Whenever you collect change – maybe in a cup by the front door–you likely already know the benefits of spare change savings.
You generally don’t miss the coins you drop into your collection each day. But once you get around to putting the whole pile in the bank (or a coin machine), you could end up with a few hundred bucks.
Today, spare change saving or “round-up” apps make the process even simpler. They automatically calculate the difference between the amount you charge on your debit or credit card and the next dollar amount. They then divert that virtual change into a savings account.
Spare change savings (also known as “micro-saving”) can be a great way to kick start your savings and also help you start automating your finances. However, not all spare change apps are created equal.
Some of these apps charge fees, which can quickly erode your savings. And some actually invest your savings, which may not be ideal if you’re saving for a short-term goal, such as building an emergency fund or buying a car.
Here are some key things you may want to keep in mind when choosing a spare change savings app.
How Does Spare Change Saving Work?
The philosophy behind spare change savings is “little and often.” Every time you spend money, whether it’s on gas, groceries or dining out, an app rounds up that purchase and saves the change for you.
Spare change savings apps typically connect to your credit and/or debit card, take the virtual change from your linked checking account, and put the money into a savings account. For instance, if you buy a sandwich for $5.80, the app will automatically transfer 20 cents from your checking account into a savings account. It’s one way to automate your finances.
Some spare change apps put your money into a traditional savings account or a checking and savings account. Others invest your money in small portfolios, based on your risk tolerance and financial situation. There are also spare change apps that use saved funds to pay off debts that you designate, such as credit cards or student loans.
💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.
Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!
The Benefits of Spare Change Savings
There are a number of potential benefits to spare change savings. Below are some of the reasons you may want to try using one of these apps.
They can make saving easy and automatic
One of the biggest advantages of spare change savings is that it’s automatic. You don’t have to remember to bring your change to the bank or transfer money from checking to savings after you get paid in order to save money from your salary. And, unlike the change jar, the money saved is out of sight and out of mind.
If you’re struggling to save money, setting up a spare change savings app can help jumpstart the process and make it relatively pain-free.
Your savings can earn interest
Unlike the piggy bank method, a spare change app can put your savings into an account that can earn interest and help your money grow over time.
Some spare change savings apps, known as “micro-investing” apps, will offer users the opportunity to invest their money in stocks, bonds, and/or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This involves risk, but if these investments do well, your savings could grow considerably.
They can make investing less intimidating
Micro-investing apps can make it easier to get started with investing, even if you currently don’t know anything about it. Generally, they’ll recommend a portfolio based on your goals and time horizon, turning your spare change into an investment on a small scale–a good way to experiment.
There may be extra ways to save
Some spare change savings apps partner up with other brands that will kick in a percentage of every purchase you make to your savings account. For example, if an app partners with Macy’s or Apple, every time you make a purchase from one of those retailers, a small percent of the total you spend would get added to your savings account (in addition to the round-up amount taken from your checking account).
💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.
Disadvantages of Spare Change Savings
There are some potential downsides to spare change savings apps. Here are a few drawbacks you may want to consider before signing up for one of these apps.
They may charge fees
Some spare change apps charge monthly (and other) fees for using their services. Before signing up for an app, it’s a good idea to read the fine print and look into what, if any, fees you may be charged and how often.
Even if the fees are small, they could quickly eat into your savings, especially since the dollar amounts you’re putting away are small.
It’s possible to lose money through investments
If you choose to put your spare change savings into investments, there is some risk involved. Depending on market fluctuations, your money could grow. On the other hand, you could potentially lose some or all of your savings.
Micro-investing may not be ideal for emergency funds
If you go with an app that invests your savings, you may not be able to access the money immediately, which could be an issue if you’re faced with a financial emergency.
Another potential problem is that if your account is down in value at the time you need to withdraw the money, you would have to take a loss instead of waiting for market conditions to improve.
You might get hit with an overdraft fee
If your checking account is close to zero after you make a transaction, and then the spare change app rounds-up the transaction and withdraws additional funds, you could end up overdrafting your account. This could result in getting hit with a hefty overdraft fee.
While each spare change app functions slightly differently, they all revolve around the same basic concept: You save small increments of cash that you likely won’t miss. The money gets put into a savings account. You can then use the money to work toward your savings goals.
Spare change apps aren’t for everyone, however. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and at risk of overdrafting your account, these apps may not be ideal for you. And if you don’t yet have an emergency fund built up, you may not want to choose an app that invests your savings.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for creative ways to jumpstart your financial goals, a spare change app (with low or no fees) may be the tool you’re looking for. Just make sure you have a savings account for that spare change to go into.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
Photo credit: iStock/Nattakorn Maneerat
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..