Bank of America lets you Keep the Change, and then some

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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.

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  1. Neat idea, but they’re only going to credit it annually, and a cap of $250 on the service. Plus, they require a minimum $100 balance. Is it just me, or is this just a sign-up bonus that you have to earn, and making you earn it over time? If it weren’t for the $250 cap and other little gotchas, I’d be stuffing my Citi and Amex Blue Cash into a drawer right now..

  2. Actually, I got a $25 offer for opening my savings account at BofA : Link to old offer But, they haven’t given it to me yet, after some phone calls they didn’t have me in the promotion and I have to wait another 4 weeks. Sigh.

    Getting almost a dollar back for small purchases that end up like $4.03 or something is OK, since I carry around the ATM card anyways, so it’s not an extra card in my wallet. Just have to remember to use it…

  3. Anonymous coward says:

    BofA gives you 5% of the change, not of the full price. That’s hilarious. The maximum you get for any purchase is 5 cents.

    Buy a $999.99 TV and get $0 cashback. Only at BofA! Hurry, offer expires soon! ROTFL.

  4. savvysaver says:

    Figures… I just canceled my BOA account this week. I opened it six months ago for the $100 account opening bonus they were running at the time. You could pay yourself via PayPal $1.01 and receive the $.99 match a couple hundred times… too bad you have to wait a year to get the money out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Too bad BOA’s savings account’s rate sucks. I think i’ll stick with ING and Emigrant for my savings and BOA as my checking account..

  6. By no means am I encouraging people to use BofA’s savings account. But it’s linked to my checking, so transfers back into checking can be done instantly online.

  7. Seems to me that using a credit card is a better deal for a couple of reasons:

    – cash back/rewards cards typically pay 1-2% of the purchase amount. I’d say my average purchase is $20-30 which works out to $.40-$.60. No telling where the average will end up with this deal unless you engineer your purchases, you could just as easily make $.01 as $.99.
    – If I use the credit card I get to keep the money sitting in an account earning 3-4% for a minimum of the 20 day grace period.

    I suppose if you’re willing to work at it this is a way o get a free $250 but it doesn’t really seem worth it.

  8. I have a BoA debit card and saving account. So to me it is going to change my spending habits. I don’t use credit cards at all so comparing it to a rewards program it is moot point for me.

  9. Keep the change is a good deal. Fact, to bypass 100.00 to open. you let BOA take 25 a month out of your cheking. It is better then most credit cards for 1 year. Everyone uses debit cards. You do not need to to leave this money there, but you must keep the 25 a month going every month. You get back 250.00 after 1 year plus 5% for the change part. Most people carry a little change with them. Not much to this, say the bill is for a night out is 40 bucks, your tip is 7 bucks add 1 penny to this and you have what about a .05 to your savings. But if you do the math to someone that does use the debit card alot. We say if you make 50 debits at the above example, 50 times 5= 2.50 times 12= 30.00 bucks which is more then 2.500 cd earning 5%for 1 year= 250.00+30.00=280.00 and the money is liquid to top it off unlike the cd.

  10. Who makes 50 debit transactions per month anyway? That’s 50 times that you’ll have compromised your account security by giving out your PIN to random retailers. Your checking account will be wide open, and if you’re not keeping a very close eye on it, you can be out a good chunk of money without the basic insurance guaranteed to a credit card.
    Plus, what about the locking of funds? I bet that BOA earns a lot in overdraft fees as people try to rack up many small transactions, only to find that each retailer – gas station, etc. – may have locked a larger sum temporarily to ensure ability to complete the transaction. The account itself may not be overdrawn, but the net effect will be the same. as all funds may become locked up & so unavailable during some portions of the month. By the time the customer finds out, his month long binge of tiny debit transactions to get that $250 could have cost him hundreds in fees.

  11. I’ve recently finished qualifying for 5 $250 Keep The Change accounts. From November 2011 to early January 2012 is all it took to net $1250 due for disbursement 12 month post accounts opening date.

    Key tips to remember.

    Open the savings account with over $250 to fund the program as you accumulate the matching funds. I deposited about $300 each time to allow plenty of leeway.

    I went to gas stations and utilized the debit function for .03-.05 cent purchases at major chain stations, Shell works very well, especially the company owned ones with the huge car washes. You can do a minimum of 1.2 transactions per minute with about 70 done per hour. Do the math…that’s about $70 per hour into your keep the change account.

    Remember there is NO monthly service charges for either accounts (checking or savings) as long as they are opened at the same time AND listed as Keep The Change. So currently I have 10 accounts opened with 8 of them with zero balances. 2 plus months have gone by and I assure you this is true. My other 2 accounts I’m using diligently BTW. Aocounts must be opened for at least 12 months to receive the matching funds. A total bank roll of $300 will do it because as soon as you qualify for the full $250, go to the branch and have your ~$300 rolled over into the next new Keep The Change accounts….repeat 4 more times….

    It’s really quite easy to do once you get the hang of it. Standing at a gas pump for about ~4 hours is tedious so spread it out over several days. But it WILL net you $250 each time. Note I did this in the evenings, in freezing Chicago temps. My motivation was thinking about the near $70 per hour benefit that kept me going. For you fair weather savers, NOW is a cinch to do this program. It’s a lot of fun in the end. And a cool grand and some will come in handy huh? Good Luck.

  12. Custody says:

    I opened an acct with KTC and matching of up to $250 within the first 3 months, then I try to purchase sth worth 5 cents or 6 cents to try to make a little from the matching, but BOA closed my acct without notice a few days later and refuse to give me the matching dollars they promised. Maybe they realize they have a design hole in this program. It appears that their rule is that they are the ONLY party in this relationship that can make money and once they found you can also make a little, they terminate the relationship and take away everything they promised.

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