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KOHO Premium Review 2023: 5% Cash Back and No FX Fees

The KOHO prepaid Mastercard has been one of my go-to cards for budgeting, earning cash back, saving money, and paying with debit over the last few years.

If you are new to KOHO, my detailed KOHO review covers all that you can expect to receive when you sign up for a regular free account.

A KOHO premium card account increases your cash back rewards, eliminates foreign currency transaction fees and offers several other VIP perks you don’t want to miss out on.

This KOHO Premium review covers what the prepaid Mastercard has to offer.

What is KOHO Premium?

The basic concept behind KOHO is to help Canadians save on the ridiculous bank fees they pay every month.

When you sign up for KOHO, you get a free reloadable Mastercard and app that works like a debit card and offers rewards. You can subscribe to a paid plan (Essential or Premium) for even more perks

The Easy account (regular KOHO) comes with zero fees, and you get:

  • 1% instant cash back on groceries, bills, and services
  • Up to 5% cash back at select partners
  • $20 sign-up bonus when you use our promo code CASHBACK
  • An automatic savings plan
  • 0.5% savings interest on your entire balance
  • Access to Credit Building for $10/month

Optionally, you can upgrade to the middle-tier KOHO account called Essential, for $4 per month or $48 annually. The Essential account comes with the following features: 

  • 1% cash back on groceries, bills, services, and dining out
  • 0.25% instant cash back on all other purchases 
  • Up to 5% cash back at select KOHO partners
  • Earn 1.5% interest on your entire balance 
  • Access the Credit Building feature for $7/month 
  • $20 sign-up bonus with our promo code CASHBACK

Both the Easy and Essential KOHO accounts include features like:

  • Free joint accounts
  • A generous referral rewards program that gives you $20 per referral and up to $1,000 in total
  • Apple, Google, and Samsung Pay
  • 1.5% foreign transaction fee (as opposed to the 2.5% to 3% charged by your bank)
  • Free e-Transfers and bill payments
  • Multiple in-app offers and discounts, e.g. free credit score checks, an extra 3% cash back on Pizza Pizza or 1% on Indigo, savings on investment fees, and more
  • Access to Credit Building and Instant Pay (get up to 50% of your daily paycheque early)

If you want to up the ante and get even more rewards and flexibility, a KOHO Premium Card account is what you are looking for.

KOHO Premium offers the following benefits in addition to what you get with a regular KOHO account:

2% cash back: On groceries, eating and drinking, and transportation. Grocery spending includes all grocery retailers (large and small); eating and drinking include dining at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, fast-food, and food delivery services; and transportation expenses include gas, Uber, Lyft, parking, car rentals, public transport, and more.

On any other purchases not in those categories, you’ll earn 0.5% unlimited cash back. When shopping at partner stores, the cash back rate is as high as 5%.

No foreign exchange transaction fee: Generally, banks charge a 2.5% to 3% fee when you use your cards to make a purchase denominated in foreign currency. This fee is 100% waived with a Premium KOHO account, resulting in at least 2.5% savings upfront. The Free and Essential KOHO accounts charge 1.5%, which is still a significant 1% savings over your bank.

Free financial coaching: Save on financial advice when you chat with KOHO’s in-house certified financial coach. You can ask about your taxes, investments, debts, and other pressing questions you have.

Price matching: KOHO will scan your online purchase receipts and see if you could have gotten a better deal. If so, they refund the difference.

Higher “velocity” limits: As a regular KOHO user, you can withdraw up to $305 at an ATM per transaction. With KOHO Premium, the limit is raised to $810 per day, and you can keep a balance of up to $50,000.

KOHO Premium Visa Card and App Review
Source: Koho.ca

What Does KOHO Premium Cost?

How much does it cost to take advantage of these VIP perks?

KOHO Premium is free for the first 30 days and then costs $9 per month. You can save by paying for the full year upfront at $84 per year to save $24.

Based on my personal usage of KOHO (almost daily), I find the fee to be reasonable as the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Is KOHO Premium Worth It?

A regular KOHO account will save you money on your daily spending, bank transactions, and foreign currency purchases…all for $0 in monthly fees.

You can take your savings a step further by opening a KOHO Premium account. That being said, whether the monthly fee makes sense for you depends on how you use your KOHO Mastercard prepaid card.

The 2% cash back covers a wide range of everyday expenses – groceries, transportation, eating, and drinking. If you spend more than $450 on these purchases every month, the $9 monthly fee or $7 (if you pay annually) is justified based on the cash back rewards alone.

If you do a lot of travelling overseas, the 2.5% saving on foreign currency transactions may more than cover your monthly fees. If your only aim is not to pay FX fees abroad, the STACK Mastercard or a credit card with no foreign currency transaction fees may be adequate.

KOHO Premium Cash Back Example

Assuming you use your KOHO card to make purchases worth $1,000 every month and $800 can be attributed to groceries, dining, and transportation.

Assuming you use your KOHO card to make purchases worth $1,000 every month and $800 can be attributed to groceries, dining, and transportation.

KOHO Easy account:

  • $800 x 1% cash back = $8 savings
  • $200 x 0% cash back = $0 savings
  • Total savings/month: $8

Essential KOHO account:

  • $800 x 1% cash back = $8 savings
  • $200 x 0.25% cash back = $0.50 savings
  • Total savings/month: $8.50

KOHO Premium account:

  • $800 x 2% cash back: $16 savings
  • $200 x 0.5% cash back: $1 savings
  • Total savings/month: $17

This scenario does not consider the higher cash back rates available at KOHO partners, which can be as high as 5%.

As a KOHO Premium user, you earn up to an additional $8.50 in cash back every month after deducting fees and the savings that you would normally earn with a regular account.

Add in the price matching, free financial advice, premium new card, and in-app offers, and KOHO Premium is worth looking at.

Conclusion

Whether you decide to sign up for a Free, Essential, or Premium KOHO account, you are likely going to save some money when you use KOHO. The data shows that an average KOHO user reduces their spending by 15% and saves close to $500 within 3 weeks of signing up.

That makes sense to me, first, because people tend to spend less money when they use cash (debit), and, secondly, as I have previously stated, the roundup saving feature is “one of the savviest saving strategies ever invented.”

Get a $20 cash bonus when you sign up here and make your first purchase with the card.

Related: Best KOHO Mastercards.

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Author

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.

4 thoughts on “KOHO Premium Review 2023: 5% Cash Back and No FX Fees”

  1. Gravatar for Jack

    Hi there,
    Similarly to STACKED MasterCard, does KOHO Premium provide No FX Fees when withdrawing cash at ATM when travelling abroad and within Canada.

    Thanks, and lemme know.

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

      @Jack: Yes, KOHO Premium waives the 2.5% foreign transaction fee when you spend CAD abroad.

  2. Gravatar for Abiola Afuwape

    What are the eligible retailers for the price matching feature?

    • Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

      @Abiola: There are tonnes of retailers on their list…probably close to 100. Some of the top retailers include Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Costco (online), Home Depot, London Drugs, Lowe’s, Staples, Walmart, etc.

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