How about this for a great online savings account option?
Over the years, I’ve squirreled spare cash in a variety of jars, old Altoid tins, and a few high yield savings accounts. But I’ve been looking for a much better alternative for my money and one option I’m considering is a SmartyPig savings account.
First off, the APY is 2.01%. A quick inspection of Bankrate showed that popular institutions like Ally Bank and HSBC Advance have savings accounts at rates of 1.50% or lower. Keeping your money in a bank with a higher APY means that you’re likely to reach your goals faster.
SmartyPig Review: Best Savings Account For Your Goals
Here’s what I find intriguing about this savings account. When you sign up for a free SmartyPig account, you can pick a specific goal for your savings: that can mean anything from a new car or a vacation, to the purchase of big ticket items like a new TV or video game console. Or maybe you have more medium term goals like a down payment for a house or a college fund. With SmartyPig, you can set up an automated savings program where you can indicate how much you want to save and the date of your goal. You’ll be able to access tools to help you reach the finish line.
Playing with SmartyPig’s interactive calculator can help you determine how much to allocate to each savings goal and how much you need to set aside each month. For instance, I entered $2,100 for a vacation I’m preparing for, with a goal date of December 1, 2010. The calculator told me I’d need to set aside $191 each month. If need be, I can add more goals and different amounts to see how my savings can grow.
Share Goals, Build Your Savings!
You don’t have to save alone, either. SmartyPig provides you with widgets so you can share your goals with others through Facebook, MySpace, blogs, or even your website. There’s also the option to build your own SmartyPig Friends Network. This is where the beauty of using SmartyPig becomes apparent: using these tools, your friends and family can assist you with your savings goals. Your friends and family can contribute to your goal or buy a SmartyPig gift card (although it will cost them a 2.9% processing fee if they use a credit card). But if you prefer your privacy, you don’t have to share your goal.
What happens when you reach your savings goal? You can withdraw or use the money in your account through a SmartyPig MasterCard debit card or an ACH transfer. In addition, you can opt to put your savings onto a gift card from one of SmartyPig’s partners. If you choose this method, you might be eligible for a cash boost as high as 12% of your balance.
The retailers that have partnered with SmartyPig include well-known names like Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, iTunes, Macy’s, and others. If you don’t want to put all your money onto one card, then you can spread it among several cards.
Account Security & Mobile Access
Your SmartyPig account is part of West Bank in Iowa and comes with FDIC insurance. Your information here is encrypted and there are also other security measures in place, such as secure account log-in and firewall protection. If you stray from your computer while using SmartyPig, you’ll be logged out once your screen is inactive for at least 15 minutes. This can be helpful when you leave your computer unattended for long periods of time.
One feature I appreciate is SmartyPig’s support for a variety of web browsers. You can access your account through any web browser. I’ve used four different browsers in the last few days, and the site functions well on all of them. Clearly, this online savings platform is highly portable, and allows easy access from most places.
Now if you want to catch up with your SmartyPig account while you’re on the go, then there’s a mobile version of the website that users can sign into from their smartphones or other devices.
Just to round out this review, I’ll cover a few more features that the SmartyPig site offers. Their blog covers information on financial goals, contests, savings tips, and other related topics. You can also follow SmartyPig on Facebook or Twitter. What I like about them is that they have a more personal feel than some of the bank websites I’ve previously encountered.
You’ll need $25 or more to open an account and a minimum of $250 to set a minimum savings goal. Meanwhile, the maximum savings goal is $250,000. You can add money to your savings fund whenever you want, but the account will grow steadily over time with recurring monthly contributions. The minimum for recurring contributions is $10, while the maximum is $50,000.
One reason a lot of people like automatic savings programs is because of the “set it and forget it” aspect. Ironically, SmartyPig seems useful because you’re not supposed to forget about it — by sharing your goals on Twitter or other sites, you can keep reminding yourself of what you’re saving for. This may help keep you on track and also get you in touch with your own cheerleaders who are willing to help you meet your savings goals.