes with Mastercard and not something particularly unique of STACK.

STACK International Usability Score: 4/10

#7 Customer Support

Few banks get bad scores in this category and luckily STACK isn’t one of those. The online bank features all three main customer support channels, chat, phone lines and email. We got in touch through every means possible to use and came up with the conclusion that STACK’s customer support is pretty good.

If there’s one thing to mention about it is that it’s quite fast. Chat support took less than 5 minutes for us to get in touch with an agent. The same thing happened with phone support and in both instances we were directed to very informed and polite agents that happily answered our curious questions.

Email on the other hand is also really fast, taking only 3 hours to get back to us. However, it didn’t answer any of our questions and only directed us to phone support. Bummer.

If you need to get in contact with STACK to ask them some of your own queries, you can do so through the following channels:

STACK Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

In terms of regulation and security, STACK is partnered with Peoples Trust (same partner as KOHO), which automatically grants it the same CDIC regulation and protection. CDIC regulation gives STACK the benefit of having all of its eligible user’s deposits insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

STACK also offers the feature to freeze/unfreeze its card through the app at any moment and time, but that’s the only security feature it offers.

STACK has some clear weaknesses in this category because it doesn’t let users change their card’s PIN through the app, only through its phone lines. It also doesn’t have the feature to set up biometric authentication upon signing in, being the only online bank lacking this feature.

Something to add in the same vein of this category is that STACK doesn’t report to any credit bureaus at all. This means that opening a STACK account won’t even generate a soft credit check upon a user’s credit score, which is neat, but it also means that users can’t make their score better through the use of STACK.

STACK Security & Regulation Score: 7/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

One of the juiciest parts of STACK is its discounts, which come into play exactly in this category.

First off, STACK is a product thought for people who travel a lot, to which STACK complements partnering with travel agencies. From these partnerships, users can book travel plans directly from the app. Although, that’s not the biggest part since whenever a user books a trip from these partners, STACK offers up to 20% cashback.

In terms of partner discounts, STACK has partnered with some Canadian retailers, from which users can get up to 40% discounts during certain dates. However, it’s worth noting that STACK is setting these partnerships on a state-by-state basis, which means that some STACK users in some states might have access to some offers that other STACK users in other states might not be available to participate in.

However, and a big one at that, STACK has one major weakness that no other online bank has, which is interest. STACK doesn’t offer any kind of interest percentage to any of its users, which means that people who are engaged in looking for great interest rates might have to look somewhere else.

EQ Bank, Neo and Tangerine are great fits for this feature alone, but it’s a shame that STACK misses what’s really the most important feature for some users out there.

STACK Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 7/10

#10 Extra Features

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that we’ve already mentioned the juiciest parts that STACK has to offer. This means that STACK doesn’t really have a lot to offer in terms of this category.

The two most important features that STACK’s left with are Direct Deposits and its referral program. Its referral program works in a curious way that will let users earn a bit if enough referrals are invited, but there’s a hard limit to it. Here’s how it works:

  • $5 For the first 5 referrals (1st to 5th)
  • $10 For the 5 referrals after that (6th to 10th)
  • $15 For the 5 referrals after that (11th to 15th)

This means that if a STACK user invites 15 new clients, they will earn a total of $150, which is a lot, but nowhere near the highest-earning referral programs like that of Simplii Financial, Tangerine or EQ Bank, the likes of which can generate that same amount with 5 referrals or less.

These are not bad features at all but it also means that STACK has to make do without features like overdraft, overdraft protection and trading/investing. These are another of those highly sought features by some users, so not having them might turn heads somewhere else in the long run.

STACK Extra Features Score: 3/10

Now let’s talk about our next bank in question:

Neo Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Neo starts rather strongly in this category, mainly due to the fact that its regular accounts don't charge any monthly fees, a certain minimum balance nor they incur any inactivity fees at all. Neo’s first card is also free, including the delivery of it and all other replacements.

On top of all those benefits, Neo also supports free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers from and to all other Canadian banks, which is always great.

However, Neo has a pretty big flaw in this category, in the sense that since it offers a credit card, it doesn’t offer ATM withdrawals. So, the only way to get cash out of a Neo account is to transfer it to another bank account and withdraw from an ATM or ask for a cash advance in the way of cash back when making a purchase.

However, it’s worth noting that cash advances immediately start costing interest around 23-27% of the total amount withdrawn.

Another big detail to have in mind is that Neo’s replacements for its credit cards don’t go for free, each costing $29, whereas other banks offer them for free.

Neo Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

Before drawing a conclusion after writing the full review we already know what Neo isn’t good for, this being foreign use. Neo gets a total score of 0/10 in this category due to some simple facts:

  1. Users can’t perform foreign ATM withdrawals
  2. Using Neo for foreign spending and foreign exchange incurs a 2.5% fee, which is on par with Tangerine and motusbank, some of the banks with the highest foreign fees.

High fees and no ATM withdrawals form a recipe that results in a terrible score. This added to the fact that Neo can’t send international money transfers either makes for an early conclusion of not to sign up with Neo if foreign use is a priority for you.

Neo International Fees Score: 0/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

After a terrible performance, Neo gets somewhat back up in this one. Neo’s credit card can be paired with Apple Pay and Google Pay, which means more ease of use. Plus, it also features real-time spending notifications to keep budgets in control more easily.

However, Neo loses some points due to not being able to accept cash deposits nor feature spending insights. This means that users aren’t able to completely see where their money is going in an easily customizable manner, which other banks do offer.

Neo Everyday Usage Score: 6/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Here’s where Neo’s score dips down low again due to a complete lack of features in terms of its overall usability and the metrics we scored all banks in.

Neo doesn’t let users set their own spending/withdrawal limits, nor lets them open sub-savings accounts, split bills with friends or even track online subscriptions.

All of this means that Neo’s overall usability when it comes to keeping track of your goals, savings and spending is very lacking, to the point where it gets a solid 0/10.

Neo Interface And Usability Score: 0/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Neo gets somewhat up to speed here with a solid score thanks to features like being able to toggle on/off both recurring local and foreign payments right from the app, which only Tangerine offers aside from Neo.

On top of that, Neo’s mobile app ranks as the 4th highest-ranking mobile app out of the Canadian online banks we reviewed. This is due to the fact that its signup process takes less than 10 minutes to complete and even more evidenced by its score on both major app stores, garnering a total score of 4.2/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.7/5 stars in the Google Playstore.

Solid performance, but still missing the mark on the scores in popular playstores.

Neo Mobile App Functionality Score: 8/10

#6 International Usability

As we had described earlier, we do not recommend using Neo for foreign spending due to its high fees. The thing is, in terms of overall usability, it also performs poorly.

Since Neo offers its users a credit card that cannot perform local ATM withdrawals in Canada, it also cannot perform foreign ATM withdrawals. This means that for any Neo user that’s abroad, getting cash is almost near to impossible unless they find a store that lets them get local currency as cash back after a purchase.

Still, Neo’s card can be used without any problems abroad, which does let it accumulate some points in this category, but nowhere near enough to fully recommend it.

Neo International Usability Score: 4/10

#7 Customer Support

Neo is one of the few that gets a perfect score in terms of customer support simply thanks to the fact that they offer all support channels and they’re very responsive.

Neo’s support chat is always available and ready to answer. When we contacted them, their responses were quick, informed and thoughtful. Phone lines took a bit longer to pick up but they were rather quick as well.

Email support surprised us a bit because it’s usually the one that takes the longest to hear back from, but just after 4 hours, we got our questions answered thoroughly.

If you need to get in contact with Neo to ask them some of your own queries, you can do so through the following channels:

Definitely one of the banks with the quickest and most helpful support we reviewed.

Neo Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

The first thing that’s worth mentioning in this category is that in terms of security and regulation, Neo is the best performing online bank. Neo is partnered with Concentra Bank, an institution that’s regulated by the CDIC, which means that all of Neo’s eligible deposits are insured in the same way for up to $100,000.

Aside from that, Neo also offers the distinct features of letting users freeze/unfreeze their cards at any moment they wish and resetting their PINs from the app. Users can also set up biometric authentication for signing in, which makes using Neo both quicker and safer.

Onto another topic in the same vein, it’s also important to note the impact of these online banks on a users’ credit score. Luckily, Neo only performs a soft credit check, which means that it doesn’t affect any user’s credit score by just opening an account in it.

Neo Security & Regulation Score: 10/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

Here’s where we can get to speak about some of Neo’s most important and unique features. The most noteworthy feature to mention here is that Neo, along with KOHO, gets a perfect score in this category. This is thanks to Neo offering all 3 rewards users are always looking for, cashback, partner discounts and interest rates.

Neo’s cashback comes from its monthly memberships. All users are part of the Essential Plan, which doesn’t cost anything monthly and offers an average of 4% cashback at partner retailers.

Following that is the Plus plan, which costs $4.99/month and offers an average 5% cashback at partner retailers and 0.5% cashback at non partner retailers.

Finally, we have the Max plan, which goes for $9.99/month and an average of 6% cashback at partner retailers and 1% cashback at non-partners.

In terms of partner discounts, this is a bit more dependent on where a Neo’s user lives. Neo is making partnerships up in a state-by-state scenario, which means that some states might have some offers that others might not. Discounts can go up as high as 15% on average on most offers through the Neo app.

In terms of interest, Neo automatically offers all of its users a base 1.55% interest rate, calculated daily and paid monthly. This particular percentage makes Neo offer, according to our scoring metrics, the highest non-promotional interest rate out of all Canadian online banks we reviewed.

Neo’s interest rate is only followed by EQ Bank’s Savings Plus account at 1.5%. However, it’s also worth noting that EQ also offers TFSAs with 2.3%, with Tangerine quickly following behind with a 2.1% on both savings and chequing for the first 5 months of use.

Neo Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 10/10

#10 Extra Features

Here’s where Neo’s score dips back down since it offers what basically should come with a chequing account nowadays and nothing more. It comes with Direct Deposits, the chance to overdraft (of course, it’s a credit card!) and it comes with a barebones referral program.

The thing about Neo’s overdraft is that it doesn’t come with overdraft protection, which means that the moment a user overdrafts his/her account that debt is going to start to rack up at an interest around 20% to 25%.

Neo’s referral program is also nothing to write home about, giving $5 each to the referral and the referrer. It is unlimited, though, so if a user wants to refer 1,000 friends, well, that’s $5,000 accredited to that user.

However, aside from that, there’s not much else about Neo. It’s missing features like being able to trade or invest right from the account, but only a few banks offer that feature. And in terms of an in-app network ATM finder, it doesn’t need one because it doesn’t have an ATM network.

Neo Extra Features Score: 5/10

STACK Or Neo?

When recommending a certain product, here at Yore Oyster we always strive to really give our readers the best advice. This is why we always give a final recommendation comparing the products we talked about. So, here's our final take on both banks:

Neo's biggest flaw comes from its most attractive point, its credit card. This card cannot be used at any ATMs, either locally or internationally. It can also be overdrawn, but there's no overdraft protection, which means that users will instantly start generating interest on their negative balance.

STACK is really good, surprisingly good. This is due to its great domestic fees, a great and well-developed app and the volume of rewards it offers. It's definitely a great contender for a spending account if anyone is thinking mainly in foreign use. It's really a one of a kind online bank account.

Whereas Neo offers a credit card with hefty fees attached to it, STACK offers a prepaid Mastercard with almost no fees attached. But perhaps the biggest difference between both is the apps, with STACK's being a lot more customizable and intuitive to use than Neo's, which ultimately grants it the winning spot in this scenario.

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