KOHO Review (May 2024) – Get a $20 Welcome Bonus

*Limited time only – Get a $20 cash bonus with code: COMPAREWISE by opening an account and making a purchase with KOHO card within 30 days after registration (this works with both virtual and physical cards).

Our KOHO review covers everything you need to know about the Fintech company. Discover the pros & cons, of their products, services, & more.

Editorial Note: Comparewise is supported by our readers. When you find products and services through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Last Updated: May 14, 2024


  • Get cashback on your spending and savings
  • Get a $20 welcome bonus when you use your card
  • No monthly fees, no interest charges

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This KOHO review will explore one of Canada’s pioneering Fintech companies. We’ll discuss the products and services KOHO offers and the benefits and drawbacks of banking with them. In addition, we’ll walk you through the sign-up process.

Fintech companies like KOHO are changing the status quo of the banking industry. KOHO is giving the power back to the consumer, allowing you to make better choices for your overall financial health.

They provide three personal accounts, a credit building feature, and an alternative to payday loans. Peoples Trust, a federally regulated financial institution, backs KOHO.

If you’re looking to save on banking fees, it’s time to take a non-traditional route. With KOHO, you’ll not only avoid a medley of fees that easily rack up, but you’ll also earn cash back rewards.

This KOHO review will introduce you to KOHO’s products and much more. Let’s dive right in.

What makes KOHO a good option?

Before getting to the heart of our KOHO review, let’s explore why KOHO is the top choice for many Canadians. KOHO’s goal is simple: helping Canadians take control of their finances.

They achieve this by giving you access to an app to monitor spending, educational resources, and saving and budgeting tools.

You can spend, budget, save, earn cash back, rebuild credit, and more with KOHO. Since it’s not a bank, you won’t have to pay high fees or interest to benefit from their products. Below are more reasons KOHO is a good option. 

koho - comparewise

Great credit card substitute

Getting a credit card is a rite of passage. But you may realize quickly that it’s a financial trap. According to a Canadian Financial Capability Survey, credit card debt is the second most common type of debt amongst Canadians.

The reason is that many credit card providers charge exorbitant fees to enjoy the convenience of a credit card. If you don’t pay your balance on time, you’ll be charged interest.

You also may have to pay an annual fee for your credit card. All these costs rack up, and they can leave you in an inescapable debt cycle.

That’s why people turn to the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard. It combines the conveniences of a debit and credit card.

You spend your own money, meaning you won’t have to worry about paying anyone back. Also, you don’t have to stress about racking up interest for unpaid balances.

Like some credit cards, you’ll earn cash back rewards with the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard. You get this perk and more for no fees unless you opt-in for premium access.

But, as you’ll discover in this KOHO review, there are numerous other benefits to enjoy.

Easy to use and convenient

You can use the KOHO prepaid card like a credit card, whether you’re making online or in-store purchases.

The KOHO prepaid card is reloadable by KOHO e-transfer. This means you can top up your account balance at your convenience.

What’s more, you’ll get a virtual card to use for online purchases, allowing you to avoid any fraudulent activities.

Since the KOHO prepaid card runs on the Mastercard network, it’s accepted at millions of stores. Therefore, you won’t have to worry as much about card acceptance at most merchants.

Reasonable cash back program

It’s rare to find no-fee cards that automatically enrol the cardholder into a cash back program. Tangerine and Mogo are two of the most well-known credit card providers offering this perk.

However, when compiling our KOHO review, we discovered that KOHO does as well.

With the Easy and joint KOHO account, you can earn up to 2% cash back on eligible purchases made with your card and 3% interest on your savings. As for the KOHO Everything option, you’ll earn 5% interest, but you will have to pay a monthly fee.

compare koho plans - comparewise

Useful saving and budgeting features

Budgeting and saving are two essential skills everyone should have. Once you’ve built them, they can improve your financial health. The KOHO app is your best friend when looking to categorize your spending.

You can monitor your pre-set spending categories using your KOHO card to see where you’re overspending. By keeping track of your purchases, you can create better spending habits.

KOHO can help you save up for that trip you’ve long dreamt of with your family or friends. We discovered how easy it is to set up savings goals in the KOHO app when writing this KOHO review.

You’ll be able to monitor your progress and even automate your savings with the RoundUp feature.

Ideal for poor or no credit

Having good credit can open up many doors for you. The opposite is the case when you have poor credit. Your application for a credit card may be declined, so you’ll have to look elsewhere.

That’s where the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard comes in. You won’t need perfect credit to be approved for this card because you spend your own money.

Therefore, your credit history won’t stand in the way of accessing the conveniences of a credit card.

Pros and cons of KOHO

In this part of our KOHO review, we’ll inform you about the benefits and drawbacks of KOHO’s products and services. Here’s a brief overview:

Pros of KOHOCons of KOHO
✅ Quick and simple application process
✅ Low or no fees
✅ Earn cash back
✅ Free budgeting tools
✅ Third-party e-transfers
✅ Credit building available
✅ Automated savings
✅ Financial coaching available
Limited card acceptance
Foreign transaction fees
No impact on credit score
Account limits
No insurance perks
No investment accounts
Limited customer support

The pros of KOHO

KOHO is great for people who want to save more and earn more cash back and other perks.

Quick and simple application process

The first pro in our KOHO review relates to its hassle-free application process. Applying for a KOHO account takes less than ten minutes, and you can complete the entire process online.

Once your application is approved, KOHO issues a virtual prepaid card you can use until your physical card arrives.

koho 20 bonus promo banner mastercard- comparewise

Low or no fees

KOHO doesn’t charge a fee to get the prepaid Mastercard. Also, they don’t charge monthly fees on the Easy and joint accounts.

However, if you sign up for KOHO Essential, Extra, or Everything, you’ll pay a monthly fee depending on the account. In addition, KOHO doesn’t charge the following transaction fees:

  • INTERAC e-transfers
  • Electronic fund transfers from your bank
  • Card cancellation
  • Refund processing
  • Activation

Also, KOHO ATM withdrawals are entirely free. So you don’t have to worry about racking up these charges with your KOHO card.

Earn cash back

All KOHO accounts can you cash back rewards of up to 4%, from the standard to the KOHO premium card.

You won’t find this major perk with a typical debit card which is why we’ve highlighted it in this KOHO review. You’ll also receive up to 6% cash back when shopping at KOHO’s partners.

Free budgeting tools

The KOHO app is equipped with tools that make managing your money easier.

You can categorize and monitor your spending, receive real-time spending notifications, and compare your spending habits to other KOHO users. What’s more, you won’t have to pay to use the budgeting aspects of the app.

koho sign up bonus - comparewise

Third-party e-transfers

Another pro we’ve decided to include in this KOHO review is that KOHO lets you receive e-transfers from friends and family.

Credit building available

While the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard itself doesn’t improve your credit score, you can purchase an add-on.

Therefore, if you have bad credit, you can subscribe to the feature for a fee to improve your credit rating.

Automated savings

Say goodbye to forgetting to stash some cash away for your savings goals. With KOHO, you can automate your savings with their Roundup feature.

Every purchase you make will be rounded to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10; you choose which amount. The difference between the purchase price and the rounding amount you set will be transferred to a separate account.

Financial coaching available

Suppose you need some guidance with investing or managing your finances. In that case, KOHO can set you up with an accredited financial counsellor.

You can easily access your financial coach through the KOHO-app. Bear in mind that this feature is exclusive to the KOHO premium account. But we still felt that it was an important advantage to point out in this KOHO review.

The cons of KOHO

Here’s what some KOHO users had to say in terms of what could be improved about the experience.

Limited card acceptance

Some KOHO cardholders have noted that the KOHO card fails when performing certain transactions, specifically making payments over $100.

Also, the card may not work at all stores. However, this is a common issue even with prominent credit card providers like American Express.

Foreign transaction fees

Unless you have a premium account, you’ll face the standard 1.5% foreign transaction fee when making purchases in a foreign currency.

No impact on credit score

Unlike credit cards, prepaid cards don’t affect your credit score.

If you want to maintain your credit and not risk falling into a lower bracket, this is a good thing. However, it’s not ideal for improving your credit score.

Prepaid cards don’t operate with a line of credit. You’ll spend your own money, so you won’t have to pay anyone back. KOHO won’t need to report any account activity to the credit bureaus either because it has nothing to do with credit.

No insurance perks

We felt it necessary for our KOHO review to include the fact that KOHO cards don’t come with travel or purchase insurance. Also, you won’t get mobile device insurance or an extended warranty.

No investment accounts

KOHO doesn’t offer any accounts for investing long term. Therefore, it can’t wholly be a substitute for your bank. You can’t open a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or an RRSP account.

However, you can fund your investment accounts directly from your KOHO account.

Customer support issues

Some KOHO cardholders find contacting customer support through web chat futile. Also, when talking directly to someone on the phone, your issue may not be solved as quickly as expected.

Therefore, KOHO is ideal if you prefer finding solutions to issues independently.

Range of products and services

Now, let’s dive into the most critical part of our KOHO review. To anyone unfamiliar with KOHO, it may appear like a regular card you’d get from a bank. Or one that you pick up in the store to gift to a friend or relative. There’s actually more to it.

Thanks to Peoples Trust, your card is linked to an account where your money is kept safely. You also have access to an app with many valuable features. Below is an overview of KOHO’s range of products and services.

KOHO personal plans

KOHO offers four plans:

  • Easy: The free plan with all you need to start managing your money like a pro.
  • Essential: The plan that gets you more from your everyday spending for just $4 per month.
  • Extra: The plan that makes your money go even further with cash back on every purchase and high interest savings for just $9 per month.
  • Everything: The Everything plan means getting all the bells and whistles when it comes to your KOHO account for $19 per month.

Each account is unique in its own way. Let’s explore them further below.

koho easy - comparewise


This is the barebones KOHO account. Although it may sound like you’ll not get many rewards, that’s not the case. KOHO stands out from regular banks by making its standard account packed with great perks.

Firstly, this account doesn’t have fees. You’ll also benefit from unlimited e-transfers. Plus with this free account you earn 3% interest on your spending and savings balance.

The Easy KOHO account comes with a reloadable prepaid Mastercard. This card is similar to a debit card since you add money to the attached account to use it. It’s also not much different from a rewards credit card that earns you cash back on eligible purchases.

With the Easy KOHO Prepaid Mastercard, you’ll be automatically enrolled into KOHO’s cash back program. Every time you make a purchase with your card, you’ll earn a minimum of 0.5% cashback.

Plus earn 1% cash back on groceries and transportation. Whether you make a purchase at the partner’s store or via the app, you’ll earn money for your spending.

With the Easy KOHO personal account, you’ll have access to a KOHO savings account and KOHO’s credit building feature.

koho essential - comparewise


The KOHO Essential plan is an excellent choice if you want to earn more cashback on your balance and purchasese but don’t mind paying a low monthly fee. For $4/month you can increase your cashback value from the Easy plan by up to 5% at selected merchants.

In addition you earn 1.5% cashback on your spending and savings balences, that’s 1% more than the Easy plan! Of course you’ll still get all the great perks like unlimited e-transfers and a secure virtual and physical prepaid debit card.

With the KOHO Essential plan you can even get 1% cashback on groceries, eating & drinking, and transportation. And you can get a discount and pay $7/month on credit building instead of $10/month.

koho extra - comparewise


The Extra KOHO plan is the definition of good things coming at a cost. This account forgoes the fee-free appeal of the Easy KOHO account for better rewards and perks.

You’ll get everything the Easy account offers and more. For $9 per month (or $84 every year), you can subscribe to KOHO Extra to access:

  • A higher cash back earn rate. You’ll receive 1.5% cash back on three major spending categories: groceries, transportation, and food and drink.
  • Priority user support. Forget about waiting in line for your issue to be solved. Skip to the front instead, where an agent will help you promptly.
  • No foreign transaction fees and one free international monthly KOHO ATM withdrawal. Travel abroad without worrying about racking up foreign transactions and ATM withdrawal fees.

Besides these perks, you’ll also unlock KOHO’s financial coaching service. You can take all your money management and investing questions to an accredited financial counsellor. What’s more, they can create a comprehensive, tailored plan for you based on your financial needs.

You’ll also have access to KOHO’s price matching service as a premium account holder. You can send KOHO your receipts, and they’ll search for a better deal.

If they find a merchant who offers a lower price for the product you purchased, they’ll notify you. The difference between what you paid and the item’s current price will be credited to your KOHO account.



The KOHO Everything plan takes things to a whole new level of cashback perks. With this plan you get 2% cashback on grocery, food, and transportation, up to 5% cashback at selected merchants, and 4% cashback on your savings and spending balance. That’s all for a monthly fee of just $19.

You can also get a 50% discount on credit building features, with an Everything plan you pay just $5 a month. If you send money abroad, this is the plan for you. The Everything plan comes with no fx fees and 1 free international withdrawal every month.


Sharing an account with someone else can be convenient for several reasons. It’s a great way to track your children’s spending. Also, it’s ideal if you and your spouse or partner want one account to share your financial goals.

The KOHO joint account allows you to do just that and more for no fees. You can set goals and add money to the account together. Both account holders will receive instant spending and purchase notifications, allowing you to track every dollar leaving the account.

A joint account earns you cash back as well. You’ll receive 0.5% cash back on every purchase you make with your prepaid card at select merchants. In addition, you’ll earn additional cash back at eligible merchants.

KOHO savings account

KOHO savings accounts are on-brand with KOHO’s mission to help Canadians improve their financial health.

This feature allows you to earn 1.2% savings interest annually on your entire account balance. What’s more, you won’t have to meet any minimum criteria or regular deposit requirements.

The interest earned applies to your savings and your spendable and RoundUp balances. Interest is calculated daily and paid out to your account every month. You can access what you earn at any time and use it for day-to-day expenses.

The catch with a KOHO savings account is setting up direct deposits first. Once you make your first direct deposit to your KOHO account, the ‘Earn Interest’ option will unlock. From there, you’ll start earning 1.2% savings interest annually.


Credit building

Your credit score dictates most of your credit expenditures. It comes into play when applying for a mortgage or purchasing a vehicle. Also, many credit card providers check your credit score when you apply for a credit card.

If you have a low or non-existent credit score, you’ll face several limitations. However, there’s a solution. While some people opt for secured credit cards, others look to credit-building programs.

KOHO offers a credit-building feature for $7 per month. You’ll receive a line of credit, which you’ll pay back in regular installments. Every payment you make will be reported to the credit bureaus. Therefore, as long as you pay what you owe on time, you’ll improve your credit score.

Early Payroll

The Early Payroll feature is no longer available.

Early Payroll is an alternative to getting a payday loan. Those loans are notorious for leading borrowers into debt cycles, so it’s best to avoid them. With Easy Payroll, you can access a $100 advance on your next paycheque without the risk of building debt.

This loan comes with no strings attached, meaning there aren’t fees or interest. Of course, you have to pay back the $100 you borrow, as with any other loan. However, you can pay it back quickly without the added weight of interest and charges.

Just like a KOHO savings account, you’ll need to set up direct deposits and add the feature through the KOHO app. You’ll get access to the $100 three days before your paycheque is due. Alternatively, you can pay $5 to access Early Payroll Instant. This allows you to get the advance any time during a month.

koho cash back partners-comparewise

The KOHO app

A KOHO review wouldn’t be complete without looking at the KOHO mobile application. The KOHO app is all about making banking more manageable for you.

It boasts a user-friendly and aesthetic design synonymous with the youthful theme of KOHO’s website and prepaid Mastercards. Through the KOHO app, you can:

  • Track your spending. Categorize your purchases to see where you might be overspending. You’ll receive real-time spending insights on the app, allowing you to adjust your spending habits.
  • Automate your savings. Set up your account to transfer a specific amount to your account daily, weekly, or monthly.

What’s more, the KOHO app is great for automating your bill payments. That way, you will always pay your bills on time. You can also transfer money to any investment account from the app.

And you can set up payroll deposits. The KOHO app is available to download for Android and iOS devices.


KOHO product and service quality

For our KOHO review, we sourced feedback left by current and former KOHO clients from Google My Business and Facebook. KOHO has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Google My Business, with over 900 reviews. And a rating of 3.2 out of 5 on Facebook.

Many positive reviews remark on how helpful KOHO has been for managing finances and mitigating overspending. “A very good substitute for a credit card,” said one reviewer. Others commended the KOHO app, dubbing it user-friendly.

In a few reviews of KOHO, reviewers mention how easy it is to use the app. Some reviewers remarked on KOHO’s convenience and flexibility. And one reviewer mentioned that it’s a great alternative to their regular bank account.

Since no company is perfect, we anticipated finding less-than-positive KOHO reviews. Most reviewers were dissatisfied with the options available to reach customer support. Also, some queries took longer than expected to resolve.

We noticed with the lower-rated feedback that KOHO’s team is dedicated to finding solutions for their customers. On Facebook, they reply to all reviews—positive and negative.

Judging from the hundreds of reviews, we conclude that KOHO is worth the bet. However, you may get along better when relying on the resources available on their website to solve issues.

KOHO referral program

KOHO offers a good referral program. If you refer someone to KOHO, you’ll both earn $20. You’ll receive a unique KOHO referral code that you can share with a friend.

Once they sign up and make their first purchase within 30 days of registration, you’ll receive the referral bonus.

You can refer up to 50 people, which shouldn’t be too hard to achieve since you both earn $20. This means you can earn almost $1,000 from referrals.

One condition of the KOHO referral program is that your account must be in good standing. In the next section of our KOHO review, we’ll guide you through signing up for a KOHO account.

koho 20 bonus promo banner mastercard- comparewise

How to get started with KOHO

This part of our KOHO review will show you how to get a KOHO card. Note that before you get a KOHO card, you must open an account first.

You will keep your money in this account and be able to carry out withdrawals and transfers. Your KOHO card can then be used for in-store and online purchases.

Applying for a KOHO account is straightforward. Simply visit the KOHO website, then click the ‘open account’ button in the upper right-hand corner.

You’ll first have to set up an account with your email address and a strong password. Once that’s done, you’ll begin your application and follow these steps:

  1. Complete your personal details. Enter your legal first name, last name, and date of birth.
  2. Enter your mobile number.
  3. Fill in your street address. You can use the in-built search feature to make it easier.
  4. Enter your occupation.
  5. Choose the product or service you’re interested in. This can be spending, saving, credit building, or early pay.
  6. Review the legal information, enter a referral code, and submit if you have one.

Once your account is registered and approved, KOHO will give you a virtual prepaid card. You can use this card to make purchases through the KOHO app immediately.

Eligibility criteria

Besides being the legal age (18 or 19 years old), you will be required to verify your identity. Therefore, have at least two of the following documents handy when completing your application:

  • Bank statement
  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Utility bill
  • Work permit

Alternatives to KOHO

While KOHO is great, it doesn’t offer the full spectrum of banking options your bank may offer. Perhaps you want to invest in a retirement account.

Or maybe you want a credit card instead of a prepaid card. This section of our KOHO review will help you find a suitable alternative.


  • Zero monthly or annual fees on most products
  • Get 0.10% interest on a Tangerine savings account
  • Access 3,500 ATMs across Canada

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Tangerine is a digital bank with a similar philosophy to KOHO which is why we’ve included it in this KOHO review.

They aim to disrupt conventional banking standards by charging no banking fees. What’s more, they provide generous interest rates for savings and investments. They offer:

  • Savings accounts
  • Chequing accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)
  • Investment funds

Tangerine Savings Accounts carry 0.10% interest, roughly the same as a KOHO savings account. The 1.5% earned on your spendable, RoundUp, and savings balances is a yearly figure. Per month, it’s 0.10%. To learn more about Tangerine, read our Tangerine review.

KOHO Vs Tangerine

KOHO Features Tangerine Features
– Offers prepaid cards
– Earn 0.5% cash back or 2% cash back with a premium on three spending categories
– No long-term investment accounts
– No insurance benefits
– Money held with Peoples Trust
– Offers credit cards
– Earn 2% cash back on two chosen spending categories and 0.5% on everything else
– Long-term investment accounts available
– Travel insurance benefits are available
– Money held with Tangerine Bank


  • Every dime is put to work for you via a welcoming online interface
  • Wealthsimple Trade is Canada’s 1st and only commission-free trading platform
  • Start trading with as little as $1 with no charges attached

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If you’re looking to step up your investment game, Wealthsimple is the ideal choice. Wealthsimple is a Canadian Fintech company that provides the following products:

  • Wealthsimple Invest: for investing in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
  • Wealthsimple Cash: for earning interest on deposits and spending your own money.
  • Wealthsimple Trade: to buy and sell stocks.

There are many other services Wealthsimple offers, but these are the most popular. Wealthsimple cash is comparable to KOHO’s personal accounts. It carries no monthly fees and no ATM withdrawal fees. The Wealthsimple Cash Card runs on the Visa network, and you can add it to Apple Pay.

wealthsimple 970x250 - comparewise

In addition, both Wealthsimple and KOHO have a RoundUp feature, where the change from your purchases is saved. With KOHO, the change is stored in a RoundUp account that earns interest, whereas, with Wealthsimple, it’s invested. To learn more about Wealthsimple, read our Wealthsimple review.

KOHO Vs Wealthsimple

KOHO Features Wealthsimple Features
– 1.5% foreign transaction fees (waived on premium)
– 1.2% savings interest on all account balances
– $20 referral program
– No foreign transaction fees
– No savings interest
– $10 referral program


  • Mogo app and online services are available 24 hours a day
  • Get free money tips through a money class
  • Get a guaranteed signup bonus of $5 with MogoCrypto

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Mogo is a Fintech company revolutionizing financial services in Canada. They offer various services and innovative financial products, including the MogoCard. The MogoCard is a prepaid Visa card that earns cardholders 50 satoshi rewards.

What prompted us to include Mogo in our KOHO review is its focus on sustainability. Whenever you use your card, Mogo will plant a tree.

Therefore, you can offset your carbon footprint merely with your spending. Besides this, both KOHO and Mogo cards have no monthly fee.

Mogo claims that users have saved an average of $201 per month thanks to the MogoCard. This makes sense when you look at the low fees charged on the MogoCard. Read our review of Mogo here to learn more.

mogo card category - comparewise

KOHO Vs Mogo

KOHO Features Mogo Features
– Earns you cash back rewards
– Paid credit score monitoring
– 1.5% foreign transaction fee (Waived with premium)
– No environmental rewards
– No effect on your credit score
– Earns you bits of bitcoin (satoshi rewards)
– Free credit score monitoring
– 2.5% foreign transaction fee
– Environmental rewards
– Affects your credit score


Stack is a Canadian Fintech company with a digital-first approach to financial services.

It’s one of a few companies that offer a product similar to the KOHO Prepaid Visa Card: the Stack Prepaid Mastercard. Both KOHO and stack charge no monthly fees on the account attached to the card.

In addition, they both hold your money at Peoples Trust. You’ll get similar RoundUp and Stack features. Check out the table below of KOHO Vs Stack to see how the two companies measure up.


KOHO Vs Stack

KOHO Features Stack Features
– Prepaid card runs on the Visa network
– 1.5% foreign transaction fee (waived with a premium account)
– 0.5% cash back or 2% cash back with premium (and up to 6% cash back at select partners)
– Available in the whole of Canada
– Paycheque advance 3 days early (or pay for any time before then)
– Prepaid card runs on the Mastercard network
– No foreign transaction fees
– No cash back program
– Not available in Quebec
– Paycheque advance 2 days early

KOHO review conclusion

KOHO is the ideal choice for many Canadians because it combines the best of debit and credit cards. With the KOHO card, you don’t have to worry about racking up banking fees when you use your card. It carries no transaction fees and monthly fees unless you opt for a Extra account.

While saving on banking fees, you’ll earn cash back rewards. You’ll access their cash back program, whether you have a personal account for yourself or one that you share with someone.

What’s more, KOHO offers other features like a savings account. This allows you to earn up to 5% interest on your spendable, RoundUp, and savings balances.

And like it couldn’t get any better, you can easily get a cash advance on your paycheque of up to $100. This small loan comes without the shadiness of a payday loan.

Also, if you’re looking to build credit, KOHO has you sorted with their credit building feature. All you have to do is sign up, pay a small fee, and watch your credit score grow.

Fintech companies like KOHO are making it possible for several Canadians to take control of their finances. Their mobile app has several useful tools that you can use to improve your budgeting. What’s more, you can set saving goals in-app and work towards them by automating your savings.

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FAQs about KOHO

Is KOHO a Bank?

No, KOHO isn’t a bank. KOHO is a financial technology company, meaning it leverages technology to provide financial services to consumers. Since it’s not a bank, it offers some leeway with fees. For instance, you won’t pay a monthly fee when you open an account. Also, you won’t be charged for certain transactions like ATM withdrawals. Given that KOHO doesn't have the facilities of traditional banks, your deposits are held by Peoples Trust. They'll guard the money in your account and ensure it's safe. What also makes KOHO different from a bank because they don't have a physical branch.

Who Are KOHO Accounts Best Suited for?

KOHO is suited for a wide variety of people, so almost anyone can benefit from the prepaid Mastercard. However, KOHO is ideal if you cannot get a regular credit card. You won't have access to a line of credit, but you will benefit from a great cash back rewards program. Also, your credit score won't play a role in your chances of approval because it's not a credit product. A KOHO account is also suitable for anyone who wants to monitor and control their spending. Building good spending habits is made easier with the KOHO app. Also, since you’re spending your own money, it’s easier to not overspend.

Is It Safe to Bank With KOHO?

Absolutely. Although KOHO isn’t a bank, it’s affiliated with institutions that hold it to the standards of traditional banks. Peoples Trust holds the money you load onto your card. It’s a federally regulated financial institution registered with the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). The CDIC is a federal Crown corporation. It protects eligible deposits held at CDIC member institutions from defaults by the member. The CDIC safeguards up to $100,000 for each beneficiary named in a trust. In addition, the KOHO Prepaid Mastercard is covered by Mastercard insurance. This means you’re protected from unauthorized use of your card. Also, KOHO is backed by the National Bank of Canada, Greyhound Capital, and Drive Capital.

How Is KOHO Different from a Debit Account?

KOHO accounts come with low or no fees, unlike debit accounts. The bank will charge you for various reasons with a regular debit account, including maintenance and transactions. These costs can make holding a debit account expensive, especially if you don't maintain a balance high enough to absorb the charges. The KOHO accounts flip the script by carrying no monthly fees. Most transaction fees are also waived, so you can make ATM withdrawals without worrying about charges. Also, with KOHO, you get a prepaid Mastercard that earns cash back on all purchases. You’ll not likely find this reward with a debit account.

Should I Still Have a Regular Bank Account and a KOHO Account?

Yes. While KOHO is an excellent substitute for a regular bank account, it lacks in some areas. For one, you can't open investment accounts. Therefore, if you want a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you’ll have to look elsewhere. Also, if you still rely on writing paper cheques, KOHO can’t replace a regular bank. It’s also not ideal if you don’t want your entire paycheque deposited into your KOHO account. In this case, you’d still need a regular bank account. Despite the limitations, you can use your KOHO account to pay your bills and make unlimited free e-transfers.

How Does KOHO Work?

Using your KOHO account, the card attached, and the KOHO app is pretty simple. You fund your KOHO account by making an e-transfer from your existing bank account. Alternatively, you can have your paycheque deposited directly into your account. Once your account has funds, you can use your Mastercard for purchases in person and online. So if you were wondering how to load a KOHO card, it’s pretty straightforward. As for the KOHO app, you can use it to track your spending at a glance. Also, it’s great to set up savings goals and watch your cash back accumulate.

How Does Credit Building Work?

Once you register for KOHO’s credit building program, they perform a soft credit check. This check may not affect your credit score. There will be a slight decrease in your credit score if it does. You’ll then take out a credit-building line of credit. As you repay the line of credit on time, KOHO will report your payments to a major credit bureau. These reports will update your credit history, allowing your credit score to improve. However, if you don't make your payments on time, you'll undo all your work to improve your credit score. It will decrease, and you may end up having to start from a worse place than before.

How Does KOHO Make Money?

This is a reasonable question, given that KOHO charges no or extremely low fees. You may be worried about hidden costs, but you can rest assured that KOHO doesn’t charge any. They receive a portion of the commissions Mastercard earns from merchants whenever you use your card for a purchase. This commission is known as an interchange fee. Besides the commission, KOHO makes money through its paid services. For instance, a premium account costs $9 per month. The credit building service is available to users for $7 per month. Also, you pay $5 to receive an advance on your paycheque early through Early Pay Instant.

What Fees Does KOHO Charge?

Besides boasting no fees, KOHO charges some fees. This includes an inactivity fee of $1. If you haven't made any transactions with your account or loaded money to it for a specific period, it's regarded as inactive. The fee is charged every month when your account has been open for 13 months but inactive for six months. In addition, KOHO charges a fee of 1.5% whenever you pay for purchases in a currency that's not Canadian dollars. However, you can waive this fee. You won't be charged foreign transaction fees when you sign up for a premium account. KOHO also charges a Mastercard Direct Load Fee of 75¢ per transaction. This fee applies to transactions of or below $300.

Is the Prepaid Mastercard Worth It?

That depends on you and your spending habits. It’s worth betting on if you don’t want to deal with credit. Also, if you can’t get a regular cash back credit card, it’s the next best alternative. The approval requirements are minimal, so almost everyone can qualify for the card. What’s more, you’ll earn 0.5% cash back without the financial burden that comes with credit cards. However, the KOHO Prepaid Mastercardard isn’t great if you want to improve your credit score without paying a fee. Your account activity won’t be reported to credit bureaus because it doesn’t constitute credit transactions.

June 6, 2023
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