Keeping the Change

Bank of America is one of a few Bank Borgs (resistance is futile; your wealth will be assimilated) that continues to swallow up local banks across the US. I opened up my current account twenty plus years ago when the local branch was a BayBank. Since the nineties it has merged with Bank of Boston into BankBoston, which was then acquired by Fleet which has since been absorbed by Bank of America. Whew.

I’d always liked the Fleet incarnation best because the logo vaguely resembles an austere-ish-looking eagle spot-checking for underarm odor. So you get an idea of the weighty consideration I apply when electing institutions to steward my financial house. Or my financial motorhome, such as it were.

About a year or so back, BofA announced a new program called “Keep the Change”. Subscribers to Keep the Change automatically have sub-dollar remainders transfered to their savings account every time they use a BofA checking account debit card for purchases. So, for example, if someone buys a sandwich for $4.50, the remaining $0.50 gets transferred into a linked savings account.

I remember asking a bank representative one day why BofA was doing this. “Because we think it’s nice”, he said. Yeah, okay. I’m sure that’s how the board meeting in New York went. Suited executives sitting around talking in low voices about how nice this will be for account holders. “It will make them smile.. and think happy thoughts about unicorns and butterflies and rainbows.” Yes, BofA wants us to be happy.

Anyway, I chalked this up as a clever marketing ploy to get people using their BofA debit cards instead of cash. Makes sense.

Out of curiosity, however, I recently stopped to check the interest rate on the saving account into which I was having money trickled. I figured it would be about two percent or so. Sure enough, there was a two. 0.2%! I did a triple-take. Less than a quarter of a percent!

Hmmm. It would seem to me then that Keep the Change, in addition to encouraging use of digital cash, is potentially even more effective at obscuring how the Bank Borg are paying all of diddly-squat to use my money. I keep the change, they keep the interest. Clever indeed.

I’ve since asked around the net for banking recommendations. Both ING Direct and HSBC Direct (with no extra-bank transfer fees) come highly recommended. Savings interest rates bordering five percent plus. That’s more like it.

Now if one of them would just get a good logo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.