KOHO vs STACK

April 26, 2021
Banks

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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.

STACK is an online bank that hasn't been making that many waves since its release back in 2018. However, this doesn't mean it isn't interesting. So far, STACK is the only Canadian online bank that focuses on foreign use, keeping your spending in check and more importantly, offering ample discount and cashback rewards.

 KOHOSTACK
Domestic Fees78
International Fees25
Everyday Usage910
Interface and Usability510
Mobile App Functionality86
International Usability44
Customer Support610
Security & Regulation97
Savings/Premium Benefits77
Extra Features33
Total6070

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

 KohoSTACK
Total Score6370
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
Free
Monthly feesPersonal & Joint: Free
Premium: $9 Monthly/$84 annual
Free
Card FeeFree X
Additional Cards FeePersonal & Joint cards: Free
Metal card: $100
Free
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
Free
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️✔️
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM feesPersonal & Joint: 1.5% + $3
Premium: 1 Free withdrawal per month
Free
Foreign spending fee1.5%Free
Foreign exchange feesPersonal & Joint: 1.5%Premium: FreeFree
Cross Border Transfer FeeXX
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️✔️
Google Pay✔️✔️
Does it accept cash deposits?X✔️, at any Canada Post location
Spending/Transaction Categories✔️✔️
Real Time Notifications?✔️✔️
Built-In DonationsXX
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appX✔️, with Weekly Budgets
Withdrawal limits in the appX✔️, with Weekly Budgets
Sub-savings accounts✔️, Goals✔️, Goal (Only 1 at a time)
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesX✔️, "Split the Bill"
Subscription tracking✔️ ✔️
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the appXX
Toggle Foreign PaymentsXX
Signup Speed< 10 minutes< 10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseHighly intuitiveSomewhat intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /54.8⭐4.5⭐
Google Playstore Score /54.4⭐3.8⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesXX
International Money TransfersXX
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️, anywhere Visa is accepted✔️. thanks to Mastercard
Is The ATM Network International?No ATM networkNo ATM network
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️✔️
Telephone supportX1-877-782-2501
Priority Customer Support✔️, only with PremiumX
Email support[email protected][email protected]
Email Response Time2 days3 hours, not that helpful
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorPartnered with Peoples Trust, a member CDICPartnered with Peoples Trust, a member CDIC
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The App✔️✔️
PIN resets in the appXX, only through phoneline
Biometric login and authentication?✔️X
Does it do a credit check?Soft credit check upon registration (Has a credit building subscription within it)Stack has no impact on credit score whatsoever
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal Card✔️, $159 without 2 referrals
$50 with 2 referrals
X
Cashback0.5% on every purchaseFrom 2% to 15% on some purchases with KOHO Premium's20+ partners✔️, up to 20% but only when using Stack Travel (Planning your trip through Stack's Partners)
Partner Discounts?Not necessarily discounts, but it has partnerships with over 20 retailers✔️ Up to 40% discounts on some retailers.
Gain interest rate?X,coming soon (1.2% interest on all balance with KOHO Save)X
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, users can access up to $100 of their direct deposit 3 days early✔️, through Direct Deposits
Network ATM FinderXX
Overdraft AvailabilityXX
Overdraft ProtectionXX
Stock TradingXX
Commodities TradingXX
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.
$5 for the first five (5) new clients
$10 for the sixth (6th) to tenth (10th) new clients
$15 for the eleventh (11th) to fifteenth (15th) new clients.

Referrals will each earn $5.

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: [email protected]
  • 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:

STACK Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Stack is probably the bank that has one of the best performances in this category. This is thanks to the fact that Stack simply… doesn’t charge for anything. No ATM fees, no monthly fees, no fee for replacement cards, no inactivity fees, no minimum required balance, nothing.

On top of that, STACK also offers free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers, which is always a nice feature to have.

However, STACK may not charge for ATM withdrawals, but it doesn’t have an ATM network. This implies that most, if not all, ATM withdrawals will incur a fee of around $3-5 from the owner of the ATM.

STACK Domestic Fees Score: 8/10

#2 International Fees:

In our opinion, there’s not a clear best bank in this category, rather than some better than average performances. STACK is one of those thanks to the fact that, once again, it doesn’t charge any kind of fees for its services. Foreign ATM withdrawals are free and foreign spending and exchange fees are non-existent with STACK.

However, the same principle of not having an ATM network also applies here. STACK also doesn’t feature a way to send international money transfers, which would have been the cherry on top for it to perform better in this category.

STACK International Fees Score: 5/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

STACK absolutely blazes through this category, being one of the two banks, the other being Tangerine, that offers all of the features we looked for in this category.

The first thing to mention is that STACK users will be able to use both Apple Pay and Google Pay by pairing their STACK prepaid Mastercard in both apps.

STACK users can also have more of their spending in control via the spending insights that the mobile app offers, from which they can thoroughly check where their money is going. This comes paired with real-time spending notifications, which let users know how much they spend and their current balance at that time.

On top of all those benefits, STACK users are, along with both Tangerine and Simplii Financial, able to load their accounts up with cash. STACK users can do this at any Canada Post location, which is a feature rarely seen in online banks.

Definitely one of the most solid performances out of all banks.

STACK Everyday Usage Score: 10/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Here we can claim that STACK is the best performer in this category out of all banks we reviewed. This is the product of having all the features we looked for and then some more, which we’ll describe shortly.

STACK users are able to set up their own spending/withdrawal limits from the app with a feature called “Weekly Budgets”. This lets users control their spending beyond just telling themselves not to spend anymore. Any user who wants to can limit the amount that can be spent/withdrawn from their accounts at any time, which is a feature that’s sorely missing from all other banks.

Another important feature to mention is that users can also open a single sub-savings account for a specific goal. This consists of separating a certain amount of money aside from the main balance so a user can save for a certain goal without using those funds.

Users can also split their bills with their contacts by just selecting a transaction and then the people who owe them, easily reminding friends and family to repay a debt. Adding more to the customizable experience of STACK, users can also track their online subscriptions in-app to see how much money is being spent on a monthly basis just on these.

By far the most thorough bank in terms of letting users analyze and customize their spending.

STACK Interface And Usability Score: 10/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Here’s where STACK runs into its second hitch. This is mainly thanks to STACK’s app missing some features but having a somewhat intuitive interface.

First off, signing up with STACK takes no longer than 10 minutes, which is great. The app scores a total of 4.5/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.8/5 stars in the Google Play Store, which are not the best scores out there. In fact, according to our scores, STACK has the 3rd highest-scoring mobile app out of all 8 online banks we reviewed, just behind EQ Bank and KOHO.

The feature that STACK is missing is being able to toggle on/off recurring local and foreign payments through the app, which not many other banks offer either.

STACK Mobile App Functionality Score: 6/10

#6 International Usability

Even though STACK has great international fees, it lacks in terms of its overall usability. First off, Stack isn’t able to send international money transfers, which is a highly-sought feature in online banks.

Aside from that, as we had mentioned earlier, STACK has no ATM network to speak of, so there’s no way to waive ATM fees when travelling abroad.

STACK does get some points thanks to its card being available to use when abroad, but that’s a benefit that comes with Mastercard and not something particularly unique of STACK.

STACK International Usability Score: 4/10

#7 Customer Support

Few banks get bad scores in this category and luckily STACK isn’t one of those. The online bank features all three main customer support channels, chat, phone lines and email. We got in touch through every means possible to use and came up with the conclusion that STACK’s customer support is pretty good.

If there’s one thing to mention about it is that it’s quite fast. Chat support took less than 5 minutes for us to get in touch with an agent. The same thing happened with phone support and in both instances we were directed to very informed and polite agents that happily answered our curious questions.

Email on the other hand is also really fast, taking only 3 hours to get back to us. However, it didn’t answer any of our questions and only directed us to phone support. Bummer.

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

STACK Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

In terms of regulation and security, STACK is partnered with Peoples Trust (same partner as KOHO), which automatically grants it the same CDIC regulation and protection. CDIC regulation gives STACK the benefit of having all of its eligible user’s deposits insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

STACK also offers the feature to freeze/unfreeze its card through the app at any moment and time, but that’s the only security feature it offers.

STACK has some clear weaknesses in this category because it doesn’t let users change their card’s PIN through the app, only through its phone lines. It also doesn’t have the feature to set up biometric authentication upon signing in, being the only online bank lacking this feature.

Something to add in the same vein of this category is that STACK doesn’t report to any credit bureaus at all. This means that opening a STACK account won’t even generate a soft credit check upon a user’s credit score, which is neat, but it also means that users can’t make their score better through the use of STACK.

STACK Security & Regulation Score: 7/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

One of the juiciest parts of STACK is its discounts, which come into play exactly in this category.

First off, STACK is a product thought for people who travel a lot, to which STACK complements partnering with travel agencies. From these partnerships, users can book travel plans directly from the app. Although, that’s not the biggest part since whenever a user books a trip from these partners, STACK offers up to 20% cashback.

In terms of partner discounts, STACK has partnered with some Canadian retailers, from which users can get up to 40% discounts during certain dates. However, it’s worth noting that STACK is setting these partnerships on a state-by-state basis, which means that some STACK users in some states might have access to some offers that other STACK users in other states might not be available to participate in.

However, and a big one at that, STACK has one major weakness that no other online bank has, which is interest. STACK doesn’t offer any kind of interest percentage to any of its users, which means that people who are engaged in looking for great interest rates might have to look somewhere else.

EQ Bank, Neo and Tangerine are great fits for this feature alone, but it’s a shame that STACK misses what’s really the most important feature for some users out there.

STACK Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 7/10

#10 Extra Features

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that we’ve already mentioned the juiciest parts that STACK has to offer. This means that STACK doesn’t really have a lot to offer in terms of this category.

The two most important features that STACK’s left with are Direct Deposits and its referral program. Its referral program works in a curious way that will let users earn a bit if enough referrals are invited, but there’s a hard limit to it. Here’s how it works:

  • $5 For the first 5 referrals (1st to 5th)
  • $10 For the 5 referrals after that (6th to 10th)
  • $15 For the 5 referrals after that (11th to 15th)

This means that if a STACK user invites 15 new clients, they will earn a total of $150, which is a lot, but nowhere near the highest-earning referral programs like that of Simplii Financial, Tangerine or EQ Bank, the likes of which can generate that same amount with 5 referrals or less.

These are not bad features at all but it also means that STACK has to make do without features like overdraft, overdraft protection and trading/investing. These are another of those highly sought features by some users, so not having them might turn heads somewhere else in the long run.

STACK Extra Features Score: 3/10

KOHO Or STACK?

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:

For as much as KOHO is very inventive in what it does, it still isn't in its best shape to compete with the top. Its international fees aren't the most user-friendly we've seen and extra features like trading, investing or even interest rates are still lacking or even non-existent when compared to other more established online banks.

STACK is really good, surprisingly good. This is due to its great domestic fees, a great and well-developed app and the volume of rewards it offers. It's definitely a great contender for a spending account if anyone is thinking mainly in foreign use. It's really a one of a kind online bank account.

In terms of the user interface, we believe that KOHO offers a better experience than most banks. However, when rivalled by another well-developed app like that of STACK that has more features to it, KOHO starts to fall apart and falls behind. For that same reason, we recommend STACK in this scenario.

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