An important feature of SmartyPig is that it lets you redeem part or all of your savings goal for discounted retail gift cards. For example, let's say you have reached your $100 savings goal. You can redeem that $100 for a $104 Amazon.com gift card. SmartyPig calls this a cash boost on your savings. Other cash boost examples include 3% at Best Buy, 3% at Lowe's, 4% at Sears, 3% at Staples, 1% at Walmart and 12% at Macy's.
For the poll question of the day, if you have a SmartyPig account, have you actually redeemed your savings for a gift card? If not, do you plan to redeem some of your savings for a gift card in the near future?
The author of this New York Times Bucks blog post The Best Savings Account Rate Just Got Worse, Tara Siegel Bernard, admitted that she is "not all that interested in saving for a smallish goal and then redeeming the money for a gift card." She just wants to use SmartyPig as a savings account in which interest rate is the most important feature. She interviewed the CEO of SmartyPig, Bob Weinschenk, and the senior VP and director of consumer deposits at BBVA Compass, Rick Claypoole, to get answers on the recent SmartyPig rate cut. Both of them emphasized the goal and cash back features of SmartyPig. According to the blog post:
SmartyPig, however, wants its customers to look at its offerings holistically: that is, the still highly competitive 1.75 percent, coupled with the opportunity to get cash back - ranging from 2 to 14 percent - through its retail partners.
An alternative to using SmartyPig's cash boost is to use other services which let you buy discounted gift cards. One example is Plastic Jungle which provides a market place for buying and selling gift cards. Gift Card Granny lets you search for gift cards across several sites like Plastic Jungle. This blog post at the FinanceDad.com has a good review of the Gift Card Granny, and this FatWallet thread has a useful discussion about the buying discounted gift cards at these sites including places like eBay.
I gave Gift Card Granny a try. I searched for Amazon gift cards, and the only results I received was from eBay. I'm a little concerned with buying gift cards from eBay, but most on that FW thread mentioned being able to get good deals on discounted gift cards. According to FW member Aitchly:
No problems with eBay cards. I only purchase from sellers with high ratings and good feedback. With the bing CashBack, you get an extra 8% off the price.
If you don't use SmartyPig's cash boost, do you use eBay, Plastic Jungle or similar services? They do require extra work. If you don't want the extra work, it seems like SmartyPig's cash boost is a useful feature if you shop at places like Amazon or Best Buy.
SmartyPig Savings Account Overview
Please refer to my SmartyPig savings account review for more details about how SmartyPig works.