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SmartyPig is a free FDIC-insured piggy bank that lets you save up for your goals, whether it’s a new television, a wedding or bedroom furniture.
The beauty of SmartyPig is your money earns interest while you save and you can earn cash back when you’re ready to make your purchase by using the SmartyPig Cash Rewards prepaid debit card.
The idea of a cash back debit card is not new. However, many debit card rewards programs closed their doors after the Durbin Interchange Amendment went into effect with the Dodd-Frank act in 2010. This leaves SmartyPig as one of the few banks offer a rewards prepaid debit card.
Luckily for us, SmartyPig has executed this idea well. This makes the SmartyPig Cash Rewards card an ideal alternative to a cash back credit card. You may even want to replace your traditional bank account.
Key Features & Benefits
- Cash back on purchases. You’ll earn 1% cash back on any signature or online purchases with your SmartyPig card (not PIN purchases). Your cash back can be credited back to your card or deposited into one of your SmartyPig savings goals. You can earn up to $300 cash back per calendar year.
- Prepaid card — not a credit card. The SmartyPig Cash Rewards card isn’t a credit card but a prepaid, reloadable card that’s linked to your SmartyPig savings account. The card won’t help or hurt your credit but it will help you learn how to stay out of debt and avoid financing purchases with a credit card.
- Low Fees. There is no monthly maintenance fee, no cost to load funds or perform PIN and POS transactions and customer service is free of charge. You will need to pay a $9.95 initial card fee and there are fees to withdrawal cash from an ATM ($1.95 domestic, $4.95 international ATM). You may also incur a check issuance fee, expedited shipping fee, a lost card fee and an exchange rate adjustment, although these fees are easily avoidable.
- No credit check to qualify. As the SmartyPig card is not a credit card, you don’t need to meet any eligibility requirements other than being a registered SmartyPig account holder who is at least 18 years old. Simply request your card and pay the initial fee.
- Use anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Your SmartyPig Cash Rewards card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted so you can load the money from one of your goals onto your card and buy whatever you’ve been saving for to earn cash back.
- FDIC insured. SmartyPig is FDIC insured, so you do not need to worry about the safety of your savings.
What’s the Trick?
Actually, there is no trick to the SmartyPig Cash Rewards card, other than maybe the initial $9.95 sign up fee, and the $2 ATM fees (however these are fairly reasonable when compared to some of the pre-paid cards out there).
It’s a great opportunity to reward yourself for saving for a goal by earning cash back on something you would normally pay interest on with a credit card.
The key benefit we see in SmartyPig is that you can qualify for the card regardless of your credit score (as there is no credit check, it is essentially like opening a checking account) and feel good knowing you’re buying something with your money rather than borrowing.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t qualify for a traditional cash back credit card, or prefer to avoid credit all together, SmartyPig is one of the most innovative and fun ways to save money and actually teaches responsible spending by saving up for what you want most.
SmartyPig savings accounts are also free to open and allow you to save even more if you redeem your money for retail cards.
With the SmartyPig Cash Rewards prepaid debit card, you’ll earn 1% cash back on gasoline, new clothes, furniture and even vacation travel — all without signing up for another credit card. Do yourself a favor and give SmartyPig a try!