Saving money can be a challenge, especially for those with a lower household income. To help individuals and families with lower incomes save, some financial institutions offer a type of bank account known as a micro saving account. A micro savings account works similarly to a traditional savings account, but it’s designed for consumers who can only make small deposits. It can also be helpful for anyone else who finds that stashing away small amounts suits them. Regardless of your income, if micro saving suits your financial style, it can be a win-win.
Here, you’ll learn:
• What is a micro savings account?
• How are micro savings accounts used?
• The pros and cons of micro savings accounts.
• Alternatives to a micro savings account.
What Is a Micro Savings Account?
A micro savings account (also sometimes seen written as microsavings account) is a savings account that can help meet the financial needs of consumers with smaller household incomes. It can also suit any saver who likes to tuck away small amounts here and there.
A micro savings account works a bit differently from how a savings account works at most financial institutions. Micro savings accounts typically don’t have a minimum deposit requirement, don’t charge service fees, and are more flexible regarding the possible amount of withdrawals.
Many financial institutions that offer micro savings accounts do so to incentivize consumers to save $1,000 a year by encouraging them to save just $20 a week. They often have educational initiatives in place to help guide micro savings account holders towards meeting this goal.
Benefits of Micro Savings Accounts
The following benefits are typically associated with micro savings accounts:
• Low-risk savings account that can earn interest
• Little to no upfront costs
• No credit checks required for new account holders
• Additional microfinance services such as microloans may be available for account holders
• Lower or fewer fees or no fees at all
• No minimum account balance requirements
• More flexible withdrawal limits
Disadvantages of Micro Savings Accounts
There aren’t any real disadvantages associated with micro savings accounts. That said, here are a few small downsides worth considering:
• Savings accounts tend to have a smaller return than other forms of investing (such as a CD vs. a savings account)
• Micro savings accounts can be harder to find than normal savings accounts
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What Are Micro Savings Accounts Used For?
Let’s take a closer look at what micro savings accounts are used for. The reasons why people tend to open them include:
• Creating a regular savings habit
• Saving money consistently in smaller amounts
• Keeping savings separate
• Managing money through a mobile app
Here’s a closer look.
Creating a Regular Savings Habit
Micro savings accounts can help savers boost their liquid assets at an incremental level while giving them the chance to earn interest on their savings. Financial institutions offer micro savings accounts to help encourage good saving habits. These accounts can help remove barriers to saving for those who can’t afford to put away a lot of money. They can also suit those who like to save a little money here and there.
Saving Money Consistently in Smaller Amounts
One of the ideas that drives micro savings accounts is the concept that consistently saving small amounts of money can add up and make an impact. It may not seem that worthwhile at first glance, but setting aside $10 a week can help make a difference. That sum can begin to build a savings fund that can help consumers meet their financial goals or avoid taking on debt when unexpected expenses arise.
Keeping Savings Separate
Storing money in a checking account makes it a lot harder to ignore when spending temptations arise. By keeping money safely stored in a savings account (where it can grow slowly but surely if not touched) can make it easier to keep it separate from spending money. Maybe you are saving for a vacation or you need a new washer/dryer. Whatever your goal is, when the time comes that you are wondering, “Can I spend money from a savings account?” the funds will be there for the taking.
Managing Money Through a Mobile App
Today, lots of people love the convenience of using apps for P2P transfers and other activities. That ease is available with the many micro savings accounts that can be managed through mobile banking accounts. These can make it simpler to monitor spending and saving.
There are also micro savings apps (like Acorns and Stash) that have automated savings features that make it easier to save small amounts of money.
Alternatives to Micro Savings Accounts
If you don’t find a micro savings account that meets your needs, there are alternative saving options that can offer similar benefits. Here are two options worth considering.
• Credit unions: Because credit unions are member-owned, unlike not-for-profit financial institutions such as banks, they tend to charge less fees and offer higher interest rates on savings. Applying to a credit union where you can consider opening a checking vs. savings account (or perhaps both) may be able to replace the purpose of a micro savings account.
• High-yield savings accounts: High-yield savings accounts work the same way that normal savings accounts do but they tend to have a much higher interest rate on deposits. A high-yield savings account is a great way to take advantage of the power of compound interest and help your money grow faster.
These savings accounts can often be found through online banks. Because these institutions don’t have the overhead of bricks-and-mortar locations, they may be able to afford to offer higher interest rates.
You don’t have to do anything differently than you would with a normal savings account to earn this extra interest. You can add small deposits as funds become available.
Recommended: A Guide to High-Yield Savings Accounts
Saving money is hard and requires a lot of discipline. Micro savings accounts are designed to help those with lower incomes or who simply like to save little by little. These accounts typically allow you to make small contributions, charge fewer (or no) fees, and have lower minimum balance requirements. Having the right savings account can make it easier to meet your financial goals. These “slow but steady” savings tools can help you progress on the path to financial wellness.
Another way to save successfully: Open a new bank account with SoFi. When you sign up for Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY on savings, and don’t have to pay any account or overdraft fees. (If you direct-deposit $1,000 or more monthly, you’ll be able to access your paycheck up to two days early.)
How do I create a micro savings account?
Creating a micro savings account works the same as opening any type of savings account. First, you will need to open a bank account or just the savings account by filling out an application and providing the necessary identifying information and documentation. Once you’ve opened the account, you can start making contributions to the micro savings account.
What are the advantages of micro savings?
The main advantages of micro savings accounts are rooted in accessibility: These accounts tend to have no or lower account fees, have smaller or no minimum account balance requirements, and have more flexible withdrawal options. They make it easy to save with small contributions. Many financial institutions that offer micro savings accounts also offer educational initiatives and mobile banking apps that make it easier to learn how to save more money.
Are micro savings apps worth it?
Yes, micro savings apps are worth downloading, as they can make it a lot easier to achieve savings goals. Alongside making it easier to track spending and saving habits, micro savings apps even have automated savings features that make it easier to stash away small amounts of money.
Photo credit: iStock/princessdlaf
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 https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.
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