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KOHO Essential Mastercard

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 March 2023

Get the best no-fee cash back credit card in Canada ($100 bonus)

Earn 2% unlimited cash back in up to 3 spending categories.

Get a $100 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in the first two months.

1.95% low-rate balance transfer and purchase protection insurance.

No annual fees to use the card; cashback is paid out monthly.

Get up to 5% cashback and grow your savings ($20 bonus)

Best free prepaid reloadable Mastercard plus a $20 welcome bonus.

Free budgeting app with automatic savings features.

Increase your credit score with optional credit building add-on.

Earn up to 2.00% interest on your entire balance.*

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

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

No annual account fees.

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

Guaranteed instant approval credit card.

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

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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