bank rates

Add to your savings, qualify for cash prizes

The Save to Win program provides Michigan credit union members with a sweet incentive to buy more CDs.

For every $25 they deposit into a special 12-month Save to Win CD, they earn one entry in 90 monthly drawings for $50 to $100 prizes, and a grand prize drawing for 10 prizes of $10,000 in January 2013.

But really, everyone who participates is a winner, because unlike the standard lottery, you get to keep all of the money you use to enter, even if you don’t win.

See? No losers here.

The only thing that would make this program better is if the 58 participating credit unions offered better CD rates on these special certificates of deposit.

A quick search found that most were paying around 0.40% APY, with a few paying as little as 0.10% APY and one as much as 0.75% APY.

The average annual return on 1-year CDs was 0.31% in our most recent survey of large banks and thrifts.

The two banks at the top of our CD Rates Leaderboard are paying 1.10% APY.

Although the difference in the Save to Win and the Leaderboard CD rates appears great, in reality it’s just a few bucks on a $500 deposit for 12 months.

Plus, the real goal of this program is essentially to get people buying CDs who haven’t been regular savers.

And it’s doing that.

A 2011 survey of participants found that 65% had never had a CD before, and only 13% had one with a deposit amount greater than $500.

In addition, 26% of participants had no regular savings plan, and 23% had spent at least $50 in the preceding six months on lottery tickets.

According to the Michigan Credit Union League, which launched the program in 2009 with the Filene Research Institute and the Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D Fund), credit union members across Michigan have already saved $38.6 million for 2012 as of July 31, with an average account balance of $2,596.

That beats the nearly $34 million participants saved in all of 2011, with an average account balance of over $2,000, and in 2010, when they saved $30 million and had an average account balance of $1,871.

Not all states have legislation that allows a prized-linked savings program like Save to Win.

The Michigan Credit Union League expanded the Save to Win program to Nebraska in 2011, and 10 credit unions there are participating in 2012.

The Nebraska program will give out one $25,000 grand prize this year from its own cash pool, as well as monthly prizes totaling $1,500.

Programs are now in the works for North Carolina and Washington.

Learn more about Save to Win and find participating credit unions at www.savetowin.org.

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