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Battle of the (Online) Banks: Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine Review 2020

More start-ups and companies are taking a customer-focused approach to doing business, with banks following en suite–and it’s about time. Thousands of Canadians each year are ditching their overpriced bank accounts and making the cost-conscious switch to free banking alternatives, offered from credit unions, independent lenders, and digital banks. By now, Canada’s picked their two favourites: CIBC’s Simplii Financial and Scotiabank’s Tangerine. But which is the best online bank for Canadian citizens? In this edition of our semi-regular Battle of the Banks series, we take a closer at the better bank for Canadian consumers: Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine.

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Quick Compare: Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine

Simplii Financial at a Glance

Simplii Financial is an online-only bank, formerly owned by PC Financial, in partnership with CIBC. In 2017, CIBC and PC Financial ended their partnership after two decades and two million PC Financial customers became Simplii Financial customers.

Since then, Simplii Financial has prospered into one of Canada’s most trusted, favourite banks. Some advantages of a Simplii Financial account include:

  • No monthly or annual fees.
  • Unlimited transactions.
  • Unlimited Interac e-transfers.
  • RRSP, TFSA, HISA, and GIC savings accounts.

Tangerine at a Glance

Formerly known as ING Direct, Tangerine is the creation of Scotiabank, who purchased the direct bank in 2014. Since then, Tangerine has become one of Canada’s leading alternatives to no-fee banking.

  • No monthly or annual fees.
  • Unlimited transactions.
  • RRSP, TFSA, HISA, and GIC savings accounts.

Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine: Monthly Fees, Transactions, and Account Options

Simplii Financial and Tangerine are neck and neck for being the best virtual bank in Canada, and with good reason.

Unlike many of Canada’s major banks, Simplii Financial and Tangerine both provide a customer focused experience. The account, with few exceptions, will cost you nothing to own or use. Neither bank account has monthly or annual fees, or limits on how much you use your savings or chequing accounts.

In addition to no fees and unlimited transactions, Simplii Financial and Tangerine offer various savings accounts.

Accounts offered by both Tangerine and Simplii Financial are the popular High-Interest Savings Account ( HISA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan ( RRSP), Tax-Free Savings Account ( TFSA) and finally, Guaranteed Investment Certificates ( GICs).

Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine: ATMs and Branches

There are a few things to consider when switching to a new bank, especially one with no physical branches.

It’s also important to consider that you and everyone else in Canada have unique banking needs and savings goals. Since Simplii and Tangerine both offer no-fee banking options, branches and face-to-face customer service are unavailable.

If you find yourself doing business at physical branches often, neither Simplii Financial or Tangerine may be right for you.

However, Simplii Financial customers can do automated banking at CIBC ATMs and Tangerine customers can withdraw cash from Scotiabank ATMs. Tangerine has a handful of physical locations in major cities such as Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal. 

If you find yourself withdrawing money often, picking the bank with more ATMs around places you frequent is your best option.

Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine: e-Transfers and Mobile App

Interac e-transfers can become quite costly – the average cost of one is around $1.75. But if you bank with Simplii or Tangerine, Interac e-transfers are free. Simplii offers Auto-Deposit registration, with automatically deposits any money sent to you directly into the account of your choosing.

Simplii Financial vs. Tangerine: The Verdict

Simplii Financial is the best option for people who want free Interac e-transfers and more ATM access, on top of all the other features that come with a Simplii Financial account, such as free cheques.

Tangerine is still an excellent option for low fee banking and only trails behind slightly due to the lack of free Interac e-transfers. Again, if a Scotiabank is near any places you frequent, this might be the better option for you. If you reside in Quebec, Tangerine might be the better banking option for you as well.