As a PC Financial customer for about 15 years now, I've been taking advantage of no-fee virtual banking pretty much since it first became available in Canada.
It's been fantastic.
I've enjoyed no monthly account fees and unlimited free cheques for that entire time along with earning much higher interest rates on savings than what is offered by the big Canadian banks. No complaints here!
All the while there has been another no fee banking competitor out there: ING Direct.
I'd always known about them, but their value proposition was never great enough for me. However, they were acquired by Scotiabank in 2012, changed their name to Tangerine, and upped their value proposition just enough that I took the plunge and opened my first account in 2014.
Here's My Orange Key: More25
Up To $125 In Bonuses + 2.4% Interest For Opening Free Accounts
One of the main reasons I decided to open a Tangerine account was because they were giving away up to $150 in cash bonuses for opening new accounts, as part of their rebranding effort to entice new customers.
Right now, they still have good sign up bonuses with up to $125 in cash bonuses and a great introductory interest rate on savings accounts:
2.4% Interest + $25 With A New Savings Account
If you open one of their free savings accounts and deposit they will give you a whopping 2.4% interest rate for 6 months. If you set up an automatic savings plan (ASP) to automatically transfer a minimum of $100 per month into your savings account for 6 straight months, they will transfer a $25 bonus into your account. You can set up a free EFT link between Tangerine and your existing chequing accounts at any bank if you want to keep using your existing chequing account.
$75 With A New Chequing Account
If you open a free chequing account in addition to a savings account you can get an additional $75 bonus when you switch your payroll direct deposits to Tangerine. If you don't want to keep your payroll going there, you can always switch it back later.
$25 Orange Key Bonus
Finally, if you use the Orange Key of an existing customer you will get an extra $25 bonus.
Once you have an active account, you can then refer your friends, family, and acquaintances for additional bonuses using your own orange key. My Orange Key is More25, if you want to use it to get started.
Open A Savings Account: Click Here
Open A Chequing Account: Click Here
Tangerine vs. PC Financial
I have to admit the sign up bonuses and interest rate promotions didn't hurt, but Tangerine has some other advantages (and disadvantages) over PC Financial.
Access To Scotiabank ATMs
Tangerine has access to the entire network of Scotiabank ATMs. While President Choice Financial's ATMs are located inside Superstore and also share CIBC ATMs.
Free Email Money Transfers
Tangerine has their own system for transferring money by email. This is different than the standard Interac email money transfer, which they also offer for a $1 fee. Both options are very appealing to me because I do often have to send money by email and dropping the fee for that will be nice. Even if I do have to do an Interac EMT for some reason, the $1 fee is still less than the $1.50 that PC Financial and most other banks charge.
Cheque Deposits By Picture
Update: PC Financial now offers mobile cheque deposits as well.
I'm a busy guy and I really hate going into the branch, hence my love for virtual banking. I also hate going to the ATM if I can avoid it. Since I pay for all my purchases using a rewards credit card, I rarely need to withdraw cash. However, I still receive a decent number of cheques which forces me to visit either the branch or an ATM now and then.
Related: Stop Using Your Debit Card Canada!
Tangerine offers mobile cheque deposits simply by snapping a picture of the cheque using their mobile app on your smartphone. What a time saver! Now I can just snap a picture anytime and anywhere and the money will quickly show up in my account. I just have to destroy the cheque when they tell me to by email and I'm all done. Now that's convenience!
Competitive Interest Rates
There are smaller banks and credit unions out there that offer higher interest rates than both Tangerine and PC Financial, but their service typically isn't as convenient. Tangerine's rates are typically as good as or better than PC Financial.
A few years ago, the big banks didn't come anywhere close on savings account rates but they were eventually forced to stop bleeding people completely dry when they started losing customers in droves to virtual banks due to their much higher interest rates. Fortunately, rates are still higher with Tangerine, but the margin is much smaller than it used to be.
Good Mobile App
I'm starting to bank on my phone more and more often. PC Financial has a good mobile app, but, as I already mentioned, the mobile cheque deposit that Tangerine has is definitely a big winner for me.
Easy Account Opening
It's super easy to open an account with Tangerine. I hate going into a branch to sign up for an account and PC Financial even requires you to go into their Pavilion to open a brand new account or wait up to 3 weeks with lots of different steps to get the account approved and opened entirely virtually.
With Tangerine, all you have to do is fill out a simple form online and then use the mobile cheque deposit to make your first deposit from another Canadian financial institution and your account is up and running within a day or two. It actually shocked me how easy it was. I was very pleasantly surprised!
Instant Transfers Between Tangerine Accounts
One annoying feature of PC Interest Plus Savings accounts is that transfers out of your savings to your chequing account aren't instant and require one business day to process. Sometimes you just need access to your money NOW, am I right? With Tangerine, transfers between savings and chequing accounts are instant.
Cheques Aren't Always Free
The biggest disadvantage Tangerine has over PC Financial is that only the first book of cheques is free whereas they are always free with the latter. However, if you do need to reorder cheques, they sell them at a very reasonable price of $12.50 which is much lower than the $40+ that the big banks typically charge.
All Else Is Basically Equal
Everything else is basically the same between the two virtual banks as I outlined in my no-fee banking article. You can check it out if you want to know what else to expect.
My Experience So Far
My experience with Tangerine started off really well with quick account opening process that just blew my socks off because opening accounts is usually such a slow process when done online.
From there I was immediately impressed with the mobile cheque cashing process and the fact that they used it as part of the account opening process. The free email transfers are also really great and the reduced $1 price for Interac transfers is also a nice feature.
The mobile app has been a real time saver. I think I actually like the PC Financial mobile app layout slightly better, but I really like the full disclosure they give in the Tangerine app. They make sure you are aware of any security risks and they provide a very secure process for logging in.
The link created between my PC account and my savings account with Tangerine has been very useful as well. I love that a link is automatically created between the two accounts when you open a new account and you can then transfer funds back and forth between those accounts with a couple of clicks.
If things continue on this way, I'll probably stick with them for quite some time but I'll definitely keep my President's Choice Financial accounts open just in case I want to switch back or a good interest rate promotion comes along.
Update: I've now been with Tangerine for about 2 years and I couldn't be happier. I ended up using the account mostly for business transactions so I could keep them separate from my personal transactions. In addition, I took advantage of higher interest rates on my savings by opting into their regular interest rate promotions. No hiccups yet.
If you want to open your own account - click here.