Details of Bank of America's "Keep the Change Program"

Save as You Spend

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Need some creative ideas to build up your savings? There are several ways to move funds into a savings account without having to take any action. These programs include Bank of America’s Keep the Change program, Wachovia’s Way2Save, and apps that round up your purchases to the next dollar.

Rounding Up

One strategy for saving is to round up purchases to the next dollar amount and put that extra amount into a savings account. If you have a Bank of America debit card, Keep the Change can do this for you. 

After enrolling your debit card into the program, Bank of America automatically handles the logistics.

For example, you might buy a cup of coffee and end up with a bit more in savings:

  • Coffee Price: $1.43
  • Round Up: $0.57 (deposited to savings)
  • Total Charge: $2.00 (total amount deducted from your checking account)

That extra $0.57 goes into a linked savings account, and the idea is that you’ll barely notice that it’s gone from your checking account. If you make several purchases throughout the day, that might add up to a few dollars of savings every day — or a decent monthly addition to your savings. Think of it as similar to a holiday savings account, which you might add to little by little throughout the year with the intention of having a few extra hundred dollars stashed away by year-end.

Does it Help?

If you need a little extra help getting motivated, or you’d benefit from tricking yourself into saving, this program might do the trick. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to make a significant impact on your financial goals.

The amount of money you save might or might not be enough to make a difference in your life, and you don’t really control how much you’re saving.

It’s best to get proactive: Make a basic plan and actually decide how much to save. In that process — which doesn’t have to be too complicated — you get a basic understanding of your financial situation: how much you bring in, where it goes, and what changes you can make.

The ideal strategy might be a “pay yourself first” approach. To do that, budget for a certain amount of savings each month, choosing an amount you know you can afford and that will help you make progress toward your goals. Then, there are two ways to get that money into savings:

  1. Treat it like a monthly bill you pay, and transfer the money manually each month.
  2. Automate it. Set up a recurring monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account.

By intentionally putting money into a savings account, you’re plugged in to your financial goals. Plus, moving that cash prevents temptation because you know the money is budgeted for something besides immediate spending.

If you’re already doing that and using Keep the Change as a supplement, that’s great. You’ll thank yourself later for having the extra money.

No More Matching Funds

Bank of America no longer matches your contributions through the Keep the Change program. In the past, you could earn a dollar-for-dollar match during the first three months, and an additional 5% of your rounded up contributions after that, with a maximum match of $250 per year.

Without the match, you’re saving your own money instead of getting help from the bank, which is still better than nothing.

Better Strategies

Several other banks and mobile apps perform similar services. While these strategies sound neat, successfully reaching your goals requires some boring stuff: reviewing your pay stubs, tracking your spending, doing a little bit of math, and making some choices. That way, you don’t leave everything to chance.

This program may be more of a strategy to generate interchange fees for Bank of America. Each time you use your debit card as a “credit” transaction, Bank of America stands to earn a small portion of the total transaction amount. Plus, increased engagement makes you more likely to keep using Bank of America. They encourage you to put all of your monthly bills on your card, and this may serve them more than it serves you.

But don’t let that stop you! If you come out ahead with Keep the Change, please use it. It may be more feasible for you right now than setting up automatic transfers, and that’s fine. The most important thing is that you take action and save more tomorrow than you’re saving today.

More: Best Savings Account Interest Rates

The Balance offers a comprehensive comparison of the best savings account interest rates. We teamed up with Bankrate to survey approximately 4,800 banks and credit unions nationwide. Depending on how much money you’re looking to deposit, this list will show you some of the best options available today. All of the banks and credit unions listed are insured by the FDIC or NCUA.

Article Sources

  1. Bank of America. "Keep the Change Savings Program," Accessed Nov. 13, 2019.

  2. Federal Trade Commission. "New Rules on Electronic Payments Lower Costs for Retailers," Accessed Nov. 13, 2019.