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KOHO Review 2023

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Are you tired of paying steep banking fees while earning a meagre interest rate on your savings? Or maybe you’d like to collect rewards points from your everyday spending without relying on a credit card. If so, consider opening a bank account with KOHO.

But what is KOHO, exactly? And how do its services stand up to banking giants like RBC, TD, and BMO? KOHO offers reloadable prepaid Mastercards that make day-to-day banking both affordable and financially rewarding.

In this review, we’ll explore what KOHO has to offer and whether it’s worth signing up for their products.

An image of the KOHO prepaid credit card.


Rated 4/5 stars.

  • Welcome Offer N/A
  • Annual Fee $0 (Easy); $48 (Essential); $108 (Extra); $228 (Everything)
  • Regular APR/Interest rates Prepaid
  • Recommended Credit 300+

KOHO: an overview

KOHO offers several key features that complement its spending and saving plans, including:

Cash back

KOHO’s cash back rewards program operates on a tiered model, meaning earn rates differ based on the spending category a purchase falls under.

The most lucrative spending category is KOHO’s partner brands. By charging a purchase at one of these merchants to your KOHO card, you’ll earn up to 5% cash back. And this rate is on top of your card’s regular earn rates (which range between 0.25% and 2%, depending on which KOHO account you have). That means you could collect up to 7% cash back with a single purchase.

Here’s a list of some of KOHO’s retail partners and the extra cash back you’ll earn on qualified purchases:

  • Altitude: 4%
  • Contiki: 5%
  • Baskin Robbins: 5%
  • Branch Furniture: 2%
  • IQ Food Co.: 2%
  • Natura Market: 2%
  • Open Farm: 4%
  • Pizza 73: 3%
  • The Last Hunt: 2%
  • Well.ca: 1.5%


What is KOHO offering in the way of interest?

With a KOHO account, you’ll earn between 0.5% and 4% interest on your entire balance, depending on which subscription plan you choose. These rates easily eclipse what regular chequing accounts offer and are comparable to savings accounts from top-tier Canadian online banks like EQ Bank and Tangerine.

Interest on your balance accrues daily the moment you deposit funds in your KOHO account, and your earnings are paid monthly.

Credit building

If you’re looking to repair or establish your credit, spending and saving money using your KOHO Mastercard won’t do you any good, since it’s a prepaid card. However, to fill this gap, KOHO offers the Credit Building program.

When you enrol, you have two ways to build up a positive credit history:

  1. Credit building. This option will allow you to open a line of credit with KOHO and make timely payments based on an amount suitable for your budget. KOHO will report each payment to Equifax, one of Canada’s two credit bureaus. You could see a considerable improvement in your credit score in as little as a few months.
  2. Flexible credit building. Instead of taking out a line of credit, you can set aside a lump sum of your own money (anywhere from $30 to $500) to function as a secured loan. You can withdraw the funds as needed and repay the amount at the end of the month. Each on-time payment will contribute positively to your credit score.

KOHO allows you to choose both options simultaneously, so you can double your credit-boosting power.

The KOHO Credit Building program costs between $5 and $10 per month, depending on which account you use. As a bonus, you get access to complimentary financial coaching from KOHO’s in-house accredited financial counsellor.


For those who occasionally find themselves short on cash, KOHO offers Cover, an overdraft protection feature for $5 a month.

By signing up for this service, you’ll receive access to a $50 overdraft limit. If you consistently repay the borrowed funds on time, that limit will gradually increase, up to a maximum of $250. And unlike the overdraft protection you get with a regular bank account, which accumulates interest, your overdraft coverage with KOHO is entirely interest-free.

However, you cannot access Cover simply by requesting it — you have to unlock this feature first. Keeping your account active and using KOHO’s other services will increase your chances of becoming eligible. You can do things like:

  • Set up direct deposit
  • Use your card for daily spending
  • Pay bills through your account
  • Enrol in the Credit Building Program
  • Upgrade your account to the Extra plan

Once you qualify for Cover, you’ll receive an invite from KOHO

Referral program

KOHO will pay you a $20 referral fee for inviting a friend to create a KOHO account, and your friend will earn a $20 fee themselves once their application is approved.

The process is straightforward: Log into your account and locate your referral code under the Perks Tab. Then, share this code with your friend so that they can enter it during registration. Once your friend’s KOHO account is up and running, they have to make a purchase within 30 days for the two of you to collect the $20 reward.

Digital and physical card

KOHO cards come in digital and virtual versions. Once KOHO approves your account, you’ll have instant access to the virtual card through the KOHO app (click the card icon in the top right-hand corner of the home screen).

Like many digital spending cards, the KOHO virtual Mastercard has solid security features to protect your financial details from thieves. For example, it generates a unique card number each time you conduct a transaction.

To streamline payments and add an extra layer of security, you can add your KOHO virtual card to Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay.

The physical version of KOHO’s card, which you’ll receive in the mail once you’ve set up the account, is ideal for in-store purchases.

KOHO app

The KOHO app allows you to manage your financial activities and customize your account features. Here are some other things you can do through the app:

  • Check your balance.
  • View your transactions.
  • Transfer funds to another account.
  • Set up automatic bill payments.
  • Access free financial coaching.
  • Lock your card should it get stolen or misplaced.
  • Track your cash back earnings.
  • Set up a budget.
  • Activate KOHO’s RoundUps feature, which instantly bumps your purchases to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10, depositing the excess amount directly into your savings account.

KOHO reloadable Mastercard plans

KOHO doesn’t offer individual savings or chequing accounts, but its reloadable Mastercard plans combine all the benefits of a chequing account, savings account, and credit card. There are four plan tiers:

  • KOHO Easy
  • KOHO Essential
  • KOHO Extra
  • KOHO Everything

The plans start from $0 to $19 per month. To learn more about each plan, read our KOHO prepaid Mastercard review.

What is KOHO?

KOHO is a Canadian fin-tech company founded in 2014 in Vancouver. While technically not a bank, KOHO offers banking services through its prepaid Mastercard, which functions as a spending and savings account.

KOHO’s prepaid Mastercard service combines the earn rate of a high-interest savings account, the spending power of a no-fee chequing account, and a credit card rewards program. So, it offers a way to help you escape hefty bank fees, boost the returns on your balance, and earn some extra cash from your day-to-day spending.

Now, a prepaid card isn’t the same as a credit card. Instead of spending borrowed money, you load a prepaid card with your own money before you can use it. As a result, your spending is limited by how much you have loaded in your account at any given time.

As KOHO is partnered with Mastercard, you can use your KOHO card to make purchases anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. While KOHO operates entirely online and doesn’t have any physical branches, you can access and monitor your funds using the KOHO app or website.

As an online company, KOHO has fewer overhead costs than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. As a result, it can afford to charge lower rates (or in some cases, no rates at all) for its services.

KOHO maintains a partnership with Peoples Group, a Canadian trust insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). So, up to $100,000 of your money is insured.

Compare KOHO alternatives

KOHO Neo Financial EQ Bank
Credit Cards 4 2 1
Savings Account Interest Rate Up to 4.5% 3.4% 2.5% +0.5%
GIC 1-Year Rate None None 5.75%
Mobile App Yes Yes Yes
TFSA None Yes Yes
RRSP None Yes Yes
FHSA None None Yes

Pros and cons of using KOHO


  • Four different subscriptions plans to choose from

  • Earn up to 5% cash back on purchases from select merchants

  • No transaction fees (except for foreign transaction fees on the Easy and Essential plans)

  • Earn interest on your savings account and spending account

  • Compatible with mobile wallets like Apple Pay

  • RoundUp feature accelerates your savings

  • Physical and virtual versions of the prepaid card are available

  • Access to built-in budgeting tools

  • Cash withdrawal


  • Daily spending and deposit limits

  • Low ATM withdrawal limits for Easy and Essential accounts

  • Won’t help you improve your credit score (without Credit Building program)

  • Monthly fees apply to higher-tier accounts

  • Interest earnings are fully taxable (KOHO doesn’t offer TFSAs or RRSPs)

  • Out-of-network ATM fees

Our final thoughts

KOHO is a good choice if you’re looking for a banking package that makes your money go further. Its prepaid Mastercard provides an enticing mix of zero-dollar transaction fees, a generous cash back rewards program, and a high rate of return on your balance. The built-in budgeting tools, integration with digital wallets, overdraft protection, and other features are nice touches that can help you manage your spending and make online shopping convenient.

While KOHO’s hybrid spending and savings account won’t help you repair or establish your credit score like a credit card, its affordable and flexible Credit Building Program makes up for this deficit. Another thing to remember is that KOHO isn’t a traditional financial institution, so it’s limited in its services. You’ll have to look elsewhere to open a TFSA, RRSP, or RESP, or obtain a mortgage, line of credit, or other loan. Still, KOHO’s perks and features are tough to beat if you want to get the most out of your day-to-day banking.

Learn more about how we rate banks and credit unions by visiting our methodology page.

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