Bank of America’s Change Jar: There Must Be Evil Here Somewhere

Since we’ve spent a large portion of our day tearing at Bank of America, we thought we’d offer this recommendation for a new savings program, sent in by (probably astroturf) reader Greg. It seems Bank of America has a new program that rounds up your debit charges to the nearest dollar, then puts the change in a savings account. Gamey, but we like it.

But here’s the interesting part: for the first 3 months they’ll match it up to $250. So if you rack up $250 or more in change over 3 months, BofA will give you $250. After 3 months, they’ll continue to match but only at 5%.

Anyways, I know go out of my way to rack up purchases that end in a few pennies.
$11.01 at the gas pump, perfect.
$45.32 bill at a restaurant, hmm how about a $8.69 tip for total of $54.01.

I haven’t gone as far as sending myself PayPal invoices for a penny, but the thought has crossed my mind.

Keep The Change [BoA]

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  1. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    This is the “not so subtle cross selling” that I received while chatting with the CSR about hooking in a foreign account to Bank of America account. Incidentally when I clicked the above posted link to peruse the TOS I was propositioned to chat by a deposits representative…were I only not at the office. I love some steamy chat with sexually repressed bank drones.

    Overall it doesn’t appear to be completely evil. The catches are:

    1) You get your cash within 8 weeks of the anniversary of your enrollment. So they have it for a year.
    2) If your account is not open or in good standing as of the anniversary you do not get your cash.

    For BofA the upside is they are able to increase deposits into savings accounts. I’m not sure why this is good for them, as I can freely move funds from savings to checking. Maybe they can classify funds in checking accounts vs. savings a different way for capital purchases. The other good thing is it serves to keep customers loyal. It may be harder for someone to switch their bank if they know at the end of the year they’re passing up $250.

    I think enroll, invoice yourself for .01 on paypal and go crazy.

  2. Rick020200 says:

    Just a clarification or Rowdy’s comments: the TOS state that you will only get the matching contributions near the anniversary. The rounded up money that you pay into your savings account is always yours.

    Also, to get the full limit of the match ($250) would be very difficult, even with the 3 month 100% teaser period. You’ll get, at most, $0.99 per transaction. So thats 252 transactions in 3 months, or an average of nearly 3 per calendar day, if you can get every one of them at $X.01.

    After the 100% teaser period, thats 5000 transactions a year to get the max benefit of $250, or an average of almost 14 transactions every day, if they are all designed to maximize the match at $X.01.

  3. nweaver says:

    One other thing: It’s the standard SAVINGS account, which is frankly pathetic (.4% taxable interest, so ~.3% after-tax interest).

    They really just want to use this to encourage people to use the debit card system, where they get the immediate profit as if a credit card (the tax on the merchant) but without the cost of the float.

    IMO, debit-credit system (EG, “Visa check cards” etc) are EVIL. Why? Because if my credit card # is stolen, it doesn’t cost me anything. After all, not only do the fraud policies protect me, but I still have the money when I find out about the fraud.

    Compare with a “check card”, where the fraud happens and you don’t know about it (including possibly bouncing checks!) until the statement comes.

  4. HINKShopper says:

    To address Nweaver’s comment regarding about potential fraud with check cards, I think the same consumer protection rules apply with Visa check cards as with Visa cards.

    One reason for this is that the number on the card, while tied directly to a checking account, is still a Visa credit number that is NOT the same as your checking account number.

    The other reason I suspect this is that BofA has actually frozen my check card when it suspected fraudulent use. Not only did they freeze the card, but they also prevented online account access (which, for security purposes, has a completely different set of user information).

    The only way to have the card re-activated was to call them and answer their questions. My complaint with this process was that their questions were exactly the type of questions someone trying to commit ID theft or fraud would probably ask, specifically name and user-confidential questions, &c. It didn’t matter that they had left the message on my mobile phone. What are the odds that my check card, mobile phone and PC were all stolen by the same person who just happened to know the password and userID for each of them?

    It didn’t matter to them. After clearing it all up it still took 72 hours for complete access to my accounts. The freeze, however, was instantaneous.

    I’m undecided as to whether I appreciate this level of “customer care” on their part. It reminds me of the SNL sketch for First Citywide, whose motto was something like ‘Protecting your money from it’s worst enemy — you.”

  5. nweaver says:

    You don’t have the same fraud protection in one CRITICAL way: Until it is discovered and countered, with a Credit Card fraud, the money at risk is the bank’s, while debit card fraud it is yours.

    True, in the end the rules are effectively the same (the customer isn’t liable, the bank is), but it is the effects in the meantime that are evil.

    Its basicalyl this: Those who pay their credit card bill on time are “Deadbeats”, the bank gets the money from the transaction charges, but has the cost of the float for about 20 days. (Namely, they make money, but not that much) So the bank wants all of us deadbeats to switch to the debit card, where the bank gets the same $/transaction, but doesn’t have to pay the cost of 20 days float.

    But the security risk isn’t worth it: The credit card system is designed to allow fraud which is then caught later. I can accept that with my credit card, its not my money until I send in my check. But this is unacceptable with my bank account, as until the fraud is detected and fixed, it is MY money which is gone.