KOHO Mastercard is a reloadable card and app that aims to help Canadians budget, spend, save, earn cash back, rebuild credit, and more.
KOHO is not a bank. It is a financial technology company that’s challenging the status quo in the banking industry so you don’t have to pay fees at every turn.
With this platform, you can avoid credit card balances, interest payments, pesky monthly fees, overdraft fees, and more.
This KOHO review covers how it works, its benefits, fees, and security.
Review Rating Summary: 4.9/5
KOHO ranks high when you look at its zero monthly fees, budgeting and savings features, cash-back offers, customer support options, interest rate, and referral program.
As a gift to you, when you open a new account using the link below and use the referral code CASHBACK, you get a $20 welcome bonus after your first purchase with the card.
What is KOHO?
KOHO is a Canadian fintech company launched in 2017 by Daniel Eberhard. One of its goals is to save Canadians from the exorbitant banking fees we pay on a monthly basis – some of the highest in the world!
Also, the company wants to make budgeting and saving easier so average Canadians can up their financial game without needing to drastically change their lifestyle.
Because KOHO is not a bank, it has partnered with Mastercard and Peoples Trust (a federally regulated company) to hold the funds you load on your card so it is protected by CDIC.
How Does KOHO Work?
KOHO offers a reloadable (prepaid) Mastercard and a versatile app that integrates with the card and helps you budget effortlessly, spend knowledgeably, and save automatically.
Opening an account takes less than 5 minutes. When setting up your account, you get to choose a V Card that more or less works like a debit card and gives you the ability to spend, while also encouraging savings – aka “a smart spending account.”
In order to start using your card, the easiest way to deposit funds is by using e-Transfer. You can also set up a direct load to put all, or a portion of, your paycheque on your KOHO Card.
After loading the card, you are ready to roll! Whether you want to pay for coffee, groceries, or your monthly bills, the KOHO card does it all. You also earn 1.20% interest on your entire balance when you set up a direct deposit to your account.
Not only that, but the app also provides easy-to-understand insights into your spending patterns, lets you set savings goals, and helps you reach them.
Benefits of KOHO (Why I Use KOHO)
1. Zero Monthly Fees: Canadians pay an average of $220 in bank fees every year. KOHO charges $0 for your account, a new card or replacement card, Interac e-Transfer, electronic fund transfers from your bank, ATM withdrawals (within KOHO ATM network – over 8,500 ATMs), and more.
2. 0.5% Cash-Back on Purchases: Your traditional bank does not reward you when you use your debit card. This means that unless you are banking with an online-only bank like Tangerine, the concept of earning interest on your chequing, or in KOHO’s case, earning cash-back rewards when spending your “cash,” is surprising.
KOHO gives you a 0.5% cash-back bonus (aka PowerUps) every time you spend, meaning that you do not need a credit card to enjoy loyalty rewards! If you sign up for KOHO Premium, you can earn up to 2% cash back.
3. Automated Savings: The KOHO app allows you to set savings goals and helps you reach your goals. For example, say you want to save $1,500 for a vacation that is 6 months away, the app will show you how much you need to save on a daily (weekly, monthly) basis and debit that amount every day so you can meet your savings target. Smart, eh?
In addition, KOHO also supports one of the savviest saving strategies ever invented – the RoundUp! Similar to Mylo and Wealthsimple, the KOHO app allows you to save some money every time you make a purchase by rounding up your spending to the nearest $1, $5, or $10 and saving the difference.
For example, let’s say you purchase a cup of coffee for $2.25, the app will automatically SAVE $0.75 (rounding up to the nearest $1), or $2.75 (if rounding up to the nearest $5), or $7.75 (if rounding up to the nearest $10).
4. 1.20% High-Interest Savings Rate: Your entire balance (both savings and spending) earns at a 1.20% rate if you set up a direct deposit. This makes the KOHO account one of the best savings accounts in Canada!
5. Real-Time Insights: Have you ever wondered where all your money goes at the end of the month? KOHO shows your spending categories and how much goes to what. It also shows how your spending compares to other KOHO users.
With these cold-hard spending facts at your fingertips, you can better budget and take the important financial steps that are pertinent to reaching financial freedom.
6. Versatile App: Their app makes it easy to accomplish multiple tasks you would normally need your bank for. For example, you can easily set up payroll deposits, transfer money into your investment accounts, automate your bill payments, and more.
The live in-app support chat function is invaluable. You can reach real customer service reps between 9 am-5:30 pm EST seven days a week.
7. Apple Pay: You can use KOHO with Apple Pay on your iOS device. Simply add KOHO to your Apple wallet and you no longer need to bring out your physical KOHO card when you are shopping in-store. If you have any questions about setting up KOHO in your Apple Wallet, you can reach support via the app or talk to them at 1-833-793-3372.
8. Financial Coaching: You can access free financial advice through the app when you have a direct payroll deposit setup. Have a question about investing, debt, savings, or budgeting? The answers are now at your fingertips.
9. Referral Program: They have a generous referral program. Whenever you refer a friend to sign up, you both receive a $20 bonus. You can refer up to 10 friends.
10. Early Payroll: KOHO users can access up to $100 of their paycheque up to 3 days before they are paid. This service is provided for free. You can also opt to get $100 immediately for up to 15 days plus access to a financial coach at a $5 cost.
KOHO Joint Accounts
KOHO is now offering a free KOHO Joint Account and Prepaid Mastercard for those who want to partner with a friend, spouse, roommate, or sibling. You can open a joint KOHO account without having to visit a bank branch to complete long and complicated forms.
Shared account holders get a personal KOHO account along with a joint account. The benefits that come with the account remain the same and include:
- A Joint Account reloadable prepaid Mastercard card
- Zero fees
- Expense tracking
- Real-time Joint updates and spend notifications
- PowerUps (instant 0.5% cashback on all purchases)
- Shared savings goals (you can set and contribute to goals together)
- Free e-Transfers
- Free, instant KOHO-to-KOHO transfers
- Personal account spending privacy, and more
Is KOHO Safe and Legit?
As per their website, they have partnered with the Peoples Trust Company to hold your funds. Peoples Trust is based in Vancouver and is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation.
In general, the CDIC insures deposits up to $100,000 per category.
KOHO enjoys the backing of some of Canada’s biggest financial institutions including Portag3 Ventures, Drive Capital, National Bank of Canada, and Greyhound Capital.
KOHO also has a premium service for those who want to access additional benefits including:
- 2% cash back on groceries, dining out, and transportation.
- No foreign currency transaction fees: Similar to the STACK Mastercard, KOHO premium users can now save the 2.5% to 3% FX fee normally charged by their credit card provider.
- Free financial coaching that includes weekly money tips and one-on-one coaching sessions where you can get answers to your pressing personal finance questions.
- Price matching: Get the best deal on your purchases. If there is a better deal elsewhere, KOHO will credit your account with cash back.
- Snappy new card design that is ‘premium’ in every way!
- Higher limits, meaning that you can now take out $400 at an ATM per transaction, for a max of $800 per day. Your account balance can also be up to $40,000 instead of $20,000. instead of $20,000.
- KOHO premium is free for the first 30 days and then costs $9 per month or $84 when you pay for a full year (savings of $24).
Check out my KOHO Premium review.
KOHO Credit Builder
If you are looking to build your credit score, KOHO now offers an optional service called the Credit Builder which helps you to grow your credit score over a 6 month period.
You can opt-in for KOHO Credit Builder via the app at a low fee. You get a no-fee and no-interest line of credit and every month KOHO deducts a portion of these funds and reports it to the credit bureaus.
The credit building feature works in 6-month cycles.
|Fees||KOHO Prepaid Card||KOHO Joint Card||KOHO Premium Card|
|Monthly fee||$0||$0||$9/mo. or $84/year|
|Interac e-Transfer fee||$0||$0||$0|
|Bill payment fee||$0||$0||$0|
|FX conversion fee||1.5%||1.5%||0%|
|Earn Interest fee||$0||$0||$0|
|Early payroll fee (3 days)||$0||$0||$0|
|Early payroll fee (15 days)||$5||$5||$5|
|Credit building fee (/mo.)||$7||$7||$7|
How does KOHO make money? It splits the interchange fees with Mastercard when you pay using your card in-store or online. Also, it makes money when you opt for additional services like credit building.
Is KOHO Worth It?
KOHO may be right for you if want to/are:
Save More Money: As shown by data collected from KOHO users, “the average KOHO user reduces their spending by 15% and saves nearly $500” within the first 3 weeks following sign-up. This is because the service brings you closer to your money.
You get real-time information and see how your money is being spent – this helps you budget better. The savings plan and RoundUp features are also very practical.
Need to save for a wedding, vacation, emergency fund, etc.? A KOHO account is great for reaching your money goals. Even better, it pays you 1.20% interest on your balance.
Save on Fees: if you want to pay less in banking fees, online banking options (like Tangerine and EQ Bank) and non-bank options (like KOHO) can help. While KOHO may not meet all your banking needs, they can help you save a lot in fees with free Interac e-Transfers and more.
Travelling: You can use your KOHO card outside of Canada and save on foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards/banks charge a flat 2.5% or more for this fee, however, when you use your KOHO card abroad, you only pay 1.5% (or 0% with KOHO Premium). You can use your card to book hotels, rent a car, shop online and in-store, and more.
Comfortable With Online Banking: People are busy these days and desire convenience and this is what KOHO provides. If you love or are comfortable with conducting financial transactions using your phone or tablet, KOHO is a great choice.
Two downsides to using KOHO that are worth mentioning include:
- KOHO does not fully replace your bank. For your investing needs e.g. TFSA, RRSP, and RESP accounts, you will need to look elsewhere. With that being said, if your investment accounts are with Wealthsimple, KOHO makes it easy to directly fund your accounts using their app. They also have further app integrations in the works to make your banking easier.
- There are limits on how much you can load on your KOHO card as well as daily transaction limits. For example, the maximum card balance is $20,000, there’s a $3,000 daily limit on transactions, and the daily ATM withdrawal limit is $600. In my opinion, these limits are reasonable and will not pose any problems to the average user.
A similar prepaid card to KOHO in Canada is the STACK Mastercard and app. You can read my STACK review.
KOHO Canada FAQs
Will Using KOHO Affect Your Credit Score?
No, the prepaid KOHO Mastercard is not a credit card and does not impact your credit score one way or another.
How Do I Get a KOHO Referral Code?
You need to use the referral code of an existing KOHO client if you want to get a $20 welcome bonus. KOHO has provided our readers with the referral code CASHBACK which can be used an unlimited number of times. To take advantage, download the app via this link.
Is KOHO Free?
The basic KOHO account is 100% free to use and offers a 0.50% cash back on all your card’s debit purchases. In addition, you can earn up to 5% in cash back when you opt-in for offers from select brands. If you want to earn 2% cash back in up to three categories and pay no FX fees, you can choose KOHO Premium and pay $9 per month.
Does KOHO Build Credit?
KOHO is a prepaid credit card and while it allows you to earn rewards similar to a premium credit card, it is not a credit card and your spending is not reported to credit bureaus and does not impact your credit score. You can opt-in for a Credit Builder service offered by KOHO if you are looking to build your credit score.
What is KOHO Premium?
KOHO Premium is their newest service offering 2% cash-back on groceries, eating & drinking (bars, restaurants, food delivery, coffee, etc.) and transportation (gas, uber, public transportation, etc.), no FX fees, free financial coaching, price matching, and a premium new card design.
How Does KOHO Make Money?
When I first heard about KOHO and that they do not charge monthly fees, this was my first question. As per KOHO, they are able to operate without charging fees because Mastercard shares some of the commissions they receive from merchants with KOHO when you use their card to make payments or purchases in-store and online. These commissions are also referred to as interchange fees. It is part of these interchange fees that they return to you via their 0.5% cash-back feature. WIN-WIN!
What happened to the KOHO Prepaid Visa?
The KOHO Prepaid Visa is being replaced by the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard. The cash back rewards and perks offered by KOHO remain the same and existing clients who have the KOHO Visa Card have the option to switch their existing card to a Mastercard before October 2022.
Can I use KOHO To Rent a Car?
You can use KOHO to facilitate transactions similar to your credit card, including using it to pay for car rentals. The KOHO Mastercard prepaid card is accepted wherever Mastercard is accepted worldwide. You can easily add the KOHO Mastercard to your Apple or Samsung wallet and make payments on the fly.
Can I withdraw Money From KOHO?
You can use your KOHO Prepaid Mastercard to make withdrawals at any ATM carrying the Mastercard ATM logo. Select “credit” if you are asked to identify what type of card you are using by the ATM. Note that ATM withdrawal fees may apply.
Have you tried KOHO? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
KOHO Mastercard Review 2022 - Get Up To 2% Cash Back
Zero Monthly Fees
The KOHO prepaid Mastercard and KOHO app help Canadians to earn cash back on all purchases. This KOHO review includes a $20 welcome bonus promo code!
- No monthly fee on regular account.
- 1.20% savings interest rate.
- Earn 0.50% cash back on all purchases.
- Earn up to 2% cash back with a KOHO Premium account, plus price-matching and no-FX fees.
- Automated savings and budgeting app.
- Free financial coaching.
- $20 referral bonus (with CASHBACK referral code).
- The prepaid card does not help you build your credit score.