BoA's "Keep The Change" Program: Worth It?

What do you think of Bank of America’s “Keep The Change” program? How it works is every purchase you make with your BoA debit card you make gets rounded up to the next dollar. The difference between that and the actual price gets moved from your checking to your savings account. The idea is to help people save. Good idea, but there’s some potential downsides I can see:

1) It can unconsciously rationalize spending. Some part of your brain is going, “It’s ok, I’m saving.”

2) Personally, I only use my debit card to withdraw money from the ATM. I don’t want my account number getting stolen off some insecure store PIN pad, and paying only in cash encourages wiser spending.

3) If you’re going to do this program, at least once a month move the money from the savings to an online savings account. Interest rates at brick and mortar banks are like .0crap, online you can get upwards of 3% right now.

One neat thing is that for the first 3 months, they will match everything you save 100%. After that, 5% of your purchases up to $250.

The deal has been around for a while, we wrote about it in 2005, but a new smarmy ad campaign (the one that goes, “This is America. Do we let the sun just shine or the wind just blow? No, we put them to work.”) and recent events, made me think we could revisit it. What do you think? Is this a handy program, or the Diet Coke of savings plans? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Keep The Change [Bank of America] (Photo: atbartlett)