**This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you use them.

KOHO has been around for a few years now and it has quickly become one of the most popular fintech companies in Canada. The concept is simple, KOHO is a reloadable Visa card and app that gives you real-time insights on your spending while helping you reach your financial goals by automating some of your savings.

What makes them stand out is that you can earn 1.2% interest on your deposits. This rate is per year, calculated daily and paid monthly. Plus, you can earn at least 0.5% cash back on your purchases. You can easily increase that rate to 1.5% on all your purchases for the first 90 days when using the referral code CASHMONEY. Oh, KOHO is also free. Keep reading my KOHO review to find out how the card works and if it’s the right fit for you.

KOHO review

KOHO Benefits

  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back bonus for 90 days with CASHMONEY referral code  
  • 0.5% cash-back on all purchases
  • 1.2% interest with KOHO Save when you have direct deposit set up
  • Automated savings goals
  • Round up each purchase to the nearest $1, $5, or $10
  • Real-time spending insights
  • Free financial coaching with direct deposit set up
  • Apple Pay compatible

KOHO is a prepaid Visa card so it can be used wherever Visa is accepted. By using KOHO, but you’ll only spend money that you have available. The card is directly tied to the app which shows you all the insights about your spending.

What’s interesting is that you can have personal or joint accounts so this card could be good for couples who are just starting to merge their finances.  The KOHO card is available to everyone in Canada, including residents of Quebec.

There are a limited amount of benefits that come with this no fee card, but that’s not a bad thing since wants to help you understand your spending. You’ll earn 0.5% in “power up” cash-back on all purchases you make which is impressive since this isn’t a credit card. Think of KOHO as a cash back credit card since that’s what it is.

As mentioned, if you use my referral code CASHMONEY, you’ll earn an extra 1% in cash back for a total of 1.5% on all purchases in the first 90days.

Every purchase you make can be rounded up to the nearest $1, $5, or $10. This microsavings is then applied to your savings goal e.g. concert tickets, a new tv, a vacation etc. The idea is that you won’t notice this small transaction, but they’ll add up pretty quickly. You can set up as many savings goals as you want with an amount and KOHO will estimate how long it’ll take you to reach those goals. It’s basically teaching you delayed gratification.

For those of you who want to look like a millionaire, KOHO gives you the option to order a metal card for $159. That fee drops down to $50 if you make two referrals. I personally think this is a waste of money, but I do admit that having a metal card is pretty cool.

KOHO Save

KOHO Save was recently introduced where users will now earn 1.2% interest on all their deposits. To qualify for KOHO Save, you need to have a direct deposit set up. This can be part or all of your payroll cheques, government deposits or even PayPal transfers.

Your money is held by Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc. (“ShareOwner”), so you get CDIC protection included.

What is KOHO Premium?

  • Free for 30 days then $9 per month or $84 per year
  • 2% Cash back on groceries, eating & drinking and transportation
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free financial coaching
  • Price matching
  • Higher “velocity” limits
  • New card design

KOHO Premium is a subscription service that earns you additional benefits. The fee is $9 per month or $84 a year but it gives you 2% cash back on groceries, eating & drinking and transportation purchases. This increased cash back offer stacks with my referral code CASHMONEY so you can earn a total of 3% cash back on those categories. 

The additional KOHO Premium benefits are also impressive. I would argue the best feature is no foreign transaction fees. Many people don’t realize that most credit cards charge a fee of 2.5% (regular KOHO charges 1.5%) when making a purchase in any currency besides Canadian dollars. With KOHO premium, that fee is waived which makes it one of the best no foreign fee credit cards in Canada. For reference, if you don’t have the pre

You only get one free international ATM withdrawal per month which is a bit disappointing.

Price matching is great since you can actually have KOHO check to see if there was a better price available for your purchases. If they do indeed find a lower price than what you paid, you’ll get credited the difference.

The free financial coaching is also unique since you’ll basically be able to ask an expert about taxes, investing and more. Free financial coaching is also available to regular KOHO users who set up direct deposit.

Partner PowerUps

Besides the straight cash back you’re earning by using the card, KOHO also has Partner PowerUps where you can earn additional cash back. Some partners have included:

  • Baskin Robbins +5%
  • Harvey’s +3%
  • Hudson’s Bay +2%
  • Kernels Popcorn +3%
  • Pizza Pizza +3%
  • Sunwing +3%
  • Well.ca +1.5%

How much does KOHO Cost?

There is no cost for the basic KOHO service, it’s completely free. If you decide to upgrade to the premium service, KOHO will cost you $9 per month or $84. Remember, you get additional benefits with KOHO premium, so you could easily make more in cash back than what you’re paying in fees.

KOHO also offers a metal card for a cost of $159. However, if you make two referrals with your account, the price drops down to $50.

How KOHO works

With KOHO, you get a physical card that comes with a chip and PIN so your information stays secure.

To load funds onto your KOHO card, all you need to do is send an e-transfer or link your bank account to your card. Your money will show up and be ready for use shortly after. Since you can only spend what you have, you never need to worry about going into overdraft or paying high interest charges.

A lot of people take advantage of the saving goals since it automates your savings. Let’s say you’re saving up to buy a new jacket or a bike, you can set up a saving goal and monitor your process. For example, you could have KOHO move $1 (or any amount) every day. The idea is, once you reach your goal, you can go buy what you’ve been saving. This feature makes KOHO one of the best budgeting apps in Canada.

With the app (available on the App Store and GooglePlay), you’ll get instant notifications about your purchases and what categories you’re spending your money on. You can even create custom spending categories so you know exactly what you’ve spent money on.

Getting tips on your spending patterns relative to other KOHO users is another feature that may benefit you. For example, you may get a tip saying that coffee at McDonald’s is cheaper than Starbucks or a cable plan will cost you less with Rogers compared to say Bell. Those are just random examples to give you an idea of what kind of tips you’d get.

As you continue to use KOHO, you’ll get data on your spending patterns. It’ll show you your average spending for the day or week is. If the app sees that you’re spending above average, you’ll be alerted which will hopefully encourage you to spend less.

KOHO is one of the best student credit cards as it’ll teach you to be responsible with your money.

Is KOHO insured?

Since KOHO is partnered with Peoples Trust, a federally regulated and CDIC-insured bank, your money is safe if anything were to happen to KOHO. In a worst-case scenario (which is highly unlikely to happen), you’d be able to get your money back via Peoples Trust.

To be clear, KOHO itself is not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation For reference, the Canada Deposit Insur. But since your funds are held with Peoples Trust, you more is safe. For reference, Corporation covers deposits up to $100,000 in eligible accounts. Hopefully, you never exceed that amount when using KOHO.

Since KOHO is part of the Visa network, you do have access to Visa’s Zero Liability policy. That means if someone makes a fraudulent purchase with your card, you’d likely be reimbursed.

Does KOHO build credit?

Many people wonder does KOHO build credit? Since the card is a prepaid credit card, it doesn’t affect your credit score. This is arguably the only real negative thing about KOHO.

You’ll obviously want a good credit score if you ever want to get a loan in the future, so using KOHO exclusively for your credit needs is not a good idea.

You can definitely use it for most of your spending, but you’ll want at least one other credit card so you can build a credit history. One of the best no fee credit cards in Canada would be a good complement.

Is KOHO debit or credit?

KOHO is technically a credit card, but it has some debit features. When comes to making purchases, you can use KOHO wherever Visa is accepted. If you’re making an online purchase and it’s asking you if you want to pay via debit or credit card, you would choose credit.

You can withdraw money from your KOHO card at most ATMs. KOHO doesn’t charge you a fee for this, but the ATM that you’re using will likely charge you a convenience fee of $2-3 each time.

KOHO is also accepted at international ATMs, but you’d pay a foreign transaction fee when withdrawing cash.

How KOHO compares to others

The closest thing KOHO has in competition is the STACK Mastercard. With STACK, there are no foreign exchange fees or ATM fees so it’s better for travel. KOHO is a better choice as an everyday card since you’ll earn a flat cash back rate on all your purchases.

I should note that STACK offers a $5 sign up bonus. If you wanted to see how they compare directly, I wrote a more detailed post about KOHO vs. STACK.

You could also argue that KOHO can be compared to a secured credit card from Capital One or Home Trust since they require security funds. This isn’t really a fair comparison since security funds on a secured card can’t be used to pay off your account balance. Secured cards are meant for people who want to improve their credit score whereas KOHO is a true prepaid card.

Is KOHO legit?

My KOHO review is positive. There’s no doubt that KOHO is legit. Although the best travel credit cards in Canada offer a ton of benefits, KOHO is a great no fee, card/app that encourages Canadians to spend and save in one spot. You’ll never spend more money than you have and you’ll earn some cash-back rewards in the process. Sign up with my referral code CASHMONEY now to earn an extra 1% in cash back for 90 days.

KOHO Review
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About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

39 Comments

  1. Avatar Danielle Ogilvie on January 12, 2019 at 12:57 PM

    Is KOHO similar to revolut? Are there foreign currency charges or will this card be travel friendly as well?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on January 12, 2019 at 3:06 PM

      KOHO is more of a pre paid card that charges foreign exchange fees. If you want a card with no forex, take a look at the Rogers World Elite Mastercard or the Home Trust Preferred Visa.

  2. Avatar Remi on February 5, 2019 at 1:27 AM

    Is this offer or any other promotions still available?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 5, 2019 at 7:40 AM

      Remi,

      Yes, this offer is ongoing.

      • Avatar Alli on March 30, 2020 at 1:49 AM

        How can i use a koho card if im not with the bank ? Im with Uni financial

        • Avatar Barry Choi on March 30, 2020 at 1:43 PM

          Hi Alli,

          You can send funds to your KOHO card via etransfer.

  3. STACK Mastercard Review - Money We Have on February 6, 2019 at 12:07 PM

    […] also KOHO which is another prepaid card who charges a reasonable 1.5% foreign transaction fee, but clearly, […]

  4. Avatar Sandy Taylor on February 6, 2019 at 3:42 PM

    I am supposed to get up to $60.00 free when I activate my card. How does this work

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 6, 2019 at 5:29 PM

      Sandy,

      You get $20 free when you sign up for the KOHO credit card by using my KOHO referral code CASHMONEY20. If you set up a direct deposit with KOHO of at least $500, you would get another $40 for free.

  5. Avatar Odette on March 6, 2019 at 11:40 PM

    How long has KOHO been around for?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 7, 2019 at 6:26 AM

      Odette,

      KOHO was started in late 2017

  6. Avatar Felicia on March 8, 2019 at 3:19 PM

    Can I transfer money back to my regular bank account from koho easily or is it locked into Koho when transfered over?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 8, 2019 at 3:47 PM

      Felicia,

      You can send yourself etransfers.

  7. Avatar John Samson on March 14, 2019 at 2:54 AM

    Does koho send unformation to cra?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 14, 2019 at 5:40 AM

      As far as I know, they don’t report your referral income to the CRA

  8. Avatar Monique D. on March 15, 2019 at 3:40 PM

    I am using Koho card for more than 6 months now as I had financial problems. I just love that card. It does not help for my credit score but as long as I don’t pay annual fees and it helps me with my spendings, it does not matter. If you have a good credit it may not be for you, but for the ones with financial problems, it is fantastic. I cannot even get a credit card with a maximum of $300.00 so the Koho card is used as a regular credit card. I just transfer funds by e-transfer and I buy what I need. I highly recommend it. The goals are very practical also. My goal is nearly 100% achieved in an easy way..

  9. Avatar Samuel on March 28, 2019 at 5:15 AM

    Is there a card like this available in the Philipines?

  10. […] travel fund. If you are worried about overspending on credit cards, consider a pre-paid card like this one.  23) Consider a capsule wardrobe so you don’t overspend on clothing. 24) If you have vision […]

  11. Avatar scott on August 2, 2019 at 4:03 PM

    Does KOHO work on inflight purchases?

    • Avatar Alex on May 11, 2020 at 10:16 PM

      A friend of mine used it on Air Canada when travelling, so I believe the answer is “Yes.”

  12. […] differences which may affect your decision when deciding which card to apply for. You can read my KOHO review and STACK review, but in this post, we’re going to look at KOHO Vs. STACK to see who comes out on […]

  13. Avatar Candace on October 29, 2019 at 10:35 AM

    Thank you for this review. I stumbled across KOHO while looking for anything that would allow me to “round-up” savings!
    I hesitated to start using the card, LOL. Now I am enamored with the thing.

    TBH I have a love hate relationship with my overdraft on my regular bank account. But with this card I can preload my budget and just spend what I have. It’s hard to explain how this changes my spending habits, except that I am mindful of my limit, instead of thinking “oh well overdraft will allow.”

    I plan to continue using the card as a way to keep myself balanced and out of overdraft, which will allow me to save for real financial freedom.

    **Also, last night we were out for supper and I paid with my KOHO card and the waitress nearly fawned over the fact I had a pink card! I was proud to pay with my own money rather than charging it to pay later.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on October 29, 2019 at 11:39 AM

      Candace,

      Thanks for sharing your positive experience with your credit card. Most people who leave comments here are usually complaining =P

  14. Avatar Kathy Munro on November 26, 2019 at 10:11 AM

    One big problem with Koho is that they are hard to contact and slow to follow up

    • Avatar Barry Choi on November 26, 2019 at 10:14 AM

      Kathy,

      Use the in-app chat, I find them to respond quicker there.

  15. Avatar Navkaran sandhu on December 11, 2019 at 6:49 PM

    Can i use koho for hotel check as they only accept credit cards

    • Avatar Barry Choi on December 11, 2019 at 8:05 PM

      Yes, as long as you have enough credit on your card to cover the costs

  16. Avatar Jake on December 31, 2019 at 6:22 AM

    What is the minimum amount one can have to open and purchase a koho visa card. I want to use it online with a questionable dating site that has PayPal and wants you to accept and agree on an unspecified amount with recurring high fees

    • Avatar Barry Choi on December 31, 2019 at 8:29 PM

      Jake,

      You can load any amount onto your KOHO card, there is no minimum

  17. Avatar Denis on February 12, 2020 at 3:15 AM

    Can i transfert money from my paypal account to my Koho card

  18. Avatar Helen on March 17, 2020 at 2:20 PM

    Something is odd with KOHO. I can’t login and asked me to verify identity by logging in to my bank account. I can’t access my account. I tried to email and they do not respond. Their contact number 1855 564 6999 can’t connect to the customer service yesterday, and today, the line is disconnected.
    Is scam going on?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 17, 2020 at 2:26 PM

      Hi Helen,

      I just checked my app and had no problem logging in or accessing my funds.

      Are you trying via your app?

  19. Avatar Mat on April 20, 2020 at 5:46 PM

    Hi,

    Is your CASHMONEY20 code still valid?

    Looking for a fee-free banking alternative with bonus sign ups (already tried Tangerine and Simplii)
    Would this be a good alternative?

    Thanks!
    Mat

  20. Avatar Lisa McBeth on March 12, 2021 at 8:47 PM

    I have been using QUBER and they offer 2% incentives on my savings and an opportunity to win cash prizes for my savings. I don’t know why I would move to KOHO or NEO when my money is growing faster and there are more features they offer. What am I missing here?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 13, 2021 at 1:05 PM

      Lisa,

      I believe QUBER gives you 2% only at select merchants. If you do most of your shopping where you get that extra cash back, then QUEBER is better.

      • Avatar Lisa McBeth on March 13, 2021 at 1:25 PM

        Hello Barry
        Actually QUBER gives 2% incentives for me for my savings through their saving challenges. They have cash back from some merchants that is different and in addition to the 2% incentives, which banks called interest.

        • Avatar Barry Choi on March 13, 2021 at 1:29 PM

          Lisa,

          I took another look and you’re right. The 2% is nearly impossible to beat right now.

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