When looking at online banking and investment options in Canada the Wealthsimple vs Tangerine Bank battle quickly rises to the forefront.

This is a look at the direct comparison and builds on our Wealthsimple and Tangerine Bank reviews. It’s an interesting comparison to make because it’s not simple robo-advisor vs robo-advisor like our Wealthsimple vs Justwealth comparison.

Wealthsimple Invest is a robo-advisor. Tangerine is a digital bank with passive investing options. That makes this… well, maybe not an apple-to-oranges comparison because they’re more similar than that. 

How about apples-to-pears? Honeycrisp-to-Granny Smith? You get the idea.

Wealthsimple or Tangerine? Quick Comparison Chart

Tangerine

WealthSimple

Tangerine Logo
Wealthsimple logo

General Concept

Passive Investing

Passive Investing

Fees (Management Fees & MERs)

  • 0.77% - 1.06%

  • Inactivity fee

  • 0.6-0.9% for accounts under $100,000

  • 0.5-0.8% for accounts over $100,000

Investment Options

Tangerine mutual funds, ETFs
13 different ETFs (10 standard, 2 SRI, 1 Halal)

SRI Options

Minimum Investmen

$25
None
Portfolio Options
5 Tangerine mutual fund portfolios, 3 Global ETF Portfolios
A choice of 9 portfolios (3 standard, 3 SRI, 3 Halal)
Account Types
RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, Non-registered
RRSP, Spousal RRSP, TFSA, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, RESP, Non-registered

Returns

4-11% annualized growth (for mutual funds. ETF portfolio data not available)

4-12% annualized growth

Bonus Perks/Features

None

  • Wealthsimple Round-up

  • Wealthsimple Overflow

  • Wealthsimple Black:  Financial planning session , tax-loss harvesting, health insurance discount, 15% off will preparation.

  • Wealthsimple Generation: In-depth financial planning, dedicated team, personalized financial report, individualized portfolios, 50% off health insurance plan

Additional services

  • Savings accounts

  • Chequing accounts

  • Credit Cards

  • GICs

  • Mortgages

  • Lines of Credit

  • Wealthsimple Trade

  • Wealthsimple Tax

  • Wealthsimple Crypto

  • Wealthsimple Cash

Mobile App

Promo Offer

$50 sign-up bonus

Sign Up

In our Wealthsimple vs Tangerine comparison, we’ll show you exactly how the two investment platforms compare. We’ll show you the similarities and tease out exactly how they’re different – and (most importantly) what those differences mean for you. By the time we’re done, you’ll have a clear picture of what makes each one stand out and which company is the better option for your hard earned dollars.

We’re major fans of Wealthsimple for passive investing, and that hasn’t changed. But it’s good to challenge our preferences every so often and make sure that our choice is still justified. How do they stack up? Which is better, Wealthsimple or Tangerine? Let’s dig in and see!

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Different Institutions, Similar Approach

Wealthsimple is a fintech company and Tangerine is a digital bank, but both maintain a commitment to making passive investing easy and fun (OK, well, easy anyway). Tangerine has been in the game for over 10 years, offering investors their custom diversified mutual funds with the same “Invest on Autopilot” approach that companies like Wealthsimple are selling. 

They’re like the granddaddy of robo-advisors (everyone say, “Thank you, Tangerine”).

However, doing it for longer doesn’t mean doing it better. 

Companies like Wealthsimple have had the opportunity to build on the foundation that Tangerine created, making improvements where Tangerine failed to innovate. Tangerine just started offering ETF portfolios in the past year, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it was because they felt the heat from robo-advisors like Wealthsimple.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Security

Wealthsimple’s custodial institution (the bank that actually holds your money) is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). All accounts have CIPF protection up to $1 million.

Unlike Wealthsimple, Tangerine is an actual bank, so it’s a member of The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) in its own right. All accounts have up to $100,000 insurance.

Basically, both Wealthsimple and Tangerine take security seriously. They (and their custodial institution in the case of Wealthsimple) are regulated, and they both use data encryption and optional 2-factor authentication to keep your information (and your money) secure.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Fees

Wealthsimple’s fees are two-fold: account fees and MER. Wealthsimple charges 0.4-0.5% on all accounts, plus MERs of 0.1-0.7% depending on your portfolio—this gives you a range of 0.5-0.9%. Meanwhile, Tangerine opted to charge a single fee. This ranges from 0.77% for their new ETF portfolios and 1.06% for their classic mutual fund portfolios.

Neither company has the lowest fees for passive investing (check Questwealth Portfolios if you’re looking to slash prices), but context is everything.

While Tangerine’s classic portfolios are more expensive than even the priciest Wealthsimple portfolio, keep in mind that they’re about half the price of your typical mutual fund. This is just one of those areas where you can tell that Tangerine is a bank, not a robo-advisor.

On a related note, Tangerine will charge an inactivity fee on unused accounts. If you set up a savings account when you join Tangerine, and then you focus on your investment account(s) and don’t use the savings account, you’ll accrue inactivity fees of $20/year after the first two years. And at 10 years, there’s a $40 inactivity fee and you lose any unclaimed assets. Just something to keep an eye on.   

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Sign-up

Signing up for both Wealthsimple and Tangerine is quick and easy. They’ll both ask for some personal identification and financial information, and they’ll take you through questions which help them determine your investment goals and preferred level of risk.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Welcome Bonus

Wealthsimple currently has a promotion for our readers: a $50 cash bonus if you open an account and invest $500. If you’ve been around for even a little while, you know how we feel about welcome bonuses (We’re fans of free money. Obviously).

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Minimum Balance

Some robo-advisors, like Justwealth or Nest Wealth, require a minimum balance $5,000 and $1,000 respectively. Wealthsimple and Tangerine have opted to keep investing more accessible. Wealthsimple has no minimum balance at all (you can literally start investing with $5) and Tangerine requires only $25 to begin investing.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Account Options

Tangerine offers a decent selection of accounts: RRSP, TFSA, RRIF as well as non-registered investment accounts. They offer joint as well as personal accounts.

Wealthsimple offers all of these options—and also offers LIRA, LIF, and RESPs. Perhaps it’s because they’re investment-focused, while Tangerine is a bank that also offers investments, but whatever the reason, we give full points to Wealthsimple Invest for providing account holders with the most options.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Investment Selection

Wealthsimple creates portfolios from a set of 10 standard ETFs. They also have 2 socially responsible options and one Halal ETF.

Tangerine’s base portfolios aren’t ETFs at all, they’re in-house mutual funds which track the market in the same way that ETFs do (think of them as the precursor to ETFs with a lower fee than mutual funds). Their Global ETF Portfolio is made up of 6 different ETFs in a variety of asset allocations depending on your risk tolerance and financial goals.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Portfolio options

Wealthsimple offers 9 different portfolio options at 3 levels of risk (3 standard portfolios, 3 SRIs, and 3 Halal options). Any dividends are automatically reinvested, and portfolios are rebalanced whenever they stray more than 30% from their ideal asset allocation.

Tangerine offers 5 core (mutual fund) portfolios and 3 Global ETF portfolios, all of which vary by risk level and financial goal. They’re rebalanced quarterly. Dividends are automatically reinvested, except for non-registered accounts, when you can indicate your preference for reinvestment or distribution.

We appreciate Wealthsimple’s attention to asset allocation and the fact that they rebalance whenever the portfolio strays too much, instead of sticking to the calendar and taking care of it quarterly, no matter what happens in the market over the course of the season. Tangerine’s tagline is “invest on autopilot,” but we’d like to see that line apply a bit less to the bank itself than it does to its account holders.  

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Performance

Tracking performance is a tricky business, especially when you’re comparing apples to pears. Both Wealthsimple and Tangerine have around the same average annualized growth – but keep in mind that the data is comparing Wealthsimple’s ETFs to Tangerine’s in-house mutual funds.

Tangerine’s Global ETF portfolios haven’t been around for long enough to provide usable data (just one of the reasons why tracking performance is not an exact – or necessarily useful- science). That said, the portfolios are basically tracking the same markets – using the same index investing strategy – so the returns are guaranteed to be similar for each risk level over the long term.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Mobile App and Website

Both Wealthsimple and Tangerine have well-designed and popular apps. In fact, at the time of writing this article, they’re sitting at #30 and #31 in the Apple App Store. Tangerine’s app was recently refreshed, and it looks like a smooth and intuitive banking experience.  

Wealthsimple Invest’s app is streamlined and easy to use. It allows you to monitor your investments, fund your account, and contact the financial advising team easily.  Wealthsimple’s user experience has been at the heart of their company since day 1, and they have invested a ton of time and money into fine tuning everything.

App store reviews are tricky because they become a dumping ground for any and all complaints about a company or its services (not just about the app), but the ratings for both the Wealthsimple and Tangerine apps are well over 4/5 stars. Clearly, they’re doing something right.

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Perks

One feature we love about Wealthsimple is the extra perks that are available for account holders with higher balances. Accounts over $100,000 get a discounted fee, tax-loss harvesting, and more. Accounts over $500,000 get even more than that, including a personalized financial report and a whopping 50% discount on health insurance.

Maybe it’s because investing is just one of the many things Tangerine does, but they don’t give clients extras for being big investors. It’s too bad, because Tangerine’s core portfolios have higher fees than Wealthsimple’s accounts – it would be nice if some of that money came back to you in the form of lower fees, personalized services, or discounts.  

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine: Customer Service

Both Wealthsimple and Tangerine pride themselves on excellent customer service.

Tangerine has ranked #1 in the J.D. Power Canada Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study for the past 10 years. This award tracks customer service among mid-sized banks and includes categories such as convenience and communication & advice. Their licensed investing experts are available by phone between 8 am and 8 pm Eastern time, Monday to Friday.

Wealthsimple has a dedicated team of portfolio managers and financial experts on call by phone, email, or Skype. Their financial advisors are fiduciaries, which means that they’re legally obliged to provide information that’s in your best interest. In a world where it can be hard to know whether people have our best interests at heart, it’s great to know that Wealthsimple’s team does, by law.

Tangerine or Wealthsimple? FAQ

Wealthsimple vs Tangerine Comparison: The Verdict

Both Wealthsimple and Tangerine will help you grow your money without worrying about buying and selling investments yourself. They both have reasonable fees and roughly equivalent performance.

That said, Wealthsimple has a decisive edge. 

They have more account options for you to consider, lower fees, and they have socially responsible investment options, which we love.

Wealthsimple has a welcome bonus plus perks for bigger accounts. They’re easy to sign up for and they have a fantastic online platform. Frankly, the only reason to go with Tangerine over Wealthsimple here is if you’re a banking client of theirs (or plan to be) and want to keep everything in one place.

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Meg

Meg Goodmanson is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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