If you’ve been paying attention to high yield savings rates over the past few months, you may have noticed they’re on their way up. No, not to the 4% – 5% levels we saw about a decade ago. But, slowly, interest rates are creeping in a positive direction.
SmartyPig is one of the high yield savings accounts that has always led the way with top interest rates. Keeping with that trend, they currently offer a great interest rate, making it worth considering for your new savings account.
SmartyPig High Yield Interest Rates
SmartyPig currently offers four tiers when calculating interest for its consumers, based on the average daily balance on the account. So, for example, if today you had $3,000 in your SmartyPig savings account, you would earn 0.90% APY for that day. If tomorrow, you deposited another $8,000, that day would earn 0.95% APY on the $11,000 total in the account. These tier levels are not like tax tables, either… the full balance of your account will earn the APY in the active tier.
- $0.01 – $2,500 — 0.85% APY
- $2,500.01 – $10,000 — 0.90% APY
- $10,000.01 – $50,000 — 0.95% APY
- $50,000.01+ — 1.12% APY
In today’s online savings account market, earning 0.85% – 0.95% is still good. However, some competitors can do better. For example, Ally Bank currently offers 1.15% APY on all accounts, regardless of amount deposited. For this reason, SmartyPig is geared toward savers who can keep over $50,000 in their account at all times.
SmartyPig Savings Goals
One of the features that SmartyPig has employed since the very first day it became an online bank was to allow users to create internal savings goals.
For example, if I wanted to create a $5,000 savings goal for a family vacation, I could set up recurring transfers from an external account into my SmartyPig account to track my savings progress. Or, I simply draw from my primary SmartyPig savings account into my goal account. During the saving process, I can track my progress toward my goal. Once I reach the goal, SmartyPig releases funds back into my primary savings account.
The SmartyPig Savings Goals section is largely symbolic. There are no interest rate benefits or negatives to creating goals. If you decide to scrap a goal early, SmartyPig places them back into your main account with all interest earned. The idea here is that visualizing the goal and keeping track of the amount you’ve saved goes a long way towards completing your task.
Resource: Setting Goals You’ll Actually Achieve
Opening Up a SmartyPig Account
The process to open up a SmartyPig account takes all of five minutes. You’ll need your personal information, including social security number and a cell phone, plus a few moments to complete a three-step online application.
- Create your login details and enter your cell phone number.
- Verify your cell phone number by using the 4 digit code SmartyPig will send you (the stated timeline to complete this step is 14 days before your account will be closed).
- Verify your identity by entering your personal information and answering four security questions.
After these steps have been completed, you’ll have your very own SmartyPig high yield savings account. The last thing to do is verify your email address, which is required after your account is active, but before you can set up any external funding source. The login dashboard for SmartyPig looks like this:
Setting Up External Transfer Accounts
In order to fund your SmartyPig account, you must set up an external funding source. SmartyPig is not a bank in and of itself. It’s simply a “product of sorts” that Sallie Mae offers. So, the only way to get money into the account is by transferring it from another account. SmartyPig and Sallie Mae are FDIC-insured for the full $250,000 per depositor. But there are currently no physical locations where you can deposit funds. Therefore, direct deposit and external transfer are your options.
After creating an account and setting up a savings goal (optional), I entered my first external funding source. After this, I went through the standard verification process where SmartyPig made two small deposits to my funding account. This process can take a few days depending on the bank you use. Once the small deposits are verified, you can deposit directly into your SmartyPig primary or goal account.
How Much Can SmartyPig Earn You?
Why use SmartyPig? Well, compared to other popular high yield savings accounts, SmartyPig carries one of the best interest rates for high-balance accounts. Popular banks like Discover, American Express, Ally, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs Bank USA offer interest rates above 1% APY but below the 1.12% APY that SmartyPig offers.
Let’s run a small example of how much money a SmartyPig account can earn you on top of the others:
- As of 5.24.2017, the interest rate at Ally Bank is 1.05%. If you were to deposit $100,000 into your Ally account today and let it accrue interest (compounded daily) at the current rate, you would have $105,393 after five years.
- If you did the same with your SmartyPig account and it’s 1.12% interest rate, the ending balance after five years would be $105,762. This means SmartyPig will earn you an additional $369.
Admittedly, $369 spread across five years ($74 per year) is not a large amount of money when considering the initial deposit is $100,000. However, we’re all here to save money. If it’s no skin off your hide to spend fifteen minutes setting up and funding your SmartyPig account, why wouldn’t you? After all, $369 for 15 minutes’ worth of work ain’t bad!
Additional SmartyPig Benefits
When SmartyPig was initially launched around a decade ago, it focused more on spending than saving. Backed at the time by BBVA Compass, the bank offered gift cards instead of actual cash when cashing out a goal and earning interest. The benefit then was that specific cards and stores would offer a premium on their gift cards, so an account holder could earn much more than the current interest rate offered. When Sallie Mae took control of the bank last year, the account structure shifted to a more strict savings approach.
However, there is still one feature of the old bank present in SmartyPig. Every account holder has the ability to buy Amazon gift cards within their account. There is no added bonus to do so, though, and your account must be opened for 60 days before being able to purchase an Amazon gift card. So, in terms of how this plays into the SmartyPig platform, it doesn’t. The best I can do is describe it as an oddity that I suspect will change in the near future.
Other benefits of owning a SmartyPig account are as follows:
- Refer a Friend Bonus – Every friend you refer to SmartyPig will earn you $10 after they’ve opened an account and deposited $25 within the first 30 days. The bonus is deposited directly into your account! SmartyPig caps the number of new account referrals at 100, so you can earn up to $1,000 extra.
- Joint or Limited Access to Goals – One of the cool things about your SmartyPig interface is that with each goal you set up, you have the ability to share that goal with family and friends. You can choose to allow them to simply view and keep track of the goal, or to have account access to the goal, where they can deposit funds via their own external funding source.
SmartyPig is a great place to park your savings if you have over $50,000 to do so. Its interface is clean. Getting set up is easy, and tracking your progress is a neat way to stay on top of your savings. If you currently have your money parked in a different online savings account and would benefit from the higher interest rate SmartyPig provides on big balances, consider making the switch.
Updated July 2, 2017 and originally published May 24, 2017.