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. However, out of all online banks, Tangerine is probably the one that strayed less from how a traditional brick & mortar bank works. However, this doesn't mean it performs poorly, rather it's the most adept Canadian bank we found from an overall standpoint.
|Interface and Usability||4|
|Mobile App Functionality||8|
|Security & Regulation||9|
|1 Domestic Fees|
|ATM fees||Free for Tangerine's/Scotiabank's 3,500 ABMs |
Otherwise, a $1.5 fee will apply
|Additional Cards Fee||$15 per replacement card (1 Free yearly replacement)|
|Card Delivery Fee||Free|
|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 fees||2.5% "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 $3 will apply
|Foreign spending fee||2.5% "Foreign Currency Conversion Fee"|
|Foreign exchange fees||2.5% "Foreign Currency Conversion Fee"|
|Cross Border Transfer Fee||X|
|3 Everyday Usage|
|Does it accept cash deposits?||✔️|
|Real Time Notifications?||✔️|
|Built-In Donations||X (Only during times of emergency)|
|4 Interface and Usablity|
|Spending limits in the app||X, users can only increase the limit for 24h|
|Withdrawal limits in the app||X, users can only increase the limit for 24h|
|Sub-savings accounts||✔️, Goals|
|Bill splitting / Shared Expenses||X|
|5 Mobile App Functionality|
|Toggling payments in the app||✔️|
|Toggle Foreign Payments||✔️|
|Signup Speed||< 10 minutes|
|Mobile App Ease of Use||Somewhat intuitive|
|Apple Appstore Score /5||4.3⭐|
|Google Playstore Score /5||3.6⭐|
|6 International Usability|
|Hold Multiple Currencies||Only USD in a separate US$ account|
|International Money Transfers||X|
|Can The Card Be Used Abroad?||✔️|
|Is The ATM Network International?||✔️, thanks to Visa|
|7 Customer Support|
|In-app support chat||✔️|
|Telephone support||1‑888‑826‑4374 for Support in Canada |
416‑758‑3139 for Support outside of Canada
|Priority Customer Support||X|
|Email support||[email protected]|
|Email Response Time||1 hour|
|8 Security & Regulation|
|Regulator||CDIC Insured thanks to Scotia Bank|
|Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The App||X|
|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|
|Cashback||✔️, but only on the Money-Back Mastercard credit card|
|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 Protection||✔️, But only for the same day when the account was overdrawn |
Otherwise a $45 + $5 fee will apply with 19% of interest.
|Stock Trading||ETF Trading|
|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 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.
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: [email protected]
- 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:
- Both the referrer and the referral will earn $50 CAD each
- Referrals will need to fund their account with at least $250 within 60 days of opening an account
- 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
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 the right choice.
Overall, Tangerine 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.
It still has some room to grow in certain areas, but it’s certainly the most solid option for those looking to make their first-time jump from brick & mortar to online banking and have all the benefits at the tip of your hands.
For those reasons and Tangerine's overall performance, we consider it to be the best Canadian online bank as of date.