KOHO Review: Up to $250 in Overdrafts and Generous Cash Back Offers

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Usually, a prepaid card means high fees and few benefits. KOHO aims to shake up that model, with a full featured no-fee plan and generous cash back offers that can actually put money back in your pocket.

Plus, with KOHO Cover, you can get up to $50 in instant overdraft protection (and increase your limit to up to $250) with no interest to pay bills or make a purchase. How do you qualify and what will it really cost you? This KOHO review will help you determine whether the platform is one of the ones you can rely on.

Access up to $250 in overdraft protection >>> Check out KOHO

Woman holding a phone that displays the KOHO app

What is KOHO?

KOHO is a mobile banking app2 that’s helping over 1 million Canadians budget, spend and save smarter. KOHO offers several tiers of full service mobile banking, with a free plan that has a ton of features and some paid plans that can give you significant cash back and other benefits.

The KOHO app can give you powerful banking features right from your phone, including:

KOHO debit card: KOHO’s prepaid Mastercard® is the card that can actually pay you for a change. You can earn up to 2% cash back on groceries, dining and transportation, plus up to 0.5% on everything else. Unlike other prepaid cards, your deposit earns interest, too – currently a healthy 5%! Plus, there’s no credit check to qualify.

Cover Cash Advance: This grants overdraft protection of up to $250 with no interest or late fees. While you can’t withdraw the amount in cash, you can use it to pay bills or spend it almost anywhere via your KOKO debit card.

Credit Builder Accounts: KOHO offers two lines of credit with no credit check or interest. One requires you to provide a cash deposit as collateral, while the other is unsecured, but approval is guaranteed for both. KOHO reports them to Equifax.

High-Interest Savings Account: KOHO lets you earn up to 5% interest on the cash you deposit in your account, depending on your subscription plan. In addition, the first $100K is eligible for CDIC protection.

Get up to 2% cash back on groceries, dining and more >>> Check out KOHO

Woman's hand holding a phone that displays KOHO app banking plans

How Much Does KOHO Cost?

KOHO offers four different levels of membership, including a free plan that will meet many users’ needs. With KOHO, you can earn solid rates of cash back on all purchases (rare for a debit card!) as well as a decent interest rate on your balances. If you make KOHO your primary banking app and have a healthy level of spending on your KOHO debit card, especially for groceries and dining, it can be worthwhile to upgrade to the paid plans to earn more cash back rewards. You also need to have a paid plan to qualify for overdrafts via KOHO Cover.

KOHO is one of the few financial apps that lives up to its claim of simple pricing and no hidden fees. A summary of the plan options:

EASY: This is the free plan. You can get 1% cash back on groceries and transportation, and eating & drinking, as well as 0.25% cash back on everything else, plus 3% interest on your KOHO balance.

ESSENTIAL: For $4 month, you’ll also get 1% cash back on dining, plus 0.25% on all other spending. The interest rate on your balance climbs to a competitive 5%. If you spend about $100/week on dining out you’ll probably come out ahead by upgrading to this plan.

EXTRA: Your monthly fee bumps up to $9, and your cash back tiers all double to 2% on groceries, dining and transportation, plus 0.5% on everything else. These are better cash back rates than quite a few credit cards offer, and if you spend over $125 KOHO on groceries, restaurants and getting around town each week, you’ll earn back more than that fee. KOHO strongly hints that this plan will help you get access to overdrafts via KOHO Cover.

EVERYTHING: The monthly fee leaps to $19 for this plan, and while you get real time e-transfers and a few other small features, it’s probably not worth it for most folks.

You’ll get a 30-day free trial to whichever plan you choose when you sign up with KOHO, so you can take the opportunity to see how much your earning via cash back and interest. You can change your subscription at any time in the app (including downgrading to the free Easy plan). Note that deleting the app from your phone doesn’t cancel your account and monthly fee.

Start earning cash back with a 30 day free trial >>> Check out KOHO

How Do KOHO Cash Advances Work?

With KOHO, you can start with up to $50 in overdraft protection, and your limit can increase to up to $250 as you build up a track record of timely repayments. You can see your KOHO overdraft limit right in the app, so you know how much you have available, and KOHO will automatically transfer funds to cover purchases or bill payments that could push your balance into negative territory.

There is no interest or credit check to use KOHO Cover, and no interest, late fees, express fees, or tips. You do need to pay a $5/month fee to have access overdrafts.

Cover is not available on brand new accounts, and you have to jump through a surprising number of hoops to gain access.

To get started, visit the KOHO website or download the mobile app from the App Store or Google Play. From there, you can register for an account using your email and password. Next, KOHO will ask you some basic details about yourself, including your:

  • Name, birthday, and address
  • Occupation
  • Mobile number

Once you confirm a code KOHO texts to your phone, it’ll attempt to verify your identity. KOHO may be able to complete the process automatically by matching your name, address, and date of birth to your credit file.

If it can’t, you’ll need to provide a picture of a government-issued photo ID. Some valid options include a:

  • Canadian or foreign passport
  • Permanent Resident card
  • Driver’s license or provincial photo ID card

Once that’s done, KOHO will activate your account. It should put you on the Easy plan by default, which is KOHO’s free subscription tier. In addition, it’ll tell you whether you’re eligible for the Cover feature.

KOHO isn’t very transparent about what it takes for users to qualify for Cover, but you must at least have an active membership and not have failed to pay anything you owe them. KOHO also states that no credit checks are involved.

If you don’t qualify at first, you can increase your chances of becoming eligible by:

  • Adding funds to your KOHO account
  • Keeping a balance and spending with KOHO
  • Setting up a direct deposit to your KOHO account
  • Using other KOHO services like credit building

Once you’re eligible, KOHO will invite you to subscribe to Cover. If you accept, it’ll add up to $50 of reserve cash to your account. If you ever exhaust your ordinary funds, the Cover money will go toward any purchases that would otherwise cause an overdraft.

As long as your subscription stays active, you won’t have any minimum payments. However, paying your balance off in a timely manner can increase your Cover credit limit up to $250.

Get up to $250 with no interest or credit check >>> Check out KOHO

Woman's hand holding a phone that displays KOHO cash back offers

How Much Does a KOHO Cash Advance Cost?

KOHO cash advances don’t involve any one-time fees, and there’s no interest on your outstanding balances. KOHO won’t ask you for tips either, and since the funds show up in your account as soon as you subscribe to Cover, there’s no need for an express fee.

However, that doesn’t mean the KOHO cash advance is free. To maintain access to the feature, you must pay for the Cover subscription, which is $5 per month. Since your initial credit limit can only be $50 at most, that can make KOHO pretty expensive.

Even if you qualify for the maximum borrowing amount, you’d be paying $60 in subscription fees annually to be able to borrow $50 when you need it. You’d definitely have to use the feature multiple times a year to get your money’s worth.

In addition, you may not be eligible for Cover unless you use some of KOHO’s other features, like its credit-building products. Unfortunately, those also come with a monthly subscription fee.

If you’re on the KOHO Easy plan, its free membership tier, credit building would cost you an extra $10 monthly. You could get a discount by upgrading to a paid membership, but that would only increase your monthly cash outlay.

Ultimately, you may be better off using another platform if you’re primarily interested in cash advances. Not only is KOHO relatively expensive, but it also has an unusually low credit limit, and there’s no guarantee you’ll even be eligible to access it.

woman's hand holding a phone displaying KOHO has more than 1 million canadian users

Is KOHO Legit?

Regardless of whether or not KOHO’s cash advance feature is a good deal, the company is definitely legitimate. Founded in 2014, the company has a nearly decade-long track record and receives many positive reviews.

It currently has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Google Play, based on 64K ratings. Its score on the App Store is even more impressive, where it holds a solid 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 76.5K ratings.

KOHO has also received significant support from well-respected investors, raising $264 million over the last nine years. Its latest funding round closed in early 2022, in which it received a whopping $165 million from companies like:

  • Eldridge
  • Drive Capital
  • Business Development Bank of Canada

The additional funds have allegedly put KOHO close to a whopping $1 billion valuation. However, as exceptional as those accomplishments are, not all of KOHO’s customers are satisfied with the company’s performance.

There are some consistent complaints in online reviews. One of the most significant is that KOHO continually updates its mobile app, and the changes often cause more problems than they solve.

For example, random technical glitches seem to be especially common. Users will suddenly find that they can’t log in to their accounts, their screens seem to load indefinitely, or their interface is unusable.

Perhaps even more importantly, some updates change the way features work for the worse, making them less useful to customers or even removing them altogether.

In other cases, the features stick around, but KOHO moves them to a higher-tier subscription account. That forces you to shell out a few extra bucks every month if you care about accessing them.

In addition, it’s often difficult to get in touch with customer support when you need them. Some customers experiencing highly time-sensitive issues have been unable to get an agent on the phone for assistance.

While there are some great features, you can see that some customers do leave pretty negative KOHO reviews. No product is without flaws, so be aware of the common complaints and test out KOHO with the 30 day free trial or free plan to see what you think for yourelf.

Start earning cash back with a 30 day free trial >>> Check out KOHO

Apps Like KOHO

KOHO’s platform is promising, but its cash advance feature has a low starting limit of only $50. You’ll also have to pay a surprisingly high amount in subscription fees to have a chance of qualifying for it, and even then, it’s not guaranteed.

As a result, there are probably better Canadian cash advance apps out there for you. Here are some other options to consider:

  • The Nyble app allows you to borrow up to $150 from your next paycheck with no credit check, interest charges, or late fees. You’ll likely qualify for just $30 to start, but you can increase your borrowing limit to the maximum $150 as you build up a track record of on-time payments. You’ll also earn Nyble reward points for checking your credit score, improving your credit, and paying off debt, which you can redeem to for higher cash advance limits.
  • Bree lets you access up to $250 in cash advances to prevent overdrafts. With no interest and no fees, Bree runs on tips – which is optional but “greatly appreciated” (Bree’s words, not ours). Bree widely boasts that it has no hidden fees, yet it quietly charges you a monthly subscription and express fees, which can really add up. Our Bree review details the hidden costs to watch out for.

Cash advance costs have jumped to new highs in 2023, increasing by nearly 24% since April. As a result, it’s more important than ever that you do your due diligence before using one. Take your time and shop around before committing.

WAIT! Why borrow quick cash when you can earn it?!

Cash advance apps can be a great tool for getting a little extra cash when you need it, but you’ll need to repay it – plus fees – wihtin a week or two. Did you know there’s an easy way to earn extra cash that’s yours to keep?

KashKick is a wildly popular service that lets you earn money for playing games, completing surveys, signing up for trial offers and more. (You’ll even earn cash for just completing your profile!) You can earn cash today and withdraw your earnings through PayPal once you’ve reached $10. You can earn over $100/month with KashKick – and you don’t need to spend a dime or take out your credit card to do it.

There are dozens of high-paying offers available on KashKick, and if you’re into playing new games on your phone, you can earn some serious cash for doing what you love. Though offers change regularly, there are currently1 more than three dozen offers available where you can earn cash – sometimes over $100 – just by downloading and playing popular games like Coin Master, Monoply Go, Bingo Blitz, and more. These games are all free to download, and no in-app purchases are required to earn with KashKick.

Get paid to play on your phone >>> Check out KashKick

Nick Gallo, CPA
  1. As of February 13, 2024. Offers may change and may not be available to all users. Eligibity requirements apply. See KashKick's Terms of Service for full details.
  2. KOHO is a Canadian Fintech company that’s based in Toronto. While it’s not a bank, KOHO offers spending accounts in Canada in Partnership with People’s Trust. KOHO has a mobile app and a prepaid Mastercard and is only available in Canada.

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