[Update September 2021: Sallie Mae’s Smarty Pig lowered their rates just one time this year. Their top yield is now 0.75% APY, down from 0.80% APY earlier this year. Their higher balance tier rates also dropped from 0.50% APY to 0.45% APY for accounts with $10,000 or more in them. See current rates below.]
Sallie Mae might be known best for its private student loan operation, but did you know they also sell competitive deposit products – and have been since 2005?
Sallie Mae Bank was named a top bank of 2020 by GOBankingRates for its rewarding and accessible savings accounts. Sallie Mae deposit products — which include savings accounts, money market accounts, and CDs — have fairly high interest rates without any of the tedious restrictions or fees associated with many banks.
Among Sallie Mae’s suite of FDIC-insured deposit products, the SmartyPig savings account is a particularly popular choice.
The SmartyPig savings account has unique set of tools and generous APY that benefit savers who fit one of the following profiles:
- new savers,
- individuals that need to get into the habit of regularly saving,
- people with financial goals that could use some help with organization and/or motivation,
- people who want to earn a competitive interest rate.
If you’re considering the SmartyPig Savings Account, you’ll want to read our comprehensive review of their product, its tool set, the current rates and potential bonus offers.
In this post you'll learn:
What is SmartyPig?
SmartyPig is a free online, high-yield savings account available through Sallie Mae Bank.
It is FDIC-insured up to the federally allowed limit of $250,000 and available to any U.S. citizen over the age of 18 with a social security number and an external account that can fund it (more details on eligibility requirements below).
Advertised as an online “piggy bank,” this nontraditional savings account is intended to help you save for various achievable financial goals. It does this by giving you a user-friendly platform through which you can organize your goals and track your progress. The key features of this account that enable your savings to build are:
- Automatic transfers. Once you’ve set up a new savings goal, say for a downpayment to a car, you then set up automatic transfers from your external checking account that slowly seed this initiative.
- Fantastic APY. The money that gets auto-transferred to fund your goal earns a phenomenal APY that sits well above the current national average for a savings account.
The philosophy behind this account is that concrete goals are easier to save for than saving just for the sake of saving, which can feel daunting and at times unrewarding.
How to Open a SmartyPig Account
Opening a SmartyPig savings account is simple and painless.
Just visit the SmartyPig website (note this is a separate domain and not the Sallie Mae website) and click “Start Saving” in red on the home screen.
From there, go through the 4-step registration process that will ask you for your personal information, social security number, and driver’s license number.
As soon as your account is ready to go and your chosen external account is linked, you can fund it with as little as a penny to begin earning interest and creating savings goals.
Schedule monthly or biweekly recurring contributions from your external account into whichever goal(s) you choose.
Almost anyone qualifies for a SmartyPig account. You just need to be at least 18 years old and have an external checking or savings account that you can use to fund your Savings Goals. You also need to be a U.S. citizen, resident with a social security number, or permanent U.S. resident alien with a green card or social security number to open an account.
If you have issues setting up or servicing your account, call customer service at (811) 751-6884 during their business hours of 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday or send a secure message through the Message Center (if you already have an account).
Setting Up SmartyPig Savings Goals + Rules and Restrictions
What makes the SmartyPig account unique is the savings goal feature. A simple interface that allows you to set up specific goals and then fund them in an ongoing and manageable way.
These goals are flexible and can be tweaked or canceled at any time, and money can be moved between goals as you please. The balance of your entire account will earn interest regardless of your progress toward goals or how many goals you have set up.
Each distinct savings goal must be for at least $50 but not greater than $250,000. Recurring contributions, which may be monthly or biweekly, need to be equal to at least $10 but not greater than $50,000. You need to link 1 and only 1 external funding source, either a checking or savings account, to fund this account. This account is not a bank but a savings vehicle that earns interest and is not meant to replace a savings or checking account.
SmartyPig Current Interest Rate + Account Details
All SmartyPig interest compounds daily and credits monthly. Your funds are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per individual or $500,000 per joint account. See the table below for current rate tiers.
SmartyPig Savings Rates
|$0.01 – $2,500||0.70%|
|$2,500.01 – $10k||0.70%|
|$10,000.01 – $50k||0.45%|
To give the yields above some perspective, the national average for:
- a savings account sits at just 0.06% APY,
- a money market account sits at 0.08% APY
- and an interest checking account sits at a paltry 0.03% APY, according to the most recent FDIC data.
As for the highest savings rates – they’ve all fallen under the 1.00% APY mark. Making the SmartyPig account one of the most competitive FDIC-insured, variable-rate deposit accounts on the market.
The account comes with no minimum opening deposit requirement or minimum balance requirements. Plus, you’ll never be charged monthly maintenance or low balance fees.
There are also zero penalties for failing to meet a savings goal by the target date you’ve set. If this happens, just log-in to your account and change the target date. You may also transfer the sum to a different goal.
Once a goal has been reached, automatic transfers put toward that goal will be halted, but you will still earn the advertised rate on your sum.
Account transactions may not exceed 6 per statement cycle, per federal regulation D. Excessive withdrawals will not be permitted, but you will not be charged for attempting them. Just avoid them so that your account is not closed.
Account balances may not exceed $250,000 unless direct deposits over this maximum are automatically made, in which case greater balances will be accepted.
SmartyPig Bonus Offers
SmartyPig Savings Accounts have a few other perks built in that many savings accounts do not, including opportunities for referral bonuses and a bonus redemption program through Amazon. Refer a friend to SmartyPig and earn a reward of $10 once they successfully open and fund a new savings account.
SmartyPig is partnered with Amazon, which makes it possible for you to order Amazon gift cards valued anywhere from $5 to $500 using SmartyPig funds. This isn’t an exceptional offer but it would allow you to save some time if an item you’re putting money towards is available for purchase through Amazon.com. This would simply allow you to buy it instantly once your goal is reached rather than having to wait for a transfer to your external funding account to post.
SmartyPig is a great micro-savings account option for short-term goals and has one of the most competitive yields on the market for lower balance tiers.
Say, for instance, that you’re saving up for a new mattress. SmartyPig would enable you to set up automatic payments from another account toward this goal (plus earn a phenomenal, FDIC-insured interest rate) until that goal is achieved, and your funds available for withdrawal.
Even without its unique tool set and approach to savings, the interest rate and lack of fees make it an attractive account.