By 2024, Mastercard will forego the magnetic stripe in favour of tap-to-pay technology, but that's not the only big change coming to credit cards. For the last 60 years, credit cards have maintained the same horizontal landscape design, but vertical credit cards are about to completely revolutionize the industry. So, why the change? Keep reading to find out why vertical credit cards in Canada are the next big thing.
- What are Vertical Credit Cards?
- Top Vertical Credit Cards in Canada
- Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard
- Tangerine World Mastercard
- KOHO Easy Mastercard
- KOHO Premium Mastercard
- BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite
- BMO World Elite Business Mastercard
- HSBC Metal World Elite Mastercard
- Neo Standard Mastercard
- EQ Bank Card
- STACK Prepaid Mastercard
What are Vertical Credit Cards?
The popularity of tap-to-pay technology exploded during the pandemic as businesses started implementing systems like Apple Pay in order to prevent customers from touching shared surfaces. Tap-to-pay systems also facilitated social distancing. Three years later, most of us have continued to tap our cards instead of inserting them into card reader machines.
Vertical credit cards are newly designed to make using credit cards easier and more comfortable. Most of us hold our cards vertically when we tap to pay, and even those of us who are still using PINs insert cards vertically into the machine.
In addition, vertical credit cards are more accessible to people with visual impairments, learning disorders like dyslexia or conditions that affect cognitive functioning like Alzheimer's disease. Clearly identifying the card's orientation is easy with the vertical portrait design.
Finally, the vertical orientation is a rather brilliant marketing gimmick. If you've seen any of these cards on social media, you might have noticed that the 16-digit credit card number is absent from vertical credit cards. Not only does this protect user accounts from wandering eyes, but it makes it safe for photos of these cards to be circulated online. Gen Z shoppers can safely share photos of their vertical credit cards on social media, providing free advertising for the company.
Top Vertical Credit Cards in Canada
You have some options when it comes to vertical credit cards in Canada. Here's a round-up of our favourites.
Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard
The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card earns 2% cash back on purchases in 2 categories of your choice, plus 0.5% cash back on other everyday purchases. Rewards are deposited directly into a Tangerine Savings account once per month or you can use them to pay off your balance. There are no limits to what you can earn.
Right now, Tangerine is offering a promotional transfer interest rate of 1.95% plus a 3% transfer fee. If you have a balance on any other credit cards, their promotional rate could end up saving you a decent amount of money in interest charges, but you'll have to pay it off within 6 months. After that, the interest rate jumps to 19.95%.
Tangerine World Mastercard
Another no-fee credit card with great cash-back rates, the Tangerine World Mastercard earns you 2% for every dollar earned in 2 categories of your choice. If you open a Tangerine Savings account, you’ll get to choose a 3rd category. Choices range from groceries and gas to more niche purchases like furniture and home improvement expenses. Additionally, the Tangerine World Mastercard gives you access to Mastercard Travel Rewards and Travel Pass, as well as car rental and mobile device insurance.
From now until July 5, 2023, new cardholders can earn an additional 10% back on purchases made in the first 2 months up to $1000. That’s on top of the 2% you’re already earning.
This card is slightly less accessible than the previous two. To be eligible for a Tangerine World Mastercard you might need a credit score between 660-724 and will need to meet the minimum income requirement of $60,000.
KOHO Easy Mastercard
KOHO is rolling out a new line of credit cards as they transition from Visa to the Mastercard network in June 2023. The KOHO Easy Mastercard has a 0.5% interest rate on balances and a 1% cash back earning rate on eligible groceries, bills and ‘services’ like food delivery. It’s the first-tier, no-fee version of KOHO’s 3 Mastercards: Easy, Essential and Extra. All three have different interest-earning rates, annual fees and associated benefits and perks, and customers can easily switch between the three plans at any time. You can use your KOHO Mastercard account to receive direct deposits and send money transfers just like a bank account.
KOHO Premium Mastercard
The KOHO Extra Mastercard (previously the Premium Mastercard) is the 3rd subscription plan in KOHO’s lineup. It’s the most expensive plan at $84 per year, but customers can choose to pay a $9 monthly fee instead of the whole thing upfront. With the Extra Mastercard you’ll earn 2% interest on your balance, 2% cash back on groceries, bills, services and restaurants (including takeout), plus 0.5% on everything else. Credit building is offered for $7/month. Since there are no foreign exchange fees and 1 free international withdrawal per month, this is a good card to have in your wallet if you travel frequently to the U.S. but don’t have a USD credit card.
KOHO Mastercards also offer access to credit-building and budget-assisting tools. The Easy Mastercard from KOHO is a good, free option for students, newcomers, or anyone trying to build credit scores.
BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite
Sign up for the BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Card before June 30, 2023, and enjoy over $300 in BMO Reward points, plus they’ll waive the $120 annual fee. As far as travel credit cards go, this one is a must-have for folks who like to travel comfortably thanks to Visa Infinite benefits like the Luxury Hotel Collection and Dining Series. Cardholders earn 5 points for every dollar spent on groceries, dining (including delivery) gas/transit and 1 point on every dollar spent on other qualifying expenses. Your BMO Reward points can be redeemed for merchandise, purchases or travel-related charges like flights and vacation packages. Best of all, the card comes with a $50 annual lifestyle credit to spend however you wish.
BMO World Elite Business Mastercard
Business owners can earn up to 85,000 reward points in the first year with the World Elite Business Mastercard from BMO. Plus, the annual fee of $149 is waived for the first year. This business credit card earns 4 points for every $1 spent on common business expenses like gas, office supplies, and phone and internet bills. Plus, you can earn 1.5 points on non-business-related purchases too. Finally, when you spend at eligible Mastercard partner hotels, restaurants and gas stations, you'll automatically earn rebates between 1%-25%.
If you travel for business, this card gets you access to all airport lounges in the Dragon Pass network, plus automatic travel protection for airfare, car rentals and baggage.
HSBC Metal World Elite Mastercard
For frequent travellers, the HSBC Metal World Elite Mastercard is worth the $600 annual fee because of its perks and earnings potential. Plus, if you're an HSBC Private client, you'll get an annual fee rebate and enjoy everything this metal credit card offers for free.
Cardholders will earn 6 points per $1 spent on travel, 4 points for every $1 spent on gas and groceries and on drug store purchases, and 2 points for every $1 spent on other qualifying purchases. There are no extra fees on foreign transactions (you'll just pay the exchange rate). Travel comfortably with Travel Pass by Dragon Pass and a $200 travel enhancement credit, and rest assured that your trip is covered by one of the most comprehensive travel and emergency medical insurance packages offered by any Canadian credit card.
Neo Standard Mastercard
The Neo credit card offers one of the highest cashback rates in Canada with an average of 5% at participating partner stores. Plus, you’ll earn 0.5% cash back at non-partnered stores. Your cashback payments are deposited whenever you want into a Neo savings account that makes 2.25% interest, a much higher rate than any of Canada’s big banks offer.
Neo Mastercards are instantly available for free to anyone who wants one and is accepted anywhere that takes Mastercard. The virtual card will be loaded into your digital wallet so you can start using it immediately while the vertical credit card is in the mail. As part of their sign-up bonus, you’ll receive 15% cashback on your first purchase from a partner store and a cash bonus of $25.
Perks (rewards) are bundled together, and you can choose the bundle that makes the most sense for you. For example, the Everyday Essentials Bundle earns cashback on groceries and gas, while the Travel Bundle earns 2% cash back on foreign purchases and offers access to airport lounges and travel insurance. If your spending habits change, you can ‘redesign’ your card whenever you want.
EQ Bank Card
The EQ Bank Card is a pre-loaded no-fee credit card that offers free withdrawals from any Canadian ATM (if you get charged for a withdrawal, EQ will refund you), and 0.5% cash back on every single purchase. The EQ Bank Card also helps your money grow by offering a 2.5% interest rate on your balance. Cashback rewards are deposited every month.
This card doesn’t offer any travel rewards or insurance benefits, but it’s free to use and anyone can qualify. To sign up you’ll need to open an EQ Savings Plus Account (which also earns you 2.5% interest). You can fund the account similar to the way you fund a PayPal account. EQ accepts money transfers from any Canadian financial institution.
STACK Prepaid Mastercard
The STACK Prepaid Mastercard is one of the best prepaid credit cards in Canada. It is available for no annual fee and comes with a ton of great features. In addition to monthly reward partnerships, which earn you some extra cash rewards just for shopping, they also offer free ATM withdrawals and 2.5% rebates on foreign transaction fees.
Load your card with an e-transfer through their app, or you can use your STACK account to receive your payroll and load it that way. You can also load cash at over 10,000 locations across Canada without a bank account. Everything can be easily accessed through their comprehensive app, which can help you develop better saving habits. The Financial IQ feature sorts your purchases so you can keep an eye on your weekly and monthly spending trends and figure out where you can afford to cut costs. If you set a savings goal, they’ll round up your purchases to the next dollar figure of your choice and deposit the difference directly into your savings account.