Thursday, July 26, 2007

Beware of "Keep the Change"

I haven't seen any of the advertisements on television for Bank of America's Keep the Change program, but while at the bank today, I received the pitch.

In case you're unfamiliar with this program, I'll explain. The teller told me that if you have a checking account and a savings account, which I do, you would be eligible to enroll in the Keep the Change program. It works like this. Every time you swipe your debit card to pay for an item, you pay more for the item, rounding up to the nearest dollar. The extra money you pay goes into your savings account, which the bank then doubles. Let's say you buy a sandwich for $5.20. You pay with your debit card $6.00. That extra $0.80 is put into the savings account, and then the bank gives you another $0.80 in that account!

It sounds like a great deal. I told the teller that it sounded too good to be true. I didn't sign up, but I was interested, so I took a pamphlet for perusal later.

Alas, it was too good to be true. After checking the fine print, I discovered that Bank of America will only match at 100% that extra fraction of a dollar you're paying for three months. After that, it's only 5%. This is the very definition of false advertising. There was no asterisk beside any of the points in the pamphlet that said that they would match that extra change, 100%. Well they do, but only for three months.

Now, it still could be worth it, but for those of us who have limited budgets, all that extra money adds up, money that you can't spend, unless you want to go through the hassle of constantly keeping track of how much extra money you had to pay in a transaction and transferring it back to the checking account with the debit card. Is it worth the hassle for 100% for three months, and then 5% after that? I've given you the facts. You decide.

No comments: