Last week, I finally got around to starting up my SmartyPig account again. You may recall that I had trouble when I tried in the past. However, the questions their verification partner asked me about my financial accounts did not match what I knew to be true of my financial accounts. SmartyPig promptly mailed the documents necessary for me to be manually verified and once I got around to filling it out, set me up right away. I'd have to give them an A+ for customer service, but then I might not be the typical customer as they asked me to try out their service.
So with my gift card in hand and an activated SmartyPig account, it was time to see if I can deposit this gift card. The first thing I did when I logged in was go to the tab that said, Redeem a Gift Card (makes sense, right?). When I got there, the page said that I had to add a bank account first. My heart sank, thinking that this was going to take 3-4 days while SmartyPig deposits a few cents in my account and I verify that later (something that I've done with a couple of financial institutions in just the last week). I was pleasantly surprised that this was not necessary - I was able to set up my bank account right away.
Setting up the bank account was fairly easy, but it took me two tries. One of the pieces of bank information that SmartyPig asks is the bank's phone number. I had expected to only need my checkbook for bank routing numbers and account numbers. For the phone number, I had to retrieve my wallet. Though I'm Lazy, I'm not that Lazy, so this didn't upset me much. I pulled out my bank card to look on the back and entered in the number in the format of 1800xxxxxxx as I didn't see SmartyPig request a specific format. I then put the card and wallet away and focused on the routing numbers. When I had finished entering those, I submitted the form. Turns out that I didn't enter the phone number in the xxx-xxx-xxxx format. So I had to get out my card again and re-enter the number. But I also had to re-enter my bank account's information again since the form didn't say that. A suggestion to SmartyPig: either be very clear about the format of the phone number you want or accept pretty much any form that a person could put in.
So now that I had my bank account set-up it was finally time to enter in my gift card. I go to the Redeem a Gift Card tab and enter in my gift card serial number and pin. I get ready to click submit, but I realize there's no submit button, just one that says Decline This Card. That scares me quite a bit, I fear if I click that it will void the card and all my work will be for nothing. I do notice some text after the pin that says I haven't set up a savings goal yet, so I couldn't redeem the gift card yet. I don't know why it asked me for the serial number rather than just tell me to set up a savings goal. Once I set up a savings goal, I could easily redeem the card.
I set up my goal to be $250, which I estimate is how it's going to cost me for an upgraded Asus Eee after I sell my old Asus Eee. With the gift card I'm 20% of the way there. I'm happy that my account will be earning a decent interest rate of 3.90%.
Overall, I think SmartyPig has a great idea, but a few minor things need to be ironed out. Once they clear up the minor usability issues, my only question is about the idea of the gift card. If you know someone has a SmartyPig account the gift card is a fantastic gift idea. If the person does not have a SmartyPig account set up, I think there are too many hoops to jump through (the issues I had in signing up, setting up and linking a new bank account, giving up your social security number to another place, having to create a specific savings goal). I would only get someone a SmartyPig gift card after I exhausted the options of cash, checks, savings bonds, Amazon gift card, or an Ebay gift card.
account numbers, bank information, bank routing numbers, checkbook, customer service, financial accounts, financial institutions, gift card, savings, SmartyPig, typical customer, wallet... and focuses on:
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