Bank of America has just announced a new program called Keep The Change. If you enroll, every time you buy something with a Bank of America debit card, they?ll round up your purchase to the nearest dollar amount ? and transfer the difference from your checking to your savings account. So if you buy something worth $4.57, you’ll get charged $5 to your checking account, but get the 43 cents straight into your savings account. So far, ho-hum. But, for the first 3 months, they’ll match your “change” 100% (so you’d get 86 cents in your savings), and 5% after that (45.15 cents).
Obviously, you need both checking and savings accounts at Bank of America. I do. You also need to physically walk in a branch to enroll, which I haven’t had the chance to yet. I think I will sign up and participate, but probably only for the initial 3 months and for smaller amd non-gas/grocery store/drugstore purchases.
Overall, not a bad gimmick to help encourage people to save some money, although moving the money back to your checking account is only a click away. More likely, this is a move to (1) keep people using their savings accounts with miniscule rates (0.50% APY currently), and (2) to encourage their debit card use instead of credit cards. Still, pretty clever.
According to the fine print:
The matching funds will be credited to your savings account annually [up to $250], within 8 weeks after the month in which the anniversary of your enrollment in the Keep the Change savings service occurs… Keep the Change is not currently available in Washington or Idaho.
See also this MSNBC article for another view.