Keep the Change

Bank of America gets a lot of complaints, but I’m still happy with them.

They have an interesting savings program called “Keep the Change.” Every time you use your debit card, they round the amount up to the nearest dollar and move that from your checking account to your savings account. For the first year, they’ll match the first 3 months at 100% and then every month after that is matched at 5%, payable at the end of the year to a maximum of $250. It’s the equivalent of a jar by your bedside where you collect all the change at the bottom of your pocket before putting your jeans in the laundry.

We use our debit card a lot. I’d rather keep no more than $5–10 cash in my wallet and use the card. It gives me a printed record of how we’re spending money. Easier to track.

So in just 6 weeks of participating in “Keep the Change” we’ve managed to save $30.60 that we otherwise would have left in the checking account and blown. It adds up. My quick math shows that at this rate we can expect to save around $260 a year in these small deposits, plus around $70 that Bank of America will pay us. Not bad.

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4 thoughts on “Keep the Change

  1. That’s a nifty program. I too use my debit card primarily. It’s safer, if nothing else. I keep a spare $20 in my car for “emergencies” when you need cash, but otherwise, like to carry very little cash. Oh, and I have $20 in singles in my golf bag if I should ever happen to lose a bet. 😉

    The banks know that using plastic isn’t as tangible as spending money and the more someone uses plastic, even if it’s a debit card, the more they’re likely to spend. The bank makes $0.15 to $0.25 per transaction plus a percentage of the sale (usually quite small, like 1 or 2%), so they’re still making money even if they give you 5% of your “change,” because the most that can be is 5 cents.

    So, smart move on their part.

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    >The bank makes $0.15 to $0.25 per transaction plus a percentage of the sale (usually quite small, like 1 or 2%), so they’re still making money even if they give you 5% of your “change,” because the most that can be is 5 cents.

    That depends if it’s an online or offline transaction. More and more retailers are installing PIN machines and prefer for you to enter your PIN (run as a debit) than run the card as a credit. It makes no difference to me, but to the merchant it’s the difference of paying percentage versus a very small transaction fee. The bank counts on the fact that more merchants have standard credit card processing equipment than the PIN terminals.

  3. Judi Sohn says:

    I should also add that “Keep the Change” isn’t changing my behavior at all. We’re not using the card any more or less than we did before. The difference is that at a restaurant, I’m not rounding up to the nearest dollar when determining the tip.

    The only time that an incentive influences our behavior is with large purchases. We’ll use our Discover card because of the cashback savings. I pay the bill off in its entirely each month, so there’s no finance charges and then when the cashback savings is over $40 I credit it to our account.

  4. mike says:

    I have saved 1624.80 in three years on the Keep The Change program. I balance my checkbook easily. I write the tranaction amount on the left side of the bussiness name then round up in the transaction amount. I write all chewcks on the dollar. I also transfer ant change in my paycheck to my savings. My checking account is balanced too the dollar and penny. I know if there is a problem if it show ther than —.00 cents.

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