This KOHO review takes a deep dive into the services and products of one of Canada’s fastest growing fintech apps.
The demand for alternative banking from fintech companies in Canada continue to grow. One reason is that fintech companies have low operational costs and it’s easier for them to offer low-cost financial solutions than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
Also, without the burden of legacy systems and processes, they’re able to offer more innovative products and services that meets the modern banking needs of Canadians.
One fintech company in this space that is really gaining traction is KOHO. The company sets itself apart from its peers with its high-interest savings accounts, cashback prepaid Mastercard and credit building solutions. But is the KOHO app for you?
This KOHO review explains all you need to know about the app to help you decide if it’s the perfect option for you.
What is KOHO?
KOHO Financial Inc, popularly known as KOHO is a fintech company based in Toronto. It was founded in 2014 to provide Canadians low-cost financial solutions.
It has partnered with several reputable financial institutions including Peoples Trust. a federally regulated, for its deposit-taking and card services.
In addition to cashback prepaid Mastercards, you can also access a high-interest savings account and credit building solutions on KOHO.
It is safe to say that the overall aim of KOHO is to help Canadians achieve their financial goals in a cost-effective manner. As a result, over 500,000 Canadians use KOHO as of the time of writing this review.
How Does KOHO Work?
KOHO works as an app for your everyday banking, such as:
- Setting up direct deposit
- Saving in a high-interest account
- Paying bills
- Making e-Transfers
- Making online purchases
- Building your credit score
As you can see, KOHO has similar features as banks. The major difference between KOHO and a bank is that it doesn’t have a physical location not a banking license. However, it’s products are offered in partnership with Peoples Trust, a trusted and regulated financial institution.
Accordingly, you can create a KOHO account and make a direct deposit or e-Transfer just like you would on a bank.
Whether you sign-up for the KOHO savings account or prepaid Mastercard, you will earn a high interest of 1.20% on your balance. Also, you will get up to 0.5% cashback on every purchase with the KOHO prepaid Mastercard and 2% cashback on eligible purchases with the KOHO Premium Card.
If you’re looking to improve your credit score, KOHO also has your back with a dedicated credit builder program.
One interesting thing about KOHO is that it allows you to set your financial goals and track your progress on your dashboard in the app.
Next in this KOHO review, we’ll go over some of the best products from KOHO that are currently available.
1. Savings Account
The KOHO savings account is a no-fee high-interest savings account (HISA) that competes significantly with some of the best HISAs in Canada.
The account offers a 1.20% interest on savings with no minimum balance or deposit, monthly fees, and e-Transfer fees.
When you sign-up for the KOHO Mastercard, you will earn 0.5% to 2% cashback on your purchases deposited into your savings account. With the KOHO roundup feature, you can also have your purchases rounded up to the nearest dollar and deposited directly to your savings account.
Finally, your deposits in a KOHO savings account are insured by the CDIC up to $100,000.
2. Prepaid Cards
KOHO offers two prepaid Mastercards with varying features and monthly fees. These are the KOHO Prepaid and KOHO Premium Mastercard cards.
The two Mastercards are cashback prepaid cards that you need to pre-fund to use for purchases. Since they’re not credit cards, your activities with any of the KOHO Mastercards will not impact your credit score as they don’t report to credit bureaus.
However, you can use the KOHO Mastercards to make online and in-store transactions just as you would with a credit card. Let’s take a closer look at KOHO prepaid and premium Mastercards.
a. KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
The KOHO prepaid Mastercard is a standard no-fee card with the same 1.20% interest on balance as the KOHO savings account.
With this card, you will earn a flat 0.5% on every online or in-store purchase you make with it. You can withdraw your earnings whenever you wish through the KOHO app.
To boost your earnings, the KOHO prepaid Mastercard has a roundup feature that automatically roundups up all your purchases to the nearest dollar and save for you.
Below are some of the other key features of the KOHO prepaid Mastercard.
- Extra cashback at select merchants
- Unlimited free ATM access and e-Transfers
- Mastercard Zero Liability Protection
- In-app card lock
- 1.5% foreign currency transaction fee
If you want to maximize your cashback earnings and enjoy free foreign currency transactions, you should consider or upgrade to a KOHO premium Mastercard card.
b. KOHO Premium Prepaid Mastercard
This card works the same way as the KOHO prepaid Mastercard but with exclusive features and benefits. Like KOHO prepaid Mastercard, the KOHO premium Mastercard also has a 1.20% interest on balance.
Beyond that, the KOHO premium Mastercard differs considerably from the KOHO prepaid Mastercard . Unlike the no-fee prepaid card, the premium card has a $9 monthly fee or $84 per annum fee.
However, the monthly fee of the premium Mastercard unlocks exclusive features and benefits such as:
- Free foreign currency transactions
- 2% cashback on restaurants, groceries, transportation expenses
- Up to 5% extra cashback at eligible shops
- 1 free monthly international ATM withdrawal
- Financial coaching
- Price matching
The interesting part is, KOHO offers a 30-day free trial so you can enjoy KOHO premium and decide if it’s the perfect option for you.
Learn more: KOHO Prepaid Card Review
c. KOHO Joint
Do you share your expenses with your spouse? partner? friend? a family member or any other person? If yes, the KOHO joint card account is designed for you.
The KOHO joint card operates the same way as the other KOHO cards. But in this case, you’re sharing the account jointly with someone.
Below are the key features of the KOHO joint account that makes it worthwhile:
- No monthly fees
- Shared savings goals
- 0.5% cashback all purchases
- Extra cashback at eligible merchants
- Instant notifications on all account holders’ purchases
3. Credit Builder
Given the fact that KOHO prepaid Mastercards don’t report to credit bureaus and can’t directly impact your credit score, KOHO offers a complimentary program called Credit Builder.
The KOHO Credit Builder was designed to help KOHO users build or rebuild their credit scores using 6 months subscription plans.
The program charges a $7 monthly fee automatically from your account. KOHO uses the fee as a subscription fee to service a line of credit opened for you.
Every month, KOHO will charge you the fee and report the payment to credit bureaus. This can help improve your credit score at the end of the program.
If you’re satisfied with your credit score after the end of the 6-months period, you can start applying for unsecured credit cards, loans and mortgages and other credit-based financial products. However, you can renew the program if you’re uncomfortable with your current score.
Learn more about this service in my full KOHO credit builder review.
KOHO doesn’t have non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees, e-Transfers fees, and monthly fees on the savings account and prepaid Mastercard. However, the fintech company has the following fees:
|Monthly account fee||$9 for premium Mastercard and $7 for credit builder.|
|ATM withdrawal||$2 to $3 depending on the ATM you used. But KOHO does not charge any ATM withdrawal fee from its end.|
|Fx transaction||1.5% for prepaid Mastercard Free for premium Mastercard|
Pros and Cons of KOHO Financial
You can easily determine if a fintech company is ideal for you by looking at its pros and cons. Below is an overview of the KOHO pros and cons as of the time of writing this review.
- High interest on savings account
- Competitive cashback on purchases
- Automatic roundups on purchases
- No to Low fees (no NSF fees, e-Transfers fees, and monthly fees on savings and prepaid Mastercard)
- Access to $100 through early payroll
- Credit building solutions
- Mastercard Zero Liability Protection
- $7 monthly fee for credit builder program
- Limited products (no chequing account, credit card, investing accounts etc.)
How to Open a KOHO Account
The process of opening a KOHO account takes less than 5 minutes. All you need is to download the KOHO app on App Store or Google Playstore.
You will earn a $20 welcome bonus when you download the KOHO app and sign-up through this link.
Unlike other fintech companies, KOHO doesn’t have an income or credit score requirement for account opening. The minimum requirements are:
- Be a Canadian resident
- Have a Canadian bank account
- Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
When you open a KOHO account, you will be assigned a unique referral link/code which will earn you a $20 bonus on every person you refer to KOHO through it.
Learn more about how the KOHO referral program works here.
Is KOHO Legit and Safe?
The KOHO app has been used by more than 500,000 Canadians so you’re in good company when you sign-up for a KOHO account.
Even though KOHO is not a member of the CDIC, its partnership with Peoples Trust has your deposit covered by the CDIC up to $100,000.
Also, KOHO prepaid and premium Mastercards have a Mastercard Zero Liability Protection. This means you don’t have to worry about unauthorized purchases with any of the cards.
Finally, KOHO enjoys the backing of some of the leading federally regulated financial institutions in Canada, such as Peoples Trust and Mastercard.
KOHO vs Neo Financial
|Key Feature||KOHO||Neo Financial|
|Financial products||Savings account, join account, prepaid Mastercards and credit builder||Savings account, credit cards, mortgage and an investment platform|
|High-interest savings account rate||1.20%||2.25%|
|Card type (and operating network)||Prepaid card (Mastercard)||Credit card (Mastercard)|
|Cashback||0.5% to 2%||1% to 5%|
|Promotions||N/A||15% promotional cashback|
|Monthly fees||Free savings account and prepaid card. $9 for premium Mastercard and $7 for credit builder.||None|
|Interac e-Transfer and bill payment fees||Free||Free|
|Insurance||Mastercard Zero Liability policy||N/A|
Neo Financial is another fintech company and one of the top options you will encounter when looking for KOHO alternatives in Canada.
Despite being relatively new having been founded in 2020, Neo Financial currently offers very competitive products especially with its cash-back credit card offering.
In summary, Neo is better than KOHO when it comes to high savings interest, competitive cashback and promotions.
However, you can’t make the wrong choice with KOHO if you’re looking for a cashback prepaid card, joint account, or a dedicated credit building solution.
I have written about the Neo Financial review and I recommend you check it out to have a better understanding of how the two fintech companies differ.
FAQs on KOHO Review
The catch with KOHO lies in the app’s no-fee high-interest savings account and cashback prepaid card that gives you full control of your money.
With a dedicated credit builder tool, KOHO also helps you improve your credit score while focusing on other areas of your life.
While KOHO is not a bank, it has a wide range of banking solutions that compete well with traditional banks and some online banks in Canada.
As a result, it is safe to say that KOHO is a good banking app for Canadians looking for a no-fee high-interest savings account, cashback prepaid Mastercard and a dedicated credit-building tool.
KOHO is located at 67 Mowat Ave, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario.
You can contact KOHO through their in-app chat or email them at [email protected].
It’s up to you to decide how best to use KOHO based on your needs.
Accordingly, you can make the best use of KOHO by saving in its no-fee high-interest savings account or spending with its cashback prepaid Mastercard.
If you’re also looking for a dedicated way to improve your credit score instead of relying on your credit card activities, you can make the best use of the KOHO Credit Builder program.
In addition, KOHO could be of best use to your if you’re looking for Unlimited free e-Transfers and bill payment, Early payroll or Free foreign currency transactions
Verdict on KOHO Review
That brings us to the end of this KOHO review. Hopefully, now you can decide whether KOHO is right for you or not.
If KOHO is not your perfect option, consider its alternatives, such as Neo Financial or other best fintech companies in Canada.
As always, your financial needs should surpass any other consideration when narrowing your selection of the best digital banking platforms in Canada. If you need more help, let me know in the comment below.
Before you leave, kindly explore our other relevant posts to learn more about the best financial products and services in Canada.
KOHO Financial Inc is a fintech company based in Toronto that offers low-cost financial solutions to Canadians through high-interest savings accounts, cashback prepaid Mastercard and credit building solutions.