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KOHO

KOHO is to Canada what N26 is to Europe. A modern, independent, nearly fee-free mobile-only bank. In this article, I review KOHO and share my experience using it.

Review

Canada has a decent number of very stable banks and credit unions. Most of their products are very expensive, however, and few are suitable for long-term travellers. KOHO is the first “real” challenger bank to come to market and the most suited to our lifestyle, in my opinion.

The KOHO account comes in two flavours, free and premium. Both include a Visa debit card, unlimited Interac and K2K transfers, free global ATM withdrawals, add-on savings accounts, virtual cards and bill payments. The free account offers a 0.5% cashback (for all purchases) but there is a 1.5% forex fee for transactions in any currency other than the Canadian dollar. The premium account offers a 2% cashback for purchases in the food, drinks, groceries and transportation categories and the same 0.5% cashback as the free account for all other purchases. More importantly, the premium account has no forex fee.

As its name implies, the free account is free while the premium account costs 9 CAD monthly.

Opening an account takes only a few minutes and for most users, it will only involve a credit soft pull. If you have no Canadian credit history, you will be required to upload two digital documents bearing your name and address (bank statement, credit card statement, CRA statement etc).

You can start using your account as soon as it is open by adding your card to Apple / Google / Samsung Pay. The physical debit card takes 1-2 weeks to be delivered.

Deposits are held at CDIC-insured People’s Trust, the same Vancouver-based trust company that powers Stack and a number of other fintech. I would not recommend holding all your savings with KOHO but for day-to-day amounts, there is no need to worry.

To sign up, simply download the KOHO app from the App Store / Google Play and follow the on-screen instructions. You can use my referral code ( B4JLC96Z ) to get a bonus when you make your first purchase.

My experience with KOHO

While I am Canadian, I have been living overseas for many years and up until recently did not maintain a Canadian bank account. That changed in 2018 when I set up two companies in Ontario. To ensure that the companies could grow smoothly and that I could access all the services I needed, I opened accounts with TD. I also opened personal accounts with KOHO and Stack, the two fintech that seemed most promising.

I have been using those two fintech accounts for a while now and I am happy to report that my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. For sure there have been a few issues and frustrations but as with all fintech, you need to go in with the right mindset and a degree of patience. In the end, the product you get more than makes up for those issues and frustrations.

Do note that KOHO (and Stack) do not work in all countries. For security reasons, transactions in high-risk countries are blocked (see the full list here).

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