Crafty Michigan Credit Unions Implement A Lottery Worth Playing

Save to Win gives Michigan residents the chance to win the lottery simply by purchasing a certificate of deposit. Here’s how it works: residents who contribute at least $25 into a Save to Win CD are automatically entered into monthly drawings for a $400 raffle, and an annual drawing for a $100,000 jackpot. Even if you don’t win, you still have an interest bearing CD.

This unusual CD is federally guaranteed by the National Credit Union Administration and pays between 1% and 1.5% annual interest, a bit lower than conventional rates. In 25 weeks, the program has attracted about $3.1 million in new deposits, often from people who have never been able to set money aside.

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People love to gamble and hate to save. With Save to Win, says Communicating Arts Credit Union President Hank Hubbard, “You are sort of betting, but there’s no losing.” If we are to become a nation of savers again, we will need more innovations like this — and the regulatory flexibility to allow them.

The program, developed by a Harvard Business School professor, is aimed at people who have trouble working out probabilities and wouldn’t otherwise have a CD. What do you think? If the program was expanded beyond eight Michigan credit unions and offered a better interest rate, is this a type of gambling you could get behind?

Using the Lottery Effect to Make People Save [The Wall Street Journal via Freakonomics]
(Photo: Jeremy Brooks)