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Is SmartyPig's Cash Boost Worthwhile?

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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.

  Tags: SmartyPig, savings account

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Comments
5 comments.
Comment #1 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
You can redeem that $100 for a $104 Amazon.com gift card??

Not exactly... you're able to get  ($104 -- fees) Amazon.com gift card.  I don't remember how much they charge for fees. I believe it is $2 to $3 dollars.

1
Comment #2 by dbl118 posted on
dbl118
I've sold cards on ebay before.  However now that BING has ended, it no longer makes sense.  It's much simpler to sell on plastic jungle for pretty much the same profit.  I'm sure other sellers feel the same way.  Ebay is longer as a good gift card option since the fees for sellers are so high, and obviously they'll pass some of that on to the buyers.

1
Comment #3 by anter posted on
anter
if i know i will spent the money at amazon, sure, i'll bite, but other than that no

1
Comment #4 by Carrie (anonymous) posted on
Carrie
I just started an account with Smarty Pig. I expect that I will redeem a portion of my savings on one or more of their retailer cards. Macys, Amazon and Lowes seem like good options. I am mostly saving for home repairs and renovations. So a little extra on a card for one of the retailers I might shop with anyway is fine with me.

2