Simplii vs Tangerine: The Ultimate Showdown

By Baggio Ma | Published on 10 Jul 2023

Difference between Simplii and Tangerine Bank

For many Canadians, banking means using one of the big five banks in Canada. These banks allow Canadians to access everyday financial services like personal and commercial banking, mortgages, and credit cards. But as services become increasingly digital and online, there are online challengers that are looking to disrupt the Canadian banking sector. This ultimate showdown article will discuss two of them: Simplii vs Tangerine as we determine which is the better banking choice. 

Simplii Financial Overview

Simplii Financial was founded in 2017 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. It was established following the end of the partnership between CIBC and the consumer banking division of Loblaws, better known as President’s Choice Financial. Anyone who was with PC Financial before 2017 was moved to Simplii’s banking platform. As of 2023, Simplii Financial had more than 2 million registered customers

Tangerine Overview

The Tangerine Bank was introduced to Canadians in 1997 as the ING Bank of Canada doing operations as ING Direct. At the time, it was a revolutionary platform in Canada and it was ING’s first pilot for a direct-to-customer banking service without any branches. In November 2012, ING Direct was acquired by Scotiabank in a deal that was worth $3.1 billion. In 2014, Scotiabank officially changed its name to Tangerine. Like Simplii, Tangerine has over 2 million registered customers as of 2023. 

What Are Online Banks in Canada?

Online banks are companies that provide digital banking products and services directly to customers without any physical branches. Simplii and Tangerine are just two of the best online banks that operate in Canada

Just like with brick-and-mortar banks, online banks are licensed financial institutions in Canada and abide by all Canadian banking regulations. They are also backed by CDIC coverage which is great to know as most would consider online banks to be less financially stable than Canada’s big banks. 

Some benefits of online banks include higher interest rates and lower fees. These banks can offer most of the products and services of the big five banks or credit unions. This includes personal and commercial banking, investments, mortgages, credit cards, and loans. 

These online banks can also operate as individual fintech companies or, as is in the case of both Simplii and Tangerine, be owned by a more established bank.

Simplii vs Tangerine: Chequing Accounts

Simplii Chequing Accounts

As the name of the company suggests, chequing accounts with Simplii is a very simple concept. For Canadians, Simplii offers only one type: the Simplii No Fee Chequing Account. With this account, you get free daily banking, no monthly or annual fees, and access to over 3,400 CIBC ATMs across Canada. 

Other benefits of a Simplii No Fee Chequing Account include the use of a Debit Mastercard, mobile wallet payments, getting foreign cash delivered to your door, and sending Visa digital gift cards to anyone in Canada. If you sign up for Simplii’s Global Money Transfer service you can send free international money transfers. Finally, there is an incentive to spread the word as for every friend you sign up with Simplii, you receive $125 cash!

The downside to Simplii’s No Fee Chequing Account is that the interest rates are next to nothing. For any balance up to $50,000, you receive only 0.01%. In fact, you have to hold over $1 million in your Simplii account to earn the highest interest rate of 0.10%. Of course, this is an incentive for you to sign up for Simplii’s High-Interest Savings Account as well which we will touch on later in this article. Overall, Simplii’s chequing account offers simplicity and there isn’t much more you can ask for in an online bank account. 

Tangerine Chequing Accounts

Tangerine also offers a no-fee chequing account with free daily transactions through an online and mobile platform. Just as with Simplii, Tangerine offers free access to its parent company’s ATMs. Scotiabank has over 3,500 in Canada as well as 44,000 globally through the Scotiabank Global ATM Alliance. This is definitely one benefit of Scotiabank’s expansive international footprint. 

With the Tangerine chequing account, you get access to a Visa Debit card for real-life and online purchases. You will receive a physical card as well as a digital version that works with wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Tangerine also allows online cheque deposits through the Cheque-In mobile technology.

Tangerine’s chequing account also pays a very modest interest rate although it will pay out a rate of 0.10% for balances of $100,000 or more. This chequing account is no frills and is also meant to be used in tandem with Tangerine’s High-Interest Savings Account and investment products. 

The Winner: Tangerine

This chequing account comparison was a close one as both chequing accounts offer no fees and free daily banking. Tangerine has a slight edge due to the number of global Scotiabank ATMs you have access to and a lower minimum balance to earn the highest interest-rate. 

Simplii vs Tangerine: Savings Accounts

Simplii Savings Accounts

Simplii offers two different types of savings accounts to Canadians: the Simplii High-Interest Savings Account and the Simplii USD Savings Account. Unless you are looking to hold US dollars, most Canadians will be interested in Simplii’s High-Interest Savings Account. 

As with its chequing accounts, Simplii offers customers no monthly fees, no minimum account balance, and to earn interest on every dollar in their account. The Simplii High-Interest Savings Account works perfectly alongside a Simplii No Fee Chequing Account due to its much higher interest-rate payouts. The maximum interest rate in the chequing account was 0.10% on a balance of $1 million or more. In Simplii’s High-Interest Savings Account, a balance of $1 million or more will earn you a solid 5.25%. On the flip side, anything balance less than $1 million will only net you a maximum of 1.00%. 

The Simplii USD Savings Account also has no monthly fees, no minimum account balance, and a generous 2.50% interest rate that is calculated daily and paid out monthly. You can even deposit USD cheques to Simplii and transfer money between accounts using competitive foreign exchange rates. Finally, Simplii does offer a Tax-Free Savings Account or TFSA which earns 0.40% interest if you hold your balance in cash and not in investments. 

Tangerine Savings Accounts

Tangerine’s savings account also offers no fees and no minimum balance, as well as a 1.00% interest rate on all balances. The online platform is perfect for transferring funds back and forth between Tangerine’s chequing and savings accounts. 

The site also offers a US Dollar Savings Account although compared to Simplii, the 0.10% interest rate isn’t too enticing. If you are a Tangerine user and want to earn more on your US dollars, consider one of their US Dollars Guaranteed Investment Certificates or GICs, which currently payout an interest rate of up to 4.25%. 

Tangerine also offers a TFSA for Canadian users which also has a 1.00% interest rate. This is higher than Simplii’s 0.40% interest rate. Note that Tangerine is not a brokerage so you cannot own individual investments like stocks or ETFs in your Tangerine TFSA. 

The Winner: Simplii Financial

This savings account comparison wasn’t really that close as Simplii offers higher interest-rates for both the High-Interest Savings Account and the US Dollars Savings Account. You do need to have a balance of $1 million to earn the highest interest rate of 5.25%, but the 2.50% interest rate in the USD savings account is much better than Tangerine’s. 

Simplii vs Tangerine: Credit Cards

Simplii Credit Cards

The simple theme continues for Simplii when it comes to its credit card lineup. Simplii only offers one credit card for users in Canada: the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card. This credit card has no annual fees and only requires a minimum household income of $15,000 annually. 

How much will the Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa Card pay you in rewards? You will earn 4.5% cash back on all eligible restaurants, bars, and coffee shops up to $5,000 per year. On top of that, you will earn 1.5% cash back on all gas and groceries for up to $15,000 and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

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This card also comes with purchase security and extended protection insurance included at no additional charge. These will ensure that your purchases are protected by adding an additional year on top of the manufacturer’s warranty. At an optional charge, you can also add on CIBC Travel Medical Insurance for coverage of up to $10 million while on vacation. 

Tangerine Credit Cards

Tangerine offers Canadians two different credit cards: the Tangeiner World Mastercard and the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Both of these options have no annual fees, unlimited money-back rewards, and the ability to earn up to 2% cash back each month. 

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card only requires an annual household income of $12,000. You also need to be the age of majority in your province, a Canadian resident and have not declared bankruptcy in the previous seven years. The nice thing with Tangerine’s cards is that you earn 2% back on any two money-back categories. These include groceries, furniture, restaurants, hotel motels, gas, recurring bill payments, drug stores, home improvements, entertainment, and public transportation or parking. For any other purchases outside of those two categories, you earn 0.5% interest. 

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For the Tangerine World Mastercard, you will need to have one of the following requirements: an annual income of at least $60,000, an annual household income of $100,000, or at least $250,000 in Tangerine savings or investment accounts. This card offers the ability to earn Mastercard Travel Rewards at participating retailers and take advantage of Mastercard Travel Pass which provides a long list of airport benefits. You also get access to the Mastercard Boingo WiFi network of over 1 million hotspots around the world and integration with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. 

The Winner: Tangerine

This credit card comparison can be summed up in one phrase: two cards are better than one! The flexibility of Tangerine’s reward system is nice, especially for those who wouldn’t benefit from earning on gas or restaurants. The travel rewards from the Tangerine World Mastercard are great for avid travellers and the card adds true legitimacy to this popular Canadian online bank. 

ResultsWinner
Chequing AccountsTangerine
Savings AccountsSimplii Financial
Credit CardsTangerine

Simplii vs Tangerine: The Results

The scores have been tabulated and in this ultimate showdown between Canadian online banks, Tangerine takes the prize. It’s not surprising as Tangerine is a much more established company and had a more than 20-year head start to establish its products and services. With better personal banking options and superior credit cards, Tangerine certainly has an edge over Simplii in 2023. 

Baggio Ma has written for several Canadian websites on a variety of personal finance related topics. His knowledge is informed by his personal financial journey as an investor over the past 5 years. He invests using the online brokerage platform Wealthsimple, shops with one of the best credit cards in Canada, and keeps track of his credit score through Borrowell.