Neo Financial is an online financial company that hit the Canadian market in 2019 and is set to make a big impact. Founded by the fintech experts who created Skip the Dishes, the online food delivery site, the company offers what is probably the most straightforward and competitive cash back credit card in Canada, the Neo Card.
Alongside the Neo Card, Neo Financial offers a high-interest online bank account, Neo Money, that currently pays 2.25% interest on any balance.
Additionally, Neo has partnered with Hudson’s Bay to offer the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard, which gives attractive rewards for regular in-store shoppers at Hudson’s Bay or online at thebay.com.
With no costly brick-and-mortar branches, Neo Financial is well-placed to pass on the cost savings to its customers. So far, it’s doing a pretty good job of it.
Read on for our review of Neo’s credit card offerings so you can decide whether you should have one in your wallet.
- Cash back rewards
- Discounts and introductory offers
- Everything managed from the app
- Digital wallet
- Poor credit score? There's a card for you
- You choose whether to pay a fee
- Hudson’s Bay Neo Mastercard
- Applying for the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard
- Is Hudson’s Bay Mastercard worth having?
The Neo credit card
Annual fee: $0
Interest rate: 19.9% – 24.99% on purchases, 22.99%-26.99% on cash advances
Rewards: up to 15% cash back
Perks at a glance
- The standard card is free
- Can subscribe to a higher rewards program
- $25 initial bonus on new cards
- No minimum income requirement
- Maximum credit of $10,000
- Rewards of 5% average; 1% minimum
- Incentive rewards up to 15%
- No credit check, secured card option
- Managed online through the app
Cash back rewards
The main benefit of the Neo Card is that it offers the best cash back rewards in Canada. Neo has partnered with 7000 Canadian businesses so far, all of whom offer cash back rewards and, in many cases, introductory offers and discounts. There are no complicated air miles or restricted rewards here. You simply get cash back on your card balance for every purchase you make.
The range of partners is diverse and growing, with a nice balance of large chain and on-line outlets, as well as small local vendors. The standard cash back rewards average about 5% from partner businesses, but there is a minimum of 1% on every purchase, which Neo will top up automatically.
Read More: The 11 Best Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada
Discounts and introductory offers
In addition to cash back rewards, most partners offer a hefty cash back bonus on initial purchases, typically 15% to 20%, with regular generous repeat business offers and discounts. Another great feature is that you can get alerts about discounts and introductory offers from the app.
Everything managed from the app
The whole thing is managed from an easy-to-use app so that you can see what your balance is at any time, and even look at which partner businesses are near you. That way, you can maximize your cash back rewards by spending at those businesses.
Your rewards balance can be viewed from the app, and can be transferred to your card balance or Neo Money account as soon as it becomes available. There’s no minimum threshold before your rewards are available.
You can manage your spending with customized alerts, and can freeze the card directly from the app if it's lost or stolen. You can also set-up auto-pay from the app so that you never miss a payment.
As soon as you are approved for a Neo Card, you'll be able to add it to your Apple Pay and Google Pay accounts, even before you receive the actual card. This allows you to benefit from cash back rewards immediately, and is really handy when you need to make a purchase but don't have your card with you.
The Neo Card is available in every province of Canada, although some rewards are restricted in Quebec. Neo Financial is currently working through the technicalities to make rewards fully available in every province.
You must be able to supply a government-issued ID and be of the age of majority in your province to apply. The minimum credit score required for Neo’s standard credit card is a reasonable 600. There is no minimum income requirement on any of the cards.
Your credit limit for the standard card is based on your credit score, but increases automatically as your record of managing the account improves. The interest rate you pay on purchases and cash advances is also based on your initial credit score and subsequent payment track record.
Poor credit score? There's a card for you
If you don’t meet the criteria for the standard credit card, or have no credit history, you can apply for the Neo secured card by depositing funds in a Neo Money account. The minimum deposit is only $50, and your credit limit is equivalent to your secured funds. As long as you qualify regarding age and residence, acceptance is guaranteed and there are no fees.
A secured card is a great way to build your credit score as, unlike pre-paid cards, this is a real credit card with the balance simply secured by the funds held in your Neo Money account. By paying off the balance on a regular basis, you can quickly demonstrate creditworthiness. Neo Financial is now reporting live secured card transactions to TransUnion and all previous transactional history has been retroactively captured. A major added benefit is that you can still earn cash back rewards of up to 5% along with introductory rewards.
You choose whether to pay a fee
Everyone who has a Neo Card, including the secured card, has the option to pay no fees whatsoever under the standard tier. However, there are two additional tiers available for the standard credit Neo Card that benefit from higher partner rewards in return for a monthly fee. These are called Plus and Ultra, and you can switch between tiers at any time, without penalty, by simply clicking a button on the app.
The three tiers are:
- Standard – No fees payable. The standard option offers average cash back rewards from partners of 4% and a minimum of 1% on any purchases. The 1% minimum is topped up by Neo when necessary, up to a maximum monthly expenditure of $5,000. Neo recommends this option if you spend up to $750 per month.
- Plus – Monthly fee of $2.99. The Plus option offers average partner cash back rewards of 5% and the 1% minimum also applies. Neo recommends the Plus option if you spend more than $750 per month.
- Ultra- Monthly fee of $8.99. The Ultra option offers average partner cash back rewards of 6% and the 1% minimum also applies. Neo recommends this option if you spend more than $1000 per month.
How to apply
The application process is simple and takes minutes. Simply visit Neo Financial’s website and click “apply”. Then, fill in a simple online form and upload photo ID from an approved Canadian Government source.
You should get a response within 24 hours. Don’t forget, as soon as your application is accepted you can attach your card to your Google Pay and Apple Pay accounts, even before you receive the actual card in the post.
Are Neo Cards the best credit cards in Canada?
They're certainly up there with the best cash back cards, and the ease of use is second to none. One disadvantage of a Neo card, compared to many others, is a lack of travel and purchase insurance. Additionally, although the $10,000 credit limit will be enough for most people, it is less than some other top-end credit cards.
That being said, Neo Financial is determined to expand its offering and make financial management simple and accessible. So, it’s definitely worth having, if only for the generous cash back rewards.
The interest payable is competitive, particularly if you make use of the cash back rewards. However, if you have a strong credit score you may qualify for a lower rate from other card providers.
Hudson’s Bay Neo Mastercard
Annual fee: $0
Interest rate: 19.99% – 24.99% on purchases, 22.99% – 26.99% on cash advances
Rewards: up to 4 points per $1. Conditions Apply
The Hudson’s Bay Mastercard is offered in partnership with Neo Financial and will benefit you if you are a regular shopper at Hudson’s Bay or thebay.com. It doesn’t offer the same level of cash back rewards as the Neo Card on purchases from other vendors, but it is operated in a very similar way as the Neo Card, via the app.
The Hudson’s Bay Mastercard only comes with one option and doesn’t have a secured option if you have a low credit score.
Perks at a glance
- No fees
- Earn points at Hudson’s Bay and thebay.com
- Up to 4 points $1. Conditions Apply
- 2% cash back at Neo partner merchants
- Free postage on thebay.com purchases*
- Can be used via digital wallet
With the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard, you earn a minimum of 2 points for every dollar spent and 4 points per dollar on purchases at Hudson’s Bay and thebay.com if you spend at least $1200 per year. The points are redeemable at Hudson’s Bay and thebay.com against purchases.
As a cardholder, you also benefit from free postage on items over $45 from thebay.com, or over $29 for beauty items.
There is also a potential 20% first-day purchase bonus for items purchased the day the card is activated. This has several restrictions, so make sure you qualify before making purchases.
Applying for the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard
As with the Neo Card, applying is simple. Just visit the Neo Financial website, the Hudson’s Bay Mastercard website, or apply in-store. Approval usually comes within a few minutes but could take up to 48 hours. Just like with the Neo Card, as soon as you are approved, you can add your card details to your Google Pay and Apple Pay accounts, and start using it before your actual card arrives in the post.
Is Hudson’s Bay Mastercard worth having?
If you make regular purchases from either Hudson’s Bay or thebay.com, then the incentives are certainly worth having, and the cashback on other vendor purchases is better than a lot of other cards.
If you don’t use either of these vendors, then you’d probably be better with the Neo Card or one of its competitors.
The bottom line on Neo Financial
This company is setting a fire under the traditional Canadian banks and, with its low-cost base and ethos of innovation, there’s more to come. The company already offers a highly competitive online account with generous deposit interest on any balance, no matter how small, and has recently set up mortgage and wealth management products.
Neo Financial is definitely a company that you’ll start noticing from now on. Its initial offerings are highly competitive, and we look forward to seeing how things progress.
FAQs About Neo Credit Cards
Once you are accepted for your card, you can attach the card details to your Google Pay and Apple Pay accounts and start using it immediately. When the card arrives in the post, you can activate it via the app.
There are no tie-ins or contracts with Neo. If you want to cancel your card, simply pay off the balance and then cancel the card via the app.
It’s very simple. You can transfer money via the app from your Neo Money account, or you can link a third-party bank account. You can also set up an auto pay facility so that the minimum payment is made from either Neo Money or another account. This is all done via the app.
Given the option to pay no fees, and the generous cash back rewards, it is certainly worth having one. You might want to have it in addition to other cards. The secured credit option is a great way to build up your credit score if you need to.
Yes, you can withdraw money via any ATM the same way as with any other card. This is subject to your credit limit. You'll also pay a higher rate of interest on outstanding balances from cash withdrawals.