What Are Round-Up Savings?

By Janet Siroto · February 21, 2023 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.

What Are Round-Up Savings?

Round-ups are an automatic savings tool that rounds up purchase prices to the nearest dollar. The difference between that somewhat higher figure and the actual price then gets deposited into a savings or investment account.

One of the key benefits of this savings technique is that it’s effortless. The money accrues without your doing any calculations or transfers. It’s akin to the saving technique in which people pay cash for purchases using bills and accumulate change. That loose change eventually gets deposited into a savings account. Round-ups accomplishes the same goal, but there’s no lugging coin jars involved.

If this round-ups concept sounds interesting, read on to learn more, including:

•   How does round-up savings work?

•   Do banks offer round-up savings?

•   What are round-up savings apps?

•   What are the pros and cons of round-ups?

How Does Round-Up Savings Work?

Need a real-world example of how round-up savings works? Say you stop at your local coffee shop for a latte to go. It costs $4.65. With a round-up, the price is rounded up to $5, with $4.65 going to the merchant and 35 cents to the account you have designated.

Now, 35 cents might not sound like much, but think of how many times you swipe or tap that card. It’s not uncommon for people to make 30 transactions per week and save more than $10 per week with round-ups. That would be in excess of $520 a year, not including the power of compound interest which can boost the amount higher still.

With some providers, these small amounts of change accrue and then are deposited into the user’s account in a lump sum once they hit a certain dollar-amount threshold or a specific time period has passed.

With others, the funds may be deposited as soon as the transaction settles.

Do Banks Offer Round-Up Savings?

Some bank accounts and debit card products offer round-ups for transactions. Not all financial institutions offer round-up savings accounts, so if the notion sounds like the right tactic to help you save, consider investigating whether the feature is offered before deciding where to open an account.

It can be a good perk that helps add to your savings, whether your goal is accruing the money you need for an emergency fund or getting enough moolah together for next summer’s vacation.

How does a round-up savings account work? Typically, you will have linked checking and savings accounts at a bank. The debit card for the checking account can be activated to round up the price of purchases. The difference between the actual cost and the rounded-up price is then transferred to the checking account.

Quick Money Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.

Round-Up Savings Apps

There are also standalone round-up apps, which users can typically connect to a credit card, debit card, or checking account.

The app then monitors transactions and either transfers the proceeds of round-ups in batches or allows users to transfer money on demand.

Some standalone round-up apps also charge a monthly user fee.

In such cases, consider the monthly volume of transactions to make sure the cost doesn’t exceed the amount of money round-ups will help to accrue for savings. The point here, of course, is to grow your wealth, not nibble away at your money.

Recommended: 5 Types of Savings You Should Consider Having

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Round-Up Savings Can Add Up

While saving 23 or 85 cents here and there may not sound like much, any coin-jar saver who ever went to the bank with $100 in change can attest that putting away small amounts can add up fast. Consider the following:

•   Saving just five extra dollars a week in round-ups adds up to $260 over the course of the year. This may not sound like a lot of money to save in total, but it can provide a nice boost to augment a more intentional savings strategy.

•   Just like other savings or investments, round-ups deposited into a savings or an investment account have the potential to earn a good interest rate. If the proceeds of round-up purchases are deposited to a savings account on a regular basis, that spare change would grow — and could continue growing — each time interest compounds.

For round-up investing, those small savings can, over time, help in the purchase of additional shares which may also grow in value.

Pros and Cons of Round-up Savings

It’s a fact that many Americans have trouble saving money. For example, almost half of all Americans have no retirement savings at all, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey.

There are lots of reasons people have trouble saving — and for some, setting up round-ups can help them consistently set money away without having to think about it or expend any effort.

Wondering whether round-ups are right for you? Here are some pros and cons to note:

Pros of Round-Up Savings

Among the benefits of round-ups are:

•   Round-ups are a positive step in financial selfcare. One reason round-ups can be a useful savings tool is they help someone pay themselves with each transaction. Kind of like tipping oneself, round-ups pay the saver a little something extra on their purchases, making everyday spending a little more rewarding.

•   Round-ups are automatic. Part of why saving can feel painful is that it requires the saver to make difficult decisions on a regular basis. Once round-ups are set up, no conscious sacrifices are required. You don’t have to engage in any potentially painful decisions about, say, how to save money on streaming services or your utility bill.

Automating personal finances can be a helpful tactic to encourage healthy habits, and round-ups can be a valuable part of this seamless approach to personal finances.

•   Round-ups show visible progress on your savings goals. For those who are already putting money into savings on a regular basis, taking advantage of round-up features can help to grow that money more rapidly, putting savings goals within even closer reach. For those who aren’t currently saving, seeing round-ups grow as you swipe or tap your debit card can be an encouraging experience.

•   Round-ups may help counter savings procrastination. While some people save early and often, others may put it off. There are lots of reasons for procrastinating on starting a savings plan and surely many other tempting ways to spend your cash. Round-ups can help motivate savings procrastinators by demonstrating the effects of putting money away on a regular basis.

Cons of Round-Up Savings

While round-ups work well for many people, there are some downsides to consider as well.

•   Round-ups may come with fees. When opting into a round-up service, review the fees. Saving $5 a week seems great, but if fees are going to cost you $2, is that worth it?

•   Round-ups could throw off a careful budget. If you are on a very tight budget, rounding up could tip things out of balance. Also, people who often have a low balance in their checking account could overdraw their account due to the automatic round-ups fee being debited. That, in turn, can lead to overdraft or NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees. Review program requirements for round-ups and your bank accounts’ guidelines before opting into anything.

Pay Yourself — Every Time

Saving money can be hard work but using round-ups can automate savings and eliminate some of the pain of growing your finances.

With a SoFi Checking and Savings online bank account, you can enroll in the Round-up program to help grow your savings. What’s more, you’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and pay zero in account fees, which also can boost your savings. Need more incentive to see what SoFi can do for you? Another perk is that qualifying accounts can get paycheck access up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


Do round-up savings work?

Round-up savings can work by increasing the price you pay on transactions to the next higher dollar amount and depositing the difference in a savings or other account. However, be aware that some round-up apps may charge a fee, which may diminish the amount you save.

What is a round-up savings account?

A round-up savings account is one in which your debit card transactions from a linked checking account are rounded up to the next dollar amount. The rounded-up amount (the difference between the actual price of the goods or service and the price you paid as a round-up) then goes into your savings account where interest can help it grow.

Do banks offer round-up savings?

Various banks offer round-up savings. How it works: When you use the debit card linked to your checking account at the bank, the cost of a purchase will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. The extra money then gets deposited into your linked savings account where it can grow.

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