KOHO Save Review

(Editor Rating)

Ranking

9.5/10

KOHO Save is a high-interest savings account linked to KOHO Visa—a free pre-paid, reloadable card and integrated app that gives real-time insights into your daily spending. Aside from offering a high-interest rate of 1.20% on your KOHO balance, this no-fee hybrid account comes with all the perks of KOHO, such as instant 0.50% cashback on all purchases, free e-Transfers, and free bill payments. With no fees or minimum balance, free e-Transfers, and a non-promotional interest, KOHO Save is one of the top high-interest savings accounts and pre-paid cards on the market in Canada.

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High interest rate

10/10

Fees

10/10

User experience

10/10

Cash back

9.5/10

Everyday banking

7/10



Best for:

 

  • High interest rate
  • Hybrid spending and savings account
  • Free bill payments & Interac e-Transfers

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What is KOHO Save?

KOHO Save is a high-interest savings account that comes with KOHO— a free pre-paid, reloadable card and integrated app that offers real-time insights into your daily spending. It costs $0 and gives you 1.20% interest on your KOHO balance. There are no extra fees, no minimum balance, no promotional rates, and your cash is held in a federally regulated financial institution.

What’s cool about KOHO Save is you get almost everything you need in a single account. Once you set up a direct deposit, you can stash money away and earn a competitive interest rate, one that beats out many of the Big Five banks. You can pay bills and send Interac e-Transfers for free. Plus, you can shop online or in-store with your pre-paid KOHO Visa card. Since it’s not a credit card, you can’t spend more than what’s in your account—so you’ll never be on the hook for overdraft charges or interest payments. Yet, you still get 0.5% cashback on all purchases, which is usually a feature only of credit cards.

Another selling feature is that KOHO allows joint accounts. This makes it the perfect “extra” account for spouses or roommates who need a separate account to share household expenses or save for a big purchase. Plus, KOHO doesn’t charge any fees for everyday banking.

On the flipside, KOHO is not a full-service bank, so you’ll definitely need to have at least one additional chequing account. It also doesn’t currently accept cash, cheques, wire transfers or third-party e-Transfers. The only way to deposit funds is to either Interac e-Transfer the money from your regular bank account or to connect a Visa Debit card from your regular chequing account and load funds in the app. To withdraw funds, you can take out cash from the ATM as long as you select “credit” when asked what type of card. You can also load funds to KOHO via direct deposit (you need to have at least one anyway in order to opt into KOHO Save).

Key Benefits

  • High-interest rate: Get a standard, non-promotional rate of 1.20% if you set up a direct deposit, (from an employer or government). This is extremely competitive for a high-interest savings account. Of course, not everyone has a direct deposit that they’re able to set up, in which case your interest rate would drop to 0%.
  • No fees: KOHO Save has free everyday banking transactions and no account minimums. There is a foreign exchange fee of 1.50%, which is a percentage point lower than most Canadian credit cards (unless you have KOHO Premium or a no foreign transaction fee credit card). There’s also a $0.75 fee to transfer money from a Visa Debit card if the amount is under $500 and a $2-$3 fee charged by the ATM to withdraw cash.
  • Paid tiered options: KOHO does offer an upgraded KOHO Premium service, whereby you pay $9/month and get up to 2% cash back on card purchases plus no foreign exchange fees.
  • Joint accounts: You can set up a joint account, which is ideal for specific shared expenses or savings goals.
  • Pre-paid Visa card: Accepted by any merchant that accepts Visa. You’re not borrowing money like a credit card so there’s no accrued interest.
  • Cash back: You get 0.5% cashback on all card purchases, which is pretty sweet. If you upgrade to KOHO Premium, the cashback rate is boosted to up to 2% cash back on card purchases that fall into three categories: eating/drinking, entertainment, and transportation categories. Plus, you earn extra cash back with certain merchant partners and with referrals (up to 10% with referrals).
  • Metal card: The card is really sleek and would make us happy every time we pulled it out of our wallets. However, it costs $159 or $50 with two referrals.
  • RoundUps: RoundUps “rounds up” your purchases between $1 to $10 and squirrels it away, enabling you to save faster.

Learn more about KOHO Save

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Free — No account fee or everyday banking fees
  • High-interest rate of 1.20%
  • Cash back of 0.5%
  • Intuitive app and user-friendly
  • Apple and Samsung pay compatible

Cons

  • Limited way to deposit funds
  • Not a full-service savings account — Not enough services offered to be a primary chequing or savings account
  • Deposits capped at $200,000
  • No free ATM withdrawals

How Does It Compare?

There are now other digital-first, no fee, high-interest bank accounts in Canada that offer similar perks. So how does KOHO Save compare to its peers?

 KOHO SaveWealthsimple SaveEQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account
Fees on everyday bankingNoneNoneNone
Features0.5% cashback; Bill payments; E-Transfers; Joint accounts; Roundup; Pre-paid Visa cardJoint accounts; RoundUp; Pre-paid Visa card and bill payments coming soonJoint accounts; E-Transfers; International money transfers; Bill payments
Interest on deposits1.20% with direct deposit; otherwise 0%0.75%1.25%*
Deposit limit$200,000None$200,000
Deposit methodsSelf e-Transfer; direct deposit, Visa Debit loadOnly transfer from linked bank account for nowCheque; Direct deposit; Transfer from linked account; E-Transfer
Withdrawal methodsE-transfer; ATMOnly transfer to linked bank account for nowTransfer to linked bank account; E-Transfer
Visit SiteVisit SiteVisit SiteVisit Site

KOHO Save vs. Wealthsimple Save

KOHO Save’s closest Canadian competitor is Wealthsimple Save— a saving and spending account that offers 0.75% interest on your cash deposits. However, KOHO Save is far more functional and offers a higher interest rate.

For starters, Wealthsimple Save is still releasing features on a slow, rolling basis, and right now, banking basics (like bill payments and their pre-paid Visa) aren’t implemented yet.  Plus, Wealthsimple Save’s interest rate is only 0.75%, although you don’t need to have a direct deposit to qualify and there’s no deposit limit. The only major win for Wealthsimple Save is that it doesn’t offer any foreign transaction fees and you may prefer having all your investments and savings under the umbrella of one trusted brokerage. 

KOHO Save vs. EQ Bank

Another close competitor to KOHO Save is EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account — a hybrid saving and chequing account that offers 1.25%* interest. This may be a better option for those looking for a “real deal” savings account, as the interest rate is higher and there are more ways to deposit funds. It accepts transfers from a linked account, cheque deposits through their mobile app, Interac e-Transfers from third parties and international wire transfers. The only downside is they don’t have a debit or credit card attached to the account — to get your money you must transfer it out. Important to some people may that EQ Bank is a subsidiary owned by Equitable Bank—the 9th largest Schedule 1 bank in Canada—so it does not rely on third-party banks or brokerages for deposit insurance.

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

Inside KOHO Save

KOHO Save has a quick and easy sign-up process that you can accomplish in minutes. The first step is (obviously) to sign up for a KOHO Visa account. If you already have that, here’s a preview into adding KOHO Save to your account.

KOHO SAVE

First, click the 1.2% KOHO Save homecard on the home screen of the app.

KOHO SAVE 2

Next, you’ll be taken to the KOHO Save landing page. Click Start Earning.

KOHO SAVE

In the next few steps, you’ll be asked to enter your personal information and review an agreement. It’s similar to opening a chequing or savings account at any bank.

KOHO save

That’s it! KOHO Save is activated and you’ll earn interest on your deposits.

KOHO Save FAQs

The interest rate is not promotional and will not expire. That being said, interest rates are never static—the interest rate will likely fluctuate as the Bank of Canada changes its rates.
Yes, KOHO Save is safe. Your deposit up to $100,000 is backed by Canadian Shareowner Investments who holds it in trust at a CDIC-insured member institution. Visa also offers protection against fraudulent purchases.
You can deposit a maximum of $200,000 into KOHO Save. This is on par with other FinTech companies and boutique banks (like EQ Bank) but is far below what is offered by the Big Five.
KOHO Save has no everyday banking fees. Other fees are limited and include a  foreign transaction fee of 1.5%, ATM withdrawal fees that are charged by the ATM and a $0.75 fee to load money into your account through Visa Debit if it's under $500.  If you upgrade to KOHO Premium, there’s no foreign transaction fee at all, but you’ll have to pay a $9/month membership fee.
No, you cannot build your credit with KOHO Save. Your credit score reflects your risk as a borrower and you do not borrow any money with a pre-paid Visa card. However, KOHO has recently introduced a credit-building program. You can subscribe to the Credit Building for $7/month using the app. KOHO will report your progress to a major credit bureau and help you grow your credit score in just 6 months.

The Verdict: Is KOHO Save worth it?

KOHO Save is certainly not for everyone. Drawbacks to the account include the limited ways to deposit and withdraw funds. And with so many online, high-interest, low-fee banks these days, the competition is stiff. So you may simply not want to go through the process of opening a new account.

And if you have cash that exceeds $200,000, you may have to split your deposits between several high-interest savings accounts. However, this offers the added benefit of extending your CDIC coverage, so it could actually be considered a benefit.

At the same time, KOHO Save has some unique benefits. Young people who don’t yet have access to a credit card or Canadians who don’t have the credit score to qualify for one may also like the ability to use the pre-paid KOHO Visa card to access online shopping.

Ultimately, KOHO Save is worth it for those who are on the hunt for an additional, free savings account. For instance, if you’re looking for a no-fee account to track online shopping purchases, stash cash and earn a decent interest rate, or to have a joint account from which to pay bills.

Canadians will also appreciate the sleek interface and user-friendly app. And if you’re already a KOHO Visa user, it’s a no-brainer to add KOHO Save to the mix so that you can score a great interest rate.

The bottom line? We like KOHO Save and it’s a great product. You’ll just have to decide if it’s the right one for you. Check out the full range of options with the best high-interest accounts in Canada.

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