Challenger banks like Neo Financial and EQ Bank, and financial technology companies like KOHO are changing the financial landscape for consumers.
They offer high interest savings accounts with rates up to 125x what big banks are offerings as well as multiple ways to save on banking fees.
For example, KOHO pays up to 2% cash back on ‘debit’ purchases, and Neo Financial has a no-annual-fee cash back credit card.
This KOHO vs. Neo comparison covers the basic things you need to know about them.
KOHO is a fintech company. It offers a no-fee spending account and a prepaid Visa card that earns 0.50% – 2.00% cash back on all purchases.
Its complete products offerings are:
1. Cash back Card: The free KOHO Visa Card offers:
- 0.50% cash back
- No monthly account fees
- Automatic savings using Roundups
- Budgeting app, and more
- Joint accounts
- $20 welcome bonus when you enter the referral code CASHBACK.
You can upgrade your account to KOHO Premium and earn up to 2% cash back, pay no FX fees, and get access to financial coaching.
KOHO Premium has a $9/month fee or $84 per year if you pay the annual fee upfront.
2. KOHO Earn Interest: This high-interest savings account offers 1.20% interest on your account balance (both spending and savings account). Interest is earned automatically after you set up direct deposits to your KOHO account and opt-in for KOHO save.
3. KOHO Credit Building: If you are looking to improve or rebuild your credit score, this service can help. KOHO Credit building is optional and costs $7/month.
Reports are sent to the credit bureaus on your behalf, and you can grow your credit score within 6 months.
4. KOHO Early Payroll: All KOHO users can use the free KOHO Early Payroll service to access $100 up to 3 days before payday. After your paycheque is deposited, the $100 is automatically paid back to KOHO. Interest fees are charged.
You can also get instant access to $100 and a financial coach for 15 days for a $5 fee.
5. Metal Card: The KOHO Visa card is available as 16gm metal card for a one-time fee if you want to spice up your wallet.
You can read my in-depth KOHO review for more details about its offerings.
Neo Financial is a newcomer on the digital banking scene in Canada. Its founders include two co-founders of SkipTheDishes.
Neo Financial has two main products:
1. Credit Card: The Neo Financial Credit Card has no annual fee and offers up to 4% cash back at its partner stores.
You can increase your cash back and also earn at non-participating stores by paying a monthly fee ranging from $4.99 to $9.99 per month.
2. Savings Account: The Neo Money Account (formerly Neo Savings) currently pays a 1.45% rate on your balance. This interest rate is calculated daily and paid out every month.
KOHO vs. Neo Breakdown
Both KOHO and Neo Financial offer a savings account and a rewards card. I breakdown their similarities and differences below:
Cash Back Rewards: A free KOHO Visa Card pays you 0.50% when you make a purchase. This card works like a debit card and you won’t need to worry about carrying a balance and incurring interest fees.
If you make a lot of ‘cash’ purchases, you may benefit from upgrading to KOHO Premium and earn 2% cash back on groceries, transportation, and entertainment purchases.
The Neo Card is a credit card. Its no-fee version pays you up to 4% cash back at specific retailers. The problem that users have expressed is that the limited pool of retailers available may be places where you don’t shop at all.
You can also earn 0.5 – 1% at non-participating stores, however, a $4.99 to $9.99 membership fee is required (i.e., ‘Plus’ and ‘Max’ membership tiers).
Savings Interest: Both KOHO and Neo Savings Account are new. The jury is still out on whether their interest rates are just “teaser” rates or if they are going to be offering these great rates for the longer term.
Convenience: They are both 100% digital which means you can’t just walk into a branch to conduct in-person transactions. That said, you can reach their customer service supports by email or chat. Neo Financial also offers phone support.
Referral Program: When you sign up for KOHO through a valid referral link, you get a $20 welcome bonus. You can refer as many as 50 friends.
NEO Financial also has a referral program with various rewards when you refer others.
Fees: A KOHO account is free. For additional services e.g., credit building or the metal card, fees apply. The basic Neo Financial credit card has no annual fee. For cash back rewards at non-partner stores, a membership fee applies.
The Neo Card has a purchase interest rate of 19.99%-24.99% and cash advance rate of 21.99%-26.99%.
Are they Safe? Funds deposited in your KOHO Account are held at a Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)-member bank. They are thus eligible for CDIC protection for up to $100,000 per beneficiary.
Deposits in a Neo Savings account are held by Concentra, a CDIC member institution, and are also eligible for deposit protection.
|Monthly fee||$0 for the regular account; |
$84/year for Premium account
|$0 for the regular account; |
$4.99-$9.99/month for higher rewards tiers
|Free Interac e-Transfers||Yes, unlimited||Yes, unlimited|
|Mobile cheque deposits||Yes||No|
|Learn more||Get KOHO||Read Review|
What apps and credit cards do you use for earning cash back on everyday purchases?