KOHO Review: Fun Ways To Budget, Earn, Save & Educate

Estimated reading time: 23 minutes

Recently I was contacted by KOHO a Canadian company to see if I’d be interested in testing their KOHO Pre-paid Visa Card.

YES, KOHO is 100% a legit Canadian company that is interested in helping Canadians with their financial literacy and savings.

Since I’m a frugal living, budgeting blog with readers who may rely on services such as KOHO I thought I’d give it a go.

Plus, it’s got a budgeting feature that also piqued my interest for those of you who prefer a budget app.

KOHO Review
Sign Up with KOHO. You’ll Love it!

Savings, Education, and Budgeting With A KOHO Pre-Paid Visa Card

What is KOHO?

KOHO is a reloadable prepaid Visa card attached to a budgeting app that assists the user to budget, and manage money all the while earning cashback on their purchases.

Canadians And Their Approach To Debt

Although the Canadian household debt ratio has dropped from 175% to 158% in the second quarter of 2020, this is still high.

This means the average Canadian household owes $1.58 for every dollar disposable income they earn.

Since Covid-19 Canadians have had a tough realization just how bad their money situation can be with limited or decreased income.

This has caused many people to not shop as much and besides going out shopping was limited and not everyone shops online.

As a KOHO user, I want to take you through the process of everything this incredible card has to offer in this exclusive Canadian Budget Binder KOHO review.

Below is my opinion of the product; by the end, you’ll either want to sign up for it or pass it by.

Personally, I think it’s a pretty cool card to check out for many reasons.

Let’s go.

Related: 20 Habits Of A Debt Free Family

Who is KOHO?

You may be surprised to find out who KOHO is and who came up with the idea for this cool app.

Who is Koho?

Is KOHO A Bank?

Not exactly; let me explain.

Besides having a pretty cool name and company logo I had never heard of KOHO before likely because it’s fairly new.

Just over 4 years ago a start-up fintech company called KOHO was born in Vancouver Canada and has since relocated to Toronto, Ontario.

Koho is owned and operated by CEO Daniel Eberhard who founded Koho in December of 2014.

The company has since boasted over 94,000 active users of the KOHO Card and currently is the leading challenger bank among similar systems such as Stack and Revolt.

Is KOHO Free?

It sure is, except if you opt for the Premium card, which I explain below and is pretty cool.

This product is a mobile app that offers financial transparency and is financially aware when it comes to the consumer by charging zero fees.

Offered in both French and English, you’ll also find valuable financial tools and cool features within the KOHO mobile app.

They recently redesigned the app based on customer feedback which I think is important to me as a customer.

That means the business listens to what their customers want and don’t want.

KOHO app
KOHO Screenshot of what to expect

You can see from first sight how easy the KOHO mobile app would be to use as they simplify everything.

I’m that person who loathes having to search deep through mobile app systems to find what I’m looking for.

What Is KOHO? 

KOHO Canada

For those of you who have never heard the name KOHO, it’s not only a cool name but a pretty incredible reloadable prepaid Visa card.

This card is excellent for the person who is often denied a Visa card or struggles with budgeting but wants a credit card-type card on hand.

Although you’re not getting an actual credit card, it functions as one, provided you have money loaded on the Visa card.

For example, if your card has $100 loaded and you want to make an online purchase, you can use your prepaid Visa.

How cool is that?

Plus, you don’t worry as you would with a traditional credit card if you struggle to pay back your debts in full.

A KOHO card is a great way to practice owning a credit card using a budget and only making purchases you plan for.

Other Cool KOHO Features

Koho features

What else can you do with KOHO?

Move Money: The old Transfers tab has been updated to Move Money.

Send money to your friends, Transfer money in between your Personal and Joint accounts, or Pay Bills all from the comfort of this one tab.

You can also get your Pre-Authorized Debit/Direct Deposit information here.

Another incredible perk for travellers is booking hotels, flights, and rental cars with your card.

Is KOHO A Credit Card Or A Debit Card?

This card is neither a credit nor a debit card; it’s a pre-paid Visa card with perks.

There are two types of accounts you can get;

  • Spending Account
  • Joint Account

Premium Account (Paid for and explained below)

How Does It Work and How Do You Sign Up For KOHO?

KOHO is entirely free to sign up for with no credit checks and is easy to sign up for.

Users simply download the app and can complete their signup within 3 minutes or less and have a physical card mailed the next day.

Sign Up for KOHO in 3 minutes or less

KOHO offers Canadians a free chequing account with a reloadable prepaid Visa card and a fully integrated app.

The sign-up process took me about 5 minutes and I even got to choose which type of KOHO Visa card I wanted.

I must admit the extra time was spent reading and learning as much as possible about the app as a consumer.

KOHO Financial

Card Designs By KOHO

One feature that I thought you might like was the ability to order any of the following card designs for free.

KOHO Financial

You often get what you get when you sign up for a reward or credit card.

  • Bluberried Caviar
  • Sunkissed Skinny Dip
  • Gilded Cotton Candy
  • Frozen Cherry Soda

User Offers For Those Who Sign UP

What do KOHO users Get?

Any user of the prepaid Visa card gets a fine-tuned system that offers the following;

  • automatic cash back on every purchase
  • real-time notifications
  • spending insights and budgeting tools
  • automated saving, and much more.
Try KOHO & get extra cash back on all your spending

Everyday Account

KOHO acts as an everyday account that assists users as any other bank would without being a bank.

  • Set up Direct Deposit and have your paycheque automatically deposited onto KOHO 
  • Pay bills using your KOHO account
  • Send e-Transfers
  • Connect to PayPal to either send or receive funds 
  • Make online purchases using your KOHO card or Virtual Card

Ways KOHO Helps You Save Money

  • You can easily fund your investment account using your KOHO account.
  • Round to the nearest dollar with RoundUps, which I explain below.
  • Spend tracking and category Insights so you know where your money is going.
  • Save with our Goals function because having financial goals is important to your overall money success.

Early Payroll Feature

The KOHO Early Payroll feature you must sign up for with KOHO but if you need cash fast you’ll want to get involved.

I’m not a fan of payday loans as you’ve read on the blog before but the Early Payroll feature on KOHO I do like.

If you use the early payroll feature on KOHO, they allow you a cash advance of up to $100 if you’re low on funds.

Once you sign up, you must set up a direct deposit by filling out a direct deposit form.

Have your employer payroll department direct all or a portion of your pay to your KOHO account by using the exact info on the direct deposit form.

Direct Deposit can also be referred to as Pre-Authorized Credit (PAC) or Direct Load.

This cash advance system costs the user NOTHING up to 3 days before your paycheque is deposited in your bank account.

If you want $100 instant cash, the charge is only $5, with access to their financial coach for up to 15 days.

  • Option 1: 3 days before you get paid, you can opt for a $100 early payroll advance for FREE
  • Option 2: The user can opt for an early payroll advance of up to $100 for the low cost of only $5.

There are no ridiculous interest rates or charges for you to pay back like those payday loan centers, which I hope you stay away from.

User Advantage: This Early Payroll system helps Canadians who may be struggling for cash in-between paycheques to pay bills or everyday needs without worry.

You can read all about the Early Payroll Feature to see what you think of it for yourself.

Pay Back Your Payroll Loan

How do you pay back your KOHO Early Payroll loan?

When your paycheque gets deposited, KOHO gets paid back the $100 you borrowed from them automatically. Easy.

Sign Up For The Early KOHO Payroll Feature Here

Plus! Setting up a direct deposit of your paycheque into KOHO will allow you to receive an additional 0.5% in PowerUps for 90 days.

I’ll explain more about Power Up below.

Your Credit Score

Does KOHO affect my credit score?

Well, you’re in luck because since KOHO is nothing more than a card that you have control over it does not connect with your credit score.

That also means it will not affect your credit score in any way, shape, or form.

Although keeping a good credit rating is important, and you should review it yearly, you won’t have to worry about it with KOHO.

Does KOHO Build Credit?

KOHO can help you build credit build as well very useful to help you manage your money.

However, just a heads up, sometime in December 2020, a new feature will allow users to pay a small fee and utilize a feature in the app to help build credit.

As a permanent resident who struggled to build credit in Canada, this feature will be valuable for New Canadians.

Build your credit with KOHO

Power Up With KOHO

KOHO Power Up Program
Power Up With KOHO

What is the KOHO power-up?

Essentially a power-up is an instant cashback from using KOHO instead of waiting until the end of the year like you would with a Costco membership.

I like this because you get to see how much you are earning back instead of having to track it yourself as you do with Costco.

You also get extra power-ups if you refer your friends to KOHO once you get a chance to see how great it really is.

  1. PowerUps provide a credit of 0.5% on all settled authorizations.
  2. KOHO users can, at any time, release accrued credits from within the app.
  3. KOHO reserves the right to end the promotion at any time, no less than 90 days from the initial implementation of PowerUps. Future authorizations or settled authorizations will not be eligible for PowerUps if and when KOHO has discontinued the promotion.
  4. Settled authorizations typically take 3-5 days to settle. KOHO is not responsible for merchant settlement policies or timelines.
  5. 100% of the settled authorization amount is eligible.
  6. PowerUps will not be accrued on any ATM withdrawal, E-transfer, KOHO transfer, Bill Payment, or other non-purchase-based transactions.

Round-Up Your Money For Savings

Eating out
House of Noodles

The KOHO round-up is a great feature for saving money if you struggle.

How the KOHO round-up works are when you spend money using the KOHO card, the cost gets rounded to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10 (you choose the amount)

For example, if your purchase is $2.25 RoundUps will save $0.75, $1.75, $2.75, or $7.75 for you automatically based on which RoundUps amount you choose!

The money will be saved for you to use when you need it the most, and you don’t have to do anything but set it up.

KOHO Referral Program

I’m always transparent when I have affiliate links and I do for this post because I trust KOHO and I’m a customer too!

This is how the KOHO referral program works.

Sign Up for KOHO & get an extra 1% cash back on all your spending for 90 days
  1. Referrals – refer pals to KOHO and earn extra PowerUps* 👯‍♀️
  2. You and the friend you refer each earn 1% extra PowerUps on every purchase for 90 days 
  3. The 90-day window begins as soon as they make their first purchase
  4. They must make their first transaction within 30 days of signing up
  5. You can refer up to 10 friends to KOHO, which means you can earn up to 10% in PowerUps for referring friends
  6. Once a friend signs up, they will permanently hold one of your 10 referral slots. Don’t be afraid to give them a nudge if you see they haven’t finished activating their account!

I’m you’re friend at CBB so please sign up using my KOHO referral link.

You can also use my referral code CanadianBB if the link doesn’t work for you.

How Does KOHO Make Money?

As you may already know, KOHO is not a bank that charges fees for almost everything, so this service is unique.

KOHO is a new way of banking for Canadians, and it’s leading the way by offering no fees for their users.

When it comes to the Early Payroll program, they make no money from that service as it’s free.

They help Canadians which I absolutely love and appreciate, as I’m sure other customers will.

Banks, for example make money from their customers by:

  • Interest On Loans you take out
  • Investments you purchase through them
  • Account fees are some of the highest bank fees you’ll ever pay, upwards of $220 a year KOHO says.

The only time you’ll get charged for using KOHO is if you have a free account and make an international purchase or if you take money out of an ATM that charges its own fee. (This is the foreign exchange fee charged by Visa to use their network globally.)

The only way KOHO makes money other than the above is through its Premium accounts and interchange fees.

An interchange fee is a cost to the company where you use your KOHO card, which does not go to you but to KOHO from the merchant.

This is nothing new; every credit card company charges interchange fees to make money for allowing customers to use plastic.

Try KOHO Today

What Is KOHO Premium?

Koho premium is a type of account with premium features above and beyond the free KOHO account.

Start your 30 day Free KOHO Premium Trial & Earn an Extra 2% Cash Back

Yes, you pay for the premium account but for many of you, this may be well worth the small amount they charge.

In a way, it reminds me of the Costco Executive Card, which costs us $120 annually but better since your rate of return is higher.

KOHO Financial

With the KOHO Premium Account you get the following features;

  • 2% cashback on groceries, eating and drinking, and transportation
  • Groceries -includes both small merchants and larger chain stores
  • Eating and Drinking – included all restaurants, food delivery services, bars, coffee shops, and more.
  • Transportation – includes public transportation (city bus), UBER/Lyft, city taxis, gas, highway tolls (407 toll), parking fees, and more.
  • You’ll also get 0.5% back on all other categories not listed.

There are ZERO fees on foreign transactions which is a huge deal for me since KOHO covers those fees made outside of Canada or with foreign merchants. 

If you bank with one of the BIG 5 you know that they can charge fees upwards of 2-3% for foreign transactions is costly.

Cut the Bank Fees & Boost Your Savings with KOHO

Even with the regular free KOHO account, the charge is only 1.5%.

Free Financial Coaching

Free Financial Coaching is also another perk you get with your premium KOHO card which I adore.

If there’s something you need to know about your budget or why something isn’t working with your money you have a free coach to ask.

This is like having a financial advisor on your doorstep whenever you need them.

Finance is so important. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here trying to find the best ways to save money for my family and other Canadians.

With so many different products on the market, it’s essential to find one that fits your lifestyle and with free coaching, you can’t beat that.

What you do get from the KOHO professionals is advice on some of the most important financial topics.

  • Budgeting and saving money
  • Tackling your debt
  • Credit Score information
  • Investments

Ask yourself whether your bank offers you the type of financial assistance you’d get here.

Do you need help with your financial situation and how far are you willing to go so you can eliminate debt and start saving?

Price Matching with KOHO Premium

One of the coolest perks is the price-matching option for premium KOHO members.

How this works is the customer (you) send KOHO your past receipts made with KOHO and we’ll search to see if you have gotten a better deal. 

They will scan your receipt to see any price drops on the product being sold for less elsewhere.

So by using your KOHO card to make purchases you get the benefit of price matching and they will credit the difference to your KOHO account.

Making The Price Match Program Work In Your Favour

How does the price match feature work?

Look for the transactions on your mobile app that you make with thee price match icon next to it. These are the items you can price match.

Send a photo of the receipt through the in-app camera or forward your email receipts to pricematch@koho.ca for purchases made using your KOHO card only.

You can’t price match anything made with other credit cards or bank cards that you own, only the KOHO card.

Always keep your original receipt in a safe place in case the merchant needs to see it.

Lastly, if KOHO does find a better deal you’ll get credited. If not, that means you’ve already scored the best deal going.

How cool. I love this feature.

Top 10 Merchants For Price Matching

Here are the Top 10 Merchants for Price Matching, but there are loads more that you can find when you sign up for KOHO Premium.

You can sign up for a 30-day trial and after that is completed you can either cancel or pay $84/yr which is $24 cheaper or $9 a month.

You can order your KOHO Premium card after your 30-day trial, or if you are already a KOHO member, your current card will also work.

  1. Best Buy Canada
  2. Canadian Tire
  3. Costco.ca (Online only)
  4. FreshCo
  5. Giant Tiger
  6. Home Depot
  7. London Drugs
  8. Staples
  9. Walmart
  10. Lowe’s

Supporting KOHO Merchant List

Below are all the other support merchants that can change, so always check the KOHO website.

  • 1STOPlighting
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Addition Elle
  • Adidas.ca
  • Advanced Electronics
  • Aeropostale
  • Aldo Shoes
  • Altitude Sports
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Apple
  • Ashley Furniture
  • Asos
  • Atmosphere
  • Babyrama
  • Bad Boy
  • Banana Republic
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Best Seller Clothing 
  • Big 5 Sporting Goods
  • Bon Ton
  • Bootlegger
  • Bose
  • Bouclair
  • Brian Reimer Audio
  • Broadway Camera
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Brown’s Shoes
  • Brunet Plus
  • buy buy Baby
  • Cabela’s
  • Call It Spring
  • Campers Village
  • Canada Computers & Electronics
  • Canadian Tire
  • Carbon Computing
  • Carters / Osh Kosh By Gosh
  • Clearly.ca
  • Club Monaco
  • Coast Appliances
  • Cole Haan
  • Dania Down
  • Danier
  • Dell
  • DeSerres
  • Disney Store
  • Don’s Photo
  • DSW
  • Dufresne
  • Dynamite Clothing
  • Express
  • Extreme Electronics
  • Factory Direct
  • Foot Locker
  • Footaction
  • FreshCo
  • Furniture Villa BrandSource
  • Gap
  • Gap Factory
  • Giant Tiger
  • Goemans Appliances
  • GolfTown
  • Guess
  • Hart Stores
  • Henry’s
  • Hollister
  • Home Depot
  • Home Hardware
  • Home Outfitters
  • House of Knives
  • HP
  • HSN
  • Huckberry
  • Hudson’s Bay
  • Ikea
  • JC Penney
  • Jysk
  • Kal Tire
  • Kitchen Stuff Plus
  • Kobo
  • La Senza
  • La Z Boy Furniture Galleries
  • Lakehouse Home Store
  • Leon’s Furniture
  • Levi’s Outlet Stores
  • Linen Chest
  • Little Burgundy
  • Living Social
  • London Drugs
  • Long & McQuade
  • Lowe’s
  • Lucky Brand
  • Luxe Barbeque Company
  • Mark’s  
  • Mastermind Toys
  • McBain Camera
  • McMunn & Yates
  • Memory Express
  • Michael’s
  • Microsoft Store
  • Midland Appliance
  • Mills Fleet Farm
  • Moores Clothing
  • Mountain Equipment Co-Op
  • Mountain Warehouse
  • My Projector Lamps
  • National Sports
  • Navy Exchange
  • NewEgg
  • Nike Canada
  • Nine West
  • nofrills
  • Nordstrom
  • Old Navy
  • Parts Engine
  • PartSource
  • Penningtons
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Pink Cherry
  • PNP Games
  • Prairie Summit Shop
  • Princess Auto
  • Pro Hockey Life
  • Reebok
  • Reitmans
  • Reno depot
  • Revolve
  • Ricki’s
  • Rona
  • Ronsons
  • Roots
  • Rudsak
  • Running Room
  • RW & CO
  • SAIL Canada
  • Saint Johns Music
  • Saks Off Fifth
  • Sephora
  • Shopper Plus
  • Simons
  • Sketchers
  • Sleep Country
  • Snuggle Bugz
  • Soft Moc
  • Source For Sports
  • SportChek (In-store purchase only)
  • Sporting Life
  • Standard TV & Appliance
  • Staples
  • Steve Madden
  • Superstore
  • Swimco
  • TA Appliances
  • Tanger Outlets
  • TanTec Electronics
  • TDOT
  • Teletime
  • The Brick
  • The Camera Store
  • The Children’s Place
  • The Incredible Country Hardware Store
  • The North Face
  • The Shoe Company
  • The Source
  • Theisen’s
  • Thyme
  • Timber Town
  • Tip Top Tailors
  • Town Shoes
  • Toys R Us
  • Trail Appliances
  • TSC Stores
  • Under Armour
  • Urban Barn
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Visions
  • Walking On a Cloud
  • Walmart Canada
  • Well.ca
  • West 49
  • West Coast Kids
  • Wholesale Sports
  • Wiens Furniture
  • Wilson Leather

Free ATM International Withdrawl

If you’re like us and like to travel and need cash KOHO Premium has you covered.

You get one free international ATM transaction each month using your KOHO Premium card while on vacation.

I’d say that’s a pretty good perk.

Accommodations 6% Cash Back Feature

If you are looking for accommodations, use your KOHO app to browse and book, and you’ll get an extra 6% cashback through booking.com.

Related: The Ultimate Guide Of Cash Back and Rewards Programs In Canada

Higher Velocity Limits

We all have those unexpected moments when we need more cash or perhaps have too much cash in the bank (that’s us).

With the KOHO Premium card, you can use the ATM to withdraw up to $400 instead of $300 with the free version, and you can have a max account balance of $40,000 instead of $20,000.

So, you’re getting a bit more room to deposit and withdraw your money with the KOHO Premium card.

Will I Be Protected With KOHO?


KOHO is covered under the CDIC through the People’s Trust account like any other bank.

Basically, the money is held in People’s Trust regulated by CDIC.

What is CDIC?

KOHO is partnered with Peoples Trust, a federally regulated, CDIC-insured banking institution.

It’s where all the money in your KOHO account is held—including your spendable, round-ups and savings goals.

KOHO Review Pros and Cons

Like any bank, whether brick-and-mortar or an online bank such as KOHO, there will always be good and bad.

Below I highlight each of the pros and cons I found as a KOHO customer so you’ll get a better idea of what you’re signing up for.

Pros Of Signing Up For KOHO

  • Easy to sign up for a free KOHO card
  • You can opt into the early payroll feature
  • Financial coaching for those that need it
  • Opportunity to track and follow
  • KOHO premium offers many great features for users, including cashback and price match features.
  • No ATM fees
  • Zero Account Fees unless you get the premium card
  • Cash Back
  • No NSF Non-Sufficient Funds charges
  • E-transfers
  • Referral Bonus
  • Helps build credit
KOHO Financial

Cons Of Using KOHO

  • It could be better for travellers if there were more incentives, although you can book hotels, flights, and rental cars.
  • Although KOHO can help build credit, it will cost the user $7 a month.

Coming Soon: KOHO Save

KOHO Save is coming soon and if you want in on this amazing introductory offer you can get on the waitlist now.

Earn when you spend and save, all in one place. Earn cash back on every purchase and 1.2% interest on the whole damn balance.

If you’re not registered for your free card you can do it now and join the waitlist for the upcoming KOHO Save program.

Overall Thoughts Of The Program

I believe a big market of consumers would benefit from using the KOHO card as we are.

I’d consider all of the above, and if you feel like KOHO will work for you, then sign up for KOHO, it’s free, right?

You can also use my referral code CANADIANBB, and each of us earns 1% extra PowerUps on every purchase for 90 days!


Yes, there is an affiliate link in this review of KOHO which is my opinion as a customer.

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