The Best Bank in Canada For Expats and Digital Nomads in 2022

  1. Koho is Safe
  2. Save & Earn

*Koho is only available to Canadians. It fully supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, and contactless payment

First of all, if you are curious about what a Neobank is, here is a good explanation taken from Wikipedia:

A neobank (also known as an online bank, internet-only bank, virtual bank or digital bank) is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks. Their services may be accessed by clients through their respective computers or mobile devices.

One of the biggest problems facing Ex-Pats, long-term travelers, and Digital Nomads is finding the right banking solution that saves them time and money when traveling and living abroad. Although Koho can be the perfect go-to solution, I recommend at least one emergency backup credit card on hand, in case of emergencies. I keep a Koho Visa card as well as a Mastercard. It’s also very important that you avoid traveling with all of your cash and credit cards on you. You should always leave the majority of your cash and an emergency backup credit card locked up in a secure location, and only bring the cash you need for the day and your Koho Card when you are out exploring.

With Inflation hitting an all-time high, it’s getting extremely expensive to maintain a decent lifestyle in Canada. With international travel restrictions easing, more Canadians than ever are choosing to get away from it all and become Digital Nomads. Around 20% of Canadians were working from home in 2021, many of them now have the flexibility of moving abroad and looking at cheaper countries to settle down in.

Major Canadian banks are now charging exorbitant monthly fees for a chequing account, offer terrible interest rates on savings accounts, often have poor customer service, and have no incentives or rewards to speak of. Many Canadians are choosing not to be slaves to their banks, and are going with more modern digital banks, like Koho.

Why Should You Choose Koho?

Koho offers a single-card solution that is simple to use, works universally, offers plenty of perks, and charges a minimal amount of withdrawal fees for foreign transactions. It’s a pre-paid Visa that is accepted anywhere the Visa network operates. Your Koho account also doubles as a chequing account, and you are able to receive direct deposits, pay bills, and send e-transfers. It has enough perks and incentives to drive even the most well-heeled consumer away from traditional banking.

I have personally used my Koho Card for all types of purchases while abroad that I would normally use my traditional credit card for. I have been able to use it to book any hotels or hostels anywhere I have tried it, and I have also successfully been able to use my Koho Card to book rental cars around the world. As long as you have the amount to cover the deposit in your account, it will be taken as a temporary hold by the rental agency for incidentals. You will have to check with the car rental agency you wish to use first, however, as some have a strict no pre-paid card rule.

Koho is Safe

Koho has to be one of the safest payment options for Digital Nomads and Ex-Pats because it is a Pre-Paid Visa. Using a Pre-Paid Visa while traveling is inherently safer because you are able to load the card with only the amount of money that you need on a daily basis. This negates the issue of having your traditional credit card stolen while abroad, and having your entire credit limit wiped out.

The Koho app also has a feature where you can freeze your card instantly, so the card is rendered useless until you can just as easily re-enable it within the app. If your Koho card is lost or stolen, you can easily put it on hold without having to make a phone call to your credit card company to put a hold on the card. If you are somewhat absent-minded, you can simply put a temporary freeze on your Koho card until you find it again without worrying it may be in the wrong hands.

Another feature of the Koho IOS & Android application is that you are provided with a Virtual Credit card, which is a pre-paid credit card that only exists within the app and does not have a physical card. You can use this virtual card to make online purchases, without compromising your physical card. Personally, I find this feature to be particularly useful when making online orders with companies I have never done business with before, and for investing in Cryptocurrency.

Another security benefit of having the Koho App is that you receive instant notifications on your phone whenever your Koho card is used. I love this feature, as I always know exactly what I am spending as soon as it is charged to my card. I find it particularly useful when at restaurants while traveling, as you can see exactly what you were charged while you are still waiting at the table for your receipt. One time I was double-charged for a meal at a restaurant in South America, and I was able to know instantly that it happened and was able to have it resolved by the support reps within the app.

Card Benefits

Save & Earn

With Koho, you are able to earn 1.2% interest on all the money in your account. Tied with having absolutely no fees, you will actually be able to see your money grow in the long term. Compared to traditional banks in Canada, you will earn more interest and will pay no monthly account fees. This way you will actually be able to save money using Koho.

You are able to set up a round-up feature within your account to help you automatically save money, without even thinking about it. You can choose to have every dollar your spend rounded up to the nearest $1, $2, $5, or $10. The difference is automatically deposited into your savings every time you use the card for a purchase. You can also create custom Savings Goals to set achievable goals for yourself to save for things in the future.

Koho also offers you 0.5% Cashback on every purchase. Every time you use your card to purchase anything, you instantly receive a cashback bonus in your account. I earn an average of $200 in cashback reward a year on my Koho Card. They also have some partners which offer you higher cashback rewards, such as Pizza-Pizza, Frank & Oak, Reebok, etc. If you choose Koho Premium, you will receive an additional 2% cashback on all restaurants, groceries, gas, and transportation services. Imagine, a credit card that pays you!

Koho Metallic card exclusive to Premium Users

Koho Premium

For $9 monthly and $84 annually, you can subscribe to Koho Premium. This premium service offers you 2% cashback on your most important purchases such as gas, transportation, eating, and groceries. For all of your other spending, you will get the standard .5% cashback rewards.

For travelers, Digital Nomads, and Ex-Pats, Koho Premium is essential. It offers a 0% Foreign Exchange Rate on international transactions. This is normally charged at 2-3%, so it offers big savings in the long term for travelers and Ex-Pats. After years of traveling and living abroad, those small FX fees have added up to hundreds of dollars I could have saved by using a Koho Card.

Koho Premium also offers you in-app financial consulting with a real-life financial coach to help you with any financial questions or advice. Having an on-demand financial coach can be extremely helpful when you need help with a more complicated financial issue you may be facing. They also offer priority customer support from their agents within the app, so no more waiting in line to get what you need.

Koho also offers you the opportunity to get your hands on their exclusive Metallic card by paying an additional fee. As standard, you get a special premium vertical card, to stick out from the rest.

Finally, Koho Premium offers One Free International ATM withdrawal each month. As an Ex-pat, I am normally spending up to $5 extra for every cash withdrawal I make using an international ATM. With Koho Premium, I am able to take out enough cash to last me the month in one transaction and save on fees.

Grow your Credit Score

Recently, Koho started offering a Credit Repair Service from within their platform. For a monthly fee of $7, Koho gives you a micro-loan which you pay only $7 a month towards, and reports it to the major credit bureaus in Canada. This can help improve your credit, without actually having a credit card or taking out a loan. Once you apply for Credit Building, you to track your credit score within the application. Your credit score is updated and reflected within the app at the beginning of every month.

As an Ex-Pat, I find this service particularly interesting, as I personally don’t have a mortgage or car payments in Canada that keep my credit high. This service helps me maintain my credit level, and has actually increased my credit score over time. When you are out of the country, it can be particularly difficult to maintain a good credit rating, this product helps you do it with a very minimal monthly payment. It’s cheaper to improve your credit than it is to pay for your Netflix subscription, it’s a no-brainer.

Instant Pay with Early Payroll & Fast CRA Deposits

Koho has partnered with employers across Canada, and with the Canada Revenue Agency to offer its customers Instant pay. You are able to have access to the first $100 of your CRA payment or paycheque, up to 3 days before payday. You have access to this service once you register your Koho account with your Employer to receive your salary, this information is easily movable within the app. Koho also offers Instant Pay for some employers within Canada, which offers you up to 50% of your pay, anytime you would like. If your current employer does not offer this service, Koho offers you $1,000 if your employer starts using the service!

Wrapping up

Koho also offers an excellent Referral Bonus for signing up your friends, colleagues, and loved ones. If you have someone signup for Koho using your unique referral link, you both will receive $20 in your account.

I believe that Koho is one of the finest all-in-one financial products that exist today for Canadians, particularly travelers and Ex-Pats. Over the past few years, it has helped me save money, earn cash rewards, and avoid international transaction fees, all while increasing my credit score.

As someone that loves aesthetics, I absolutely adore the ability to choose the color scheme of your Koho card, even without having a premium account. I personally chose the pink and gold card, which is the envy of everyone that sees me paying. I have been asked about the card on numerous occasions. The app will also match the color of your chosen card, which I think is really cool!

What other financial product offers you all of these perks, while not charging you any account fees?

Sign up for Koho today to experience freeing yourself from traditional banking, and finally start saving!

  • Some referral links were used in this post if you would like to support my writing
  • Koho is blocked in the following countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba *, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kenya, People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Mali, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Jeffrey — [email protected]