KOHO vs motusbank

April 26, 2021

KOHO released back in 2017 and since then has become one of the most popular online banks in Canada. It bases its user experience on having the highest-rated mobile app, which grants a lot of customization and power to the user and their spending. It’s also well known for its ample cashback rewards and the broad usability it carries within.

Domestic Fees77
International Fees22
Everyday Usage94
Interface and Usability5
Mobile App Functionality84
International Usability45
Customer Support610
Security & Regulation98
Savings/Premium Benefits77
Extra Features37

Now that you’ve seen their overall scores, here’s a more detailed look at how each bank scores on those ten categories.

Total Score6354
1 Domestic Fees
ATM feesKoho doesn't charge ATM fees, but the owner of the ATM might.
$3-5 ATM fee depending on the ATM
motusbank cardholders have access to over 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs in North America with THE EXCHANGE® Network in Canada and the Allpoint Network in the US
Otherwise $3-5 ATM fee depending on the ATM
Monthly feesPersonal & Joint: Free
Premium: $9 Monthly/$84 annual
Card FeeFree Free
Additional Cards FeePersonal & Joint cards: Free
Metal card: $100
Card Delivery FeeFree Free
Kids AccountXX
Minimum balance required$0$0
Inactivity Fee$1/month after 90 days of inactivity.
However, this only applies after the first year. no inactivity fees will be charged during the first year of use
$30 per year (Starting after 1st year)
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️Chequing Accounts: Free
Savings Accounts: $1.25
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM feesPersonal & Joint: 1.5% + $3
Premium: 1 Free withdrawal per month
US: Free with Allpoint
$3.00 for out of network ATM withdrawal
Other countries: $5.00
Foreign spending fee1.5%2.5%
Foreign exchange feesPersonal & Joint: 1.5%Premium: Free2.5%
Cross Border Transfer FeeXX
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️X
Google Pay✔️X
Does it accept cash deposits?X✔️
Spending/Transaction Categories✔️X
Real Time Notifications?✔️✔️
Built-In DonationsXX
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appXX
Withdrawal limits in the appXX
Sub-savings accounts✔️, GoalsX
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesXX
Subscription tracking✔️ X
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the appXX
Toggle Foreign PaymentsXX
Signup Speed< 10 minutes> 10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseHighly intuitiveNot that intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /54.8⭐3.5⭐
Google Playstore Score /54.4⭐3.3⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesXX
International Money TransfersXX
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️, anywhere Visa is accepted✔️
Is The ATM Network International?No ATM network✔️, but only works in the US
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️✔️
Telephone supportXToll-free: 1 (833) 696-6887
International: 1 (416) 925-7373
Priority Customer Support✔️, only with PremiumX
Email supportteam@koho.camemberservice@motusbank.ca
Email Response Time2 days2 hours, not that helpful
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorPartnered with Peoples Trust, a member CDICCDIC insured through the Meridian Credit Union
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The App✔️X
PIN resets in the appXX, only at ATMs
Biometric login and authentication?✔️✔️
Does it do a credit check?Soft credit check upon registration (Has a credit building subscription within it)Hard credit check for chequing account, soft for savings
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal Card✔️, $159 without 2 referrals
$50 with 2 referrals
Cashback0.5% on every purchaseFrom 2% to 15% on some purchases with KOHO Premium's20+ partnersX
Partner Discounts?Not necessarily discounts, but it has partnerships with over 20 retailers✔️, with Price Drop, up to 150+ retailers available
Gain interest rate?X,coming soon (1.2% interest on all balance with KOHO Save)No-fee Chequing: 0.15%
HISA: 1.00%
TFSA: 1.10%
RRSP: 1.00%
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, users can access up to $100 of their direct deposit 3 days early✔️, up to $100 of their direct deposits early
Network ATM FinderX✔️, in website
Overdraft AvailabilityX✔️, $45 fee for a NSF transaction.
+ $5 for Overdraft handling fee (Accepted overdraft)
Overdraft ProtectionXX
21% Overdraft Interest Rate
Stock TradingXMotusbank users have access to 2 special investment accounts through Qtrade and VirtualWealth, which deal in stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, GICs, and options, plus new issues/IPOs
Commodities TradingX✔️
Cryptocurrency Trading?XX
Referral program?Up to 10 referrals per referrer.
Per each referral, users will gain 1% cahsback (or PowerUps) for 90 days
Upto a total of 10% cashback for 90 days.

KOHO Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

KOHO starts off with a solid score simply by not having any monthly fees nor a minimum balance required to keep an account open. KOHO’s replacements run free for both its personal and premium memberships, except for its metal card, which costs $100 a pop. The delivery of the cards is free, so that’s always neat as well.

The online bank also features free receiving and sending of Interac e-transfers, which is always nice to have, but its good points end there.

The first bad thing to point about KOHO is that it says it doesn’t charge ATM fees but it doesn’t waive them either. Since KOHO doesn’t have an ATM network of its own, users will be charged ATM fees from the owner of those ATMs, which will usually run around $3-5 each. Sadly KOHO can’t do too much about this.

Aside from that, KOHO does charge a lenient inactivity fee of $1 per month of inactivity after 90 days of inactivity. Although, it’s worth noting that for any user’s first year of use, this inactivity fee will not apply. Lenient or not, it’s still an inactivity fee to watch out for.

KOHO Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

KOHO can be used abroad without any trouble at all, however, its fees don’t bode well for mindless spending. KOHO isn’t the online bank that charges the most expensive fees, but they’re quite hefty still. Here’s how they look:

  • Foreign ATM fees:
    • Personal & Joint: 1.5% + 3$
    • Premium: 1 Free withdrawal per month
  • Foreign spending fees: 1.5%
  • Foreign exchange fees:
    • Personal & Joint: 1.5%
    • Premium: Free

As you can probably see, KOHO charges for every kind of foreign transaction a user can make. However, some of these fees are waived with the premium membership, which runs for $9 per month or $84 annually, but more on that later.

Either way, these are rather hefty and constant fees that any KOHO user should be aware of. KOHO also isn’t able to send international transfers either, so there’s nothing else to mention in this category that can really elevate its performance.

KOHO International Fees Score: 2/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

KOHO gets back up to speed here with a great development due to a lot of features available in terms of ease of use. Any KOHO user can pair any of their cards with Apple Pay and Google Pay while enjoying real-time spending notifications and spending insights/transaction categories to keep their spending controlled.

However, KOHO does not accept any kind of cash deposits, which means that in order to load a KOHO account, users will need another bank account. Solid performance, with some inconveniences, but still solid.

KOHO Everyday Usage Score: 9/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

The bank gets an average performance in this category due to a lack of features so users can customize their spending. Users can’t set spending/withdrawal limits on the app nor split bills/share expenses with friends/family, so that’s a lot of things KOHO can’t do.

However, KOHO does make a bit up for it by letting users open sub-savings accounts, called goals, and track online subscriptions, which is only something KOHO and STACK can do, so it somewhat evens things too.

KOHO Interface And Usability Score: 5/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

KOHO doesn’t have all the features as some other banks like that of Tangerine or Neo, but what it does do is offer is the single highest rated online bank app out of all we reviewed. KOHO managed to get a score of 4.8/5 in the Apple App Store and 4.4/5 stars in the Google Playstore, which are the highest scores in each app store.

KOHO also gets extra points here because both the application and its user interface were designed in a highly intuitive way, leading to the app being of high quality and extremely easy to use. The same applies to its signup process, which takes less than 5 minutes to get started and open an account.

KOHO Mobile App Functionality Score: 8/10

#6 International Usability

The only thing that KOHO has going for it in terms of international usability is the fact that its Visa card can be used anywhere where Visa is accepted.

Aside from that, KOHO users can’t send international money transfers, nor waive foreign ATM fees due to Koho not even having a local ATM network.

If KOHO were to pair up with any ATM network, it would do wonders for users who are constantly using ATM withdrawals, but as of now, there’s nothing else to mention in this category.

KOHO International Usability Score: 4/10

#7 Customer Support

When comparing KOHO to other Canadian online banks, we noticed that for every feature that other banks offer in common, KOHO offers a different one or it plainly doesn’t offer anything in exchange. In this case, we found that KOHO is the only online bank that doesn’t offer phone support, even if it does offer chat support and email support.

In terms of the responsiveness of support agents, email is rather good, although they took 2 days to answer our initial queries, though they were probably the most thorough. Phone support is also good, with minimal waiting times and informed agents.

It’s also worth noting that KOHO is the only Canadian online bank that offers priority customer support, which allows users to skip waiting queues and get attended immediately, but only for premium users.

If you want to get in contact with KOHO, here are the channels from which you can do so:

  • Email: Team@koho.ca
  • Support chat: In-app/Website

KOHO Customer Support Score: 6/10

#8 Security & Regulation

The first thing to mention here is that all online banks we reviewed are completely safe, with KOHO having the most safety features. Since KOHO is partnered with Peoples Trust, it’s automatically regulated and insured by CDIC, with every eligible deposit being insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

On top of that, KOHO’s users can freeze/unfreeze their cards whenever they want and set up biometric login authentication for a safer sign-in process. However, users can’t reset their card PINs from the app.

Onto another topic in the same vein, KOHO has the benefit of performing a soft credit check whenever a user creates a bank account, which means that KOHO can be used without harming credit scores, and it even has a credit building feature, but more on that later.

KOHO Security & Regulation Score: 9/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

We’ve always said it and we’ll say it again: It’s great when banks let you do more than you expect. As we had mentioned earlier, KOHO isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill bank, so where all other banks are focused on interest and discounts, KOHO instead offers, cashback… a lot of cashback. Here’s how that works:

For regular users, KOHO has a default 0.5% cashback on every single purchase, yes, every purchase. As for premium users, KOHO racks up cashback with most of its partners from 2 to 15% on some purchases. It’s worth noting, however, that KOHO is establishing partnerships as of the date of writing, which means that in some of the cities in which it’s available it may not have such a big range of offers.

KOHO also offers a metal card for any user who wishes to ask for it, however, it has a pretty hefty cost of $159 per card. Although, KOHO mentions that if a user has referred 2 friends, the cost goes down to $50 per metal card.

On another note, KOHO also mentions that earning interest on account balance will come soon, for free. All users can apply for KOHO save without any extra fees or restrictions and earn up to 1.2% interest on all balances, which is a pretty nice feature. However, as of now, KOHO users can’t earn interest, so we didn’t include it in our scoring metrics.

KOHO Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 7/10

#10 Extra Features

As for KOHO’s innovativeness, it slightly comes to a stop in this category. The only 2 features that we can truly speak of here are that KOHO lets users get paid early thanks to Direct Deposits, from which they can access $100 up to 2 days early.

The second feature is the most unique, it’s a referral program from which KOHO’s users can earn 1% cashback per referral for 90 days. However, a KOHO user can only refer up to 10 friends a single time, which means that if someone were to refer 10 people in the same day, they would earn 10% cashback on all purchases for 90 days or almost 3 months, which is a considerable amount of cashback.

Imagine a user spends $5,000 each month during that 90 days period, that user would earn $1,500 without even thinking about it.

However, for as great as that referral program is, there’s not much else in terms of extra features for KOHO. There are no overdraft features nor a chance to trade or invest, which might leave some users out of the loop. Although, even if it wasn’t scored, KOHO also has a membership system based on building up a user’s credit score.

KOHO Extra Features Score: 3/10

Now let’s talk about our next bank in question:

motusbank Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Motusbank gets off to a strong start thanks to its approach to some of its fees. The most important details to mention are that motusbank does have an ATM network, “The Exchange”, which means that motusbank users get access to free withdrawals in both Canada and the US with up to 43,000 ATMs in both countries.

Aside from that, motusbank users aren’t charged any monthly fees nor need to maintain a certain account balance to keep their accounts open or fee-free. Any user’s first card will also come for free, the same of which applies to the delivery of the card. However, any replacements will run for $5, and motusbank doesn’t offer any free replacements per year.

It’s also important to mention that motusbank does charge an inactivity fee of $30 per year of inactivity. Although all accounts are protected from this fee in their first year of use, however, it’s still something worth keeping in mind.

Motusbank also offers free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers, but only from the bank’s chequing accounts. Doing so from a savings account will incur a $1.25 fee. Either way, a solid performance still.

motusbank Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

Most online banks we reviewed ran into their first hitches here, and motusbank isn’t the exception.

This category consists of evaluating how well a bank performs in terms of being used abroad, specifically in terms of fees. Motusbank charges rather high fees, like Tangerine, something that seems to be the standard in terms of the most popular online banks. Here’s how these fees work:

  1. In terms of foreign ATM fees, motusbank works with the “Allpoint” network in the US, which means that if motusbank users withdraw from one of those ATMs, they will completely waive fees. Otherwise, a $3 CAD fee will be charged for an out-of-network withdrawal in the US and $5 in other countries.
  2. In terms of foreign spending and exchange fees, motusbank charges a base fee of 2.5% for each transaction, which is high but seems to be the standard.

motusbank International Fees Score: 2/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

Motusbank is known for being probably the closest online bank to traditional banks in terms of how it works and interface, which explains its lack of some more modern features.

What strikes us the most is motusbank’s lack of compatibility with Apple Pay and Google Pay. It’s certainly bizarre, even more considering that motusbank’s card is nothing more than just a debit card.

Another big flaw in this scenario is the lack of spending insights inside the motusbank app. Users can’t quite follow or easily categorize what their money is being spent on in order to create a savings plan.

However, motusbank does offer two highly sought features, with one of those being accepting cash deposits. Since the bank has its own ATM networks it can do so without any fees, elevating the number of ways available to load up its accounts.

The other feature is real-time notifications, which notify a user when their card/account is used and sends the user a reminder of the amount spent/transferred and the current overall balance.

motusbank Everyday Usage Score: 4/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Along with Neo, motusbank doesn’t offer any of the features we looked for in this category. This means that motusbank doesn’t offer the following features:

  • Setting spending/withdrawal limits from the app
  • Being able to open sub-savings accounts (often referred to as “Goals”)
  • Splitting bills/Sharing expenses with friends or family
  • Tracking online subscription services (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, etc…)

This means that motusbank’s mobile experience is by far one of the less customizable out of all online banks in Canada. There’s still room for motusbank to grow and add features here, but it’s been 2 years since its release and this doesn’t seem like the direction the bank is aspiringto go in.

motusbank Interface And Usability Score: 0/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

One of the biggest parts of online banking is what your bank’s app lets you do. However, that is not the case for motusbank. One of the most important details that motusbank lacks in this category is being able to toggle on/off both local and foreign recurring payments from the app.

On top of that, signing up with motusbank usually requires more than 10 minutes thanks to their verification system and how it works on a case-by-case basis. Motusbank is also the worst scoring bank according to popular app stores, garnering a score of 3.5/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.3/5 stars in the Google Playstore.

Overall, motusbank still has a lot to work out in this category, since a lot of user reviews are letting people know that it doesn’t have the most developed user interface out of all online banks. Motusbank has only had 2 years in the banking market, which is more than enough to have fixed problems like these.

motusbank Mobile App Functionality Score: 4/10

#6 International Usability

Motusbank has some edge over other banks in terms of its international usability thanks to its partnerships with ATM networks. As we had already mentioned, motusbank is partnered with “The Exchangenetwork in Canada and with Allpoint in the US. However, motusbank hasn’t partnered with other networks outside of North America, which means that users who travel to other countries won’t be able to waive fees.

Aside from that, thanks to both Visa and Mastercard, motusbank’s cards can be used in any place where both of those flags are accepted.

Motusbank does an alright job in terms of its international usability, but we would have liked to see more features like international money transfers or even being able to hold multiple currencies in it.

motusbank International Usability Score: 5/10

#7 Customer Support

Banks have to try really hard to get a bad score in this category, but thankfully that isn’t the case with motusbank. The bank scored a perfect 10 due to its present support over all possible channels.

Phone and chat support are good and don’t take that long to answer, which is relatively impressive. Email, however, is the worst out of all three support channels. Not because it took ages to answer, it was actually one of the fastest out of all banks, but it’s just not helpful at all. When we emailed motusbank some questions regarding its service, we heard back from them in just 2 hours, but their email only directed us towards phone support, ignoring our questions.

If one of the main support channels is there just to redirect users to other channels, then why have it in the first place?

If you need to get in contact with motusbank to ask them some of your own queries, you can do so through the following channels:

motusbank Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

Motusbank is one of the highest performers in this category because it’s backed by solid regulation and because it offers some great security features. The first thing to point out is that motusbank is partnered with Meridian Credit Union, which in itself is a CDIC (Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation) member. This means that all eligible deposits inside motusbank will be insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

In that same vein, motusbank users can set up biometric login authentication on their accounts to make signing in both faster and safer.

Another important thing to mention is that motusbank does perform credit checks of different types depending on the account a user is trying to open. A savings account will incur a soft credit check while chequing accounts will incur in full hard credit checks, which might not be convenient for a big portion of users.

Although motusbank’s performance is good, it still runs into some hitches, specifically when it comes to certain security features. Motusbank users have no way to freeze/unfreeze their card at their own will from the app, depending only on phone customer support to do that from them. The same problem arises with changing the cards’ PIN, which will need the user to make the trip to an ATM, which is the same inconvenience that online banks are trying to get rid of.

motusbank Security & Regulation Score: 8/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

Here’s where we get into one of the flashiest parts of motusbank and the benefits that most people are looking for in a bank.

First off, motusbank doesn’t offer partner discounts as other banks do, rather it offers a service called Price Drop. This service matches the price a user paid for a certain item with the lowest price available at up to 150+ retailers. If the original price a user paid is higher than the price at other retailers, the system will automatically refund the user as if the item was paid for the lowest available price.

Motusbank also offers another highly-sought feature, which is interest. Here’s how much interest each type of account earns:

  • NFCA: 0.15%
  • HISA: 1.00%
  • TFSA: 1.10%
  • RRSP: 1.00%

Motusbank’s interest rates are higher than average, which is completely beneficial to all users of the bank. However, its NFCA or No Fee Chequing Account’s interest is one of the lowest overall, which is a bit bizarre when compared to other banks that offer savings/chequing hybrid accounts with higher interests.

Motusbank is a great performer in this category. Sure, it doesn’t have the highest interest out of all online banks we reviewed, but they’re still solidly high. However, we would have liked to see some kind of cashback promotion so we could give motusbank a 10 in this category.

motusbank Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 7/10

#10 Extra Features

Motusbank’s biggest interest point probably lies here because it features most of the extra features we were looking for in Canadian online banks.

The first feature that motusbank can boast of is probably overdraft. Motusbank users can overdraft their accounts, but only if it’s a chequing account.

The thing is, motusbank doesn’t offer overdraft protection, which means that whenever a user overdrafts his or her account, they will incur an NSF fee of $45.

On top of this, another fee of $5 will be charged for each charge on the account when in a negative balance. It’s also worth mentioning that all negative balance will start growing bigger with motusbank overdraft interest rate of 21%

Aside from that, motusbank users can also enjoy features like accessing up to $100 of their salary early with Direct Deposits. An ATM finder is also available on motusbank’s website, which can be handy but we preferred if it was added to the app.

But by far, the most important “extra” feature that motusbank can boast of is definitely trading and investing. Users of this online bank have access to two special investment accounts through Qtrade and Virtualwealth, which are online brokers. From any of these accounts users can invest in the following products:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • GICs
  • Options
  • IPOs

It’s worth noting that Qtrade is meant for people who want to execute and manage their own trades. Instead, Virtualwealth is “a fully automated digital investing servicemeant for people who want to invest in an automatized way.

However, as great as motusbank is in this category, it doesn’t feature a referral system, which is something a lot of people might have looked for when learning about it. But either way, definitely one of the best performers in this category by far.

motusbank Extra Features Score: 7/10

KOHO Or motusbank?

When recommending a certain product, here at Yore Oyster we always strive to really give our readers the best advice. This is why we always give a final recommendation comparing the products we talked about. So, here’s our final take on both banks:

motusbank has one of the best sets of extra features we’ve seen in any bank. However, it also has some of the worst fundamental features. Its app is one of the less-developed out of all online banks and its interface can be described as outdated and very strict, which doesn’t bode well for an online bank that works only through its mobile app.

KOHO’s biggest point is that it has the most resourceful and better-developed app out of all online banks. Aside from that, it also has great security features and the biggest cashback rewards. Pair this up with its interest rate of 1.2% when KOHO Save comes out and it will end up being even better.

KOHO beats motusbank due to the outdated feel the latter has to its mobile app. Motusbank is a very capable and resourceful bank, but when compared to what can be called the online bank with the most intuitive and highest-rated mobile app, it just pales in comparison. For that special reason, we consider KOHO to be extremely superior.

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