Both Koho and Stack are challenger banks, recently established alternatives to some of the big-name banks. Digital banks are gaining popularity, especially after the recent pandemic. In a world where everyone has a phone handy, mobile banks are quickly becoming a necessity.
In the Koho vs. Stack debate, there are a variety of features that make each worthwhile. So let’s begin with a summary before exploring the details further.
- Free account sign-up
- 0.05% cashback on all purchases (2% with Koho Premium)
- 5% extra cash back on select merchants
- Earn 1.2% interest on every penny
- Early payroll with direct deposit
- RoundUp feature helps users meet savings goals
- Apple Pay, Google Pay compatible
- No fees
- Instant spending notifications
- Daily limit: $3,000 on purchases, $600 at ATM
- Koho credit building
- Sign up for a Koho account here
- $5 sign-up bonus
- Cash back at over 140 retailers
- No foreign exchange fees
- No monthly or annual account fees
- No ATM fees
- Instant spending notifications
- Free Stack-to-Stack transfers
- Split the Bill feature
- In-app budgeting tool
- Apple Pay, FitBit Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay compatible
- Free replacement card
- Daily Limit: $5,000 on purchases, $1,000 at ATM
- Sign up for a Stack account here
Koho has been making waves since its launch in 2017. Koho uses a prepaid Visa card, giving users better control over their spending and assisting in savings goals. It’s one of the highest-rated mobile banks.
Stack joined the digital bank scene in 2018. While it’s not as popular as Koho, it’s gaining strides for its features, including discounts and zero foreign exchange fees. Stack also provides reliable and fast customer support through phone, email, and chat.
It is notable that as challenger banks, neither Koho nor Stack offer everything available at traditional banks. Both are fantastic for everyday banking, but there are some gaps. For example, if you’re expecting paper cheques or e-Transfers from accounts not associated with Koho or Stack, you’ll need a backup.
Koho Vs. Stack: Security
All the account features in the world won’t matter if you can’t depend on security.
Visa and People’s Trust ensure the security of Koho accounts. People’s Trust insures through CDIC, which is a federally recognized institution. So if anything happens to Koho, your money is safe and accessible through Peoples Trust. In addition, the Visa Zero Liability Policy protects accounts from unauthorized access to your funds and account information.
If you lose your card or are worried about spending, account holders can lock their card from the app.
For online spending, Koho users receive a separate virtual card. You can use your physical card independently of the virtual card. For example, if an online retailer is compromised, you can lock down your virtual card without affecting your physical card. You can continue spending at brick-and-mortar retailers as usual.
Koho also notifies account holders whenever you spend. So if someone else uses your card, you’ll know immediately.
Stack provides users with instant notifications about purchases, so there are no surprises. If you see unfamiliar activity, you can put a stop to it instantly. In addition, you can freeze your card directly in the Stack app.
The Peoples Trust Company (PTC) issues the Stack reloadable Mastercard, insured by the CIDC. If something goes wrong on Stack’s end, the CIDC will reimburse your funds up to $100,000 per depositor.
Mastercard also has Zero Liability Protection. As a result, Mastercard protects users from all unauthorized purchases and ATM transactions.
Koho Vs. Stack: Travelling
Which provider is better for traveling? Both digital banks are better than traditional credit cards, but we have to tip our hat to Stack here. But, before you decide, read up on both.
Users can use Koho cards anywhere Visa is accepted, which is almost everywhere. But, Koho does warn users that some hotels, car rentals, gas stations, and other merchants might place a pre-authorization hold.
The 15-20% hold isn’t a permanent charge. The funds are held just in case, both for service coverage and for any incidentals. Your account will reset, ending the hold, within 15 business days after check out or service completion.
Plenty of credit cards charge 2-3% on foreign transaction fees, but the Koho card charges 1.5% on non-Canadian transactions. However, Premium members have zero foreign transaction fees.
Koho recommends sharing international travel plans with their User Support Team. No formal filing is necessary, as you can send Koho a message with the in-app chat.
There is a list of blocked countries where Koho card usage is unavailable. Since the list contains over 50 countries, we won’t name them all here. Although users can use Koho in most countries, it’s still wise to double-check if any locations on their blocked list include your travel destination.
There are a few perks for travelers using a Stack Mastercard, especially since Stack is usable anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
One exciting perk is that you can get 20% cash back at certain hotels. The amount deposits into your account within 80 days. Sometimes that extra percentage can mean an extra night at your holiday destination.
There are also zero foreign transaction fees. You can use your Stack Mastercard abroad as smoothly as you would at home.
Stack also has a restricted countries list, although the Stack list is considerably smaller. There are no surprises here, as the 20 plus blocked countries were also on the Koho list.
Notably, Stack lists them as most likely to block Stack transactions, which means there’s a potential for more. Therefore, it’s better to double-check your destination before you book your trip.
Users don’t need to notify Stack before going abroad. But they do have a few recommendations, such as ensuring you have a card PIN, which is separate from your virtual card or app PIN.
If you’re seeking a prepaid card for travel, Stack has the edge over most cards offered by digital-only banks.
Koho Vs. Stack: Savings
While having the flexibility to spend is valuable, features that help you save can give one card an edge.
Koho has zero fees. There are no sign-up fees, no monthly fees, no interest charges, no e-Transfer fees, and no NSF fees.
The Koho RoundUp feature changes spare change into a savings plan. You can customize your roundup, whether it’s to the nearest $1, $5, or $10. Then, the rounded-up purchase adds those extra dollars to promote your savings goals.
Users who set up direct deposit get automatic access to financial coaching. The service is free and advises users on various topics, including debt repayment, budgeting, and saving.
Koho also offers extra cash back at select merchants. The PowerUps lets you use your card as usual and add funds to your account after 1-2 business days.
Retailers can opt-in to the PowerUp program by becoming partners, which means Koho adds new merchants regularly. Koho account holders can also recommend companies that they think should qualify for a PowerUp.
Koho users can see specifics in the app. For example, you can see the percentage of how much more you’ll earn and what retailers are available.
In-app spending insights and other tools help Koho users stay on track for their savings goals. Users also receive balance updates after every purchase.
The Stack app tracks weekly and monthly spending habits to provide users a clearer picture of their finances.
Stack is another digital-only bank that’s embracing roundup transactions. When users set up a savings goal, purchases will round up to the nearest $1, $5, or $10.
Another fun bonus is the referral program. Referred friends receive a $5 sign-up bonus, and you can earn $15 for each referral.
There’s no cap. For example, if you get five friends to sign up, you earn 75. You might also refer fifteen individuals and receive $150. It pays to have friends and family on Stack.
Rewards vary, as there is a revolving door of limited-time offers.
For example, offers include 50% off an Indigo purchase or $1 off gas three times. Additionally, there are over 140 instant cashback retailers, which currently include 18 choices for groceries.
Although Stack refers to the program as cashback, it’s truly a collection of discounts. Rather than a flat rate for cashback, offers change depending on the deal of the month.
If you are a frequent shopper with their named retailers, there are plenty of savings. As there are many familiar brands and companies on their roster, chances are you’ll shop at a few of them. However, you’ll have to plan your shopping around discounts that are subject to change.
Koho Vs. Stack: Business Account
Neither Koho nor Stack has separate business account options. However, with Joint Account options and other benefits, these mobile banks might be a wise choice for business spending.
There are no business-targeting features, so it comes down to comparing Koho vs. Stack for personal account features.
Koho Vs. Stack: Junior Account
Junior Accounts allows kids and teens to control their funds and learn good spending habits. However, there aren’t a lot of options available through digital banks.
Koho users must be the age of majority in their province. The age of majority is 18 in six Canadian provinces, with age 19 for the remaining areas. As Koho doesn’t accept minors as applicants, there are no Junior Account options.
Stack also follows the age of majority rule. There are currently no accounts for kids, but it is something there’s considering. So if you’re considering a prepaid card for a youngster, you might not need to wait too long before it’s an option through Stack.
Koho Vs. Stack: Joint Account
Two or more individuals can share a Joint Account. The account is usually split between couples or family members but has also seen use between roommates or individuals with shared assets.
With the Koho Joint Account, users and family members or partners can earn rewards faster. In addition, joint accounts access the same advantages, such as high-interest savings accounts and free Interac e-transfers.
Joint account holders receive separate physical cards and separate virtual cards. For example, suppose you and your fellow joint account holder have different addresses. In that case, Koho will send the physical cards to the individual addresses.
If users lock their card, it only affects their card, not the joint account. So the other user can continue to use their card as usual.
There are both Personal PowerUps and Joint PowerUps. Either user can cash out the Joint PowerUps, while Personal PowerUps only apply when using your personal card.
Similarly, when Joint Account users set up a roundup amount, that only applies to their card. You can’t force your joint user to use the feature.
The maximum Joint Account balance is $20,000. The daily limit per transaction and ATM withdrawal limits are the same as an individual account, $3,000 and $600, respectively.
Unfortunately, Joint Accounts aren’t available through Stack.
Suppose you know you won’t need to share an account anytime soon. If that’s the case, you can always recommend friends to take advantage of referral bonuses and splitting bills through the Stack app.
Adding Funds to Your Account
Before picking which digital bank is better, you need to know how to get money on your prepaid card. Koho and Stack approach the issue of adding account funds very differently.
You can load your Koho card with one of three options: e-Transfer, Visa debit, or direct deposit.
Account-holders can use e-Transfer to deposit funds into their Koho account from a separate financial institution. Unfortunately, Koho accounts can’t accept transfers from anyone but you unless it’s another Koho user.
Koho doesn’t currently accept cash or cheque deposits. So unless you’re setting up your Koho account with a direct deposit, you’ll need to transfer funds from a separate bank to get started.
There are five ways you can add funds to your account: Payroll Direct, Bank Payee, Interac e-Transfer, Cash Load, or Stack-to-Stack transfers.
Bank Payee and Interac e-Transfers allow Stack users to request funds from their accounts with a separate financial institution. However, neither can be used for another account holder to transfer money into your Stack account.
Only Stack users can only exchange Stack-to-Stack transfers. Meaning you can’t transfer money to another digital bank.
When you’re ready to load your Stack Mastercard, you can visit one of their approved locations for a Cash Load. There are over 10,000 locations across Canada. Participating partners include Canada Post, Hasty Market, Mobil, Canadian Tire Gas+, and PharmaChoice.
Cash Load requires a $200 minimum amount. Notably, you can load with either cash or debit.
The Koho vs. Stack battle comes down to how you want to use the digital-only banks. Both offer a range of savings options and financial tools. But neither provide Junior Account options.
The categories that differ the most are travel and Joint Accounts.
If you’re a frequent traveler and you regularly stay in hotels, especially any that regularly offer Stack deals, there’s a clear winner. However, Stack loses some of that edge if you upgrade your Koho account to Premium.
Although, the discounts still slightly tilt the scales in Stack’s favour.
If you’re considering a Joint Account or think you might need one in the future, Koho is the only option.
Where Koho wins is with the flat cashback and interest rate earnings. So if you’re trying to save for the long haul, Koho is the better option.
We hope our Koho vs. Stack comparison helped you decide which digital banks work best for you.