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Not Your Average Cash Back Card: Here Is Why Tangerine Mastercards Are Unique

March 12, 2021
6 mins
A young man sits on a patio holding a drink and his phone with shopping bags on the table

Using the right credit card can turn your spending into extra cash back, ultimately saving you money.

There are two types of cash back credit cards:

  • Category cash back: This type usually offers several cash back rates, with more cash back in specific preferred categories. For example, earn 2% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% back on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% back on all other purchases.
  • Flat-rate cash back: This type offers one cash back rate for all purchases on the card. For example, earn 1.25% cash back everywhere you shop.

Flat-rate rewards cards are typically best for people that shop across broad categories. In contrast, a category card can benefit those that routinely spend more on certain products with better earn rates for specific spending.

No-fee cards play a role in any savvy credit user’s wallet. While no-fee cards offer lower earn rates, the best no-fee cards can complement user’s spending patterns. These cards are usually well suited to individuals who spend $1,000 or less on their credit card every month, whether they use their credit card sparingly or as a secondary card to their primary (fee) credit card.

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What makes the Tangerine cards unique is the option to switch the preferred categories to fit ever-changing needs — in a way, getting the flexibility of a flat-rate card but with the higher earn rate of a category card.

If cardholders know they have a pending move, they can choose to reward themselves for their furniture purchases. If they stop using transportation for an extended period, they can reward themselves elsewhere until the category suits them once again, and so on. That way, cardholders can tailor their card to match their lifestyle and maximize their rewards.

How Tangerine Mastercards work

Cardholders can earn 2% cash back in up to three Money-Back Categories of their choice (out of 10 options). Members start with two categories and get the third when they deposit their rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account.

Cardholders earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Money-Back Categories

The 10 Money-Back Categories include:

  1. Grocery
  2. Furniture
  3. Restaurants
  4. Hotel-motel
  5. Gas
  6. Recurring bill payments
  7. Drug store
  8. Home improvement
  9. Entertainment
  10. Public transportation and parking

While some of these categories are common, like gas and groceries, many of them are not. You would struggle to find another card with an accelerated earn rate for furniture, home improvement, or parking.

Although cardholders could make these purchases on any credit card, they may not get as much as 2% back. Many rewards credit cards with an annual fee offer around a 1% return for general purchases that fit outside their preferred categories like travel or dining, for example. Many no-fee credit cards offer around 0.5% back for all other everyday purchases.

The Tangerine Mastercards fit into the latter category; however, cardholders can switch their preferred categories to maximize their earnings.

Redeeming rewards

Cardholders can choose to deposit their rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account each month, which earns them a third 2% Money-Back Category.

Members can also choose to apply their rewards to their monthly statement as a credit, though they will not receive the third Money-Back Category.

Not many credit cards release rewards monthly. Most programs allow cardholders to cash out rewards when they have a specific balance or on a certain date annually.

Balance transfers

New cardholders can take advantage of the 1.95% promotional interest rate on balance transfers during the first 30 days, for six months. A 1% balance transfer fee does apply.

A low balance transfer rate can help cardholders pay off debt faster. Users can avoid accruing additional costly interest charges they may otherwise owe on their balance using a card with a 19.99% standard annual interest rate.

A comparison of Tangerine Mastercards

Here is a quick side-by-side comparison of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card and Tangerine World Mastercard®:

Tangerine Mastercards

Credit card:

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine World Mastercard®

Annual fee:




  • Earn a $100 e-Gift Card from RATESDOTCA upon approval.
  • Bonus expires: May 14, 2021
  • Earn a $100 e-Gift Card from RATESDOTCA upon approval.
  • Bonus expires: May 14, 2021

Earn rate:

  • Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice.
  • Get 0.5% back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 2% cash back in up to three categories of your choice.
  • Get 0.5% back on all other purchases.

First-year value*:




  • Free additional cards for authorized users

Minimum personal income:



Minimum household income:



*The RATESDOTCA Best of Finance methodology assumes the cardholder spends an average of $2,000 a month on their card to determine the first-year value. The calculation includes all welcome bonuses and promotional offers at the time of publishing.

As you can see, the Tangerine credit cards are quite similar. Both cards offer the same return on spending and have no annual fee. Where they differ, however, is in the finer details like features and application requirements.

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is more accessible with applicants requiring a $12,000 minimum personal income compared to the Tangerine World Mastercard® at $60,000.

Applicants who qualify for the Tangerine World Mastercard® can also access a few additional benefits on top of the core features. One of the more unique perks is mobile device insurance, a rare bonus, especially for a no-fee card. It also sports travel perks, including Boingo Wi-Fi for Mastercard®*, Mastercard® Airport Experiences Provided by LoungeKey, and basic rental car insurance.

Is a Tangerine Mastercard right for you?

Tangerine credit cards provide a unique rewards program unlike any other. If cardholders stay mindful of their spending, they can maximize their cash back. Members can ensure they earn the most rewards by planning and switching categories with larger purchases or as spending habits change.

Tangerine credit cards may not provide as many rewards as top-tier travel rewards cards with an annual fee; however, they offer flexibility and a great cash back rate for no fee. For this reason, in particular, they make a great secondary credit card.

Having a secondary credit card can be beneficial in several ways. If used responsibly, the card can benefit your credit score, offer more perks or features, and provide an additional payment option, which is never a bad thing.

Rates, product information, and reward estimates are subject to change at any time and do not constitute financial advice. This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely those of RATESDOTCA. Information in this article is accurate as of the date of this posting, March 12, 2021. Read our full disclaimer.

Hayley Osmond

Hayley Osmond is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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