More banks are turning to prepaid credit cards, allowing their customers to reap the benefits. Using prepaid cards blends the benefits of both debit and credit cards. It gives customers a way to effectively manage their spending and keep control of their finances.
While more financial institutions are hopping on the prepaid card train, two heavy hitters in the industry, KOHO and STACK, have already made a name for themselves and are looking for your business. So, how do you choose which one to go with?
That’s what I’ll help you figure out. I’m going to compare both prepaid cards based on these three categories:
- Features of each
- Rewards and bonuses
After reviewing both and reading about their benefits and downfalls, deciding which is best for you should be no problem.
Customers are opting for reloadable prepaid cards instead of credit cards for a variety of reasons. Check out these reasons why.
- No to low fees – Credit cards tend to have hidden fees and exorbitant interest costs. Not so for prepaid cards. Options like STACK and KOHO Premium have no fees, making signing up for one an affordable option.
- No credit check required – If you are applying for a credit card, you will need to meet the minimum credit score requirement set by the credit card company. If you have poor or bad credit, you might not qualify. Luckily, when applying for a prepaid card, your credit score isn’t pulled, so even if you have less than savoury credit, you can still get a card.
- Easy way to budget and keep track of your finances – Prepaid cards make it easy to watch your spending and stay out of debt. Since you load your own money onto the card, you won’t rack up a massive bill or outrageous interest charges. Instead, you only need to add what you anticipate spending, keeping your finances in check.
- Start savings – Most prepaid cards offer some sort of savings account. Both KOHO and STACK encourage RoundUps, where you round up your purchases to the next $1, $2, $5, or $10. In addition, you can set savings goals and move your rounded-up savings to each appropriate category.
KOHO was formed in 2014 and partnered with Visa to offer no-fee reloadable prepaid cards. The company’s goal was to help customers manage their spending and hit their savings goals without exorbitant interest costs or hidden fees.
In addition to its prepaid card, KOHO offers other services to help its customers take control of their financial well-being. Earning interest, building up credit, and getting cash back are just a few of the perks offered.
- No fees on the standard account
- Earn cash back on purchases
- Ability to keep track of your spending and stay on budget
- Withdrawal limits from ATMs
- You still need a traditional chequing or savings account. You cannot use KOHO independently.
- You won’t build your credit unless you enroll in a special program at an added cost.
STACK is a reloadable prepaid card offered by Mastercard. STACK does not have any fees, including foreign transactions fees, which makes this a solid card for frequent travelers.
STACK offers cashback rewards, but only with retailers, they’ve partnered with. They aren’t the normal cashback offers, either. They are more like discounts on participating retailers and vendors. The prepaid card is accepted anywhere Mastercard is, meaning you can use it worldwide.
- No fees, including foreign exchange fees
- No credit check to open an account
- Limited rewards program
- No interest earnings on your deposits
It’s time to put these two powerhouses head to head and see which one comes out on top. To find the winner, I’ll compare each company’s account features, their rewards and bonuses offered, as well as their fee schedule.
While the main focus is the reloadable prepaid cards, both companies offer added benefits for their customers. Here is what you need to know.
It’s easy to get started with a KOHO prepaid card – you can sign up online in just a few minutes. KOHO offers three different accounts – KOHO, KOHO Premium, and KOHO Joint.
KOHO and KOHO Joint are no-fee accounts, while the Premium account does require a monthly fee. In addition, KOHO does offer free transfers between accounts, similar to STACK to STACK transfers.
Once you sign up, you can add funds onto your card either using e-Transfer or a payroll direct deposit. One of the benefits of setting up a direct deposit is the interest you earn on it. And the interest is significantly higher than traditional banks.
When your card is loaded, use it like it’s a debit or credit card, online or in-person. It’s accepted anywhere Visa is, making it an easy and convenient option.
Another feature to help you save is the RoundUps program. On any purchase, round up to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10. Those “extra” dollars and cents are sent to your Savings, making it a no-fail way for you to stash your cash and hit your financial goals.
In addition to RoundUps, KOHO offers other flexible savings options. You can set up one or multiple savings goals, as well as a timeline and dollar amount for each.
If you sign up for KOHO’s payroll service, you can access $100 up to three days before your payday. When your paycheque hits your account, you’ll repay the mini loan through automatic debit.
Prepaid cards help you control your spending since you need to load your own money on it – no lines of credit and no huge interest charges. KOHO takes it a step further and provides a budget and spending tracker for its customers.
After you create your budget, you can then track your transactions (they update in real-time) and see a breakdown of where all your money is going. This helps you stick to your budget and curb any excess spending.
KOHO does have access to financial coaching, but you need to have a paid Premium account in order to access it – one of the few drawbacks to the company.
Does KOHO Help Your Credit Score?
Most debit cards offered by banks won’t help you increase your credit score. KOHO is the same way. But they do offer a unique program you can enroll in if boosting your score is one of your goals.
For $7/month, you can subscribe to Credit Builder. The subscription allows KOHO to send the major credit bureaus your progress, hopefully bumping up your credit score in no time. While there is a monthly fee associated with this feature, it might be worthwhile if you’re looking to rebuild your credit.
Similar to KOHO, you can sign up for a STACK prepaid card online. While you can add money to the card through Interac e-Transfer or a payroll direct deposit, STACK also gives its customers additional options.
You can directly load cash at Canada Post or over 10,000 other locations. It is important to note you need to load at least $200 in cash at most locations and up to $3,000 at the post office.
Just like KOHO, STACK features a rounding option where you can round up your purchases to the next $1, $2, $5, or $10. That extra cash will go directly to your savings account and help you hit your goals quicker.
Need to split the tab with your friends and family? Transfers are always free when you do a STACK to STACK trade with other STACK members. That means no fighting over the bill or confusing your waitress with multiple cards and cash.
When you refer your friends to STACK, they’ll get $5, and you can get up to $15. It’s an easy way to make some cash and help your pals reach their financial goals.
Budgeting and Financial Tools
STACK uses Financial IQ, a unique feature, that helps to categorize your weekly and monthly spending, giving you a picture of where your money is going.
Unlike KOHO, STACK provides financial advice through its in-app chat without access to a premium account.
STACK is legitimate. The company partnered with Peoples Trust, a federally regulated and CDIC insured bank. That means if the company were to go under, you will get your money back.
Security is a big deal when you are thinking of applying for a prepaid card. Because both companies are regulated and secured by the CDIC, your money is safe.
The cards have other security protections like:
- In-app card locking – You can freeze your account if you suspect fraudulent activity or theft.
- Zero liability protection – If the cardholder does not authorize a charge, they are not responsible for it. Good news if someone else uses your card without your knowledge. You can get your money back for a full refund.
Is One App Better Than the Other?
Both KOHO and STACK have user-friendly apps that pretty much do the same thing. They both allow you to track your purchases and categorize expenses, as well as send notifications for transfers.
One app isn’t better than the other. Both try to make customers aware of their spending habits and give them the tools to develop solid money habits.
KOHO wins this one. The company has many more account features than STACK. From boosting your credit score with Credit Builder to earning interest and setting savings goals, KOHO edges out STACK.
Both cards claim there are no hidden fees, but is that really true? In this section, I’ll take a look if there are any charges associated with each prepaid card, and who comes out on top.
As mentioned earlier, KOHO offers three different accounts, only two of which are free. KOHO’s Premium account costs either $9/month or $84 annually but does give its customers some significant perks.
Regardless of the perks, it still is an added fee. KOHO also offers its Credit Building services if you’re looking to boost your credit score. This is an added service and costs $7/month.
As for foreign transaction fees, the basic KOHO account charges a 1.5% foreign transaction fee associated with it. Users that have upgraded to KOHO Premium enjoy no foreign transaction fees.
KOHO does not charge for withdrawing money from ATMs, but there may be a charge from the ATM provider. In addition, there are no NSF fees either.
As for STACK, it does not have an annual or monthly fee. Similar to KOHO, STACK doesn’t charge anything to withdraw money from an ATM, but you may incur charges from the ATM itself.
STACK’s biggest benefit is offering no foreign transaction fees. You can’t get that with KOHO unless you upgrade to the Premium account. This is a major benefit for those that travel frequently.
In addition to no foreign transaction fees, STACK is accepted worldwide and offers some of the best exchange rates out there, beating credit card companies and big banks.
The Verdict – KOHO vs STACK – Fees
This one was a tight one to call because even though both prepaid cards offer many of the same features, in order to get zero foreign transaction fees, you need to upgrade to KOHO’s Premium account and pay a fee. Because of that, I’m giving the slight edge to STACK.
For the final category, I’ll take a look at the rewards each card has to offer. From cashback to travel benefits, here’s how each stack up.
KOHO offers a cashback percentage on all purchases if you sign up for its basic card. There is no limit on the cashback option, so spend as much as you like and reap the rewards.
If you upgrade to the Premium account, you will enjoy a higher percentage of cashback options on things like transportation, groceries, and restaurants.
KOHO also offers a budgeting tool to help you track your finances and watch where your money is going. You can create a budget and then categorize all your expenses accordingly. You’ll get real-time updates whenever you make purchases, making it easy to stay on budget and not overspend.
KOHO Premium users can also access financial coaching. This added service gives you access to a financial expert who can help you manage your money and help you reach your goals.
STACK rewards are a bit different than KOHO’s. Instead of cashback, STACK offers its customers discounts and special offers on things like dining out, shopping, and even Netflix and Spotify services.
While the deals are pretty good, they’re very specific and might include vendors you don’t usually use.
However, if you are a frequent traveler, STACK lets you enjoy greater savings. You could earn up to 20% cashback on select hotels if you book your stay through STACK Mastercard.
The Verdict – KOHO vs STACK – Rewards and Bonuses
KOHO is the clear winner here. With cashback on all purchases, it’s easy to earn more when you use your prepaid card. While STACK does offer rewards, they’re very specific and not for all transactions, limiting its customers.
Both prepaid cards offer similar features, but there’s one company that stands out from the crowd. While STACK doesn’t have any fees and is great for travellers, it doesn’t offer the “extras” KOHO does.
From cash back rewards, savings roundups, and earning interest on certain deposits, using a KOHO prepaid card is a smart financial decision.
- You use your prepaid card often and enjoy the benefits of cash back rewards.
- You tend to spend locally. If you have the basic KOHO card and tend to use it for international purchases, the foreign transaction fees will most likely wipe out any benefit of cash back rewards.
For more information, visit KOHO’s website.
- You travel or make purchases internationally. You are more likely to benefit from the card’s travel rewards and no foreign transactions fees.
- You regularly use popular vendors like Netflix and Amazon, both of which have agreements with STACK Mastercard. STACK offers its customers discounts on these vendors and more.
For more information, visit STACK’s website.
Both cards have their pros and cons, but KOHO offers a bit more. With added features like interest on deposits and even the chance the build up your credit, it’s a smart financial move. You can sign up for Koho for free here.
STACK does offer similar features but can’t compete with KOHO’s cash back options and interest earnings. Ultimately, any reloadable prepaid card will help you keep yourself out of debt and help you control your finances. Which card you go with really depends on your preferences and lifestyle.