Tangerine Credit Card Review: No Longer On Top

Tangerine credit card review

Canadian cash back credit cards with no annual fee have been struggling in recent years. Many of the better ones have had their rewards slashed and the features downgraded...

That's why when Tangerine launched their new credit card in 2016, people were tripping over themselves to apply for it. No other card was giving unlimited 2% cash back on bonus categories at all anymore, let alone categories you could choose and change yourself. Back then, spending outside your bonus categories would still net you a pretty decent 1% cash back as well.

It was an amazing deal and, as it turns out, a little too good to stay true.

Exactly 13 months after its initial launch, Tangerine has dropped the 1% cash back rate on non-bonus spending to 0.5%. That's a major reduction in rewards. They've also increased their great 1.5% foreign currency exchange rate to the usual 2.5%, and increased some balance transfer and other fees on top of that.

The real question here is: is the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card still good?

The short answer - Yes.

The flexible unlimited 2% cash back categories still exist as they were, and that by itself makes the card worth having. You just now have to get creative with how you use it and combine it with another card to maximize your rewards. Check out the How To Maximize Your Rewards section below for more on that.

That said, the card will be dropping from the #1 spot in our no fee cash back credit card rankings all the way down to the #7 spot.

Quick Facts

Annual fee $0
Interest rate 19.95%
Min. income No set minimum
Reward type Cash Back
Reward 0.5% unlimited cash back on regular purchases
2% unlimited cash back on up to 3 bonus categories you choose
HTS reward return 1.1% of spending for a typical person
Sign-up bonus None
Apply Click here


  • 2% cash back on 2 bonus spending categories of your choosing - the only card on the market to offer this.
  • 3rd bonus category if you choose to deposit your money back into a Tangerine savings account.
  • You can switch your bonus categories once every 90 days in case your spending habits change.
  • Automatic monthly cash back redemption as a statement credit or deposit into your Tangerine Savings Account.
  • No caps or limits to the amount of cash back you can earn.
  • No annual fee for both primary and secondary cardholders.


  • 0.5% cash back on regular purchases is lower than many other cash back credit cards.
  • Poor insurance package when compared to other top no-fee cards.
  • No sign up bonus like some other top cards have.

Insurance Package:

  • Extended warranty - up to one year.
  • Purchase protection - 90 days.

How The Bonus Categories Work

There are currently 10 bonus spending categories that you can choose from right away when you apply. Then later, you can change your categories as often as you want, but changes will only come into effect after 3 billing cycles of having used the previously selected categories. This is to prevent people from constantly adjusting their categories moment to moment as they're making purchases.

Here's what's currently available:

  1. Gas
  2. Grocery
  3. Drug Store
  4. Recurring Bills
  5. Restaurants
  6. Entertainment
  7. Home Improvement
  8. Furniture
  9. Hotel-Motel
  10. Public Transportation and Parking

You automatically get 2 bonus spending categories when you sign up for the card and choose to get your money back as a monthly statement credit to your credit card account. But, if you opt to deposit it into a Tangerine Savings Account instead, you'll permanently get a 3rd bonus category.

How To Maximize Your Rewards

Use A Second Top Card For Everyday Spending

With the regular spending rate dropping to 0.5%, the first thing you should do is only use your Tangerine card when shopping at stores that give you the increased 2% bonus cash back rate.

What do you do for the rest of your purchases?

I suggest applying for The SimplyCash Card from American Experss. It's another no-fee cash back credit card that gives you 1.25% cash back on ALL your purchases. Not only that, but you get an increased 5% cash back on gas and grocery purchases for the first 6 months.

Get Your 3rd Bonus Spending Category

The next thing you're going to want to do is make sure you have a Tangerine savings account so you can get that 3rd bonus category.

Tangerine offers no-fee banking with easy electronic transfers to all other Canadian banks via online banking. You can even email money for free using their own email money transfer solution so you don't have to worry about getting your money in and out. It all works seamlessly with your current bank - I know because I'm a Tangerine client myself but use another bank for my primary chequing. Even if you don't use the account for anything else but securing the 3rd bonus category, it's still worth it.

Right now, you can get a ton of extra bonuses like 2.4% interest for 6 months, a $75 bonus for opening a chequing account, and an extra $50 bonus for using my Orange Key (you'll only get $25 if you use theirs). That's $125 in bonuses just for opening free accounts.

Open A Tangerine Account: Click Here
Use This Orange Key: 41502230S1

Choose Your Bonus Spending Categories Wisely

After that, you need to figure out where you spend your money so you can decide which 2% bonus categories to select to maximize your cash. The FREE Monthly Budget Planner I offer to everyone who joins my money saving tips newsletter can help you do this. Be sure to check back every now and then to see if your spending habits change so you can adjust your categories.

Maximize Your Bonuses

Finally, be sure to maximize your 2% bonus spending.

One way to do this is to choose Grocery as one of your categories and then go to a grocery store that has a gift card mall where you can buy gift cards to your favourite stores and restaurants. Stock up on gift cards for stores where you regularly shop anyway and the increased 2% rate still applies.

That means you are effectively earning 2% on all those future purchases made with your gift cards that would normally only qualify for the 0.5% rate. Just make sure you only buy what you will spend money on anyway and that you don't lose your gift cards.

Wrapping It Up

It's sad to see this innovative new card lose some of great benefits so early in its life, but the good news is there is still lots left to love. As long as they stop the changes here, I still think this is a card many Canadians should consider having in their wallets.

You may have to jump through a few more hoops now to maximize your rewards by combining it with the SimplyCash card - but the good news is that you will actually be earning more cash than before if you take the time to do just that.

Apply Now!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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CanadianDaniel's picture

Great article Stephen ... Exciting because not only can I now accelerate cash rewards from regular grocery shopping via the Tangerine card, I can also earn Air Miles at grocers like Metro. Same notion for the Shoppers Optimum program. In the credit card rewards game, we call this triple-dipping. Frugal shoppers rejoice!

April 05, 2016 @ 12:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Absolutely - dip away. I actually call it stacking when you combine a bunch of different deals all at the same time but it's basically the same thing :)


April 05, 2016 @ 1:53 pm
Gloria Clamen
Gloria Clamen's picture

I had signed up for the new credit card offered to me as a customer of Tangerine several months ago, as per their trial. They have just rewarded me by offering me 4% on 3 categories for 3 months - an amazing perk!

April 05, 2016 @ 3:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Glad to hear they are giving this to existing customers as well, good for them! It's a pretty unprecedented sign up perk for a no-fee cash back card because it doesn't have any limits. I'm pretty sure they are taking a small loss on every dollar at 4% during this promo period, but that's just me guessing based on what I know credit cards roughly charge in merchant fees.

April 05, 2016 @ 4:04 pm
Sherri 's picture

How long is the 4% bonus available ? One month of spending or 3? Also do you think recurring monthly seasons hockey tickets would be a recurring bill ? Just thinking .....

April 06, 2016 @ 1:07 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

The bonus is available for 3 months after you account is open. I believe the terms say 93 days exactly if my memory is correct.

Monthly hockey tickets may be classified as Entertainment, so I'm not sure. It really depends on how the merchant (in this case the hockey team) has elected to classify themselves. You could try calling and asking but you'll probably run into a lot of employees who have no clue what you're talking about, but the easiest way to know would just be to give it a try.

April 06, 2016 @ 11:13 am
paul's picture

I have a small business what would be the best card for cash back.

April 13, 2016 @ 2:39 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Well paul, you can use personal cards for small business purposes so I would just get one of the top personal cards per my rankings and just use it solely for business purposes. That way it's easy to keep your transactions separate for accounting purposes.

April 13, 2016 @ 4:46 pm
Dave Gordon
Dave Gordon's picture

I have all of my credit cards set up to pay the full balance due by the due date, directly from my bank account. This avoids interest charges, and lets me travel worry-free because I don't need to access my bank over public wi-fi hotspots - a security no-no!

Unfortunately, I cannot do this with the Tangerine card unless I have a Tangerine bank account to pay from - which I don't want or need. This is the only bank/credit card that doesn't allow automatic payment from a major bank account like TD or Royal.

September 09, 2016 @ 3:54 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Auto pay is a great feature. Some banks definitely don't offer this though but most of the big ones do. I personally don't do it because I want to review my transactions before paying the bill to make sure I don't miss anything and there aren't any fraudulent charges.

September 12, 2016 @ 11:35 am
Farida Sultana
Farida Sultana's picture

hey Stephen,

I also do auto payments in full. Are you saying, if there is a fraudulent charge and I pay it, the credit card company will not investigate it ,(after payment) and reverse the charge.



May 09, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I believe you have a set amount of time to report problems with your statement (I'm guessing 90 days but you'd have to check with each institution to see what their rules are). They might help you after that point, but it would get increasingly difficult the longer you leave it.

May 09, 2017 @ 9:25 pm
Dan M.
Dan M. 's picture

Do you have any ideea in which category amazon is? I spent a lot on amazon and I don't want to apply to their own cc.

September 22, 2016 @ 5:49 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Unfortunately I don't know - but Tangerine MasterCard customer service might know.

September 23, 2016 @ 1:22 pm
Santiago's picture

If available get the Chase amazon card 2% cash back and No Foreign Transaction fees

May 09, 2017 @ 11:16 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Unfortunately it is no longer available to any new applicants and the 2% is only on Amazon purchases. 1% on all other purchases.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:52 am
Santiago's picture

Hello Stephen,

I am not cancelling right away. But I have moved all my personal expenses (where I don't earn 3% PC Master Elite) to Amex SimplyCash. It's too much of a hassle to carry too many cards and remember the categories. Furthermore, I ran a quick a dirty comparison on my last years expenses and even with the 2% categories I am ahead in cash back just using the Amex

May 09, 2017 @ 11:15 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

For the average person I calculate that you'll get roughly a 1.1% return on spending if you pur all your spending on the Tangerine card now. I think it was about 1.3% previously. If you combine with Amex SimplyCash you should achieve about 1.6%.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:54 am
Sergio's picture

I will reluctantly keep the Tangerine card. I ran a quick calculation and based on our spending pattern, even with a 2%/0.5% cashback, I still get more cashback than with a card offering 1% on everything.

The sad part is that I went with the Tangerine card last year specifically because my old card (CIBC Dividend One, formerly Citi Enrich) had gone from a 1% cashback on everything to 2% on groceries/0.5% on everything else. "Bait and switch" is an understatement.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:37 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Very frustrating for those who want to keep all spending on one card and still get good rewards. Starts to make the hassle of managing the categories not worth it over a straight 1% cash back card.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:55 am
Stu's picture

Thanks for the updated review on the Tangerine credit card Stephen. Based on your previous heads up and media articles I no longer use my Tangerine card as I do not like being taken advantage of. I will keep it for emergencies but will not renew it when the current card expires. Whatever reasons there are for the changes to the Tangerine benefits, I feel it was a bait and switch so I have switched. I am now using the MBNA World Elite card based on your recommendation. Yes, it has a fee attached but I am still well ahead with payback even with the fee.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:39 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

MBNA Rewards World Elite all the way! For those who have enough spending to come out ahead after the annual fee anyway.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:56 am
Ruth's picture


When the Tangerine card became available to the general public I got it and was thrilled with it. It ,obviously, was the best deal going. So, I was very disappointed when they announced these changes. Because of the changes, they have lost some of my business. Initially, Tangerine became my primary card as I put almost everything on it. I have a savings account with Tangerine, so have three categories to choose from and I have the cash back deposited into that account. I have another card which gives 2% cash back on groceries and gas and 1% on everything else. So, I now only use Tangerine for my 3 chosen categories and everything else is on the other card. The one thing I do like about Tangerine is that you get the cash back each month (and it's the actual amount and not a rounded figure) rather than having to wait until it reaches a certain amount, usually $50. I just hope that they don't make any further "negative" changes!

May 09, 2017 @ 11:40 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I agree it's still worth keeping. I don't think they'll dare make any further negative changes for quite some time after the backlash they got from this. Time will tell.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:57 am
EdandR's picture

Regrettably we just applied for the card and received it in the mail the same day that you posted your update!

We are seniors who followed your advice and switched from the BMO World Airmiles card because we can no longer afford their travel insurance. It would have been $329 this year in addition to the $120 annual fee.

We got a Desjardins Visa Card for the travel insurance and applied for the Tangerine to continue with a Mastercard.

I guess you just can't win in this ever changing world!

May 11, 2017 @ 10:59 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's unfortunate. I think you made a smart move switching to Desjardins anyway for the insurance though so at least that is a plus.

May 12, 2017 @ 3:51 pm
Nicholas Sean Haydon
Nicholas Sean Haydon's picture

Will continue to use the Tangerine credit card. The master card offered by the "Bay" is an alternative card that I use quite often. The reward program is straightforward; 2% earned each month. Happy with this card. Recently took advantage of the store's "Bay days." In brief, a pair of shoes (Rockport) valued at $160, on sale for $120, by using the "Bay master card" received an additional 25% discount,I redeemed $60.00 in points, the total cost of the shoes was just over $43.00. Have done this a few times over the years. The interest rate does not bother me; the balance is paid in full every month as I have done so for the past 13 years when using either the in store credit card or the co branded master card.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:55 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Didn't think the return was 2% on that card (maybe at Bay stores only?). I'll have to give it another look. Store cards can sometimes be good for nabbing special deals targeted only at those cardholders. I've been tempted before but never actually taken the plunge. I tend to shop around so much that it's hard for me to commit to deals at one store like that.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:59 am
Ken's picture

Good article. After some talking, my wife and I are staying with the Tangerine card, ands thats it. The last year we have had it has made things a lot easier when it comes to tracking, and to be honest, we were sick of using multiple cards to maximize cash back. Doing that for years and years, and then going to one card for everything, makes us realize that sometimes taking the stress out of things is worth the money we are losing on cash back. We like the fact we get paid out monthly, in cash. Not rewards, not cash back on your card, not once a year. The layout on the site is a lot betetr than other cards we have used, the option to see what card bought what, CIBC and MBNA never had that. Tracking is easier as well to see when things are paid.

While we are "losing money" to some, we are still making money using the card. Yes we are making half the amount on anything that isnt in the 2% categories, but making half is better than making none.

May 09, 2017 @ 11:56 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

As long as you are happy with the end product, it's all that really matters. It's just too bad that they attracted you with their initial offer and now that you're hooked you have to live with something less. Still a great card though so I completely understand your decision. Time is the only thing more valuable than money.

May 09, 2017 @ 12:01 pm
glenn's picture

I applied for the Tangerine card but was denied because I live in the country and have a post office box. So I applied for the MBNA card with cash back.

May 09, 2017 @ 1:31 pm
Tammy's picture

Hi Stephen,
I just tried clicking the link you provided above to apply for a chequing account w Tangerine, I see below message about the $75 bonus. It has already ended however your post is current and mentioned about this offer being available now if we choose to apply. Please clarify. thanks. Love reading all your articles and learned a lot btw.....keep up the great work.

***Once you’ve opened your Account, you can earn an additional $75 Bonus when you switch your payroll direct deposits by April 28, 2017. Your first payroll direct deposit has to be deposited into your Tangerine Chequing Account by April, 28 2017 in order to get the $75 cash Bonus***

May 09, 2017 @ 12:34 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Apologies for this. I believe the offer is still active after chequing around the site and seeing mention of May 15th for basically the same offer in the footer elsewhere. However, I'm not 100% certain and am checking with Tangerine to make sure.


I simplified it down to 1 link instead of 2 where it allows you to open either a chequing or savings account. Both bonuses are listed correctly with an end day of May 15,2017. Use that link to apply and take a screenshot of it if you can to send them if you have any trouble getting your bonuses.

May 09, 2017 @ 3:24 pm
Tammy's picture

thanks for prompt reply Stephen....appreciate it. Just checked w payroll and the pay for this Friday is gone so I won't be able to make a payroll deposit in time to take advantage of this promo. If payday was next Friday it would have worked. Maybe I'll catch it next time. Do you happen to know roughly when the next offer like this will come around? Just wondering how frequent Tangerine have this type of promo since I'm not too familiar w Tangerine. thanks again.

May 09, 2017 @ 5:38 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's unfortunate. You might still be able to qualify if you setup the switch before the May 15th deadline but you'd have to check with Tangerine support on that. I don't have any word on what the next promotion is going to be. It could be better or worse than this one. This one is pretty good though.

The good news is they usually always run a promotion of some sort, so you can expect a new one to be announced shortly after this one ends.

May 09, 2017 @ 9:28 pm
Richard Hunter
Richard Hunter's picture

Good article & informative comments. Due to changes using Tangerine card only for 2 % on 3 categories - Groceries, Home improvements & Recurring Bills . Teaming it with our Capital One Costco MasterCard since 3% on Restaurants, 2% on Gas and 1% for everything else after .5% on first $3,000. Seems to give us maximum cash rewards. Have had Amex but not happy with their charges to retailers & as a result some won't accept.

May 09, 2017 @ 12:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, combining with other bonus category cards allows you to increase your overall cash back.

May 09, 2017 @ 3:25 pm
A tech guy in BC
A tech guy in BC's picture

I will do the same a many others who have commented - use it for my selected categories only. IN addition to the 2% category payback, it has a pretty convenient automatic credit on each month's bill, and it interfaces very nicely with Quicken Cash manager (unlike two of my other cards).

OUtside my Tangerine categories, I will continue to use PC Mastercard fro Loblaw stores (3%), and Rogers Mastercard (1.75% on all purchases in Canada), and Amazon Chase Visa for USA purchases (no exchange penalty, and earn 1% on most purchases, 2% an Amazon purchases).

That is a lot of cards, and not as convenient as using just one card, but worthwhile in the end.

Tech Guy in BC

May 09, 2017 @ 1:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a lot to juggle, but you're covering all your bases for sure.

May 09, 2017 @ 3:26 pm
Erich's picture

Thanks -- agree with your recommendation except that you do need a third card for the many merchants that do not accept Amex

May 09, 2017 @ 1:25 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

In that case I suggest just falling back to the Tangerine card because it should be fairly rare so you don't have to deal with the added hassle of a third card. That's a personal choice though. Trying to keep it relatively simple but boost the cash by a large amount. Anything else is getting pretty complicated.

May 09, 2017 @ 3:27 pm
Erich's picture

I agree except that I need a MC card anyways for fairly large purchases at Costco (including prescription drugs -- they have the lowest dispensing fees by a wide margin), so getting a PC Card which gives me !% plus 7 cents off a cheaper gas price makes sense for me. Three cards mainly but I do keep the Amazon/Visa as well for double points at Amazon PLUS and when I travel, no foreign exchange extra charge.

Thanks again for your reviews!

May 11, 2017 @ 12:34 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Sounds like you've gotten good at donig the CC juggling act. Kudos to you for that. Thanks for reading the reviews I write :)

May 12, 2017 @ 3:53 pm
Bob's picture

I changed from Costco Capital One Card Mastercard to the Tangerine Card . Capital One is not satisfactory for handling fraud incidences or for use when out of country among other things. They simply can not be trusted.

Thanks for the heads up on Tangerine.

I now will only use Tangerine for 2 categories offering 2 %.

I have Amex Simply Cash and Chase Amazon Visa for Amazon and Costco US.

What MasterCard would Stephen recommend for Costco Canada that has no fee and giving at least 1% cash back?

Thanks for your help.

May 09, 2017 @ 6:20 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I recommend the MBNA Rewards MasterCard that gives a straight unlimited 1% cash back and is super flexible with how and when you redeem your rewards. Also comes with great insurance coverage for a no fee card. It's #3 in the table above.

May 09, 2017 @ 9:30 pm
Josh Glines
Josh Glines's picture

My wife and I do a lot of shopping at costco.

Does anyone know which spending category it falls under, or if that data is listed anywhere ?


May 10, 2017 @ 4:39 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I don't believe it falls under a category where any credit card can get you a bonus. Not even the Tangerine card.

May 10, 2017 @ 4:47 pm
Alisa Petrisch
Alisa Petrisch 's picture

Hello, if I buy Costco gift cards using my Costco MasterCard for purchase to score cash back points, do I get more points once I shop using that gift card too?
Is that double dipping and does it work?
Thank you!

May 11, 2017 @ 1:16 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It's a good thought, but unfortunately when you make your purchase in-store at Costco using your gift cards you won't get any additional points.

May 12, 2017 @ 3:55 pm
Owen @ PlanEasy's picture

That's really too bad. I was considering applying for this card. I recently opened up a Tangerine checking/savings account and noticed this card had a pretty good 2% cash back on key categories. Still not too bad with 3 categories getting 2% back. Still may end up applying.

May 15, 2017 @ 10:02 am
Wait Waiting
Wait Waiting's picture

I applied for the Tangerine Credit Card 3 weeks ago, i'm still waiting. They say there doing a manual verification.

July 11, 2017 @ 9:42 pm
Sarah's picture

I'm super disappointed with Tangerine master card. They endorse a fraud Limo merchant ID #: 98628 1100 17001 under the pretext of following regulations though I have provided the proof that the Cab Limo service was imposter pretending to be a licensed taxi driver from Pearson's airport / over charge and corner passenger to pay because the passenger is locked inside the car. I sent Tangerine Master Card several letters but it seems talking to a wall.
Here is the Toronto Sun article: Pearson limo, taxi drivers in credit fraud: Cops

And this is the reply from the Pearson’s security confirming those common cases of fraud Limo Cab drivers. What else should I provide to Tangerine in order for me to be reimbursed???

From: Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Date: July 21, 2017 10:56:22 AM
Subject: Re: Toronto Pearson - GTAA-238298

Dear ************,

Thank you for your feedback regarding Toronto Pearson.

Your comments were forwarded to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) Manager Intelligence, Support & Compliance for his information. At Toronto Pearson, all authorized taxis and limousines are required to obtain a permit to operate from our airport. This contract allows us to set certain standards with regards to service, maintenance and availability of vehicles for our passengers and therefore have full control of the operation.

Unfortunately some vehicle operators are not able to obtain these permits and attempt to operate illegally. The GTAA recognizes the serious problem of unlicensed taxis and limousines operating at Toronto Pearson. To address this problem we are actively working with our government and security partners to make our airport undesirable and unprofitable to these individuals. We have recently hired a security firm whose role is to intervene when they identify a passenger being solicited by an unlicensed taxi operator and issue trespassing notices or have them removed from the airport property. The elimination of this activity is an on-going campaign. Please be assured that the GTAA, along with our partners and authorized taxi and limousine operators, are aggressively addressing this issue.

Further to this we will also be addressing this with the Commissionaires who are the uniformed personnel available to assist passengers in locating authorized transportation from Toronto Pearson. Under no circumstances are these individuals to direct passengers to other means of transport. That said, the illegal drivers have been known to have an individual within the terminal that they would with, also not authorized to be here and our team is also approaching these individuals and have them escorted off property.

Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention and we hope that on your next visit here will be more pleasant.

Kind regards,

July 30, 2017 @ 4:53 pm

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