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A Program That Rewards Not Spending

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For years, credit cards have been offering rewards to consumers who spend. Now, a new company does just the opposite: it rewards consumers who save. And the prizes are eye popping: a trip to Hawaii, a Toyota Prius, a $50,000 college scholarship. The catch? Good luck getting them.

Launched today, SaveUp rewards consumers who pay down their debt or put more cash into their bank accounts. Here’s how it works: Consumers link their debts (including credit cards, car and student loans, mortgages etc.) and bank accounts from pretty much any U.S. bank to their SaveUp account. The site automatically awards 1 credit for every dollar saved or every dollar of debt paid off.

Not only is it encouraging healthy financial behavior, but consumers can rack up rewards points much faster than when they swipe their credit card. Most credit cards give just one to three cents back on every dollar a consumer spends. And there’s no cost to using SaveUp – it’s free to all consumers.

But for all the pitfalls of credit cards, consumers know that when they reach a certain number of points they’re guaranteed to get some type of reward. At SaveUp, on the other hand, all that’s guaranteed is a chance to win the big prizes in a kind of lottery drawing. Consumers can use their points to play games – like scratch offs, drawings and jackpots – for a shot at prizes. Each game, no matter the prize, costs 10 credits, which is equal to $10 that a consumer has saved or paid down in debt.

The chances of winning these games drop as the prizes get more appealing. One of the prizes is $2 million – yes, that’s right, $2 million – and the winner will be announced at the end of the month. Chances of winning? One in a whopping 175 million. Somewhat better, though still far-fetched, are players’ odds at winning a vacation or scholarship, which range from one in 2.5 million to 10 million.

Sure it doesn’t hurt to dream, but for those of us based in reality, the more attainable prizes are $100 gift cards to stores like Macy’s and Trader Joe’s. Those odds are one in 100.

For its part, the site says that by merely participating consumers are winning. As consumers rack up more credits, it’s a sign that they’re paying down debts and saving more. “The prizes are the icing on the cake,” says Priya Haji, CEO and co-founder of SaveUp. Separately, the company plans to introduce small, guaranteed rewards (that consumers won’t have to play to win), like discounts, coupons or gift cards, at some point.

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    • Tell me where the RE price will go .CA is proposing leyving extra taxes on houses > 5000 sq ft who’s to say it won’t happen here? There is already budget shortfalls in King county and with the recession going forward that budget shortfall has to be made up.With Mass Transit just passed and the new 520 and Viaduct where is that money coming from?With the right wing free-market philosophy out of the office in DC, the new gov’t will now emphasize fiscal stimulus to revive the economy and one of the ways is spending on infrastructure where is that money going to come from?Less borrowing from foreign gov’t means more need for domestic funding i.e. taxesGoing forward the country has to become more thrifty so I can totally see taxes levied on energy consumption (that mean the bigger your house is the more tax you pay).You want better schools? Tax the property owner .. Rate this comment: 0 0

    • Hi Tammy – thanks for asking. I am responding on behalf of SaveUp. The $2 million dollars is a bonded and insured prize and proof has been submitted to all 50 states as part of our registration. We have bonds to back the prize which we pay for with revenue from advertising and sponsorships.

      SaveUp is completely free to users. Although the prizes are long-odds on the big ones as AnnaMaria points out – 57% of Americans PAY for lottery tickets with worse odds. Or Americans can use credit card rewards which require high amounts of spending/debt to access rewards. We are offering Americans a rewarding fun experience which helps keep you motivated to save money and reduce debt. And yes, you could win a very large prize for doing the right thing for yourself.

      We welcome your feedback and suggestions. Keep it coming!

    • Who pays for this? Where is SaveUp getting $2 million to award to someone? Couldn’t find the answer on there website.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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