KOHO Review | Get $20 for free

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

Are you looking for a KOHO Review? 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 allows you to make smarter financial decisions.

What makes them stand out is that you earn cash back on your purchases and interest on your deposits. This is unheard of for a prepaid credit card. The base cash back rate is 0.5%, and you’ll get $20 for free when you sign up with my referral link. Oh, KOHO is also free. Keep reading my KOHO review for all the details.

KOHO review

KOHO Benefits

  • No annual fee
  • $20 for free when signing up with a referral link  
  • 0.5% cash-back on all purchases
  • 1.2% interest on your spending and savings accounts with 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.

The benefits are surprisingly decent for a no fee, cash back card. You’ll earn 0.5% in “power up” cash-back on all purchases and you can earn interest on all funds in your spending and savings accounts. Think of KOHO as a cash back credit card and don’t forget you’ll get $20 for free when using my referral link or promo code.

Every purchase you make can be rounded up to the nearest $1, $5, or $10. That amount 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 it’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.

Your money is held by Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc. (“ShareOwner”), so you get CDIC protection included. Overall, KOHO is one of the best budgeting apps in Canada.

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 link 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.

KOHO pros and cons

There’s a lot to like about KOHO, but that doesn’t mean you should sign up right away (even though it’s free). It’s always a good idea to look at the drawbacks and to see if they’re a deal breaker for you. These are the pros and cons of KOHO.

Pros

  • Cash back on purchases: It is extremely rare for prepaid cards to have a cash back feature and you can get up to 3% with KOHO.
  • Interest earned on deposits: KOHO is the only prepaid credit card that pays you interest on your deposits.
  • Focus on financial freedom: With roundups, saving goals, and financial coaching, KOHO wants to help you get better with your finances.

Cons

  • Premium benefits come at a cost: Some of the better benefits including no foreign transaction fees and credit building are only available with a premium account or paying an additional fee.
  • No insurance benefits: You won’t get any travel, mobile device, or purchase insurance with this card.

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 charges a 1.5% foreign exchange fee, but that’s waived completely if you have a premium account. KOHO is a better choice as an everyday card since you’ll earn a flat cash back rate on all your purchases and you’ll earn interest on your savings. With STACK, your cash back and perks are only with select merchants.

I should note that the sign up bonuses with a referral link are also similar. When you use my STACK Mastercard referral link (must be clicked via mobile), you get a straight $25. With KOHO, you get $20 with my referral link. Here’s a more detailed comparison of KOHO vs. STACK.

Final thoughts

As you can tell from my KOHO review, I think KOHO is great. When the card first launched, it was innovative, and it’s added more features that benefit users. The ability to earn cash back on purchases and interest on deposits is incredible for a prepaid credit card. I’m hoping some of the bigger banks notice what KOHO has been doing and implement some of the features into their cards.

Frequently asked questions

Even after reading this KOHO review, you may still have a lot of questions. That’s understandable as you should be asking questions before you sign up for any credit card. Below are some of the most common questions I get asked about KOHO.

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.

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 get $20 for free.

KOHO Review | Get $20 for free

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. 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?

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

    Is this offer or any other promotions still available?

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

      Remi,

      Yes, this offer is ongoing.

      • 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

        • 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. 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

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

    How long has KOHO been around for?

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

      Odette,

      KOHO was started in late 2017

  6. 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?

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

      Felicia,

      You can send yourself etransfers.

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

    Does koho send unformation to cra?

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

    Does KOHO work on inflight purchases?

    • 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. 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.

    • 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. 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

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

      Kathy,

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

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

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

    • 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. 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

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

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

  18. 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?

    • 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. 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. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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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