There are plenty of rewards programs for spending your money, but they’re all pretty much the same: spend $500 and get a free keychain or a coupon to TGIFridays. You know what’s really innovative? A rewards program that gives you keychains and coupons for not spending your money—which is what SaveUp aims to do (but with better rewards—not that TGIFridays is horrible…it’s just not for me).
SaveUp, which launched Tuesday, raised a $2 million round of seed funding in September to gamify fiscal responsibility. I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking you need to hurry up and click the hell out of this article before you find yourself reading about another lame “edutainment” app. But that’s not what SaveUp is. The game actually comes with real prizes—good ones! We’re not talking badges or gold stars—we’re talking about iPads, gift cards, luxury vacations, and even college tuition.
The site even has its own version of the lottery: earn 10 credits and you can select six numbers. If they match the winning numbers, you win $2 million.
The game is easy enough to play. You link up your accounts—savings, student loans, credit cards, 401K, mortgages, car payments, etc.—and each time you demonstrate a positive financial behavior, like putting money in savings or paying down your debt, you earn points that can be redeemed for real prizes. You can also earn points for participating in daily challenges or engaging with educational content on the site.
The dollars-to-points ratio translates to one dollar per point. Thus, for every dollar you put in your savings account or use to pay down your debt, you earn one point, and once you’ve accumulated 10 points, you can enter any prize play of your choice. All prize plays cost 10 credits—which means you can use those 10 credits to enter a drawing for an iPad 2 or you can use them to enter a drawing to get $10,000 of your debt paid off.
The rewards come courtesy of SaveUp’s brand partners, such as Virgin America, who have an incentive to get their brands in front of consumers who could have a lot of leftover walking-around-money once they get their finances in order.
“There is a wide range of accounts people are connecting,” CEO Priya Haji tells me. “A third are high savers with multiple savings and investment accounts. Another third are focused on reducing credit card bills and personal loans. The other third are saving in checking accounts and single savings accounts.”
Nine banks and credit unions are currently participating in a pilot program to promote SaveUp to their customers, including Bank of the West, Spectrum Federal Credit Union, and Plastyc UPside Visa pre-paid card.