Bank of America's Keep the Change Program

Spend to Save

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Need some creative ideas to save more? There are several ways to have funds moved into a savings account without you 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 is to round purchases up to the next dollar amount and put the amount you round up into a savings account.

If you have a Bank of America debit card, Keep the Change can do this for you. For example, you might buy a cup of coffee and end up with a bit more in savings:

  • Coffee Price: $3.43
  • Round Up: $ 0.57 (deposited to savings)
  • Total Charge: $4.00 (total charge to 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 bucks of savings every day – or a decent monthly addition to your savings.

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 then 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.

Does it Help?

If you need a little extra help or you’d benefit from “tricking” yourself into saving, this program might do the trick. Unfortunately, it’s not going to make a significant impact on your financial situation.

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

A better strategy would be a “pay yourself first” approach, where you budget for a certain amount of savings each month – an amount that you know you can afford, and that will actually make a dent in your goals.

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.

Boring Stuff

Programs like this sound neat, but successfully reaching your goals requires some boring stuff: looking at your pay stubs and spending, and doing a little bit of math. That way you don’t leave anything to chance (what if most transactions end around .99 and you don’t end up saving much?).

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 about 2% of the total transaction amount.

For some more tried-and-true strategies that put you in charge, see 3 Ways to Increase your Bank Balance. For specific goals like a home or auto purchase, see How to Save for a Down Payment.

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