Neo Card Review: Get $25 for free

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The Neo Card™ has been available to Canadians for a while now, and it’s quickly become one of the more popular no fee credit cards. It offers some of the highest cash back rates and now has optional perks that allow you to customize your card to earn extra rewards and benefits based on your spending. 

While Neo Financial is relatively new in Canada, they’re starting to make a name for themselves. Read my Neo Card review now for the full details.

Neo Card

  • No annual fee
  • $25 Welcome bonus
  • 5% Average cash back at partners
  • 15% Cash back on your first purchase at participating partners
  • 0.5% Cash back guarantee (up to $50 per month)
  • Optional perks (travel, dining, gas & groceries, and more) starting at $0.99 per month

The first thing you’ll likely notice in my Neo Card review is that the card offers an average of 5% cash back. This is unheard of for a no monthly/annual fee card. That said, you need to look at the details of the card. Only Neo partners offer you enhanced cash back. Fortunately, Neo Financial has more than 8,000 merchants where you can earn cash back. That means some partners might offer you 1% cash back, while others will give you 10% cash back.

The Neo Card also guarantees you at least 0.5% cash back per month (up to $50). 

Admittedly, some people don’t like the idea of only earning cash back at partner merchants. Fortunately, finding these partners is easy as there’s a map feature built directly into the Neo Financial app that you can see in real-time. Alternatively, you can even search partners by category. For example, restaurants, travel, and apparel.

Some of Neo’s cash back partners include Earls, Frank and Oak, Harry Rosen, Marble Slab Creamery, AVIS, and more. Generally speaking, smaller chains and independent stores offer higher cash back rewards than national retailers. For a full list of partners, you can sign up with your email. Note that this doesn’t automatically mean you’re applying for the Neo Card. You’re simply signing up for an account to see what partners are near you.

The Neo Card is a traditional credit card that’s available to everyone in Canada, including residents of Quebec. That means you get an interest free period, unlike prepaid credit cards

With this card, you only need a credit score of 600 to be considered. If your credit score falls below that number, you could apply for Neo’s secured credit card option. Also, note that there used to be Neo Plus and Neo Ultra tiers. They are no longer available.

Once approved, you can add your Neo Card to your digital wallet for both Android and iOS (Google Pay & Apple Pay). The app will also display any current offers and send you notifications.

Neo Financial Perks

One concern that many people have likely already noticed in my Neo Card review is the lack of category based cash back offers and additional benefits. To address this, Neo recently introduced different subscriptions that allow you to customize your perks. Best of all, these plans can be purchased and cancelled at any time, so you can create an ultimate cash back card if you plan accordingly. 

Premium Access

  • $0.99 per month
  • Up to 20% cash back on your first purchase with select partners
  • Exclusive monthly cash back bonus offers
  • Priority customer support
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty

Premium Access is a bit interesting. At $0.99 a month, you get purchase protection, extended warranty, and extra cash back bonus offers. This might be the best “value” bundle since it’s low cost and gives you a few good benefits.

Travel Perks

  • $4.99 per month
  • 2% cash back on foreign transactions
  • 1.5x cash back boost at all airline, hotel, and car rental travel partners
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access (no free passes)
  • SmartDelay free airport lounge access when registered flights are delayed by more than an hour
  • Comprehensive travel insurance coverage, including emergency travel medical, trip cancellation, car rental protection, flight delay, and more

The Neo Travel perks will cost you $4.99 monthly or $59.88 a year. 2% back on foreign transactions is nice, but the foreign transaction fee is 2.5%, so you’re still down 0.5%. That said, the included travel insurance is quite valuable and easily worth more than the monthly fee. The Priority Pass membership normally costs US$99 a year, but you’re getting it free with this subscription. Of course, you still need to pay for each individual visit. 

Everyday Essentials Perks

  • $8.99 per month
  • 1.5x cash back boost at grocery and wholesale stores like Costco and Walmart
  • 1.5x cash back boost at specialty food and liquor store partners
  • 1.5x cash back boost at gas station partners
  • Exclusive offers at popular grocery stores and gas station chains like Husky, Chevron, and Irving Oil
  • Essential life insurance protection to cover card balances

Costco and Walmart typically fall into the base earn rate for most credit cards, but Neo’s Everyday Essentials plan gives both of them a 1.5X cash back boost. This can appeal to those who do a lot of shopping at wholesale stores. There’s also a cash back boost at specialty food, liquor store, and gas station partners.

Food & Drink Perks

  • $1.99 per month
  • 1.25x cash back boost at partner restaurants, cafes, and bars
  • 1.25x cash back boost  on food delivery
  • Only available in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba

Normally, I’d be all for a cash back boost on restaurants, but the Neo Food & Drink bundle is currently only available in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba, so it’s only good for people that live or are visiting those provinces. That said, at $1.99 a month, this bundle could be worth it.

Mind & Body Perks

  • $9.99 per month
  • 1.25x cash back boost at gyms and fitness studios
  • FitOn PRO workout app subscription
  • Headspace Plus meditation app subscription

If you subscribe to Headspace Plus and FitON PRO, the Mind & Body perks could be a better value for your Neo Card. The cost of those subscriptions is about the same as the $9.99 monthly subscription fee, but you’re also getting 1.25x the cash back at gyms and fitness studios.

Mobile & Personal Protection Perks

  • $9.99 per month
  • Mobile device insurance
  • Dashlane Premium subscription for secure password management across devices
  • $1 million in fraud, ransomware, and social engineering coverage
  • Credit monitoring services

Finally, there’s the Mobile & Personal Protection plan. Mobile device insurance is nice, but the selling points for this bundle are the Dashlane Premium subscription and $1 million in fraud protection.

What is Neo Financial?

Neo Financial is an online financial technology company based in Calgary. They were founded by Andrew Chau and Jeff Adamson, the same team that created Skip The Dishes, so coming up with game-changing apps is nothing new to them. They also have some big name investors backing them.

At this time, Neo Financial has a high-interest savings account (Neo Money™) and two credit cards available. In addition, they’re the credit card provider for the Hudson’s Bay Company. They also provide a Secured Credit Card, Mortgage (Neo Mortgage™) and Investment (Neo Invest™) services.

How the Neo Card compares

It’s now time to go over comparisons in my Neo Card review. The two most comparable cards are the Tangerine Money-Back Card, and the Tangerine World Mastercard. Both of these cards have no fees and allow you to pick up to three categories where you’ll earn 2% cash back. All other purchases earn you 0.5% cash back. The World version also includes mobile device and rental car insurance.

With the Neo Card, you’ll earn an average of 5% cash back, with a minimum cash back payout of 0.5% each month (up to $50). Which card is better will depend on your spending patterns. If you mainly shop with three merchant categories, the Tangerine cards may be a better fit. However, if the Neo Financial partners line up with your spending, then the Neo Card is the way to go.

The additional advantage of the Neo Card is the optional bundles. You can add and stack perks to enhance your cash back or benefits whenever you want. You can then unsubscribe at any time if you no longer need them. That said, if you add more than one subscription, you may be better off with one of the best credit cards in Canada.

There are also some natural comparisons to KOHO since both earn you extra cash back from partners. While the cards do have some similarities, KOHO is a prepaid credit card, whereas Neo is a traditional credit card. 

Neo Financial Mastercard pros and cons

The last section of my Neo Card Review is the pros and cons. There’s no perfect credit card. Every credit card has positives and negatives. As a consumer, you need to consider both sides before deciding if a credit card is right for you.

Neo Card pros

  • No annual fee – It won’t cost you anything to have this card
  • Welcome bonus – You’ll get $25 as soon as you sign up
  • Strong cash back – Earn an average of 5% cash back (0.5% guaranteed)
  • Optional perks – Enhance your card with optional perks

Neo Card cons

  • No flat rate cash back – Enhanced earn rates only apply to partners
  • No included insurance – If you want insurance, you need to pay for a subscription
  • Perks can be costly – When subscribing to multiple perks, the monthly fees add up
  • There are better options – If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, there are better cash back and travel credit cards available.

Final thoughts

My Neo Card review is positive. As a new player, Neo Financial is making some interesting moves. Users that can consistently earn an average of 5% cashback won’t complain. Especially since this is a no fee card. However, if you shop regularly where Neo doesn’t have partners, then you’re better off with one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada

For those considering a Neo Money Account, you should know that Neo Financial is partnered with Concentra Bank. Since Concentra is a CDIC member, your deposits are insured up to $100,000.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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