Challenger Bank Credit Cards: Neo, Brim, STACK, KOHO

Challenger Bank Credit Cards: Neo, Brim, STACK, KOHO

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated September 29, 2021

The advent of digital technology has opened the doors for a slew of innovative products and services, including in the banking industry. These days, Canadians can do much of their banking completely online thanks to the internet. And now, there are several banking companies that operate entirely online with no physical branches to visit. 

These ‘challenger banks’ have revolutionized the way people do their banking thanks to the convenience of online access to finances from laptops or mobile devices. These online-only banks are giving traditional financial institutions a run for their money, prompting legacy banks to come up with their own digital offerings that make banking quick and easy without compromising quality. 

What Is A Challenger Bank? 

A challenger bank is a smaller independent bank, as opposed to traditional financial institutions, that focuses predominantly on online banking products and services. They’re called “challenger” banks because they’re established to challenge the way consumers typically manage their money. Rather than having physical branches, challenger banks have an online presence only.

Challenger banks are helping to revolutionize the banking industry and are giving conventional banks some competition. Those who are looking for more convenience than an online-only bank offers are increasingly finding challenger banks a more attractive option when it comes to banking. 

Clients can not only stash their money away in a bank account, but they can have pretty much all their other financial tasks taken care of.

What Kind Of Banking Services Do Challenger Banks Offer? 

Just because challenger banks are smaller and are strictly online doesn’t mean their offerings are limited. Instead, challenger banks offer a host of products and services that rival traditional banks, including the following:

  • Depositing funds into a savings account
  • Depositing a cheque
  • Taking out loans, including mortgages
  • Securing a credit card
  • Investing in an investment vehicle

Which Challenger Banks Offer Credit Cards?

Card TypeAnnual FeeAPRRewards
NeoCredit card– $0 – Essential Plan
– $2.99 – Plus Plan
– $8.99 – Ultra Plan
19.99% – 24.99%Earn 4%-6% cash back
BrimCredit card– $0 – Brim Mastercard
– $99 – Brim World Mastercard
– $199 – Brim World Elite Mastercard
19.99% – Brim Mastercard: Earn 1% for every $1 spent for all purchases
– Brim World Mastercard: Earn 1.5% for every $1 spent on the first $25,000, then 1 point after that
– Brim World Elite Mastercard: Earn 2% for every $1 spent on any purchase on the first $25,000, then 1 point after that 
STACKPrepaid Mastercard0$0%– Earn instant cash back rewards
– Discounts with various merchants
KOHOPrepaid Visa– $0 – KOHO prepaid Visa and joint accounts
– $84/year or $9/month – Premium account
0%Earn 0.5% – 2% cash back

Neo Financial

neo financial

One of the newer players on the scene is Neo Financial, an online bank that was founded by two of the people behind SOne of the newer players on the scene is Neo Financial, an online bank that was founded by two of the people behind SkipTheDishes. Neo Financial offers two products: a no-fee savings account and a rewards-based credit card.  They currently offer their services across Canada, except for Quebec, though they plan on expanding soon. Their goal is to redesign the way Canadians currently spend and save their money. They intend to simplify personal finance through their products by creating a community and rewards system that lets Canadians do more with their money. 

Neo Savings Account

Unlike traditional savings accounts with big banks, Neo Financial offers a no-annual fee high-interest savings account with free unlimited transactions. Users can use their Neo savings account to send or receive e-transfers, pay bills and make deposits. 

  • No annual fee
  • No minimum balance
  • 1.30% interest rate
  • No transaction limits

Neo Mastercard

Neo has partnered with ATB Financial to bring about the Neo Mastercard; a no-fee credit card with cashback rewards that average around 4%. However, you can upgrade your card for a fee to earn even higher cash back rewards. 

  • Essential – This plan is free for all users. You can earn on average 4% cash back at Neo partners.
  • Plus – This plan costs $2.99 per month and you can earn on average 5% cash back at Neo partners, plus 0.5% minimum cash back on all other purchases.
  • Ultra – This plan costs $8.99 a month and youcan earn on average 6% cash back at Neo partners, plus 1% minimum cash back on all other purchases.

When you use the Neo Mastercard, you’ll also have access to Neo’s app which provides details on your rewards and spending with a single touch of a button. Moreover, never miss a payment and get alerted when a purchase is made with your card in real-time with Neo’s notifications. 

Learn More

Brim Financial

brim financial

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Brim Financial is an online credit card issuer licensed by Mastercard. Brim offers three unique credit cards that help Canadians save more and earn more rewards. They also have a flexible rewards system that allows users to redeem their points on any purchase, there are no black-out periods or restrictions like many other traditional credit cards. Moreover, the fintech firm charges no foreign transaction fees on any of its credit cards, while most banks typically charge an average of 2.5%.

Brim Mastercard Features

  • No annual fee
  • Earn between 3% to 30% cash back on purchases at specific retailers
  • Earn 1% cash back for every dollar spent for all purchases
  • Installment Pay feature for purchases over $500 
  • Access to complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi
  • 5 types of insurance coverages, including mobile device coverage, extended warranty, and travel accident coverage

Brim World Mastercard Features

  • All features that come with the Brim Mastercard 
  • Earn 1.5% cash back for every dollar spent on the first $25,000 in expenditure a year, then 1 point for every dollar spent after that
  • Earn a welcome bonus of up to $300 worth of rewards after your first expenditure
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary LoungeKey membership
  • Comprehensive insurance package, including travel insurance, rental car insurance, flight and baggage delay, mobile device coverage, and extended warranty
  • $99 annual fee 

Brim World Elite Mastercard:

  • Premium credit card offering
  • 0% foreign exchange fees
  • Earn 2% in rewards for every dollar spent on any purchase on the first $25,000 in the initial year, then 1 point after that 
  • Earn a welcome bonus of up to $500 worth of rewards after your first purchase with participating retailers
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary LoungeKey membership
  • Comprehensive insurance package, including everything offered with the Brim World Mastercard, plus a few extras like emergency medical over 65 coverage and hotel burglary coverage 
  • $199 annual fee 
Learn More

STACK

Stack Credit Card

STACK is another online credit card issuer that is centralized on its app, which is where clients can access their banking products and manage their money without having to visit a brick-and-mortar branch or even have to log in on a computer. Instead, everything can be done directly on the STACK app. STACK’s prepaid Mastercard was invented with the goal of providing users better control of their finances. Their Mastercard offers instant rewards along with no fees and advanced tools that can help you track and manage your spending. 

Stack Prepaid Mastercard Features

  • No annual fees
  • Reloadable
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Earn instant cash-back on purchases from participating merchants
  • Discounts from partner brands
  • Purchases can be automatically rounded up to the next $1, $2, $5, or $10, with the difference saved
  • Earn a welcome bonus when you refer a friend/family member
Learn More

KOHO 

KOHO

Founded in 2014 and based in Toronto, KOHO is an online banking platform that believes that there are better financial solutions available. Through the power of financial technology, KOHO offers full-service bank accounts, both individual and joint, to help Canadians better manage their money while earning rewards. Both types of accounts come with a prepaid Visa card and use the payment processor Galileo Processing. 

Both the KOHO prepaid Visa cards offer the best of both worlds of a chequing account and a credit card.  You can use your prepaid card to make purchases, pay bills, and send e-transfers all the while earning cash back on eligible purchases. Moreover, the KOHO prepaid Visa comes with additional money management features such as automatic savings, financial coaching and instant notifications. 

KOHO Prepaid Visa Features

  • No annual fees
  • Earn rewards on purchases
  • Acts as a chequing account 
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on purchases, and as much as 5% cash back with participating merchants 
  • Earn 1% cash back with Refer-a-Friend feature 
  • 1.5% foreign exchange fee

KOHO Premium Prepaid Visa Features

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • One free international ATM withdrawal per month
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas, groceries, transit, and restaurants, then 0.5% on all other purchases.
  • Price-matching 
  • $84 annual fee, or $9 monthly fee
Learn More

Other Challenger Banks In Canada

Digital banks, which are also known as challenger banks, exist all across Canada. Currently, the most famously known challenger banks in Canada are KOHO, STACK, Brim and Neo. Other challenger banks include: 

Challenger BankOwned by
EQ BankEquitable Group 
motusbankMeridian
TangerineScotiabank
Oaken Financial Home Trust
Simplii FinancialCIBC
Alterna BankAlterna Savings and Credit Union
Motive FinancialCanadian Western Bank
MogoPrivately owned
MydohRBC
AmpliRBC

Challenger Bank Credit Cards FAQs

Is STACK or KOHO better? 

Both KOHO and STACK are good prepaid card options. However, KOHO does offer cash back rewards while STACK offers purchase discounts, which can make your rewards unpredictable. On the other hand, STACK has a lower foreign transaction fee making it a better option for those who shop or travel outside of Canada. Overall, KOHO may be better suited to those who shop locally and prefer cash back as rewards, while STACK may be better suited to those who like special discounts and shop outside of Canada often. 

Is Stack prepaid Mastercard safe to use?

Yes, STACK Mastercard is a safe prepaid card. It is a legitimate Toronto based company and has numerous security features such as CDIC protection, zero liability protection and the ability to freeze your account. 

Which challenger banks offer no-fee credit cards?

Neo, Brim, KOHO and STACK all offer a credit card with no annual fees. However, both KOHO and STACK are prepaid credit cards, meaning payments will not be reported to the credit bureaus.

Final Thoughts

Challenger banks have been a game-changer in the world of banking. Clients who appreciate the convenience of banking through computers and smartphones will find challenger banks much more advantageous than conventional banks.


Rating of 5/5 based on 2 votes.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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