2020 KOHO Review: Spend Less, Save More, Budget Better

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KOHO is a prepaid Visa linked to a budgeting app that helps manage your spending, increase your savings, and earn cash back on all your purchases. In this KOHO review, we go over in detail how this awesome fintech tool works and how to get the most of it!

KOHO Review: What is KOHO?

KOHO is a free prepaid Visa card that’s linked to a mobile app on your Apple or Android phone. When you spend money with your KOHO card, you earn 0.50% to 2% cash back on all your purchases, and your spending is tracked and categorized within the app.

Your KOHO Visa card has additional features that include round-ups on purchases, the option to set financial goals, and more.

Enter the code MONEYAFTERGRAD as your KOHO referral code when you sign up for KOHO and receive 1% bonus cash-back on all your purchases for 90 days! 

KOHO review

Is KOHO a debit card or a credit card?

KOHO is powered by Visa, but it is not a credit card. It essentially functions as a debit card with all the conveniences (and none of the drawbacks!) of a credit card.

Unlike a credit card, KOHO will not allow you to spend money that you don’t have. You can only spend cash you’ve actually loaded onto your KOHO card. If you love the rewards and convenience of credit cards but don’t want to go into debt, KOHO is the perfect solution.

KOHO CARD REVIEW: Best Features

Here are the best features of KOHO in review:

  • Cash back (duh!). You’ll earn 0.50% cash back on all your spending on your KOHO card, or up to 2% cash back in certain categories with KOHO premium. Your cash-back will accrue as your “Power-Up” inside the KOHO app, where you can cash it out to your spendable at any time.
  • Round-ups. You can elect to have every purchase you make rounded up to the nearest $1, $5, or $10. This spare change will accrue in your “Round-Ups” in the KOHO app, where you can cash it out to your spendable or add it to a goal at any time.
  • Savings Goals. Directly in the app, you can set a savings goal and allocate a small daily, weekly, or monthly amount towards it. This can be as little as a few cents. Every day or week, it will be taken from your spendable and put towards your savings goals.
  • Spending Analysis. KOHO provides data on your average weekly and daily spending behavior. It calculates how much you usually spend in a typical week or day, and then gives you a projected average. KOHO will let you know if you’re above or below average for the week or month. You can then adjust your behavior accordingly!
  • Apple Pay. You’ll receive a physical KOHO card in the mail, but you can also add your KOHO card to your digital wallet and use it with Apple Pay. You’ll be able to add your KOHO card to your Apple Wallet directly from the app.
  • The Virtual Card. Your virtual KOHO card lets you access your money in your KOHO account, even when you don’t have your physical card. This makes it the best option for any online purchases or recurring bills. use my KOHO Virtual Card for regular bills like Netflix, and websites like Amazon.
  • The KOHO Metal Card. Metal cards are typically reserved for luxury credit cards with ludicrously high annual feels (think the Black American Express Centurion). The KOHO metal card only comes in one color: “Gilded Cotton Candy”, which looks like roses and champagne to me. The card weighs 16g, so you’ll definitely notice it in your pocket!
  • Joint Accounts. One of the more unique perks of KOHO is you can have a joint account with anyone, not necessarily a romantic partner! If there’s anyone you share expenses or financial goals with, be it a roommate, sibling, or a friend, a KOHO Joint Account is one of the best ways to manage money between two people.

How does KOHO work?

KOHO helps manage both your spending and your saving. It functions as both a spending tracker and a bank account. Your KOHO card is linked to the app, which will track and categorize your spending, as well as give you cash-back and help you reach your savings goals.

How to get your KOHO card

      1. Sign up for KOHO using the code MONEYAFTERGRAD
      2. Add money to your KOHO account via direct deposit, e-transfer or linked bank account
      3. Add your KOHO card to your digital wallet and use with Apple Pay, or wait for your KOHO card to arrive in the mail
      4. Make a purchase!

That’s it! Once you start spending with your KOHO card, your purchases will be recorded and categorized in the app.

Setting up your KOHO card

Here’s how to get started with your KOHO card. When you load your KOHO card, you’re depositing money into your Spendable. This is the money you have available to spend. There are 3 main ways to add money to your KOHO card spendable:

Direct Load (aka. Direct Deposit).The direct load (direct deposit) function is the best way to get money on your KOHO card. By setting up direct load from your paycheque to your KOHO card, money will automatically be deposited to your card when you’re paid.

eTransfer.If an employer doesn’t allow money to be deposited directly to KOHO, you’ll have to use the direct transfer or e-transfer features in the app. You can send an eTransfer to KOHO and they will deposit it in your account for you. E-transfers are usually approved same day, most often within a few hours of making the request.

Transfer from a linked bank account.Depositing funds to KOHO from a linked bank account takes a longest. They say in the app it takes 3-5 business days, and I’ve always found it takes closer to five days than three.

Are there fees?

There are no fees for using KOHO! I know, it seems too good to be true but it’s not. The only times you’ll be charged fees for using KOHO are as follows:

  • You subscribe to KOHO premium
  • You use your KOHO card while traveling and have to pay normal foreign exchange fees for using it abroad

Then how does KOHO make money? Is KOHO legit?

KOHO is completely legit!

KOHO makes money the same way all payment cards make money: transactions. Credit card companies charge fees of 2-3% of transactions to merchants who accept cards like Visa. This is why you’ll often see small stores accepting only cash or debit. They don’t want to pay merchant fees!

KOHO makes money on these merchant fees for every transaction where you use your KOHO card. That’s it!

KOHO Review: Earning cash-back and saving money

The biggest perk of KOHO is earning cash-back on all your spending.

The KOHO PowerUP

You’ll earn 0.5% cash-back on all your purchases with a regular KOHO card. You’ll earn 2% cash-back on certain categories with KOHO premium. You can earn additional cash-back at certain retailers, which you can see listed in the app. Your cash-back will accrue as your KOHO “PowerUp”. KOHO Power UPs

You can cash out your PowerUp at any time. Select to add it back into your spendable or put it towards a goal. I personally like to leave my PowerUp untouched until it hits ~$25, then I transfer it to a savings goal. This is completely free money, so it’s a great Debt Snowflake or extra for savings, depending on your financial goals.

The KOHO RoundUp

The KOHO RoundUps feature is optional, but you should definitely use it! KOHO will round up your purchases to the nearest $1, $5, or $10 and that money will accrue in your RoundUps.

Unlike PowerUps, this isn’t free cash. This is money you’ve put onto your KOHO card allocated a different way. However, it still feels like unexpected money, because you don’t even notice it taken from your KOHO Spendable.

KOHO RoundUps

I round all my purchases on KOHO up to the nearest $5. This is a small enough amount that I don’t notice it taken from my Spendable. But it still accrues really fast! Like the KOHO PowerUps, I like to let my KOHO RoundUPs accrue to $25, then add to a goal.

Capturing your spending insights to change your behavior

When you spend money with your KOHO card, the KOHO app will track and categorize your purchases. This happens instantaneously! I see the KOHO alert pop up on my phone, telling me how much I spent and where as soon as I tap the card to pay for something.

KOHO Spending Activity

If KOHO has guessed wrong in assigning a purchase to a certain category, or you want to put your purchase under a different category for your own records, you can do that easily within the app.

You’re also able to add any categories to better reflect your spending behavior and your personal budget. For example, I added the category “Baby” for any purchases I make for my daughter.

What is KOHO Premium?

KOHO Premium is the paid tier of KOHO. It provides extra benefits and perks to users for a fee of $9 per month or $84 per year. Below is a brief overview of the features of KOHO premium in review.

KOHO Premium

Features of KOHO Premium in Review

As a subscriber to KOHO Premium, you get all the perks of a regular KOHO account, plus these additional benefits:

  • 2% cash-back on groceries, eating & drinking and transportation. Groceries include both small merchants and large chains. Eating & drinking includes all restaurants, food delivery, bars, coffee shops and more. Transportation includes public transportation, Uber/ Lyft, taxis, gas, highway tolls, parking and more.
  • No fee on foreign exchange transactions. The big banks charge 3% per transaction and the regular KOHO charges 1.5% (still a great deal!). However, for KOHO Premium this drops to 0%. KOHO uses Visa’s stated exchange rate with no spread for currency translation.
  • Free financial coaching. Users will get money tips and can set up sessions with a financial coach to create a budget or ask any questions they have about taxes, investing, debt and more.
  • Price-matching. Users can send in recent past receipts made online with KOHO. KOHO will search to see if they could have gotten a better deal. If so, we will credit the difference in price to their account.
  • Higher “velocity” limits, meaning that users can now take out $400 at an ATM per transaction, for a max of $800 per day. Their account balance can also be $40,000 instead of $20,000.

Is KOHO Premium worth it?

Figuring out if KOHO Premium is worth it is pretty easy. Since they’ll be giving you 2% cash-back on groceries, eating & drinking, and transportation, you just have to determine if you spend enough in those categories to justify subscribing to KOHO Premium.
KOHO Premium offers you 2% cashback, so all you need to do is determine how much you need to spend to breakeven on the fee. Since the bonus is 1.5% higher than the regular 0.5% offered by KOHO, that’s the number we’ll use.
Calculation: $9 monthly fee / 0.015 bonus cash-back = $600 (if you pay annually this drops to $467!)
If you spend more than $470 to $600 on food and transportation on your KOHO card, it’s worth it to pay for Premium. You’ll earn more cash back!
It’s also worth noting that when you sign up for KOHO with my code MONEYAFTERGRAD, you’ll earn a bonus cashback for 90 days. That means with Premium you’ll get 3% cashback on everything.

Downsides of the KOHO card in Review

KOHO likely won’t replace your bank account and credit card, but it is an excellent complement to these things. Nevertheless, it does have some drawbacks (hey, I did say this was a brutally honest KOHO review!):

Does KOHO build credit?

Because KOHO isn’t a credit card, it does not build credit.KOHO will have no impact on your credit score.  if you were hoping to build or repair a damaged credit score, you’ll need to get a regular credit card. 

What should I not use KOHO for?

KOHO isn’t great for things like booking hotel rooms or other reservations. Often these will put a pre-authorization on your card for $400+. In KOHO, this will be deducted from your spendable. This could leave you on a super strict budget if you didn’t load much to your card.

Why haven’t I received my KOHO card in the mail yet?

One major downside that keeps cropping up with KOHO is some people sign up, then never get their cards. If you’ve signed up for KOHO, you should receive your card in the mail within a week or two.

If you have not, contact KOHO support in the app and get them to send you a new one. In the meantime, add your KOHO card to your digital wallet and use with Apple Pay. 

KOHO REVIEW: how to get the most out of KOHO

Honestly, you’ll enjoy the benefits of KOHO as soon as you start using it, but there are some additional “hacks” I personally use that can make it work even better. 

Why not try…

      • aim for a certain number of “no spend days”, like one per week or 10 per month
      • treat your PowerUps and RoundUps like another micro-savings tool. Don’t cash out until you have enough to buy something you’re saving for!
      • making one of your savings goals something practical, like a boost to your Emergency Fund or Retirement savings, and try to save at least $1 per day. Once you hit this goal in KOHO, cash out the goal and transfer the money to your appropriate account.
      • link your KOHO card to your Wealthsimple account and set up an automatic monthly transfer. It’s an easy way to boost your investments

KOHO Review

Overall KOHO is hands down the best budgeting app and fintech innovation ever. It’s now a staple financial tool for my own money management strategies. Hope you enjoyed this KOHO review and like the app as much as I do!

*This Koho review is not a sponsored post but does contain affiliate links. I receive a small payout when you sign up using my KOHO referral code, MONEYAFTERGRAD

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