If you follow any of the finance blogs out there, you’ve probably come across a few SmartyPig giveaways. Well, it is no different here. I have some prizes to give away as well. Before getting into the details of the giveaway, I did want to briefly introduce the new service and highlight some recent changes to their fee structure.
Opening an account on SmartyPig is absolutely free. In fact, you can open your account, create a goal, reach your goal, and redeem your goal, and SmartyPig won’t charge you a thing. Some highlights of the service:
- SmartyPig savings accounts are held in West Bank and are FDIC insured, so consumers can be confident their financial information and savings are secure. SmartyPig also utilizes the services of VeriSign, HACKER SAFE and TRUSTe.
- SmartyPig is the only online savings initiative that allows family and friends to help consumers reach their savings goals.
- SmartyPig currently offers the highly competitive interest rate of 4.3% (Annual Percentage Yield) and will always maintain a competitive interest rate for account holders.
- SmartyPig gives consumers even more for their money by offering additional incentive boosts (up to 5%) from best-in-class retailer partners like Pottery Barn, Best Buy, Royal Caribbean and Home Depot when they reach a savings goal.
- SmartyPig’s smart, simple and secure approach to savings teaches the benefits of good financial habits, reverses the “buy now, pay later” mentality and makes saving money a fun and easy experience.
- SmartyPig was recently awarded “Best of the Web” by NetBanker.com.
How it Works
Unlike your typical savings account at the bank, the unique feature of SmartyPig is that you have the ability to create goals and then use your savings to fund these goals. This puts a personal touch on your savings, and for many people, this can make all the difference in actually reaching those goals. Another unique aspect is that you can share your goals and make them public. In doing so, you allow an opportunity for others to help you fund your goals.
The first thing you need to do is go to the SmartyPig site and create an account. You can then link the account to an existing bank account and electronically fund your SmartyPig account via ACH. What is great is that SmartyPig offers a current rate of 4.3% regardless of your balance. So even if you just deposit $100, you’ll still qualify for this great rate. Once you create an account, you are then encouraged to set specific savings goals.
Once you have saved enough money to fund one of your goals, you then have a few options. The default option is to take the money out via a SmartyPig Mastercard debit card. Another attractive option is to receive the money through a preferred retailer gift card. Preferred retailers give an additional 5% on your savings, which is a nice incentive.
Breakdown on Fees
Thanks to some recent changes, there is very little to report in terms of fees. Opening a SmartyPig account costs absolutely nothing, and there are no maintinence or annual fees. In addition. if you withdraw your money out with their Mastercard debit card, there are also no fees. There are a few fees to at least be aware of:
- Funding a public goal with a credit card incurs a 2.9% fee, which is comparable to sending money with PayPal. Funding a public goal with an existing SmartyPig account costs nothing.
- Purchasing a physical or electronic SmartyPig gift card with a credit card also has a 2.9% processing fee. Using ACH for purchase is free.
- Choosing to receive money via check: $25 .
- Unsuccessful attempt at funds transfer: $25.
- Replacement of a lost, stolen or discarded SmartyPig MasterCard Debit Card: $20.
- Overdrawn accounts: $27 per overdrawn item.
As you can see, the service costs absolutely nothing unless you choose to receive your money via check, have overdrawn accounts, make purchases/deposits with credit card, or need to replace your Mastercard debit card. I think these fee changes are great, and it puts SmartyPig at a competitive advantage with the interest rate and other added benefits of the account.
I’m sure this is what everyone was waiting for, so here it is. I have two (2) $50 SmartyPig gift cards to give away.
* To redeem the SmartyPig gift card, you must have an active SmartyPig account. SmartyPig Gift Cards can only be redeemed into an active SmartyPig Savings Goal. If you have a SmartyPig account but do not have an active Savings Goal, you will need to create a new Savings Goal to redeem your gift card.
To be eligible for this contest, you must be a resident of the U.S. and have a valid email address. To enter, simply reply to this post and let me know what you’d use the money to save for. It is as simple as that! This contest will remain open to comments until 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 10th. Upon closing comments, I’ll select two random numbers from random.org to select the winners. Good luck!
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.
All three of the kids and my spouse's birthdays are in September...I would apply that toward birthday savings
We are starting a sinking fund for our first Disney vacation next year as a family. This would go a long way considering our current balance - $0.00!
I'd buy a replacement DVD player that I've been putting off picking up because, well, it's not a necessity when our computers play DVDs, it'd just be nice to have one again. Then again, E.C.'s gas idea sounds pretty good....
Im in! I will use it to save towards the max retirement contributions for this year, topping off the emergency fund and new chairs for the living room.
This is a fantastic idea!
Great contest! I'd put it toward taking a real vacation for the first time in five years. (I desperately want to go to the Bahamas!)
Jon, thanks for taking the time to comment, and thanks for clearing up the gift card issue. Like you said, it isn't something that you profit from, and even more importantly, it isn't like receiving a $10 gift card from your grandma on your birthday that you forgot about. Since you are actively saving for a goal, I'm pretty sure that if you elect to receive that savings int he form of a gift card, you'll be more than likely to use it.
Hey, Jeremy, thanks for the great post! About the gift card comment above: The person posting is misinformed. The SmartyPig team doesn't make any type of additional profit in the instance where a customer selects the gift card option and then decides not to use the card. We also think that people who create a goal and then sensibly save toward it aren't going to treat that card like a present they didn't want to begin with. It is, after all, their own money. Again, much appreciation. Good luck to all in the contest! -Jon Gaskell, Co-Founder, SmartyPig
Well, if you choose to opt for a gift card and don't use it, you have no one to blame but yourself. It isn't SmartyPig's fault if you decide not to use your money. If that is a concern, all you have to do is elect to receive the funds on a debit card.
But if the industry average of 10% of gift card values do not get redeemed, that adds a nice chuck of change to the owners of smartypig. It's not quite as fee-free as you might believe. Buyer beware of this program.
I am really happy to hear of the fee changes and I will be starting an account there with a goal of purchasing furniture, etc for our new house (closing May 1)!
About to graduate college and move into my own apartment. The money will help pay for new furniture.
I would use the gift card to save towards taking my kids to Disney. They're 5 and 2... we'd like to take them while they're still young enough to experience the magic of the characters, but old enough to remember.