KOHO Essential Mastercard Review



Annual Fee


Annual Rewards


Intro Offer


Annual fee


Annual rewards


Intro offer


  • No annual fee
  • Prepaid card enables better budget control
  • Earn cashback rewards on purchases
  • App for tracking spending and savings
  • Round-up feature for automatic saving
  • No interest charges or overdraft fees
  • Instant in-app notifications for transactions
  • FDIC insured up to the card balance
  • Free trial of KOHO Premium


  • Not a traditional credit source
  • No credit building opportunities
  • Limited reward options compared to other cards
  • Potentially long e-transfer deposit times
  • International withdrawal and transaction fees
  • US dollar conversion fees
  • Lower acceptance than Visa or American Express

Performance test results

At DollarWise, for each credit card we test 7 different factors including the rewards, value for money, perks, insurance, strengths and weaknesses of the card.

You can see our full testing methodology here to learn why we’re the most trusted source for credit card reviews.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard has earned a 4.25 DollarWise Rating out of 5. This score is based on a weighted average of the two highest scoring factors (excluding acceptance and approval).




Interest rates




The highest scoring categories for the KOHO Essential Mastercard are interest and fees.

These factors are weighted 70% to the highest scoring factor and 30% to the second highest score to get an overall review score.

This weighting allows us to judge cards on their merits and the customers they are designed for.

For the KOHO Essential Mastercard the most important factors for scoring this card are its interest and fees.


With the KOHO Essential Mastercard, here’s the rates at which you earn rewards for different spending categories per dollar you spend:

Calculating your annual rewards

We estimate that spending $2,000 per month with the KOHO Essential Mastercard would earn $0 in rewards over the year.

Our performance testing research uses an accurate estimation of the average Canadian households spending patterns to predict the rewards a card will earn.

We found that you’d earn this per category:

Our study investigating the value found that each dollar spent on the KOHO Essential Mastercard is worth up to $0.01, depending on how you redeem.

This $0 in rewards value puts the KOHO Essential Mastercard in the bottom 20% of credit cards in Canada based on rewards earned.

The average credit card in our database earns $337 in rewards for the same spend that the KOHO Essential Mastercard earns $0 in rewards value.

We can compare this card to other options by looking at the earn rate by category.

This earn rate is the percentage return that you would get when you spend on this card, assuming you redeem at the predicted maximum value.

For example, if a card earned 5 points per dollar on gas and each point is worth up to $0.02, then the earn rate is 5 points multiplied by $0.02 each, divided by the dollar you spent.

In this example, that’s a 10% earn rate on gas.

Above, we’ve calculated the earn rate for the KOHO Essential Mastercard for every spend category and compared it to the average for all Canadian credit cards.

For an annual spend of $24,000, we estimated annual rewards value at up to $0.

That’s equivalent to a 0.00% return on spending.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard has an annual fee of $48. After deducting this, we predicted net annual rewards of $-48.

This puts it in the bottom 10% of credit cards for net rewards after fees.

In comparison, the average card earns net annual rewards of $254.


The KOHO Essential Mastercard has a $48 annual fee.

The average card charges $85. So, the KOHO Essential Mastercard is in the top 50% of cards based on the cost of the annual fee.


We manually review the perks of each credit card to determine how they compare to other cards.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard scored a 1.3 out of 5 for perks, putting it in the bottom 50% of cards.

The average card scores 1.6 out of 5 for perks.

Interest Rates

Cash AdvanceN/A%
Balance TransferN/A%

The average (median) credit card has a purchase interest rate of 19.99% and so the KOHO Essential Mastercard charges 19.99% less than the average.

For cash advances it costs N/A% compared to the average of 19.96%.

Testing the KOHO Essential Mastercard with a $2,000 starting balance, you can see in the graph how the 19.99% less in interest rates impacts the interest over a year, compared to the average card.

Insurance coverage

We scored it 0.0 out of 5 for insurance.

It offers 0 types of insurance, whereas the average card has 5 types of coverage.

Approval and qualifying

Do I qualify?
Estimated Credit Score300 – 559
Personal Income$0
Household Income$0
Annual Fee$48
Extra Card Fee$0
Card typeMasterCard

We scored it 5.0 out of 5 for approval.

We predict that you will require a credit score of at least 300 to qualify for the KOHO Essential Mastercard, while the average card requires 652 to qualify.

This puts it in the top bottom 20% of cards by approval difficulty.

The personal income requirements are $0, while the average card requires $23,896.

This puts it in the top 50% of cards by the income required to qualify.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard is a prepaid credit card designed for users who want a convenient and straightforward method of earning cash back and managing their finances.

This review will discuss the earning potential, four benefits, and two drawbacks of using this card, as well as any additional relevant information to assist potential users in making an informed decision.

Earning potential with the card

The KOHO Essential Mastercard allows users to earn cash back on their everyday purchases. Users can earn 0.5% cash back on all transactions, with no limitations or specific categories. This cash back rate can be beneficial for those who spend consistently across various categories.


  1. No Annual Fee: One major advantage of this card is the fact that it does not have any annual fees. This makes it a cost-effective option for users who do not wish to pay an annual fee for their card.
  2. Real-time notifications: The card also comes with real-time notifications, allowing users to track their spending and manage their budget directly within the KOHO app. These notifications can help individuals stay on top of their finances and avoid unnecessary expenses.
  3. Financial Coaching Tools: The KOHO Essential Mastercard offers financial coaching tools via the KOHO app, which can be useful in helping users improve their financial habits and achieve their goals. This feature differentiates it from other credit cards that do not have similar educational support.
  4. RoundUp Feature: The card has a useful RoundUp feature that allows users to round up purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically save the difference in their KOHO account. This feature can help users build their savings effortlessly over time.


  1. Absence of High Reward Categories: A significant drawback of the card is the absence of high reward categories typically offered by other cards, such as increased cash back for dining, travel, or groceries. Users who frequently spend in these categories may find the flat cash back rate less appealing.
  2. Prepaid Card not Widely Accepted: As it is a prepaid card, the KOHO Essential Mastercard may not be as widely accepted as traditional credit cards. This could limit the places where cardholders can utilize it, especially in foreign countries or at establishments that do not accept Mastercard.

Additional information

In conclusion, the KOHO Essential Mastercard offers a straightforward and fee-free cash back experience, accompanied by useful features such as real-time notifications, financial coaching tools, and a RoundUp feature.

However, it lacks higher reward categories and may not be accepted everywhere. Considering these aspects, potential users should assess how the card’s benefits align with their spending habits and financial preferences.

Not the right fit? You could consider the Rogers World Elite MasterCard. Or, if you’re looking for other options check out the Brim World Elite Mastercard, and the Brim MasterCard.


The KOHO Essential Mastercard offers a rewards program that grants users the ability to redeem their earned points for purchases within specific categories. These categories include cash back, merchandise, travel, and gift cards.

The most popular redemption option for KOHO Essential users is to redeem their points as cash back, which can then be applied directly to their card balance. You can also choose to redeem your points for merchandise from a wide variety of retail partners, allowing you to shop for items such as electronics, home goods, and clothing.

Travel options, including flights and hotel accommodations, can be redeemed through the KOHO travel portal, giving users flexibility in planning and booking their trips. Lastly, gift cards are available for redemption from a range of popular retail and dining establishments.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard credit card does not charge any foreign transaction fees on purchases made in foreign currencies. This makes it a great option for Canadians who travel frequently or make online purchases from international merchants.

Therefore, cardholders can enjoy hassle-free shopping and save on additional charges when transacting in a non-Canadian currency.

The KOHO Essential Mastercard credit card does not have a minimum income requirement for applicants. This feature makes it accessible for various income levels, catering to a broader audience of potential cardholders.

Key benefits

  • Prepaid Mastercard
  • 0.5% cashback on all purchases
  • Integrates with Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Load funds through e-transfer or direct deposit
  • Real-time balance updates with mobile app
  • Savings goals and budget tracking features
  • Partner offers with select retailers
  • 30-day KOHO Premium trial included
  • Custom security controls, e.g. card lock
  • Automated bill payments functionality

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