KOHO Mastercard Review 2024: Is this Cash Back Card Worth It?

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Written by Enoch Omololu
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A KOHO Mastercard is a fine blend between a credit card and a debit card without the annoying fees.

A regular credit card offers convenience in that you can use it to pay for purchases anywhere, whether you are online or physically present at a store. The very best ones also offer rewards, such as cash back and loyalty points you can redeem for travel or merchandise.

However, if you carry a balance from month to month, you could be on the hook for interest fees as high as 29.99%. On the other hand, a prepaid credit card like KOHO does not charge you interest, and it offers a cash back rate that rivals many credit cards.

If you are looking to break free from the shackles of debt, the KOHO Mastercard and app can help you with budgeting, expense tracking, no bank fees, automated savings, and more.

In addition to the base cash back you earn on purchases, you can get a $20 bonus when you sign up here.

What is KOHO?

KOHO is a reloadable prepaid Mastercard app that aims to revolutionize banking in Canada.

The financial technology company was founded in 2014 and has grown to more than 500,000 users.

KOHO is backed by several large financial institutions, including Power Group, Drive Capital, Portage3, and People’s Trust.

As of this writing, it offers four different accounts:

  • KOHO prepaid card account
  • KOHO Premium prepaid card account
  • KOHO joint account
  • KOHO Save

All KOHO users get access to a versatile app with budgeting and saving features. The KOHO app supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. It can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play.

How The KOHO Prepaid Mastercard Works

When you sign up for KOHO, you can choose from a selection of cool-looking cards.

The card colours available include a blueberried caviar, sunkissed skinny dip, frozen cherry soda, and gilded cotton candy.

In addition to the physical card, you also get a virtual card via the app you can use to easily pay for online purchases.

The KOHO card is not a credit card. It works like a chequing or spending account, so you only have access to funds you have loaded on your account.

It is acceptable for payment in millions of locations worldwide and wherever Mastercard is accepted.

To load or reload your card, simply use e-Transfer from your bank or set up a direct deposit (e.g. your pay cheque.

Sign up for KOHO

KOHO Prepaid MastercardBenefits and Features

The KOHO card and app offer the following benefits:

1. Earn up to 5% Cash Back: Get up to 5% cash back on debit purchases.

KOHO Cash Back

2. Automatic Saving: Like other spare change apps like Acorns, KOHO allows users to automatically save their change.

When you make a purchase, the app can round it up to the nearest $1 and save the difference. For example, if you pay $3.25 for coffee and set the app to round up every purchase to the nearest $1, your purchase is rounded up to $4, and the extra $0.75 is moved to your savings.

In addition to rounding ups, you can use the KOHO app to set up a savings goal and decide how you want to reach that goal. e.g. by saving a specific amount of money every week or month.

3. No Monthly Fees: There is no monthly fee to open a KOHO prepaid Mastercard or a joint account. There are also no NSF fees, e-Transfer fees or interest charges. If you subscribe to KOHO Premium, some fees apply – more on that below.

4. Budgeting App: The KOHO app offer insight into your spending, and this can help you become better with your money. As per KOHO, the average app user reduces their spending by 15% and saves nearly $500 within three weeks.

Using the app, you can see what you spent money on in real time. You can also use the app to pay your online bills.

KOHO budgeting app

5. Refer-A- Friend Program: When friends join KOHO using your referral link or code, you both earn a $20 bonus.

6. CDIC Protection: KOHO uses People’s Trust to hold the funds you load onto your KOHO card. People’s Trust is a Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insured bank, so you enjoy deposit protection of up to $100,000.

is KOHO Safe

KOHO Joint Accounts

Couples can share a KOHO account and track all their spending together in one place. It’s not just for couples; even siblings or friends can share a KOHO account.

A KOHO joint account is free, and each person on the joint account also gets their personal account which remains private.

A joint account offers the same benefits, including cash back, free e-Transfers, bill payments, virtual cards, joint physical cards, automatic savings, financial goals, and more. If you want to manage your finances as a family, the joint account can help.

KOHO Premium

KOHO Premium is a paid account for users who want to take their cash back earnings and perks up a notch.

A KOHO Premium account offers all the features and benefits of a KOHO prepaid Mastercard in addition to:

2% Cash Back: You can earn 2% instant cash back on three categories of spending, including groceries, eating and drinking (e.g. restaurant, food delivery), and transportation (e.g. gas, taxis, parking, etc.).

You also earn up to 5% cash back at participating retailers. Premium offers a significant step-up in cash back, and this perk alone can easily cover the monthly cost of this account.

No Foreign Transaction Fee: When you use your KOHO Premium card to pay for purchases abroad, it waives the foreign currency conversion fee, which can be as high as 3%.

Price Matching: KOHO automatically scans your receipt to see if there’s a cheaper price elsewhere or whether the price has dropped. If this happens, they will help you get the difference in price and credit your account.

There are tens of supported merchants for their price-matching offers, including popular stores like Canadian Tire, Best Buy, Home Depot, Staples, Walmart, Giant Tiger, Costco.ca (online), and several others.

Free Financial Coaching: KOHO Premium users get access to a certified financial coach for free. Have questions about your investments, debt repayment, and taxes? You can now ask an expert for free.

Higher Velocity Limits: A regular KOHO account has the following limits:

 Velocity LimitsRegularPremiumJoint
Maximum card balance$20,000$40,000$40,000
Daily limit per transaction$3,000$3,000$3,000
Daily limit$3,000$3,000$3,000
Monthly limit$30,000$40,000$30,000
Daily Maximum transaction152015
Number of PADs/month 2020 20 
KOHO premium Visa card

Free International ATM Withdrawal: KOHO Premium users get one free withdrawal at an ATM outside Canada each month.

KOHO Premium has a free 30-day trial followed by a $9 monthly fee. If you pay for one year in advance, the annual fee is $84 (a saving of $24).

If you usually spend up to $600 monthly on groceries, restaurants, and transportation, the 2% cash back you earn on these categories alone easily covers the fee.

KOHO Earn Interest

KOHO Save is the latest feature available to all KOHO accounts. It is a high-interest savings account that pays interest on your entire balance.

Compared to the interest you could potentially earn at your transitional bank, KOHO save pays you a lot more for keeping cash in your account.

Interest is paid on funds in your spendable, RoundUp, and savings goals accounts.

The savings account is also free, and your money is held at a federally regulated financial institution – Canadian ShareOwner Investment Inc.


Is KOHO Legit and Safe?

KOHO is a legitimate financial technology company based in Canada. Its backers include some of the largest financial institutions in North America.

The KOHO app has received great ratings, with a 4.8/5 on the App Store and 4.4/5 on Google Play. Users of the KOHO Mastercard enjoy Mastercard’s Zero Liability policy which protects you from unauthorized use of your card.

Also, your funds are covered by CDIC through People’s Trust.

How Does KOHO Make Money?

If a regular KOHO account is free and you earn 0.50% cash back, how then do they make money?

As per their website:

We make money off the interchange fees that merchants are already paying when you use a card in their shop (or for their service). We split the interchange fees with Visa, and then give you a bit through our PowerUp feature.


If you upgrade to a KOHO Premium, KOHO makes money off the monthly account fees.

Does a KOHO Card Build Credit?

KOHO is not a credit card. It is a prepaid reloadable card that you can use to make payments wherever Mastercard is accepted.

During the sign-up process, KOHO conducts a soft credit check to confirm your identity and verify that you have a credit file in Canada.

This ‘soft’ check does not affect your credit score. Since KOHO does not report your transactions to a credit bureau, your usage of the KOHO card does not impact your credit score in any way.

KOHO Referral Code

You can maximize the cash back available through KOHO by referring friends and family to join the platform.

To get started, copy your custom KOHO referral code (e.g. CASHBACK) and share it with others.

If they sign up and enter your code, you will both get a $20 bonus.

Sign up for KOHO (use CASHBACK promo code)

KOHO Pros and Cons

There are some of the benefits and downsides of KOHO:

Pros of KOHO

  • Earn cash back on all purchases
  • No monthly fee for a regular account
  • Free budgeting app and expense tracker
  • No NSF or Interac e-Transfer fees
  • You don’t need to have a good credit score to apply
  • User-friendly mobile app with multiple features
  • Automatic savings plan
  • The premium account has several VIP perks

Cons of KOHO

  • KOHO is not a bank, so you can’t ditch your main bank just yet
  • The KOHO Mastercard does not help to build your credit score

Is KOHO Worth It?

It goes without saying that KOHO is worth it if you want to earn real cash back without using a credit card. A free regular KOHO card pays you 0.50% on every purchase, and I already earned $58.41 so far.

It can help you cut your expenses and save more money using the innovative roundup option available through the app.

Overall, if you are trying to stick to a budget and only spend the money you have, a prepaid card such as the KOHO Mastercard helps. And you can get a $20 bonus when you sign up via the link below.

Get the KOHO Prepaid Card Free!

KOHO Regular Vs KOHO Premium

FeaturesKOHO RegularKOHO Premium
Monthly account fee$0$9/month; $84 annually
Interac e-Transfer$0$0
NSF fees$0$0
Cash back rewardsUp to 5% cash back at partners2% on groceries, eating and drinking, and transportation; Up to 5% cash back at partners
Automatic savings (RoundUp)YesYes
Saving goalsYesYes
Free bill paymentsYesYes
Extra cash back via partnersYesYes (more options)
Free Financial coachingNot applicableYes
Price matchingNot applicableYes
Free international ATM withdrawalNot applicable1 free/month
Referral programGet a $20 bonusGet a $20 bonus
Apple Pay compatibleYesYes
Google Pay compatibleYesYes
Access to KOHO metal cardYesYes
ApplicationApply nowApply now

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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert who has a passion for helping others win with their finances. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has been writing about money management for over a decade. Enoch has been featured in several leading personal finance publications including MSN Money, The Globe and Mail, Wealthsimple, and the Financial Post.

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