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

In this KOHO Review we’ve considered all of the most important features of the card: its cost, utility, fees, and convenience.

Your KOHO Visa card has great features that include round-ups on purchases, the option to set financial goals, and more. Plus, I’ve included all the how-to’s you need to know to get your KOHO card set up.

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

In this article:

  1. What is KOHO?
  2. The KOHO Card
  3. How Does KOHO Work?
  4. KOHO Fees
  5. KOHO Premium

What is KOHO?

The most important takeaway here is that KOHO is a prepaid Visa, 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.

Is KOHO legit?

Yes, KOHO is legit! It might seem too good to be true because KOHO is such a unique fintech product, but KOHO is trustworthy and legitimate.

How does KOHO make money?

KOHO makes money the same way all payment cards make money: transactions. Credit card companies charge retailers fees of 2 to 3% per transaction to merchants who accept cards.

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. They also make money on KOHO Premium subscriptions, which you can read more about below.

Is KOHO safe?

It is important to note that KOHO itself is not insured by the CDIC. But KOHO takes necessary measures to keep your funds safe. In the unlikely event that KOHO fails, your funds are returned to you by The People’s Trust, KOHO’s partnering bank which is insured by the CDIC.

The KOHO Card

The KOHO card is both physical and virtual! 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, and it’s a great idea to keep your physical KOHO card in your wallet for other shopping you might do.

How to get a KOHO card

  1. You must have a Canadian bank account
  2. Sign up for KOHO using the code MONEYAFTERGRAD on your computer or by downloading the app on a mobile device
  3. Add money to your KOHO bank via direct deposit, e-transfer, or a linked bank account
  4. Your KOHO card should arrive in the mail within 15 days of signing up!

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

How to load 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:

  1. Direct Load (aka. Direct Deposit):The direct load 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.
  2. eTransfer: 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.
  3. Transfer from a linked bank account: Depositing funds to KOHO from a linked bank account takes the 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.

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.

Spending with KOHO

Spending with your KOHO card comes along with a lot of great features:

  • Cash back: 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.
  • Spending Analysis: KOHO provides data on your average weekly and daily spending behaviour. It calculates how much you usually spend in a typical week or day, and then gives you a projected average.
  • 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 KOHO PowerUP

Aside from your regular cash back earnings, 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”.

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.

Saving with KOHO

Here are some of the best ways KOHO can help you save:

  • 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.
  • 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.

The KOHO RoundUp

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.

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.

KOHO 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.

KOHO 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

How does KOHO make money?

You might be wondering how KOHO makes money considering they do not charge any fees. When you use your KOHO card to make purchases both in store and online, Visa shares some of the commissions received from those merchants!

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.

The main features of KOHO Premium

Along with all the benefits of the regular KOHO account, premium clients receive 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% in foreign exchange fees 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. 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!

The KOHO Metal Card

Metal cards are typically reserved for luxury credit cards with ludicrously high annual feels (think the Black American Express Centurion). But, the KOHO Metal Card can be purchased for a one time fee of $159.

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!

You can purchase your KOHO Metal Card through KOHO’s website or app!

Final Thoughts on KOHO

KOHO likely won’t replace your bank account and credit card, but it is an excellent way to complement to these things.

KOHO downsides

While there are tons of features I love about KOHO, it’s important to be aware of a few downsides.

  • KOHO does not build credit. Because KOHO is not a credit card, it will have no impact on your credit score. So, if you were hoping to build or repair a damaged credit score, you’ll need a regular credit card.
  • KOHO does not offer TFSA, RRSP, or RESP accounts.
  • 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.

KOHO Hacks

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. 

  • 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

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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