June 19, 2018

Best No-Fee Credit Card in Canada: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card Review

I’m Jessica and I’m a money expert, speaker, Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada®, host of the More Money Podcast, and am currently writing my first book with HarperCollins Canada (2025).
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This post is sponsored by Tangerine. All views and opinions expressed represent my own.

One credit card in my wallet that I love to recommend to friends is Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card. I’ve had it for over a year now, and looking back I regret not getting it when it was first introduced in March 2016.

If you're looking for a no-fee credit card in Canada, look no further than Tangerine's Money-Back Mastercard. I've had it for over a year and love it!Instead, I carried around another no-fee credit card that is pretty much consistently ranked as the worst card on every best no-fee credit card in Canada list. And it was my fault too. I got that original credit card because I was promised to get my monthly bank fees waved. I didn’t do any research and didn’t compare it to other credit cards first. I just said “Sure, if it means saving $10 per month, sign me up!”

Well, after a few years, I realized I could do better. I also realized I could switch banks and not have to worry about paying monthly bank fees in the first place.

And that’s exactly what I did. Now, I’m not only paying $0 in bank fees, I’m earning way more in cash-back on my regular purchases.

Earn 2% Money-Back on Things You Already Spend Money On

One of the biggest draws for me to get this card above others in the marketplace was the flexibility it gives you in terms of its money-back rewards program.

Most other cash-back credit cards have strict limitations on what you can earn their highest rate on. For instance, I see a ton of credit cards that offer 2% on gas, then less than 1% on everything else. I don’t have a car, so this means literally nothing to me. Or, I see credit cards that offer 2% on groceries, then 0.50% on all other purchases. I use my credit card for a variety of things, not just groceries!

Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card on the other hand lets you choose what you want to earn 2% cash-back on. You’re allowed to choose from a list of categories, so you can earn 2% on things you spend the most money on, then 0.50% on things you spend the least money on.

  • Grocery
  • Restaurants
  • Gas
  • Recurring Bill Payments
  • Drug Store
  • Entertainment
  • Furniture
  • Hotel-Motel
  • Home Improvement
  • Public Transport and Parking

This is great if you’re like me and already track your spending. Before choosing your categories, you can just take a quick look at your spending tracker and see what categories make the most sense.

Change Your Money-Back Categories Anytime

If you’re not sure what categories to choose because you don’t track your spending regularly, that’s okay too. You can choose your categories based on what makes the most sense to you right now, then after a month or two, check to see what categories Tangerine assigned your purchases.

If they aren’t categories you initially chose when you got the credit card, you can change your categories anytime. This is a really great feature, especially when your life changes (ie. you buy a home, start a family) and so do your spending habits.

To give you an idea of what other people spend their money on, the most popular categories that customers choose are Groceries, followed by Restaurants and Gas.

For me, I took a good look at how I use the credit card to see if they actually matched the categories I chose. The categories I initially chose were Groceries, Restaurants, and Drug Stores. Well, what I noticed after a few weeks was that I did spend a lot on Groceries and Restaurants, but NOT ONE Drug Store purchase. So, I’ve decided instead to change my Drug Store category to Public Transport. I use the TTC quite a bit, so I know I’ll benefit more from switching to that category.

Choose How You Want to Get Your Money-Back

Another interesting feature is you can choose to either get your money-back applied to your credit card balance or deposited in your Tangerine Savings Account each month.

There’s actually more of an incentive to get it deposited into your savings account because you’ll be allowed to choose 3 categories for the 2% money-back, instead of just 2 categories you get if you have your money-back applied to your credit card balance.

Not a big surprise, I chose for my cashback to go straight into my savings account. And it wasn’t just so I could get one more category, though that was a nice bonus. It’s because it made me feel like I was actually earning interest, instead of simply paying off revolving debt.

As someone who has been happily debt-free (aside from my mortgage) since 2010, saving money and earning interest is way more exciting and empowering to me than paying off debt.

No Limit on How Much Money-Back You Can Earn

If you’re wondering if there’s a cap for how much money-back you can earn, there isn’t. Unlike other credit cards, there is absolutely no limit on how much you can earn. Moreover, you’ll never earn less than 2% on your chosen categories. I can name a few credit cards that offer high cash-back rates but only to a certain limit. Once you’ve reached that cap, their regular low rate will kick in for all additional purchases.

The only way you’ll earn less than 2% cash-back is if you spend outside your categories. And if you see that a lot of your purchases are being categorized as “Other,” and thus only earning you 0.50% cash-back, you should look at your credit card statements to see what you’re actually spending your money on. It might be an indication that you need to change your categories to better match your spending patterns.

Enter to Win $250 from Tangerine

**Contest is now closed**

Alright, let’s get to the good stuff. I’m doing a HUGE giveaway in partnership with Tangerine!

To celebrate the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, I’m giving away $250! That’s straight up CASH, BABY! And whoever wins, will get the $250 put directly onto their Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Don’t have a card? Sign up here.

Only Canadians are eligible for this contest.

Contest Rules

Here are the rules on how to enter. Failure to abide by these rules will make you ineligible to win.

The contest closes Thursday, June 21. I will be announcing the winner on Twitter, so make sure to follow me!

Option 1

Comment on this blog post with the Money-Back category that you believe you spend the most money in. As a reference, the entire list is mentioned above, or you can check them out here.

Option 2

Retweet with a comment this tweet with your favourite Money-Back category and use the hashtag #TangerineMoneyBack.

Good luck!

Disclosure: Nothing on my website or affiliated channels should be considered advice or an endorsement, and some content may include affiliate links in which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my disclaimer to learn more.

add a comment

  1. Zandile Chiwanza says:

    I spend the most on Groceries! A girl has got to eat ????

  2. Bronwyn says:

    Definitely restaurants and groceries!

  3. Lenore Ramirez says:

    My favourite category would be groceries! 😀

  4. Hilary Casey says:

    Definitely spend the most at restaurants/on entertainment!

  5. Bruno De Rose says:

    Def gonna be groceries and Public Transportation gotta eat and work 😛

  6. Sabina Wex says:

    Entertainment! I love going to events and meeting people (that’s networking, right? So technically, it’s business?).

  7. Natalia Stefanova says:

    I am also in the “spends most on groceries” category, although Restaurants comes in close second.

  8. Laura S says:

    Gas and groceries! Although in the last month it’s been vet bills ????

  9. Sky McLaughlin says:

    I am definitely in the “spends most on groceries” category, with some very hungry preschoolers and toddlers in my house.

  10. Cathy says:

    The Money-Back category I probably spend the most on is “Restaurants”!

  11. Ryan says:

    Definitely the restaurant category

  12. Kelty says:

    Money back is the best credit card option in my humble opinion!

  13. Melissa Bryan says:

    For me its groceries. I find I am in the Metro all the time even after I do my pay day shopping. Every once and a while I buy food but I really try to bring from home. Depends on how much I am working and how organized I am that week.

    Also probably public transit and now I cannot claim transit on my income tax it feels even more financially draining!

  14. Cheryl Johnstone says:

    For me it’s groceries, but recently it’s gas and car expenses… gotta love car registration fees are due on your birthday!

  15. Scott Baldwin says:

    Sometimes it would be Hotels depending on business trips. Sometimes it would be home improvements. It actually varies quite a bit from month to month. Fuel & groceries are considered necessities in my book so I pay cash for them.

  16. Kiran Randhawa says:

    So I went and looked at my current financial statement. The Money-Back category Groceries was definitely the highest. Then kids activities/gas/public transport were close contenders.

  17. Darrin says:

    gas is my biggest expense.

  18. Eva says:

    The money back category I spend the most money on is Groceries 100% – we eat most of our meals at home and my partner is a very lovable eating machine 😉 (who also does most of the cooking luckily)

    I have a TD cash back visa that I hardly ever use though – this has inspired me to look into the fees. I keep it as a “back up” credit card to my aeroplan one. Have you ever done a calculation for what kind of mile rewards make the annual fee of a card like the aeroplan one worth the annual fee? Would love to learn more!

  19. I definitely spend the most on Groceries! I am totally looking into this credit card; thanks for the info!

  20. Shanondoah Nicholson says:

    It has to be groceries although people may to be on to something with the restaurants. Can their just be a food category?

  21. Taylor Marlow says:

    Restaurants and groceries!

  22. Mercedes Beaudoin-lobb says:

    I definitely spend most on food!

  23. Devon says:

    Groceries for me too… gotta get those VEGGIES

  24. Erin says:

    It’s probably groceries for me or home improvement.

  25. Paulina says:

    Since general online shopping isn’t an option I’d have to say Recurring Bill Payments take up a fair chunk of my bill.

  26. Christina says:

    Gas!!! Or Groceries… ummm… gas?! yup, gas! Final answer! (Luckily Tangerine lets you pick more than one, haha.)

  27. Hayden says:

    We would spend the most on groceries, then recurring bill payments.

  28. Lauren Sergy says:

    Oh god, definitely groceries! Family’s gotta eat!

  29. Brigitte says:

    I’ve had this card for over a year so I know I definitely spend the most on groceries. It’s a good card and my go to when using MasterCard.

  30. Ann Shaw says:

    I spend the most on groceries….it is expensive to feed a family of 5 🙂

  31. Kerrilyn Evans says:

    For me, recurring bill-payments (car payment, power bill (especially in the winter months), phone bill, car insurance) are the highest, with groceries and gas a close second. Although my CPA Program Tuition fees are pretty expensive (~$1,500 x 4 modules a year = $6,000 plus almost $800 in annual fees).

  32. Kevin Ngo says:

    I definitely spend the most on groceries, so that’d be my pick. That being said, I spend the most at warehouse stores (Costco, Real Canadian Superstore), which as I understand, are not designated in the grocery category by MasterCard (so you wouldn’t get the 2%). Jessica, can you confirm this?

    The PC Financial World Elite Mastercard, isn’t a straight up cashback card. It’s more of a combo points/loyalty card. But it is also. No-fee and it gives you the equivalent of 3% back at any loblaws store (before any bonus accelerators). I know it may not make as much sense in Toronto, but are you in a position to compare the Tangerine card with this one?

    • Great questions! As mentioned in my video, to find out about specific stores and categories, you’ll have to contact Tangerine directly. And like you mentioned, the PC card isn’t really equivalent because it’s a points card, no a cashback card. So it’s really only a good choice if you do want PC Optimum points instead of straight up cash.

  33. Lyndin says:

    Definitely groceries! With two young kids we are at Costco all the time replenishing fruit, veggies, milk and more.

  34. Jessica says:

    I used to spend the most on groceries, but now that I’m on maternity leave, I get my groceries delivered and the grocery category doesn’t always come up in my Tangerine card. Instead, I load up my Presto card for the TTC and get cash back via the Public Transportation category! It’s a win-win because we don’t have a car in the city and I rely on the subway a lot to get baby and me to his doctor appointments. 🙂

  35. Charlotte Smoley says:

    Groceries and eating out! It’s what makes the most sense since people’s three basic expenses are housing, food, and transportation. 😉 thanks for hosting this contest! P.S. I too love Tangerine online banking and financial products.

  36. Ram says:

    Groceries are my biggest spend, although recurring bill payments is a close second.

  37. Alanna Abramsky says:

    I definitely spent the most on Groceries. Although I am quite the mindful grocery shopper.

  38. Josh says:

    We’re definitely team Groceries…which is a good thing – we used to be team Restaurants (which was doing some serious budget-busting!)

  39. Kim Cloutier says:

    Always groceries (although my spending tracker tells me my #1 is daycare!).

  40. Kaitlyn says:

    Like most, groceries for sure!! Gas is a second especially with gas prices lately 😉

  41. Richelle says:

    Unfortunately our category would be gas. My husband and I both drive 45 minutes to an hour from home to work. We have different work hours therefore we take two vehicles. It gives me time to listen to the Mo’ Money Podcast though ????

  42. Richelle says:

    Unfortunately our category would have to be gas. My husband and I both work 45 minutes to an hour away from home. On the plus side it gives me lots of time to listen to the Mo’ Money Podcast. ????

  43. Meg says:

    Definitely groceries for me too!

  44. Chrissy says:

    Just like most of you, groceries are my number one category! I know lots of people who use and love this card. I think it’s time for me to finally get one myself!

  45. Rob says:

    Like the majority of commenters here, for me, it is definitely groceries.

  46. Shyla says:

    Definitely groceries!!

  47. Erin Thomson says:

    Home improvement is in the lead right now followed by groceries.

  48. Linda L says:

    Would be Groceries for me. I run a small home daycare and also have large grocery bills!

  49. Mercy G says:

    It would be groceries, and gas

  50. Ming says:

    groceries is the catagory I spend the most money on

  51. Swee says:

    without a doubt it would be groceries

  52. Natalie says:

    Just signed up for this card yesterday Jessica! Woo hoo! Like everyone else, groceries! Love me some fresh vegetables and kombucha! Greetings from Edmonton 🙂 Are you ever in Alberta?

  53. Julia says:

    It’s definitely Groceries for me, and that’s mainly what I use it for. They say you unintentionally spend more when you use credit, so I try to avoid putting too many purchases onto it.

  54. Meena says:

    Definitely restaurants! It’s so dangerous!!

  55. Theresa C. says:

    Definitely groceries – and too much hungry impulse buying ;p

  56. Paulo Estrela says:

    My favourite #TangerineMoneyBack catergorie is Groceries.

  57. Steve says:

    Going to go with GAS.

  58. Jennifer (@JusticeSadie) Conlin says:

    Definitely Groceries! It is expensive to eat healthy non processed .

  59. Kelsey says:

    I think I probably spend the most on restaurants though groceries would be close too.

  60. Andy D says:

    I definitely spend the most on restaurants & groceries. We eat out a ton!

  61. Jack says:

    I think I spend the most money in the Grocery Category.

  62. Kaleb says:

    Hey Jessica, great post! I love this credit card as well. My favourite category/where I spend the most is groceries! 2% off to buy necessities is always great.

  63. Marilyn says:

    Definitely recurring bills – am I the first to say so? (I use a different card for groceries, hubby uses his card for gas, eating out, and home improvements.)

  64. Corrinne says:

    I definitely feel like I spend the most on restaurants, but I’m trying harder to buy groceries instead!

  65. Tina S. says:

    It’s restaurant and groceries in our household! My husband and I love this credit card!

  66. Ross says:

    The category my wife and I spend the most on is Restaurants. Cooking at home and meal prepping regularly is a goal we haven’t quite achieved.

  67. Amy Sova says:

    I love this credit card- my highest category is gas!

  68. Danielle says:

    I spend the most money on groceries.

  69. Sonya says:

    Love the No Limit on How Much Money-Back You Can Earn!! I’d spend mine on some new summer clothes!!

  70. Vanessa Noel says:

    I spend the most on gas and restaurants!

  71. Rebecca H says:

    ugh! Groceries here!

  72. Hailey Masterson says:

    I spend my most on restaurants! My hot-tip though is if I know I have a big expense coming up i.e. paying for a hotel for an upcoming trip, I change my Money Back Categories for that month and wait to pay until I know I’ll be getting that extra % off my big purchase!

  73. Claire says:

    I definitely spend the most on gas, especially with prices so high right now. Glad to make some of it back with the rewards though ????

  74. Karla Sceviour says:

    ohh,i`m thinking groceries! What a great sounding credit card, I will look into this!

  75. William Chau says:

    Restaurants for me! It’s my go-to card at places that don’t take Amex!

  76. Lee-Ann S says:

    I like getting credit on the Recurring Bill Payments.

  77. Leora Witkowski says:

    Definitely groceries and restaurants!

  78. Monique L.S. says:

    For sure I spend the most money in the Groceries category.

  79. Kelci says:

    GROCERIES, hands down. ????????????????????????

  80. Jenn Erin says:

    I spend the most in recurring bill payments!

  81. Andrea says:

    Groceries is number one for me and I’ve been really happy with this credit card so far! Every time I’m at the grocery store cashier, it makes me happy to be getting a lil extra cash with each purchase!

  82. kristen visser says:

    we definitely spend the most on groceries!! between what my girls like, this preggo mama and her cravings and my hubbies never ending eating (lol) we spend way more than I think we should on a weekly basis

  83. Lisa Lee says:

    Our grocery bills have increase quite a bit since I am buying a lot more veggies and I have to buy gluten-free now.

  84. Kim Crichton-Struthers says:

    I would get the most money back on groceries as m family does go through a lot of food!

  85. Jenn Erin says:

    We live in Vancouver so gas prices are always ridiculous here so gas is the most I spend on (both my husband and I carpool but we still work quite far from home). I’m happy that it is one of the money-back categories though!

  86. lynn clayton says:

    for me its food groceries take out etc

  87. Jolie says:

    Groceries and eating out 🙂

  88. Erin says:

    We use the grocery and the restaurant cash back categories most.

  89. Heidi c. says:

    I mainly use cash-back for groceries. As we are a family of six, the grocery bills can be astronomical. So, I use my debit and credit card to collect points and they do add up pretty quickly.

  90. Mari says:

    Funny, this blog post came out just a day after I saw an ad for this cc and I was thinking of signing up! I live beside a Shoppers Drug Mart so if all purchases from that store count as “drug store” purchases my top two categories would be:
    1. Drug store purchases
    2. Groceries

  91. nicoleroannef says:

    I spend the most in groceries. Easy choice!

  92. toni velthuis says:

    I definitely spend the most on Groceries, we love Food and Tangerine!

  93. Jill MacAulay says:

    I spend the most on groceries and love the fact there is no annual fee !

  94. Andrew B says:

    It’s definitely gas that I spend the most money on, since my job requires me to drive frequently

  95. Lori Shmuir says:

    I would absolutely spend the most on groceries. I love to try new things and can’t resist a sale to stock up on the things I use the most!

  96. Amanda Lee says:

    Hands down groceries! Two kids equals a lot of goldfish crackers. Though the wine store sees it’s fair share of action.

  97. Tammy Dalley says:

    Groceries for sure!

  98. Chris C says:

    #TangerineMoneyBack RESTAURANTS would be a top choice for sure! (Take-out and eat-in). Then groceries…
    Everyone has to eat! 🙂

  99. Ebony says:

    It definitely has to be groceries!

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