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KOHO Essential Prepaid Card review

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KOHO Essential Prepaid Card

Our verdict

Earn cashback and collect interest on your available card balance with the low-fee KOHO Essential prepaid card.

KOHO Essential is a prepaid Mastercard that lets you earn cashback on daily purchases including groceries and dining out. You'll earn cashback on your spending and interest on your savings. For a low-fee card, it also offers plenty of useful benefits including savings tools and a referral bonus.


  • Earn 1% cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink. Plus, earn 5% interest on your entire balance.
  • Build your savings by earning interest with KOHO Save
  • Avoid common credit card and banking fees


  • Small monthly account fee
  • Doesn't help to improve your credit score
  • KOHO is 100% online and there is no in-person assistance available

In this guide

  • Our verdict
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Your reviews
Earn 1% cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink. Plus, earn 5% interest on your entire balance.

What is KOHO?

KOHO is an innovative financial platform that offers basic, premium and joint chequing accounts to customers. Every account comes with a reloadable prepaid Mastercard card that lets you spend money from your account while you earn cashback.

Once you load funds into your account, you can use your card to make purchases anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. You can also add the KOHO Save feature to your account to earn interest on any funds that you hold as part of your balance.

The basics

Check out the KOHO Essential Prepaid Card for an easy way to earn cashback:

  • Cashback return. Earn 1% cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink – and collect 0.25% on everything else.
  • Earn interest on your savings. Earn 5% interest on your entire balance.
  • No interest payments. You won’t pay the typical 19.99% interest rate that comes with regular credit cards, since you’re spending your own money.
  • Many ways to add funds. Add funds to your account with an e-Transfer, Visa, Mastercard Debit or direct deposit from another bank account.
  • Security features. Lock your card in the app if it gets lost or stolen, enable 2-factor authentication and use temporary virtual card numbers to protect your info.

Which purchases qualify for the higher cashback return?

Find out more about which purchases qualify for each cashback category below:

  • Groceries. Get rewarded for shopping with small corner stores, organic markets and large grocery chains.
  • Recurring bills. Get a solid return whenever you pay a monthly bill (for example, your phone or utility bill).
  • Dining out. Earn cashback at restaurants, bars and coffee shops – including takeout and food delivery.

The perks

  • Savings tools. Set savings goals or choose to lock your funds away in the KOHO vault so you don’t spend them.
  • Optional credit building. Pay an additional $7 per month to get access to a small line of credit. Repay it on time and build your credit history.
  • Optional roundups. To help you save money, every purchase you make with your KOHO card can be rounded to the nearest $1, $2, $5 or $10 (you choose the amount). The difference gets stored away for a rainy day.
  • Referral bonus. Refer a friend and both of you will earn $20 each once they make their first purchase within 30 days of signing up.
  • Bank-level protection. If KOHO ever goes bankrupt, your funds will be protected up to $100,000 by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).
  • Add KOHO Cover. Add KOHO Cover for $5 a month and get up to $50 zero-interest overdraft protection, which can help you make a purchase when you don’t have enough cash in your account. This limit increases up to $250 if you continue to pay the monthly subscription fee. The cover subscription also comes with financial coaching services. There’s no application process, no effect on credit score, and no late fees.
  • Ability to waive low monthly fee. Deposit $1,000 per month to your KOHO Essential account or set up a recurring direct deposit in order to pay $0 a month.

What to watch out for

  • No access to credit. You won’t be able to spend any money on your KOHO Essential Prepaid Card that isn’t already in your account.
  • Long wait times for e-Transfers. It can take up to 90 minutes for your e-Transfers to send with KOHO.
  • Foreign transaction fees. While the KOHO Extra Card offers 0% transaction fees, you’ll pay 1.5% every time you make an overseas purchase with the KOHO Essential.
  • No insurance. This card doesn’t offer basic insurance like purchase protection or extended warranty. It also doesn’t offer fraud protection.

What should I know before I apply?

Eligibility requirements

To apply for the KOHO Essential Prepaid Card, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Have a Canadian address and mobile phone number
  • Be the age of majority: at least 18 years old (or 19 in some provinces)

Required documents and information:

  • Your name, residential status and contact information
  • Your social insurance number (SIN) and date of birth
  • Your email address and phone number

How to apply for a new KOHO account

  1. Click “Go to site” on this page to be securely directed to your KOHO Essential account application.
  2. Read through the disclosure statement details and click “Accept & Continue”.
  3. Complete the application with details that include your name, email address, social insurance number and birth date.
  4. Review and submit your application.

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Get a reloadable and secure card with the same benefits as a standard credit card.

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