This is my review of the SmartyPig Savings Account. I’ve added a new bank to my list of top high-yield online savings accounts. It’s called SmartyPig. I know it doesn’t sound like a bank, but it is. And they offer a very competitive interest rate. Currently, one of the highest on my list. SmartyPig is different from your typical online saving account though for a couple of reasons:
- they encourage socializing your savings goals and progress, and
- when you open an account, you’ll need to create specific savings goals before you can start contributing.
Bottom line: SmartyPig is all about helping you save more using specific goals / actions and social encouragement.
What is SmartyPig?
SmartyPig is a Des Moines, Iowa based company that allows you to open a goal-based savings account that can be attached to social networking features (Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Google, etc.) allowing your friends and family to view and even contribute to your savings goals. They launched in April 2008. SmartyPig’s U.S. banking partner is West Bank, a subsidiary of West Bancorporation, Inc. All of your funds are actually held by West Bank and your funds are FDIC insured up to the legal limit of $250,000. Sweet!
How Does SmartyPig Work?
Today I signed up with SmartyPig and walked through the sign up process. Here’s how it goes:
1. Basic Info – The initial application process is similar to that of any other online savings account. You provide some basic information, including your SSN, driver’s license, and date of birth. They run a soft pull on your credit.
2. Connect a Funding Account – Once you have the account set up, you are then asked to connect with an account where you will ACH the initial deposit from. This is the account that can also be used to periodically fund the SmartyPig savings account. But you can connect multiple accounts. So, all you need is a regular checking or savings account already set up somewhere else, and you’re good to go. Just give SmartyPig the routing and account numbers.
3. Create a Savings Goal – In the next step you are required to create an actual savings goal for your money. This is what separates SmartyPig from other savings accounts. They encourage action. Here’s a snapshot of the page where you create your savings goal:
You’re required to input your goal dollar amount, due date, funding source (checking or savings account you connected in step 2), and funding frequency. See the questions below for minimum and maximum deposit and goal amounts.
4. Achieve Your Goal – Once you have it set up, you’ll just need to wait till your deposits grow your savings account towards your goal. For a little more encouragement you can display your savings progress on your favorite social networking site, like Facebook. You can stop at anytime and withdraw your funds though.
5. Withdraw Your Funds – As this chart shows, there are three basic ways to withdraw your funds once you’ve achieved your savings goals:
It couldn’t e easier to take action and start saving with SmartyPig. If this savings account sounds good to you, I encourage you to check out SmartyPig.
Questions About SmartPig
Do I have to share my goals publicly? SmartyPig touts itself as a social savings account. But you don’t have to make your savings social. You can be as private as you want. Are there any hidden fees? Opening, funding and redeeming a goal with SmartyPig is absolutely FREE. However, a year or so ago there were concerns about SmartyPig and some of their fees. Those concerns have been removed as SmartyPig got rid of just about all of their fees. Here’s the rundown of the fees that they have (all of which should not affect you in your normal savings efforts):
- Contributing funds to a public savings goal via Credit/Debit Card, a 2.9% processing fee per transaction will be charged to the purchaser. SmartyPig account holders can contribute to a public savings goal using their existing checking or savings account (ACH) and the processing fee is waived.
- Purchasing a physical or electronic gift card via Credit/Debit Card, a 2.9% processing fee per transaction will be charged to the purchaser. SmartyPig account holders can purchase a physical or electronic gift card using their existing checking or savings account (ACH) and the processing fee is waived. For physical gift cards, shipping charges may apply.
- When closing a Savings Goal online, the account holder has three options to receive their funds. These options are provided at no cost to the customer. The customer can choose to place their savings plus interest on a pre-loaded SmartyPig MasterCard® Debit Card, Best-In-Class Retail Gift Card or the funds can be transferred back to the customer’s existing checking or savings account (ACH).
- Replacement of a lost, stolen or discarded SmartyPig MasterCard® Debit Card is $6.
- Overdrawn accounts will be charged a $27 fee per overdrawn item.
What are the minimum and maximum savings goal limits? The minimum savings goal has to be $250. And for you big time savers, the maximum goal is $250,000 (right up to the FDIC limit). What are the minimum and maximum deposit limits? To get started you need to deposit $25. But each deposit after that must be at least $10, and can go up to $50,000. Can my child or a minor under my care have a SmartyPig account? Yes, anyone may open up an account with SmartyPig. However, customers under 18 years of age must be invited to become co-owners by parents or legal guardians who have first opened their own SmartyPig accounts.