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KOHO Essential Mastercard


Fact Checked

The KOHO Essential Mastercard is one of the best prepaid cards in Canada.

Unlike traditional prepaid credit cards, the KOHO Essential Mastercard offers cash back rewards on your purchases and can be used to build your credit history.

Read on to see how it works and comparisons with the entry-level KOHO Easy Mastercard and top-of-the-line KOHO Premium Mastercard.

KOHO Essential Mastercard Overview

KOHO Essential Prepaid Mastercard

KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card 2

$20 sign-up bonus after first purchase

Earn up to 5% cash back

1.50% savings interest on your balance

$4 monthly fee

KOHO Essential Mastercard Benefits

The KOHO Essential Card can easily replace your debit card if you want to earn cash back on all purchases.

Since it is a prepaid card, you will need to load it with funds from a chequing or savings account at another financial institution.

And you can set it up to receive your paycheque and earn on every dollar.

The main benefits of this KOHO Prepaid Mastercard include the following:

Earn Cashback

The KOHO Essential Mastercard pays 1% cash back on groceries, restaurants, and bill payments.

For all other purchases, you earn an unlimited 0.25% cash back.

At participating retailers, cardholders earn up to 5% cashback. Cashback partners offering 2-5% rewards as of this writing included Chefs Plate, Indigo, Pizza Pizza, Baskin Robbins, Contiki, Frank and Oak, and Open Farm.

Earn Interest

You will earn 1.50% interest on your card balance. So, the funds sitting on your card continue working for you.

This perk is not a regular feature of prepaid or debit cards. Another recent prepaid card offering interest on your balance is the EQ Bank Card.

Credit Building

This optional add-on helps users build their credit scores.

When you subscribe to KOHO Credit Building for $7 monthly, your subscription payment is reported to a credit bureau. Timely payments improve your score over time.

Lower FX Fees

Standard credit cards charge a 2.5% to 3% foreign currency conversion fee when you make payments abroad. The KOHO Essential Mastercard charges a lower 1.50% rate, a saving of up to 1.50% each time you complete a foreign currency transaction.

Budgeting Features

You can use the KOHO app for insights into your spending. It also allows you to set automated savings goals using the RoundUps tool.

Other Perks

This card offers guaranteed approval, and you can qualify for it with any credit score (no credit check).

Because it is not a credit card, you won’t be paying interest fees, as you are spending cash.

Funds in your KOHO account are held at a Canadian bank, where they enjoy deposit insurance provided by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

Lastly, you get a $20 welcome bonus when you sign up, enter our promo code, and complete your first purchase within 30 days.

Downsides of the KOHO Essential Mastercard

The KOHO Essential Mastercard has a $4 monthly fee and will cost you $48 annually.

If you use this card only for its cashback rewards, a no-fee credit card may offer better rewards. Alternatively, you can opt for the free KOHO Easy Card.

Secondly, it does not include insurance coverage for purchases which comes standard with most credit cards.

Lastly, credit building is not a standard feature. You will need to subscribe separately to the program for $7 per month.

How To Apply For The KOHO Essential Mastercard

To apply for the KOHO Essential Prepaid Mastercard, you must be a resident of Canada and at least 18 years old (age of the majority).

Click here to complete the online application form. This link includes a $20 offer using the CASHBACK referral code.

Your new physical card is sent by mail within days. You also get a virtual KOHO card for easy online payments.

KOHO Easy vs. KOHO Essential vs KOHO Premium Prepaid Cards

Prepaid CardsKOHO Easy MastercardKOHO Essential MastercardKOHO Premium Mastercard
Monthly fee$0$4$9
Cashback rewards1% on groceries, bills, and services1% on groceries, restaurants, bills, and services; 0.25% elsewhere2% on groceries, gas, transit, and restaurants; 0.50% elsewhere
Cashback at partnersUp to 5%Up to 5%Up to 5%
Interest earned on balance0.50%1.50%2%
Credit building fee$10/month$7/month$7/month
Physical and virtual cardsYesYesYes
FX Fee1.50%1.50%0%
Learn moreVisitVisitVisit

KOHO Essential Mastercard Review FAQs

Does KOHO pay cashback at Costco and Walmart?

Yes, you earn cashback at Costco and Walmart when paying with the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard.

Is KOHO a credit card?

No, the KOHO Essential Mastercard is not a credit card. However, you can use it to build your credit score if you subscribe to the credit-building tool.

What is the KOHO welcome offer?

Get a $20 bonus when you join using our promo code: CASHBACK.

Related: How Do Credit Card Installment Plans Work?

Best Credit Offers in December 2023

Enjoy up to 5% cash back at over 10,000 retail locations ($25 Bonus)

Get a $25 bonus when you are approved for the Card.

Earn unlimited average 5% cash back at 10,000+ participating stores.

No annual account fees.

Guaranteed instant approval credit card with 600+ credit score.

Get this guaranteed approval credit card for any credit score ($25 bonus)

Get an instant $25 welcome bonus.

Earn 5% unlimited average cash back at thousands of locations.

Guaranteed approval for poor and bad credit scores. Takes 3 minutes.

No monthly fees and up to 15% cashback on your first purchases.

Earn up to 5% cashback while growing your balance + $20 bonus

Best free prepaid reloadable Mastercard with $20 bonus (after adding $50+).

Earn up to 5% unlimited cash back at over 10,000 stores.

No credit check and free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Earn 2.25% interest on your entire balance.*


Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances. You can read his full author bio.

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  • 10% cashback on $1,000 spent in first 2 months ($100 value).*
  • Earn 2% unlimited cashback in 2 categories and 0.50% back on everything else.
  • No annual fees!
*Limited time offer. Terms and conditions apply.
Best No Annual Fee Cash Back Credit Card
Best No Annual Fee Cash Back Card
Get 10% cashback on up to $1,000 spent in first 2 months ($100 value).* No annual fees!
*Limited time offer. Terms and conditions apply.