KOHO Premium Prepaid Card Review 2020

(Editor Rating)

Ranking

9.5/10

KOHO Premium is the upgraded version of KOHO Visa — a pre-paid, reloadable card and integrated app that gives real-time insights into your daily spending. It functions like a chequing account but with the benefits of a rewards credit card. With KOHO Premium, you pay $9/month (or $84/year) but get perks in return, including up to 2% cash back on purchases and no foreign transaction charges. Learn more about the benefits of the KOHO Premium Card and get advice on when to upgrade from KOHO Visa.

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Affordability

9/10

Ease of use

10/10

Rewards

10/10

Tools

10/10



Best for:

 

  • Saving money
  • High interest rate
  • Cash back rewards
  • Free financial coaching
  • Price matching
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Early pay cheque access

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About KOHO Premium

The KOHO Premium Card is the upgraded version of the “OG” card. It works exactly the same way and offers all of the features as the standard KOHO Visa card, like the ability to preload cash, use the card just like a credit card, and earn cash back on your purchases. But the premium version takes it an extra step and comes packed with extra features and additional benefits.

For starters, you’ll get 2% cash back on transportation, grocery, and restaurant purchases, and 0.50% cash back on everything else. KOHO Premium also comes with other benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, free financial coaching, and price-matching.

The downside is that KOHO Premium costs $9 per month (or $84 annually). But the rewards and benefits cancel out this cost, demonstrating this card offers value. Plus, you can “test drive” it for free for the first 30 days to see if it’s for you.

Key Benefits of the KOHO Premium Card

Here are the key benefits of KOHO Premium:

Get Cash Back Rewards

With KOHO Premium, you earn 2% cash back on groceries, restaurants, food delivery, bars, coffee shops, and transportation, including Uber and Lyft. That’s on top of the 0.50% cash back on all other card purchases, which is standard with the standard KOHO card. That’s better than what’s offered by some of the best cash back credit cards.

So let’s say you spend $15,000/year on groceries and takeout alone. That works out to $300 cash back with KOHO Premium, whereas you’d only get $75 cash back with the standard KOHO Visa. Your yearly food bill would pay for the annual fee, and then some.


Earn Extra Partner PowerUps

If you’re a KOHO Premium subscriber, you can score additional cash back when you use your KOHO card at participating retailers. For instance, Pizza Pizza offers all KOHO users an additional 3% cash back, but as a KOHO Premium user, you’d fetch a total of 5.5% cash back. The specific value of each PowerUp will vary by partner, and the extra PowerUps are automatically added to your account within 1-2 business days.


No Foreign Transaction Fees

Whether you’re travelling abroad or making international purchases from home, transaction fees charged by your bank or credit card add up over time. With KOHO Premium, you won’t pay a dime — it waives the standard 2-3% foreign exchange fee charged on purchases made outside of Canada or an international retailer. It’s true that you can get a no foreign transaction fee credit card, but most come with an annual fee above $100. It makes the $9/month for KOHO Premium all the more alluring.


Price Matching

Bought something through KOHO and later found it for a lower price? With price matching, KOHO Premium will automatically credit your account with the difference. All you have to do is email receipts of your purchases and KOHO Premium will search to see if you could have gotten a better deal. If so, it’ll refund the difference. If you’re making big purchases (such as furniture or electronics), this is a nice perk that could put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.


Free Financial Coaching

With KOHO Premium, you get money tips delivered right to your inbox, and can schedule educational sessions with a certified financial coach. Your coach can help you master all aspects for your financial future, from basic budgeting to taxes, investing, paying off debt, and more. The cost? $0!


One Free International ATM Withdrawal Per Month

Those $5.00 charges from your bank just for withdrawing your own money in an international ATM are annoying and costly. But with KOHO Premium, you get one free international ATM withdrawal monthly.


Higher Withdrawal Limits

You can take out $400 per withdrawal, up to $800/day with KOHO Premium, which is double the limit with the standard KOHO Visa.


Higher Interest-Earning Threshold (Coming Soon!)

Although it hasn’t launched yet, KOHO save allows you to earn  1.20% interest on your deposits. With KOHO Premium, you can have up to $40,000 in your KOHO Save account, and earn 1.20% interest on those deposits (up to $480 in interest per year). In contrast, KOHO Visa caps deposits at $20,000 (which works out to be up to $240 in interest per year). This is a coming soon feature, but get on the waitlist ASAP.


Slick New Card Design

KOHO Premium comes with a new card design that is slicker than the standard KOHO Visa. While we don’t recommend choosing a financial product based on the look alone – a stylish card is undoubtedly a benefit of KOHO premium. However, this card is optional and you can stick to one of the four two-toned standard KOHO cards if you prefer.


Other Standard Benefits

In addition, you’ll also have access to all the regular KOHO Visa benefits, including:

  • Early paycheque access – Access up to $100 of your paycheque early when you set up direct deposit or link your CRA account to your KOHO account.
  • No banking fees – pay no everyday banking fees, no interest, no e-transfer fees and no NSF fees.
  • Joint accounts – Share a standard KOHO Visa account with your significant other and earn even more. Joint accounts aren’t available for KOHO Premium yet, but stay tuned.
  • RoundUp – Round up purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the excess into savings.
  • Goal setting – Free budgeting software with savings goal setting.

Drawbacks of KOHO Premium

The drawbacks are few, but definitely something to consider before signing up.

The first is the annual fee of $9/month or $84/year. But if you’re cash-strapped, you can opt for the free KOHO Visa version or get a no annual fee credit card that offers some rewards. You just may have to accept a lower cash back earn rate in return.

Secondly, KOHO is not CDIC insured. It’s not a total dealbreaker though — if KOHO goes under, your funds will be returned to you by Peoples Trust, the partnering bank who holds your funds.

One last drawback: KOHO Premium caps your deposits at $40,000, which limits your ability to earn interest. If you’re a savvy saver, look at EQ Bank instead. The Savings Plus Account offers a 1.50%* everyday interest rate and can hold up to a maximum of $200,000 in deposits. It also offers no everyday banking fees, free Interac e-Transfers®, free day-to-day transactions, and cheap international wire transfers.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

Pros and Cons of KOHO Premium

Pros

  • 2% cash back on on groceries, restaurants, food delivery, bars, coffee shops, and transportation
  • 0.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free financial coaching
  • Price matching — If you find a lower price on a card purchase, email KOHO copies of your receipt and it will credit your account with the difference.
  • Early pay cheque access — Access up to $100 of your pay cheque early when you set up direct deposit or link your CRA account to your KOHO account
  • No everyday banking fees — Pay no monthly fees, no interest, no e-transfer fees and no NSF fees
  • KOHO Save (Coming soon!) — When KOHO Save eventually launches, earn 1.20% interest on deposits.

Cons

  • Annual fee — Must pay $9/month or $84 per year
  • Deposits capped at $40,000
  • Not CDIC insured

How KOHO Premium Compares

The benefits above sound great, but are they worth the premium cost of $9 per month or $84 per year? Here’s how KOHO premium compares to a regular KOHO account, and some of the other top prepaid cards and apps.

 KOHO PremiumKOHO StandardWealthsimple CashSTACK
Cost$9/month or $84 per year$0$0$0
FeaturesUp to 2% cash back, financial counselling, price matching0.5% cash back, cash, round-up depositsTungsten metal card, e-transfers, bill payDiscounts with participating partners like Amazon, Netflix, etc.
Foreign transaction fees?NoneYes – 1.5%None (coming soon)No
Interest on deposits1.20%1.20%0.90%No
Estimated annual cash back*$336*$111*$0*Discounts only
Learn MoreVisit SiteVisit SiteVisit SiteVisit Site
*Based on $15,000/year for groceries & takeout, and $7,200/year on other card purchases

While KOHO Premium is the most expensive choice of the options we reviewed above, it also offers the best cash back rewards, one of the highest interest rates on deposits, and the most extensive suite of add-on features and benefits.

KOHO Premium vs. KOHO Visa

Is KOHO Premium worth the extra $84 per month for the potential 2.0% cash back along with the other potential benefits?

With the standard KOHO card, you’ll earn 0.5% cash back on all purchases. So if you spend $15,000/year on groceries and takeout and $7,200 on random purchases, you’ll earn $9.25 per month or $111 per year.

But if you upgrade to the KOHO Premium credit card, you would earn 0.5% cash back on your discretionary spending, and 2% cash back on groceries, entertainment, and transportation. With that same budget in mind, you’d bring in $28/month or $336/year.

Using this sample budget, you’ll earn more overall by choosing KOHO Premium. Here’s a chart showing the potential costs, earnings, and savings of upgrading from KOHO Standard to KOHO Premium:

 KOHO StandardKOHO Premium
Annual fee$0 per year$84 per year
Annual cash back on $15,000/year spent on groceries, entertainment, and transportation$75 earned per year$300 earned per year
Cash back earned on $7,200 of discretionary spending$36 earned per year$36 earned per year
Interest earned on depositsUp to $240 annuallyUp to $480 annually
Foreign transaction fees charged on $2,000 in international purchases per year$30 charged per year$0 charged per year

With most cash back credit cards, it’s smart to calculate the minimum amount you’ll need to “break-even” on the annual fee. With the KOHO Premium card, you’ll need to determine how much you’ll need to spend before it’s sensible to upgrade your card from the KOHO Visa base version and whether your spending habits meet that threshold.

Fortunately, we went ahead and did the math for you. According to our calculations, you will need to spend at minimum $5,600 per year on eligible purchases (including groceries, entertainment, and transportation) to earn enough extra cash back to break even on the annual $84 fee, when compared to what you would earn with the base card. Here’s a summary of our calculations:

  • Annual 0.50% cash back for $5,600 spent on gas, groceries, and entertainment with KOHO Standard: $28
  • Annual 2% cash back for $5,600 spent on gas, groceries, and entertainment with KOHO Premium: $112

For every dollar you spend after the $5,600 threshold, you’ll earn more with KOHO Premium than with KOHO Standard. $5,600 annually sounds like a lot, but that works out to $466 per month, which is easily attainable in those spending categories on the average budget.

KOHO Premium vs. STACK

When it comes to calculating the rewards offered by STACK, it’s less straight forward, since they offer discounts off specific services instead of a cash back rate. Here are some examples of offers on their website right now:

  • 20% off travel booked using your Stack card
  • $1 off at Walmart
  • $1 off per week on groceries
  • 15% off Keurig purchases
  • 70% off your first four plates from Chef’s Plate
  • 20% off at Frank and Oak

With STACK, it’s difficult to make an “apples to apples” comparison, but it’s safe to say that depending on which retailers you shop at, you’ll save at minimum between $5 – $10 per month, for a total of $60 – $120 per year. Still, you’ll come out further ahead with KOHO Premium.

KOHO Premium vs. Wealthsimple Cash

Although Wealthsimple Cash is a great product, it’s not really comparable to KOHO Premium Card. It’s primarily a high interest savings account, whereas KOHO Premium is multi-functional.

Wealthsimple Cash’s 0.90% interest rate is decent compared to other high-interest rate savings accounts, but doesn’t beat out the 1.20% offered by KOHO Premium. Also, you don’t get perks like cash back rewards or price matching.

The bottom line: Wealthsimple Cash is a solid option for savers. But KOHO Premium is a multi-purpose app that offers the convenience of a hybrid savings and chequing account with a range of benefits, including cash back on purchases.

Who is KOHO Premium Best For?

If you want to earn 2% cash back and have a hard time staying on budget when using a cash back credit card in Canada, KOHO Premium might be a good option for you. If you’re in the process of improving your finances, taking advantage of the free financial counselling could set you on the path to economic prosperity.

If you’re a frequent traveller, KOHO Premium is a good addition to your pocketbook since it offers no foreign transaction fees and one free international ATM withdrawal a month.

That said, if you aren’t planning to use your KOHO card for daily spending, or are looking to build your credit score, KOHO Premium may end up being more costly than beneficial. Because KOHO isn’t a typical credit card, it doesn’t report to Canada’s credit reporting agencies, and so won’t help you improve your credit score.

If you aren’t sure, KOHO Premium offers a free 30-day trial for new users. The trial will give you enough time to test-run your KOHO Premium card and the services that come with the premium membership. If you aren’t convinced by the end of the 30-day trial, cancel your Premium membership and continue using the basic (and free) version of KOHO.

The Verdict: Is KOHO Premium Worth It?

KOHO Premium is packed with various features and benefits that make it one of the strongest prepaid, reloadable cards in Canada, but there is a monthly fee to access these features. The cost is $9 per month or $84 per year. If you spend more than $5,600 per year on groceries, entertainment, and transportation, you’ll maximize your cash back if you choose KOHO Premium. If you don’t meet this threshold, you’ll need to consider your spending habits, as well as how often you would use the additional features like free international ATM withdrawals and free financial counselling to determine whether KOHO Premium is right for you.

If you’re debating the options, take a look at our article about KOHO Premium vs. STACK.

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