Tangerine Review: The All-In-One Bank

April 26, 2021

To determine the best online banks in the Canada, we scored and reviewed 8 highly popular banks. In this case, we'll be focusing on Tangerine

Tangerine is a well-established online bank that has been leading the charge since a couple of years ago when it was released by Scotiabank. Tangerine is probably the one that strayed less from how a traditional brick & mortar bank works.

However, for as good as that bank is, we truly believe that it isn’t the best, a spot that’s reserved for Neo Financial. It’s got great domestic feesthe best everyday usage, possibly the best customer support, the most banking products and the most extra features.

Out of all the online banks we reviewed, without a doubt, Neo Financial offers the most complete experience an online bank in Canada can give. From savings to investing to tracking your expenses, it’s all here and it’s why Neo Financial is our top pick for the best Canadian online bank.

Domestic Fees7
International Fees2
Everyday Usage10
Interface and Usability4
Mobile App Functionality8
International Usability7
Customer Support10
Security & Regulation9
Savings/Premium Benefits5
Extra Features10

Now that you've seen the bank's overall scores, here's a more detailed look at how it performs in each category.

Total Score72
1 Domestic Fees
ATM feesFree for Tangerine's/Scotiabank's 3,500 ABMs
Otherwise, a $1.5 fee will apply
Monthly feesFree
Card FeeFree
Additional Cards Fee$15 per replacement card (1 Free yearly replacement)
Card Delivery FeeFree
Kids Account✔️
Minimum balance required$0
Inactivity Fee$10 after 1 year of inactivity
$20 from 2 to 9 years of dormancy
$40 for 10 years of dormancy.
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM fees2.5% "Foreign Currency Conversion Fee" No other fee will be charged if the ATM used is a Visa Plus or Global ATM Alliance network
Otherwise, a $3 will apply
Foreign spending fee2.5% "Foreign Currency Conversion Fee"
Foreign exchange fees2.5% "Foreign Currency Conversion Fee"
Cross Border Transfer FeeX
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️
Google Pay✔️
Does it accept cash deposits?✔️
Spending/Transaction Categories✔️
Real Time Notifications?✔️
Built-In DonationsX (Only during times of emergency)
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appX, users can only increase the limit for 24h
Withdrawal limits in the appX, users can only increase the limit for 24h
Sub-savings accounts✔️, Goals
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesX
Subscription trackingX
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the app✔️
Toggle Foreign Payments✔️
Signup Speed< 10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseSomewhat intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /54.3⭐
Google Playstore Score /53.6⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesOnly USD in a separate US$ account
International Money TransfersX
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️
Is The ATM Network International?✔️, thanks to Visa
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️
Telephone support1‑888‑826‑4374 for Support in Canada
416‑758‑3139 for Support outside of Canada
Priority Customer SupportX
Email supportinfo@tangerine.ca
Email Response Time1 hour
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorCDIC Insured thanks to Scotia Bank
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The AppX
PIN resets in the app✔️
Biometric login and authentication?✔️
Does it do a credit check?Soft credit check for savings and chequing accounts
A hard credit check will apply for any overdraft features
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal CardX
Cashback✔️, but only on the Money-Back Mastercard credit card
Partner Discounts?X
Gain interest rate?2.1% for Savings and Checking accounts (For the first 5 months)
After that, the percentage will go down to 0.10% for Chequing and 0.15% for Savings accounts
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, through Direct Deposits
Network ATM Finder✔️
Overdraft Availability✔️
Overdraft Protection✔️, But only for the same day when the account was overdrawn
Otherwise a $45 + $5 fee will apply with 19% of interest.
Stock TradingETF Trading
Commodities TradingX
Cryptocurrency Trading?X
Referral program?Once an user is referred, both the referrer and the referral will earn $50 each.
Referral must make an initial deposit of at least $250 within 60 days of becoming a client
Upto 3 referrals per calendar year

Now let's jump into the full written review explaining what you just read in our previous tables.

Tangerine Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Tangerine behaves like most online banks, or even like more traditional banks with some new details here and there. The first ones and most important to mention are that Tangerine doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees nor requires a minimum balance to keep the account open.

This online bank also waives ATM fees as long as users are withdrawing from Tangerine/Scotiabank’s 3,500 ABMs in Canada. If users find themselves using any other ATM, they will incur a $1.5 fee.

In terms of cards, users will first get a debit card with their account, which doesn’t have any initial delivery/order fees attached to it. However, each replacement of this debit card will run users a total of $15, which is rather expensive, even if Tangerine offers 1 free replacement per year.

Where Tangerine edges closer to traditional banks is in terms of inactivity fees, which follows the following cost model:

  • $10 after 1 year of inactivity
  • $20 yearly from the 2nd to 9th years of inactivity
  • $40 after 10 years of inactivity

Tangerine performs rather well, as we had mentioned, but the fact that it charges some of those fees does hinder its score a bit. It does get some extra points for being able to both send and receive Interac e-Transfers for free.

It’s worth noting as well that Tangerine is currently the only Canadian online bank that offers kids accounts for anyone who’s interested.

Tangerine Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

Here’s where sticking to the way traditional banks work hurts Tangerine’s score more. This is due to Tangerine charging a base percentage fee for all foreign transactions and a hefty one at that. The online bank charges a 2.5% fee on foreign ATM, spending and exchange transactions, but ATM withdrawals will also incur a $3 CAD fee if they’re not made on a Visa Plus or Global ATM Alliance network.

Tangerine also isn’t able to send money internationally, which is quite an important feature, but most online banks except EQ Bank and Simplii Financial can’t send money internationally either.

Tangerine International Fees Score: 2/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

This is perhaps one of the categories where Tangerine excels the most as an online bank. Being able to pair Tangerine’s card with either Apple Pay and Google Pay are nice enough features. On top of that, the online bank also sends real-time spending notifications and automatically categorizes transactions into certain spending categories so users have a clear depiction of how and what their money is being used on.

Since Tangerine is part of Scotiabank, it can also use its ATMs to deposit cash, a feature not many online banks can boast about.

Tangerine is also the only bank we’ve found to open donation channels right from the app during times of emergency, which is certainly more usability to the users’ money.

Tangerine Everyday Usage Score: 10/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

In this category, Tangerine runs into some rocky soil. We’ve found that Tangerine is rather strict when it comes to letting users customize their own spending since it doesn’t let users set their own spending/withdrawal limits from the app.

It also doesn’t have a feature to easily split bills/share expenses with friends nor to track online subscriptions. However, Tangerine does let users open sub-savings accounts, called goals, in order to facilitate saving for a particular goal either of either short or medium length, which is neat.

Tangerine Interface And Usability Score: 4/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Tangerine has one of the better developed apps, which shows through the functionality it offers. This online bank is one of the few that lets users toggle both local and foreign recurring payments.

On top of that, new Tangerine users can sign up in less than 10 minutes, which is super quick when compared to traditional account opening times. Although, when it comes to the meat of Tangerine’s app, people still seem to want more out of what it already offers, which is denoted by the app’s score on popular app stores. Tangerine manages a score of 4.3/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.6/5 starts in the Google Playstore, which means that it still has some issues that need fixing.

Overall, Tangerine’s mobile app scores as the 4th highest rated online bank app, just behind STACK, EQ Bank and KOHO.

Tangerine Mobile App Functionality Score: 8/10

#6 International Usability

Tangerine manages to find its ground yet again here due to some exclusive features to it. First of all, Tangerine is the only online bank we reviewed that offers to open an account in another currency besides CAD, specifically USD.

On top of that, Tangerine’s card can be used anywhere where VISA is accepted while at the same time having access to VISA’s ATMs abroad.

All of this makes it a very solid contender for foreign spending if it weren’t for those hefty foreign transaction fees…

Tangerine International Usability Score: 7/10

#7 Customer Support

This is the category where we found that Tangerine beats all other banks. Not only offers all three main support channels, in-app chat, phone lines and email, but its support agents are the most responsive we dealt with.

Phone lines don’t take longer than 5 minutes to be answered and, surprisingly, Tangerine responded to our emails only after 1 hour, which is the fastest time we recorded.

If good customer support is something you’re looking for in a bank, then Tangerine is probably the best in-store.

If you want to personally experience good support, you can reach Tangerine through the following channels:

  • Phone: 1-888-826-4374 (Within Canada)/ 416-758-3139 (Outside of Canada)
  • Email: Info@tangerine.ca
  • Support chat: In-app/Website.

Tangerine Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

Due to being part of Scotiabank, Tangerine counts with both the same regulation and insurance provided by CDIC. This means that Tangerine is directly regulated by the CDIC and all eligible deposits in it are insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

In terms of security features, Tangerine lets users reset their card PINs right from the app, and the signing-in process can be configured with biometric authentication. However, users can’t freeze/unfreeze their cards through the app if it gets lost, which can be a hassle to do with other methods.

In terms of credit score, Tangerine does perform a soft credit check for both savings and chequing accounts. But, it will perform a hard credit check if the user applies for any overdraft/credit features.

Tangerine Security & Regulation Score: 9/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

Here’s where we got into some polemic features of Tangerine, specifically interest. The first thing to note here is that yes, Tangerine users earn interest on their account balances.

However, Tangerine’s approach to interest is somewhat akin to restaurants luring customers with big neon signs while serving them what could be considered… not the best food. It works like this:

New users will earn 2.1% interest calculated daily and paid monthly both on savings and chequing accounts, great right? However, this superb interest rate is only promotional, so it will only apply for the first 5 months. After that, the interest rate will decrease down to 0.10% for chequing accounts and 0.15% for savings accounts, the lowest out of all Canadian online banks we reviewed.

Tangerine does earn some extra points here because it offers a cashback, but only if you apply, and are approved, for the Money-Back Mastercard credit card.

Tangerine Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 5/10

#10 Extra Features

Here’s another category where, again, Tangerine outclasses all other online banks we reviewed. Here’s a full list of the extra features that make Tangerine outshine most other online banks:

  • Getting paid early through Direct Deposits
  • In-app network ATM finder
  • Being able to overdraft the chequing account (Once users have applied and have been approved)
  • Overdraft protection that can waive fees (If paid on the same day the account was overdrafted)
  • Being able to trade ETFs
  • Having the second highest-earning referral program out of the banks we’ve reviewed.

All of those are nice features to have that most other banks don’t, especially trading and overdrafting an account. However, the really important one to mention is Tangerine’s referral program which works in the following way:

  1. Both the referrer and the referral will earn $50 CAD each
  2. Referrals will need to fund their account with at least $250 within 60 days of opening an account
  3. Users can only refer 3 friends per calendar year (Maximum earnings of $150 per year).

This makes Tangerine’s referral program the second-highest earning program out of all the banks we reviewed, just behind of Simplii Financial’s program.

Tangerine Extra Features: 10/10

Why Tangerine?

Most online banks in Canada are great options if you're looking for a cheaper and more convenient alternative to regular banking. However, if you're eyeing Tangerine, we consider you've made a reasonable choice.

Overall, Neo is the most solid online banking option for Canadians as of today. It manages to merge most of the benefits of traditional banking with the conveniences of online banking while keeping great fees, a lot of versatility and solid service both in and outside Canada.

It's definitely the biggest, broadest and more complete online bank in all of Canada.

Tangerine Vs. Neo Financial

When reviewing a specific bank, we always compare it to the best in its category. And according to our thorough testing, the best online bank in Canada is Neo Financial, which scores 77/100 points on our scoring system. Here’s why we think Neo Financial is a better alternative:

Tangerine's biggest flaw comes from its international fees and its overall interface and usability. 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.

On the other hand, Neo offers a compendium of banking products that puts most other online banks to shame. Pair this fact up with its incredible customer support and an amazing mobile app and you’ve got the best options for Canadians.

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