SmartyPig Review and a $50.00 Giveaway
SmartyPig is a recently launched website that lets individuals or families set specific savings goals and make specific contributions to those goals on an automated and recurring basis. With SmartyPig, savings accounts are goal oriented and not just a place where money is stashed. SmartyPig partnered with Westbank to set-up high interest (4.30% at the time of this review) savings accounts to save for these goals.
SmartyPig is all about saving for goals such as vacations, books, a new lawn mower, etc. SmartyPig allows and encourages family and friends to chip in and help you out by contributing to your goals through the the site. Savings goals can be made private or public when the y are initially created.
The easiest way for family and friends to help you save is by purchasing a SmartyPig Gift Card, referred to as the “Gift of Savings“. Gift cards can be given immediately via email or can be sent out via regular mail. They even provide a bulk purchase option for companies wanting to give the cards out as rewards or bonuses.
Sign-up and registration was easy and very secure. The process involves completing 10 steps which take you through accepting the SmartyPig Terms of Service, entering personal and security information, email verification, and verifying information pulled using a soft pull from your credit report.
Speaking of the credit report pull, if you have credit watch enabled or have been a victim of identify theft in the past, you may have problems with this feature. Contact SmartyPig support and they will assist you with resolving the issue.
If you took time to read through the terms of service (you did right?), you’ll note that if you are a member of SmartyPig there are for the most part no fees associated with making contributions to others savings goals. This was a recent change and prior to it the fees were a major concern amoungst the many bloggers that reviewed the product.
The recent free change dropped contribution fees for SmartyPig customers as long as they use an existing funding source (i.e. the checking or savings account you set-up after registration). The fee to purchase a gift card or make a contribution using a credit card is a flat 2.9% percent. So, obviously being a member is the best way to go, and honestly enhances the overall social aspect of SmartyPig.
Creating a Savings Account
Once you’re registered and logged in, creating a SmartyPig savings account is the next step in the process. Doing so requires the account be linked to an outside funding source such as a checking or savings account. You’ll need to have the bank’s contact number, your transit/routing number, and account number. Each SmartyPig savings account is linked to a funding source. As part of the process, you’ll provide the withdrawal date for the automatic savings deposit. SmartyPig will withdrawl an amount specified in your savings goal each month and deposit it in your SmartyPig account.
Creating a Savings Goal
The next step involves creating a savings goal. SmartyPig prompts you for the name of your goal, a category and then requests an amount for your initial deposit. The initial deposit must be at least $25.00 and is independent of your monthly automatic savings deposit.
You then specify the date by which you would like to reach your savings goal and press the Calculate Contribution button. SmartyPig will display the required monthly contribution in order to meet your goal. SmartyPig also factors in interest based on the current rate when making the calculation (currently 4.30% APR). You then select your funding source (you can have multiples) and press Create a Savings Goal.
Your goal is then shown on your main profile page with a pink piggy showing your % of progress.
SmartyPig Gift Cards
Anyone can purchase a SmaryPig gift card. Gift cards are available in amounts of $25, $50, $100, and $500 denominations. Remember though, unless you are a SmartyPig member, there is a 2.9% fee when purchasing a gift card. If you are a member and you’re using an existing funding source, there is no fee.
Gift cards can be used to help existing members meet their savings goals, and to “Give the gift of savings” to new users can create SmartyPig accounts. SmartyPig gift cards can only be used to start or fund a SmartyPig savings goal. Gift card values cannot be redeemed for cash until the savings goal has been met or closed.
One really nice feature is the ability to send gift cards electronically through email instead of through normal postal mail.
Redeeming a Gift Card
The folks at SmartyPig were kind enough to provide me with a $50 dollar gift card so I could try out the whole process. Redeeming the gift card was easy, and involved entering the gift card number on the back of the card, selecting the account to find, entering a PIN number also on the back of the card and specifying the savings goal the card value should be applied to. The value was immediately credit to my account and savings goal.
Watch your SmartyPig savings grow
At this point, your SmartyPig account will just grow based on the monthly deposit amount you specified. As indicated above, each month based on the date you specified, your SmartyPig account will receive a transfer from the specified funding source, along with an interest payment.
In addition to using gift cards to add additional funds to your account, you can also transfer over snowflakes to further accelerate your savings and to help you reach your goal even quicker.
Redeeming your savings
Once your goal is reached (or you decide to stop the goal), you can cash out your funds using one of the following options:
- Debit Card
- Merchant Gift Card
The SmartyPig debit card places your savings amount on a fully functional MasterCard debit card where you can use the savings via the debit or make a cash withdrawal of the savings amount.
You can also purchase a merchant gift card from retail partners SmartyPig has teamed up with in the form of a gift card. The benefit of the gift card is that the retailers will chip in an extra amount as a reward. Retailers consist of Amazon.com, Babies-R-Us, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Home Depot just to name a few. You can view the whole list over on the SmartyPig retailers page.
Receiving a paper check is the final option and in my opinion the lease favorable as there is a pretty steep fee. The better option would be to redeem your savings for a SmartyPig debit card, and use it to just withdrawal the cash.
For my evaluation, I didn’t complete my SmartyPig goal, but chose to stop it and redeem the balance in the form of an Amazon gift card (which I’ll give away next month) so I could fully evaluate the product end to end.
In addition to giving me a $50.00 SmartyPig gift card to try out their service, SmartyPig also gave me a $50.00 SmartyPig gift card to giveaway to my readers. Entering the contest is easy. If you are a current Gather Little by Little subscriber, at the bottom of my feed you’ll find the “secret phrase”. All you have to do is contact me and tell me the “secret phrase” and you’re entered. If you aren’t currently a subscriber, than just subscribe via RSS or email and grab the “secret phrase“.
I’ll randomly pick a winner 2 weeks from today (Monday, 4/13) and contact you so I can send you your SmartyPig $50.00 gift of savings! Unsure of what to do or have questions? No problem, just contact me.
I think SmartyPig is a great idea that is really going to take off. They offer a great website, a unique goal oriented approach to savings, and a higher than normal interest rate. Not to mention my experience with Jon Gaskell, one of the co-founders was just plain great. Jon was very responsive and always available to answer my questions and help me out. I think it says a great deal about a company when you have someone at the top of the house providing he level of support he has.
Curious about SmartyPig? I’d encourage you to try it out. Want to read more? Here are some links to other bloggers talking about SmartyPig:
- SmartyPig Teaches Your Children About Savings For Financial Goals at Moolanomy
- $50 SmartyPig Gift Card Giveaway at My Dollar Plan
- Giveaway: $100 Gift Card for SmartyPig , a Unique Savings Account at Consumerism Commentary
- SmartyPig $50 giveaway at ChristianPF
- SmartyPig: A Simpler Way to Save Or A Fee Trap? at Free Money Finance
- SmartyPig is One Smart (Social) Savings Plan at Mashable
- Creating a Savings Goal With SmartyPig at We’re in Debt