Hello friends, and thanks for stopping by to read about the frustrating pitfalls when using your Tangerine Bank account while travelling abroad.

As you might recall, I have a hate/hate relationship with Tangerine Bank. I mean there’s so many things to hate about this financial institution, but the thing I hate the most about Tangerine is trying to log in to do my online banking.

Tangerine’s has a “remember me” option. I’ve been checking off this box for 15 to 20 years and it has amnesia.

Click here to read my review of Tangerine Bank.

My travels

When I have time, or Internet connection, I’ve been writing blog posts and YouTube vlogs about the places I’ve been travelling to.

To sum it up, in the past year I’ve mostly been in Europe or the Caribbean.

Prior to leaving Canada I had to figure out which credit cards and debit cards would be best to use abroad. Tangerine bank looked like it would be a good fit in both those areas.

At least according to their website.

But how does using Tangerine bank cards work in real life?

Logging in

OK, lets get back to my pet peeve about Tangerine Bank and their shitty log on to access online banking.

Now remember, Tangerine staff claim there is nothing wrong with their log on page.

And Tangerine staff get pretty snarky and deny anything is wrong with logging in – even when the proof is staring them in the face!

Oh yes. I’ve been taking screen shots for many years.

A new feature, or at least one that’s only begun since I’ve been abroad, is that Tangerine Bank will text a security code when logging on. This could possibly be due to a new or unrecognized location.

And I’m OK with that.

If it only happened once!

But this goes back to the amnesia thing Tangerine Bank’s log on has. This is what it looks like when attempting to log in. You can see the box where I check off (EVERY TIME!!!) to remember the device and skip this step next time.

Tangerine sends me a security code to enter so that I can finish logging in. And as you can see, the “skip this next time” box has been checked off.

So let’s check the results and see how well this “skip this next time” works. Here are screen shots of the texts I’ve received from Tangerine when I try to log in.

These texts came from Tangerine between December, 2023 through May, 2024. And I’m not gallivanting all over the place. Most of the these texts come when I’ve been at the same house for 2 or 3 months.

Very frustrating! Tangerine Bank’s log in process has amnesia. It does not remember me. Nor does it “skip this step” the next time I log in.

The “skip this step” option is about as useful as a one cup bra on a 44DDD woman!

But at least the log on time has drastically dropped from an average of about 30 minutes to log on to Tangerine Bank to about 5 minutes.

Texts from Tangerine

And one more thing. Can we all agree on this?

Tangerine Bank has no problem texting me.


I’ve had the same cell phone number for over 20 years. No changes. All good. Tangerine knows how to text me.

Tangerine Visa debit card

I decided Tangerine’s Visa debit card would be useful for my travels and ordered one prior to my departure. It is connected to my checking account. When I use it to pay for groceries or withdraw money from the ATM, the funds are immediately debited from my checking account.

And the Visa thing? Apparently I can use this debit card anywhere that Visa is accepted, in person or online.

Hunh. We’ll see.

Tangerine Bank is owned by Scotiabank, one of the Big 5 banks in Canada, and has a network of banks worldwide where I can use the ATM and not get dinged any service fees. Something called a Global ATM Alliance.

Hunh. We’ll see.

Using Tangerine Visa debit card in England

The first ATM test was in England and the member bank is Barclay’s. All went well. I was able to withdraw cash and didn’t notice I was dinged any service fees. Though that could have secretly happened in the currency exchange rate Tangerine charged me.

I was able to use the debit card to buy groceries, and yes Tangerine dinged me service fees. But, you know, it’s a cost of travel. It sucks though.

And when I’m at the grocery store, restaurant, or other places, I can not tap or swipe the card like I can in Canada. I have to insert the Tangerine Visa debit card into the reader and input my PIN.

Using Tangerine Visa debit card in Spain

In Spain the partner bank is (was?) Deutsche Bank for free ATM cash withdrawals. I was walking the Camino de Santiago and many of the establishments for food and lodging are cash only so I had to keep money on me. For security reasons I don’t want to carry a lot of cash, and I’d have to use whatever bank in the town I was passing through. And, yes, those banks usually dinged me around 4 Euros to withdraw cash.

The first time I used the Deutsche Bank ATM was in Pamplona and the machine gave me the message I was going to be dinged 4 Euros for using it.

And sure enough, I was.

The image below is when it happened again a couple of weeks later in Leon.

I even complained about this on X aka Twitter, not that anyone at Tangerine Bank gave a shit. No response. Which is why this blog post now exists ha ha!

While I was preparing this blog post, I did refer to Tangerine’s list of international ABM access and Spain has been removed. There is no longer a member bank in Spain. Though Deutsche Bank is still listed for Germany to withdraw cash for free. Actually I plan to buy a Eurail pass and take trains across Europe this summer. I wasn’t planning on including Germany, but maybe I will just to see if I get dinged for service fees.

Using Tangerine Visa debit card in Portugal

Seeing as how Portugal is next door to Spain, I decided to hop over there for a few days.

Tangerine does not have a partner bank in Portugal where I can withdraw cash for free. Not that it was working so good for me in Spain…

So I knew I’d get dinged service fees in whatever ATM I used. I spotted a Santander Bank that I’d gotten cash from in Spain and put my card in and did the PIN and requested cash. Only to get my card spat out with no money for me!

What the hell?

I tried again. In fact I tried several banks in Portugal, all without success.

Well, this sucks. I’m running low on cash and no ATM in Portugal wants to deal with Tangerine’s Visa debit card, even though all these machines took credit cards.

Time to head back to Spain.

So make note that Tangerine Visa debit card does NOT work in Portugal.

Tangerine Visa debit card in Saint Vincent

Before traveling to the Caribbean, I found out that Tangerine Bank does not have an associate member bank in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

I used a random bank in Kingstown, Saint Vincent and I was able to withdraw cash. I think there was a $7 service fee for using the ATM.

Sucks. But oh well, what can you do?

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a mostly cash society. Crazy! And a real pain in the ass.

For more on my Caribbean adventure, be sure to read Making a Difference: Volunteering on Mayreau Island.

Mayreau has a population of 300. There are no banks or ATMs. One has to take a boat to nearby Union Island, where there is one bank and two ATMs connected to it.

Tangerine Visa debit on Union Island

In late February, 2024, I went to the bank on Union Island and withdrew cash, which included a service fee. But at least I got my cash.

In early April I returned to Union Island, but this time I was unable to withdraw cash using my Tangerine Visa debit card. I kept getting error messages.

And I was just about out of cash, so I had to use my Tangerine Mastercard and successfully withdrew cash. Including the bank’s ATM service fee.

But getting dinged with service fees didn’t end there!

Tangerine’s Mastercard charged me a $5 service fee for using the ATM and on the next statement I got charged an extra $1 interest fee for using the ATM.


I phoned Tangerine and spoke to a “customer service rep” who pulled up my account and could see my multiple attempts to withdraw money from the ATM. She told me my Visa debit card stopped working because the chip had malfunctioned. She offered to send me another card.

I just had this tingly spidey sense that she was lying to me and declined a replacement card at that time because I have back up cards to use.

Then I complained that I was charged service fees to use my Tangerine Mastercard because the Visa debit card wouldn’t work, and she lied to me that I would be refunded that money. It was no fault of mine that the debit card suddenly had a malfunctioning chip.

Yup that was another lie. I’m trying to get those cheapos at Tangerine to refund that for me and will update if I get my $6 back that Tangerine Mastercard charged me.

Tangerine Visa debit card in Saint Vincent – Part 2

A couple of weeks later I found myself back in Saint Vincent for a few days and one of the first things I did was go back to that bank where I’d used the ATM before and tried again.

Sure enough, my Tangerine Visa debit card worked just fine and spat out my requested cash.

I just KNEW that “customer service rep” at Tangerine had lied to me. Malfunctioning chip my ass!

So what’s a girl to do but phone back Tangerine again and complain about getting lied to.

Oh man, what a circus!

Then the next service rep I talked to said something that made more sense to me and something the liar should have told me in the first place.

Some banks the Tangerine Visa debit card just won’t be accepted. For whatever reason, probably because it’s an international card.

And it doesn’t matter a crap that Visa is attached to the card and the ATM accepts Visa to withdraw cash. So much for the Tangerine debit card being accepted everywhere that Visa is accepted.

Just more lies that Tangerine uses to suck in customers.

Using Tangerine Visa debit card for online purchases

I’ve never bothered to use my Tangerine Visa debit card for online purchases because I just use one of my credit cards to do that.

According to the propaganda from Tangerine, the debit card is accepted online wherever Visa is accepted for payment.

So I finally decide to give it the old college try when I came back to England mid-May, 2024.

I noticed an Asda delivery van a block away from where I’m housesitting. Asda is a large grocery store chain in the UK. There are only a couple of small grocery stores in this town, so I decided to put an order in with Asda. All went well. When it came time for payment, the website says they accept debit cards or credit cards, so I used the Tangerine Visa debit card.

I was covered either way, right? It’s a debit card and Tangerine claims it’s accepted wherever Visa is, in person or online.

A short time later, I got this email from Asda:

So, guess what I call on Tangerine’s claim that their debit card is accepted everywhere that Visa is.

Review of Tangerine Bank

Tangerine Mastercard for international in-person purchases

For the most part I haven’t had any problem using my Tangerine Mastercard for in-person purchases when travelling internationally.

And as we all know, I was able to use it one time at a bank ATM on Union Island when I had no other option.

This is a cash back credit card. Most purchases I get .5% money back and on a couple of categories, I get 2% cash back.

Mastercard charges 2.5% on foreign currency conversion.


But so do most other credit cards.

Just call it part of the cost of travelling.

Tangerine Mastercard for international online purchases

I’ve had to go on websites that were based in the country I was currently in or about to travel to for various purchases, mostly transportation or hotels.

The first place I housesat for in the summer of 2023 gave me a great tip about a company called The Trainline. Here you can check train schedules and buy tickets.

I bought a couple of train tickets in August and it went well.

The Trainline also lets me buy train tickets for other countries in Europe. I bought a ticket from Madrid to Pamplona.

These summer purchases all went smoothly.

Then it turned bad in December. All of a sudden I got a security message that Tangerine Mastercard would text me a code to enter to complete the purchase.

Except the code never came. Even after waiting a bit and asking for a resend.

Now I’m sure we all agree that Tangerine has no trouble annoying me with texts to log in so they know my phone number. Tangerine just chooses to annoy me even further by not texting me when I actually want them to.


Alsa is a bus company in Spain. The first time I used them was to buy a ticket from Pamplona to St. Jean Pied de Port to begin the Camino de Santiago.

There is one bus daily, departing at noon, and it costs 20 Euros.

I successfully made the purchase on the website. There were a few more website bus ticket purchases when I was travelling to Portugal and then in the south of Spain.

The first problem happened in early November, 2023 when I was in Malaga and trying to buy a bus ticket to Murcia, the closest station to Lo Pagan where I’d booked an AirBnb for 3 weeks.

This was the first time I got this message saying that Tangerine was texting me a security code that I had to input to complete the purchase.

Yeah, you guessed it. No text arrived, even after requesting a resend a couple of times.

The receptionist in the hotel where I was staying suggested I go to the bus station, about a 10 minute walk, and buy my bus ticket from the machine.

Perfect! That worked. And yes, indeed, with the Tangerine Mastercard.

The problem resurfaced in Lo Pagan when I had to buy a bus ticket to Madrid. No security code was texted to me. And the bus station was too small to have staff or a machine to buy a ticket.

My only option was to phone Tangerine and go WTF is happening here? After 45 minutes on hold I got someone who asked me to try again to buy the ticket and he was able to override it on his end and push my purchase through.

Tangerine claimed this was the website’s security and not them.

I’m not sure that I believe that because it didn’t happen with my previous purchases.

I did ask why there wasn’t an option to phone or email me the security code.

But apparently Tangerine Bank hires former CIBC developers and they aren’t advanced enough to figure out how to do this. Ha ha! No. No Tangerine rep told me that. I don’t know that for sure, but seeing as how this system is the shits, it’s clear that Tangerine’s web developers are extremely inferior to the rest of the banking industry’s standards, so it makes sense they are using former CIBC developers. The worst in the banking industry.

Other international online purchases

This problem with Tangerine not texting me a security code continued to dog me after I returned to England. For air flights, hotels, and the Trainline.

But now I was reunited with my luggage including the extra credit cards I didn’t take with me to Spain. One of these credit cards, also a Mastercard, I can use for international purchases. Not because they don’t charge me fees, but because they have money back on international purchases and it almost covers the service fee.

Now I’m thinking Tangerine wasn’t lying to me when they said the security code was due to the websites I was on, because I got the same problem when I used another credit card.

However, this credit card company is much more advanced than Tangerine and has the option to email me a code. I just go with that because it’s easier.

And Tangerine Mastercard has lost out on thousands of dollars because they can’t get their act together to text me when I need a security code.

Annoying phone call from Tangerine Bank

Imagine this.

I’m walking the Camino de Santiago and have stopped for the night in Burgos, Spain. This is a beautiful town well known for the cathedral.

I have found a frozen yogurt shop and I’m relaxing in the plaza, enjoying my treat.

And then my phone rings. It’s some jackass from Tangerine Bank who wants to talk to me. I told him I was busy – aka I didn’t want my frozen yogurt to melt before I ate it because it was hot outside! This bastard wouldn’t take no for an answer. He should get a second career as a time share salesperson!

He tells me it’s inconvenient to call me back at another time even though I tell him it’s inconvenient for me to talk to him because I’m travelling in the north of Spain. He’s in the investment services department and he wants to harp on at me about the mutual fund I have with Tangerine in my RRSP – Registered Retirement Savings Plan.

See my post: Is taking an RSP Loan from Tangerine Bank a Good Idea?

It all started with ING bank and a $1,000 loan I took out to buy into their new mutual funds called Streetwise. The name of the mutual fund changed after Scotiabank/Tangerine took over ING. I invested about $4,000 in Streetwise over the next few years and haven’t contributed any money in over ten years.

Basically he was just asking me questions to make sure the information they have on file about me is correct and asking about my savings goals. And I get it. This is an industry standard. Financial institutions in Canada are required to do an annual check in to see if the client’s financial situation has changed.

Jackass tried to tell me based on his analysis that I should sell the investment funds in the Balanced Growth Portfolio (renamed from Streetwise). That’s because this fund is too aggressive for an old lady like me and that I should have my money in the more conservative, less risky Balanced Portfolio. Or maybe it was the Balanced Income Portfolio, that is better suited for us oldies.

Basically I told him to stuff it inbetween his protests that he wants me to understand the high risks of my current mutual fund portfolio.

Damn it! I have higher risk stocks that I invest in! And no contributions to a Tangerine fund in the last 10 years? Get a clue! That $4,000 I invested in the “too high risk for me” fund has now doubled in value.

No changes. I’m probably pulling the money out in a year or two I told him. And it’s such a small percentage of my portfolio that I can take the risk.

And thanks for bugging the shit out of me while I’m trying to enjoy a frozen yogurt on my travels!

Frustrating pitfalls when using your Tangerine Bank account while travelling abroad

Let’s sum it up.

1. It is still a nightmare to log on to Tangerine Bank. Ever since I’ve been travelling, I get plagued with text messages with a security code to input before getting to my online banking.

2. The Tangerine Visa debit card is usually OK with in-person purchases. It will not swipe or tap. The debit card must be inserted and a PIN typed in for purchases.

3. The Tangerine Visa debit card will not work for online purchases.

4. Tangerine Visa debit card is hit or miss whether a foreign bank ATM will dispense cash withdrawals.

5. Expect to pay service fees when withdrawing cash at an ATM that’s part of the global alliance membership that Tangerine Bank promotes as no fee cash withdrawals.

6. The Tangerine Mastercard works well for in-person purchases. Sometimes it taps, but mostly expect to insert the card and type in the PIN.

7. The Tangerine Mastercard does not work well for online purchases where the website needs a security code. Tangerine will not text a security code.

8. Getting pestered by pushy Tangerine “investment advisors” will happen.

Wrapping it up, I’m looking at better alternatives to Tangerine’s debit and credit cards. They will soon be my back up cards because I need more reliable credit and debit cards when travelling.

Have you had any problems with Tangerine’s Visa debit card or Mastercard while travelling internationally? Lay it on us and leave a comment below.

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on May 31, 2024.

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