Details of 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 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. 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 57 cents 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. Think of it as similar to a Christmas 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 for the holidays.

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 percent 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 you know you can afford that actually will 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, tracking your spending, and doing a little bit of math. That way you don’t leave anything 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 about 2 percent of the total transaction amount.

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.